Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd review: Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd

MSRP: $499.99

The Good Enormous zoom; angular styling; wealth of features.

The Bad Battery life, if anything.

The Bottom Line We're actually struggling to think of anything bad about the 10-megapixel zooming behemoth that is the Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd. It's a versatile and reliable camera that gets looks, features, image quality and controls right

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7.5 Overall

Sometimes things are just too far away to see. That's where superzooms like the 10-megapixel, £200 Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd come in. The enormous 18x zoom lens is perfect for getting up close to the action at sports events, concerts or when stalking unrequited loves.

The question that hangs over these dSLR-styled, yet compact-proportioned snappers is how useful they are every day and whether the cost of a large lens is compromised pictures.

The S8100 avoids the lumpen blockiness of many superzooms. The grip feels enormous for solid one-handed shooting. The zoom is lightning fast to leap in and out. It's a little clunky for fine adjustments, but the collar rocker switch is chunky and grippable.

An odd design quirk that we've seen a few times recently is that turning the camera on causes the extending lens to pop the lens cap off. While this saves us the bother, we wonder if it's healthy for the lens.

These crops show the impressive extent of the Fujifilm S8100's 18x zoom, with the left image cropped from maximum wide angle and the image on the right cropped from maximum telephoto

The pop-up flash is activated by a button at the side of the flash unit. It sits a couple of centimetres above the lens to reduce red eye.

The S8100's 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD screen can display up to 100 micro-thumbnails in a grid. The viewfinder is always useful, although like most electronic viewfinders, this one is grainy, with diagonal lines not rendering very well.

It has a focal length of 28-486mm, equivalent to a 35mm camera, which is pleasingly wide. Optical image stabilisation and face detection are included and it supports xD cards as well as SD and SDHC.

The S8100 mode wheel gives you manual, program, aperture and shutter priority modes. Adjusting the shutter speed involves clicking up and down on the click pad or side-to-side for aperture.

Another interesting feature on the mode wheel is instant zoom, which takes three images near-simultaneously at different zoom levels. This is a cool idea, but sadly it's only digital zoom, so each image has a lower resolution than the last. You could achieve the same effect by cropping the first picture in your editing software.

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