The S6500fd uses AA batteries, which have the advantage of being cheap and easily to obtain. xD memory cards are less so. Raw files are large enough that spare xDs will be a must.
After a start-up time of one second, the S6500fd is fast when shooting JPEGs. Raw is slower, taking several seconds to write to the card. Burst mode manages 2 frames per second, but only for three frames. Such short burst modes are a source of frustration, although a slower unlimited continuous shooting is also available. Raw images cannot be captured in burst mode.
We were impressed with the lens, which exhibited negligible distortion at the wide angle end. Sharpness is consistent across the image, with very little vignetting or loss of sharpness at the corners. Images are crisp and rich in colour. We didn't see much evidence of purple fringing either.
Low-light focussing performance is aided by a seriously brisk focus assist light. At the maximum 3,200 ISO, unsightly noise combined with detail-smearing noise reduction compromises images, but they're not bad for such a high ISO speed. The S6500fd is one of the best performers we've seen at ISO speeds over 800, with noise confined to shadow areas and not overpowering.
Optical image stabilisation is a given on newer superzooms. This disadvantage alone could be the undoing of the Fujifilm FinePix S6500fd. But still, it's the consummate superzoom in that the SLR-like zoom control, raw format, great lens and excellent high-ISO performance make it very attractive indeed. We're not keen on the EVF, but even the 18x zooming has one, so it's par for the superzoom course.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide