The long-zoom digicam class has ballooned from just a couple of models less than ten years ago to the absolutely bloated list of entries currently available, and that means each new extended-zoom model is obliged to provide something to make it appear to be unique in order to garner any notice. To this end, Fuji claims the S1000fd (which replaces the S700) is the world's smallest 10 megapixel digital camera with a 12x optical zoom.
The S1000fd's main claim to fame is its 12x (33-396mm equivalent) Fujinon optical zoom, but strangely Fuji provides no optical or mechanical image stabilization – users looking for IS will have to buy Fuji's larger and more expensive S8100fd. The S1000fd offers users Fuji's version of Face Detection AF (with automatic red-eye removal), which works by triangulating the eyes and mouths of the subjects in the image frame and then optimizing all exposure parameters (AF, white balance, sensitivity, etc.) for up to six faces.
In addition, the S1000fd features a 1/2.3" CCD imager, a 2.7-inch TFT LCD screen, an electronic viewfinder, 30 fps VGA movie mode, sensitivity that goes as high as ISO 1600 at full resolution, high-speed shooting, a combined xD/SD/SDHC memory card slot, and a panoramic shooting mode.
The S1000fd's basic shooting modes are as follows:
Fifteen scene modes (including the flash supressing Natural Light mode and an image-stitching Panorama mode housed among the primary shooting modes) cover all shooting situation basics; the S1000fd's ISO-boosting digital image stabilization system is accessed as a scene preset as well.
For a detailed listing of specifications and features, please refer to the specifications table found at the bottom of the review.
FORM, FIT, AND FEEL
Fuji's product development folks didn't deviate much from the industry standard. The S1000fd is an attractive, but very conventional looking camera. It's relatively compact, light-weight, and handles like a scaled down DSLR.
Styling and Build Quality
The S1000fd is stylish in a utilitarian sort of way. The camera is built durably enough to go just about anywhere, excluding extreme climates and combat zones. Weight (without the requisite AA batteries) is 11.5 oz, with the camera measuring a mere 4.1 by 2.9 by 2.7 inches.
In spite of its size, the S1000fd has all the features consumers have come to expect from extended-zoom digicams – with the exception of image stabilization. While it looks small, in hand the S1000fd is only slightly smaller than its contemporaries – not enough to make any serious difference. It is certainly not pocketable and it is only maginally lighter than most of its competition.
Ergonomics and Interface
This camera is almost awash in buttons, knobs, and switches, and while it may seem a bit cluttered, the arrangement mostly works pretty well. There's a large traditional looking knurled mode dial on the top deck, the sliding on/off switch, a dedicated face detection mode button, a continuous shooting button, the compass switch (five-way controller), jog dial, an EVF/LCD button, a playback button, "F" (function) button, and more.
With most digicams, you push the OK button on the compass switch to confirm menu choices and select camera functions, but not with the S10000fd: somewhat confusingly, you must remember to halfway press the shutter button to confirm/select.
The S1000fd's control layout is generally logical and all controls are easily accessed. Usability of the physical interface lands somewhere around average.
The S1000fd's menu system is also fairly standard, but navigation is unnecessarily complex and often frustrating. To this end, new users won't get much help from the manual either: the full user's manual (163 pages) has a table of contents that runs to three pages, but no index. While every camera operation and function is covered in sometimes excruciating detail, the print is tiny and hard to read. In fact the instruction manual is so poorly conceived and presented that many of the camera's more interesting features/functions will likely never be accessed by neophyte shooters. User's manuals like this are why lots of new camera owners figure out how everything works via a process of trial and error – without ever opening the instruction manual.
The S1000fd features a fairly standard 0.2-inch, 200,000 pixel FLCD electronic viewfinder – a smaller version of the camera's LCD screen. The S1000fd's EVF is relatively bright, fairly sharp, hue-accurate, and reasonably fluid.
The S1000fd's 2.7-inch TFT LCD screen is useable in outdoor lighting, but I found the EVF easier to use. The LCD screen is slightly recessed, which helps in avoiding scratches and smudges. The angle of view is very narrow, so composition and framing must be done straight on; viewing the screen at even a slight angle causes the image to fade. LCD images are bright, relatively sharp, color-correct, and reasonably fluid. The display gains up in dim lighting, though users can also manually boost LCD brightness as well. The screen shows approximately 97 percent of the image frame and provides more information than the camera's target audience is likely to need.
Built and billed as cameras for enthusiast shooters and those transitioning up from basic point-and-shoots, speed and overall performance are significant factors in considering ultrazooms. Unfortunately, the S1000fd struggles to consistently impress in these key areas.
Timings and Shutter Lag
Extended-zoom digicams are typically slower across the board than most other point-and-shoot digicams, and the S1000fd is on the slow end of the average range – noticeably slower than most of its competition. Press to capture from scratch is a relatively slow 0.7 to 0.8 seconds, and shutter lag with pre-focus (which is ideally close to real time) is 0.12 seconds (by comparison, the Olympus SP570 UZ I tested recently came in at 0.06 seconds).
Shot-to-shot times are a bit slower than average as well: continuous shooting (full resolution JPEGs) is capable of three shots in 1.0 seconds using the Top 3/Final 3 continuous modes. In infinite continuous mode, the S1000fd takes three full-res frames in 1.2 seconds and then slows to less than 1.0 fps for additional shots. In high-speed contiuous mode, the S1000fd is able to capture 15 low-resolution frames in 1.6 seconds.
The boot-up cycle is pretty quick for an extended-zoom digicam – about two seconds – but it's all downhill, speedwise, from there. The S1000fd's continuous modes are pretty snappy, but the AF and exposure systems can't keep up, making the camera almost useless for moving subjects or rapidly changing lighting.
Lens and Zoom
Consumers buy extended-zoom digicams because those long zoom lens permit them to reach out optically and get closer to their subject. But, like everything else in photography, there's a trade-off – longer zooms are inherently more optically complex than shorter zooms, and as complexity increases lens faults (like chromatic aberration, barrel distortion, pincushion distortion, and vignetting) are magnified exponentially.
That said, the S1000fd's Fujinon 33-396mm f/2.8-5.0 unit is actually a pretty decent lens, providing a wide range of coverage as well as a minimum focusing distance in Macro Mode of around 0.8 inches:
This Tent Caterpillar on Bracket Fungus nicely illustrates just how good a job the S1000fd does in the close-up arena.
Lens barrel construction is reasonably solid with minimal free play anywhere in the system. Travel speed from one end of the range to the other is acceptably quick as well, though not always entirely smooth.
The S1000fd utilizes the same contrast-detection auto focus (center, wide-area, and multi-point) system as the S700. AF is dependably accurate and AF lock is relatively quick in good outdoor lighting. Indoors and in low/dim lighting, the S1000fd is noticeably slower and tends to hunt a bit. Shooting anything other than static subjects can be frustrating because the S1000fd's auto focus system is slower than average, combining with the camera's longer-than-average shutter lag to make getting an in-focus shot at just the right moment a challenge.
The S1000fd's built-in multi-mode flash provides an average range of lighting options, including off, auto, fill flash, suppressed flash, slow sync, and red-eye reduction. Maximum flash range at wide angle is 28.5 feet with auto ISO engaged.
A maximum power discharge requires 4.5 seconds to recycle – not too bad for a camera running AAs. Average flash recycle time (with auto ISO selected) is under two seconds.
Involutary camera movement is a serious problem with long-zoom digicams – the longer the zoom, the more likely the camera is to produce blurry or fuzzy photos due to the magnified effects of camera shake.
Image stabilization is almost a prerequisite for capturing sharply focused and blur-free images with extended-zoom cameras, but the S1000fd doesn't provide either mechanical or optical image stabilization. The S1000fd does provide what Fuji calls Picture Stabilization mode: enable the Picture Stabilization mode and the S1000fd boosts ISO sensitivity and bumps up the shutter speed to compensate for involuntary camera shake. Still, it's hardly an effective substitute for "true" image stabilization, making the S1000fd something of a disappointment in this regard.
The S1000fd draws its power from four readily available AA batteries. Fuji includes four disposable alkalines in the box with the camera. According to the manufacturer, the S1000fd is good for up to 300 exposures with AA alkalines. I used the camera heavily for about three weeks and I went through two sets of AAs – the included batteries lasted for approximately 100 exposures, and the second set (Energizer Titanium AAs) lasted for about 130 exposures. As these results are in keeping with expectations for power hungry long-zoom cameras on alkaline power, most S1000fd users will probably want to buy (at least) four high-capacity AA NiMHs and a fast charger.
The S1000fd draws its power from four readily available AA batteries. Fuji includes four disposable alkalines in the box with the camera. According to the manufacturer, the S1000fd is good for up to 300 exposures with AA alkalines.
I used the camera heavily for about three weeks and I went through two sets of AAs – the included batteries lasted for approximately 100 exposures, and the second set (Energizer Titanium AAs) lasted for about 130 exposures. As these results are in keeping with expectations for power hungry long-zoom cameras on alkaline power, most S1000fd users will probably want to buy (at least) four high-capacity AA NiMHs and a fast charger.
In the final analysis, image quality has to stand as the major single consideration in camera performance assessment. While overall image quality is very good, the S1000fd drops the ball in a couple of important areas.
Exposure, Processing, and Color
The S1000fd's exposure and image processing are consistently and dependably accurate in virtually any sort of outdoor lighting, but there is a slight tendency toward over-exposure and occasional burnt-out highlights. Default resolution is very slightly soft with average contrast and bold, bright, and hue-accurate colors. Dynamic range is limited and all colors (especially reds) are noticeably over-saturated.
This blooming Azalea clearly demonstrates the S100fd's tendency toward producing highly oversaturated color – especially reds.
Even so, images are dependably very good with decent shadow detail and acceptable highlight detail. Caucasian skin tones are consistently a bit pinkish.
The bucolic scene above shows just how good the S1000fd can be outdoors in good light.
Unlike most ultrazooms, color, contrast, and saturation processing options are highly limited on the S1000fd: beyond the standard color mode, the only other processing option is Fujifilm's "F-Chrome" high-saturation mode.
A black-and-white shooting mode is also available, but no sepia mode. As noted, of more concern is the fact that there's no option to manually fine-tune processing choices with the S1000fd.
The S1000fd provides users with an adequate selection of white balance options including auto, shade, incandescent, several fluorescent presets, and a custom setting.
The auto white balance setting is surprisingly accurate in most situations, but like most consumer digicams, the SP570 UZ's AWB setting can produce colors that are warmer than the actual colors.
Interestingly, the S1000fd has a lot of trouble with fluorescent lighting, even when set to one of the fluorescent WB settings. This environmental portrait of a stained glass artisan above (shot under fluorescent lighting) was photographed with the correct fluorescent white balance setting, but there is still an obvious yellowish color cast to the image.
Barrel distortion at the wide-angle end of the zoom is about average for an ultrazoom. Pincushioning at the telephoto end of the zoom, however, is better than average. Chromatic aberration (colored fringing) is about average at the wide-angle end of the zoom range, but slightly better than average at the telephoto end of the zoom. Corners are slightly soft, but I didn't notice any vignetting.
Sensitivity and Noise
The S1000fd provides a nice range of sensitivity settings including Auto, Auto (ISO 800), Auto (ISO 400) and a manually selectable range of ISO 64 to ISO 1600. There's an ISO 3200 setting as well, but resolution is limited to 3 megapixels.
ISO 64, 100% crop
ISO 100, 100% crop
ISO 200, 100% crop
ISO 400, 100% crop
ISO 800, 100% crop
ISO 1600, 100% crop
ISO 3200, 100% crop
Images shot between ISO 64 to ISO 200 have acceptably low noise levels, but noise starts to pick up slightly – ISO 200 and ISO 400 shots show some minor loss of detail. The S1000fd's ISO 800 and ISO 1600 images are slightly soft (visible loss of detail) with flat contrast and dull colors, but they are better than I expected them to be. I didn't use the ISO 3200 setting in real world shooting.
Additional Sample Images
The S1000fd is obviously aimed at serious shooters, but it lacks some of the basic features that a photography enthusiast would expect – manual color, saturation, and contrast adjustments, for instance – plus it doesn't provide image stabilization. This puts the camera in something of a bind: the S1000fd doesn't really measure up for the serious/creative photography demographic, but it is too complex and difficult to use for the casual shutterbug and point-and-shoot crowd.
Overall the S1000fd comes in somewhere on the low side of the middle of the pack, and while this camera is cheaper than much of its competition a low price isn't really a bargain if you have to give up too much in terms of features, performance, and usability. With the likes of Canon's S5 IS and Olympus's SP570 UZ out there, the S1000fd simply doesn't cover enough ground to earn a strong recommendation.
|Sensor||10.0 megapixel, 1/2.3" CCD|
|Zoom||12x (33-396mm) Fujinon zoom, f/2.8-5.0|
|LCD/Viewfinder||2.7", 230K-pixel TFT LCD|
|Shutter Speed||8-1/2000 seconds
|Shooting Modes||Auto, Picture Stabilization, Natural Light, Panorama, Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual, Scene, Movie|
|Scene Presets||Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Night, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Museum, Party, Flower, Text, Picture Stabilization
|White Balance Settings||Auto, Fine, Shade, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3, Incandescent, Custom
|Metering Modes||Not Specified|
|Focus Modes||Center AF, Multi AF, Area AF, Continuous AF, Manual, Macro, Super Macro
|Drive Modes||Normal, Top 3, Top 6, Top 15, Final 3, Continuous|
|Flash Modes||Auto, Forced On, Slow Synchro, Forced Off, Red-Eye Reduction, Slow Syncrho with Red-Eye Reduction|
|Self Timer Settings
||10 seconds, 2 seconds, Off
|Memory Formats||xD-Picture Card, SD, SDHC
|File Formats||JPEG, AVI, WAV
|Max. Image Size||3648x2736
|Max. Video Size
||640x480, 30 fps
|Zoom During Video||No|
|Battery||4 AA batteries
|Connections||USB 2.0, AV output, DC input|
|Additional Features||Face Detection, Panorama Shooting, High Speed Shooting|
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