Control freaks will appreciate the S8000fd's manual exposure controls, which give you up to 10 choices for apertures spanning f/2.8 through f/8 and 40 shutter speeds ranging from 4 seconds to 1/2000 second. The interface for those controls could be better, though. Rather than including any thumb or finger wheels, you have to press the exposure compensation button and then use the control pad to set aperture and/or shutter speed. One, or even better two, wheels would make the process a lot smoother of an experience. Still, it's nice to see manual exposure controls with this many choices, since some only include two or three choices for apertures.
While not as slow between shots as the Olympus SP550UZ, the S8000fd is far from a speed demon and can't even nearly keep up with the SP550UZ's burst rate. The camera took 3.1 seconds to start up and capture its first JPEG. Subsequent JPEGs took 2.6 seconds between shots with the flash turned off and 2.9 seconds with the flash turned on. Shutter lag proved slightly sluggish, measuring 0.8 second in our high contrast test and 2 seconds in our low contrast test, which mimic bright and dim shooting conditions, respectively. In our continuous shooting test, we were able to capture 8.1-megapixel images at a dismal average rate of 0.5 frame per second.
Image quality could also have been better and ends up about on par with the Olympus. While colors look accurate and the camera's automatic white balance does a fine job of serving up neutral colors in all sorts of lighting conditions, images are not as sharp as we would have liked. We saw very little colored fringing and even then only under the most extreme circumstances. In some cases, the camera tended to underexpose a little when using the Average metering mode, which uses the entire scene to determine exposure.
Noise is not the S8000fd's strong suit. I saw some noise even at the camera's lowest ISO setting of ISO 64, though you probably won't notice noise in prints until you reach ISO 200. Even then, artifacts should be minimal, and Fuji's noise-reduction algorithms don't degrade sharpness appreciably until ISO 400. However, prints should still be very usable at that sensitivity. By ISO 800, images lose a lot of their sharpness, along with a noticeable amount of shadow detail. ISO 1,600 images become heavily blurred and have a very granular look with off-color and white speckles covering the images. Fuji includes ISO 3,200 and ISO 6,400 at a reduced resolution of 4 megapixels. This does help keep noise from becoming much worse than it is at ISO 1,600. However, I didn't see any advantage, either. I'd stay below ISO 800 when shooting with the S8000fd whenever possible and don't recommend shooting at ISO 1,600 or above at all.
If forced to choose between the S8000fd and the SP550UZ, I'd probably go with the Fuji, but only based on its faster performance. Of the trio of 18x zooms, the
(Smaller bars indicate better performance )
|Typical shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)