The Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd is a solid superzoom that captures high-quality images with its wide, 10.7X optical zoom lens. Unfortunately, the camera lacks true image stabilization.
While it might sound gimmicky, face detection actually makes a lot of sense for digital cameras. A dedicated processing chip allows the S6000fd to quickly and effortlessly meter off and focus on your subject's face. The camera can identify up to 10 faces in a scene, and automatically selects the one nearest to the center of the image for focus and metering purposes. We found that the camera's face-detection system works best when subjects are looking at the camera. If they're looking away at an angle of more than 45 degrees, the camera won't likely recognize the face. In bright light, the system worked quickly; in dim light, it slowed slightly but didn't appreciably add to shutter lag. Interestingly, since the system looks for a subject's eyes and the shape of a human face, the camera will even recognize faces from a TV screen.
The camera body is very comfortable to use, with a deeply grooved grip--one groove for your middle finger, and one for your ring finger and pinky--that is one of the most solid grips I've experienced on a digital camera. The lens has a thick zoom ring, which gives the camera a nice, SLR feel. The one design drawback is the camera's focus ring, which sits between the camera body and the zoom ring. While the focus ring has a knurled surface for better gripping, it would be easier to use if it sat in front of the zoom ring. As is, it's hard to properly brace the camera body while turning the ring. The focus control buttons, thankfully, are located just behind the lens on the left side of the body, making it easy to dedicate your left hand to focusing while using the S6000fd.
All other controls are located on the right side of the camera body, and well within reach of your thumb or forefinger. As usual, Fuji splits its menus in two. One menu is accessed through the F button, and provides access to ISO, resolution, and color settings. The second is accessed through the regular menu button, and provides access to all other settings. By splitting the menus, Fuji can keep the most-often adjusted settings up top where they're easy to access in each of the main menus.
Top on this camera's list of features is its 28mm-to-300mm, f/2.8-to-f/4.5 zoom lens. Unlike so many superzoom lenses, the S6000fd lens can achieve a true wide angle of 28mm on its wide end, instead of typically starting at 35mm. This gives you more leeway when shooting close to your subject, or when trying to squeeze that last person into a group shot. In our tests, the lens showed almost no distortion at 300mm, and while we saw a little barrel distortion at 28mm, it was very minimal for a non-SLR camera with such a long zoom. At f/4.5, it's not the fastest lens we've seen, but is still faster (or, lets in more light) than many lenses that reach a f/5.6 maximum aperture at maximum telephoto.
As you'd expect in a camera at this price, Fuji includes full manual controls as well as 14 scene modes, accessible from the SP spot on the mode dial. Or, in the case of the landscape, portrait, natural light, and picture stabilization modes, you can access these straight from the mode dial. The last two modes deserve some explanation. Natural light mode boosts sensitivity and turns the flash off, to capture the ambiance of low-light situations. Picture stabilization mode boosts sensitivity as well, but also limits you to fast shutter speeds in an effort to prevent blurring an image--in case your hand shakes, or your subject moves. In the case of a shaky hand, picture stabilization doesn't offer as effective a countermeasure as do optical or mechanical image stabilization systems offered by other manufacturers. However, neither of these methods help with a moving subject. We'd still like to see either optical or mechanical image stabilization included in the S6000fd, though, especially with such a long zoom lens.
Advanced shooters will appreciate this camera's raw image capture option, which is somewhat rare for a camera in this price range. Unlike most cameras that include raw capture, Fuji makes you delve into the setup menu to activate it instead of just including it in the Finepix menu with the other megapixel and compression choices. Still, shooting in raw offers the opportunity to fine tune exposure, white balance, and other image parameters after you shoot. It's a welcome addition to this camera, but be warned, our performance tests (see below) showed that you better be ready to wait if you want to shoot raw with the S6000fd.
Like most cameras in its class, the S6000fd can record video clips at up to 640x480-pixel resolution, and up to 30 frames per second. It also has three continuous shooting modes: Top 3, Final 3, and Long Period. Top 3 captures the first three images after you press the shutter button. Final 3 continues to capture and buffer images until you release the shutter button, and then keeps only the last three. Long Period continues to capture and store images until your xD-Picture card is full.
Performance was fairly fast for a superzoom, except for sluggish continuous shooting. The S6000fd took 1.7 seconds from pressing the power button to capturing its first image, and took 1.7 seconds between subsequent images without flash and 2.2 seconds with the flash turned on. When shooting raw, the time between shots slowed to 5.8 seconds, but that's typical of a non-dSLR, most of which don't even offer raw capture. Shutter lag measured 0.6 second in bright light, and 1.2 seconds in low light. In the Long Period continuous shooting mode, we were able to capture VGA-sized images at an average of approximately 0.61 frames per second and 6.3-megapixel, fine-quality JPEGs at an average of about 0.62 frames per second.
Image quality from the S6000fd was good, with well-saturated, accurate colors and tons of fine detail, likely a pleasant side effect of its nice lens. Fuji likes to tout the dynamic range offered by its Super CCD sensors, and indeed, we saw lots of shadow and highlight detail. For instance, the face of the plush ape in our test scene often plunges into muddy darkness, but the S6000fd managed to bring out the texture in this challenging object. The camera's automatic white balance yielded very warm images with our lab's tungsten lights. The camera's tungsten preset proved much more neutral, though it did show a very slight greenish cast. The manual white balance we set gave us the most neutral results. The S6000fd did an excellent job of balancing its fill flash with the light from the lamp in our test scene.
We saw virtually no noise with the S6000fd set to ISO 100, and while we saw a minute amount of noise at ISO 200 when viewing on our monitors, the noise didn't show up in prints. Though we saw slightly more noise on our monitors at ISO 400, it still wasn't very noticeable in prints. By ISO 800, Fuji's noise suppression obviously kicked in, so while noise was kept largely under control, significant amounts of finer detail was lost. At ISO 1600, noise was very noticeable despite noise suppression, though images were still usable if printed at smaller sizes, such as 4x6 inches. By ISO 3200 noise was overwhelming. All finer detail was obliterated and images took on a look similar to a sloppy pointillist painting.
Overall, the Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd is a capable superzoom. Its biggest drawback is that it doesn't include optical or mechanical image stabilization to make its zoom lens more useful. Its high ISOs are helpful, but also come with unwanted noise. If you can get past that, this camera offers a wider wide angle than most superzooms on the market. If the absence of image stabilization is a deal breaker for you, however, you'll likely want to check out Sony's Cyber Shot DSC-H5, Canon's Power Shot S3 IS, or Panasonic's Lumix DMC-FZ50.
|Typical shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (typical)|