The Good Compact for a megazoom model; 10X zoom lens; fairly extensive set of advanced features; responsive performance; raw mode is more usable than on most consumer cameras.
The Bad Exposure compensation is difficult to activate; raw-mode selection buried too deep in the menus; limited JPEG compression choices; fuzzy, grainy electronic viewfinder; included raw converter is almost useless.
The Bottom Line This responsive, well-rounded camera should get a serious look from anyone shopping for a megazoom model.
Fujifilm FinePix S
The Fujifilm FinePix S5100 replaces the S5000, which we praised for its features and form factor but criticized for subpar image quality and shortcomings in its design. The new model offers the same 10X zoom lens and a handful of feature and performance improvements, although some design drawbacks remain. The biggest change is the sensor; the previous model's 3-megapixel SuperCCD HR has been replaced with a conventional 4-megapixel CCD, and image quality is much improved. The Fujifilm FinePix S5100's design is almost identical to that of its predecessor, the S5000--which is both good and bad. The camera is fairly compact for a megazoom model, and its mini-SLR styling looks reasonably good and gives it a comfortable, stable feel in your hands. The black-plastic body is solidly built and weighs a moderate 16.9 ounces with batteries and media installed.
Most frequently used functions are quick to access, and nearly all important buttons and controls are easy to reach while you're shooting. In the now familiar Fujifilm system, the camera's menus are split between two activation buttons, and you change settings with a four-way controller on the camera's back. The controller is slightly smaller than we'd prefer, but the menus are easy to understand and quick to navigate. Lamentably, one of the FinePix S5000's control flaws survives in the S5100: in manual mode, you use the four-way pad in conjunction with a top-mounted button to set the aperture in manual mode and to adjust exposure compensation, but the two controls are so far apart, they force even long-fingered photographers into awkward contortions.
The Fujifilm FinePix S5100's fairly advanced feature set begins with its 10X zoom lens, which covers the focal-length range from 37mm to 370mm (35mm-camera equivalent). The maximum aperture is a respectable f/2.8 at wide-angle and f/3.1 at full telephoto. A lens-adapter ring that ships with the camera lets you mount accessory wide-angle and telephoto converters as well as 55mm filters.
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