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Hands-on with the Fujifilm FinePix S6500: Facial first

The Fujifilm FinePix S6500 broke new ground when it became the first camera to sport face recognition, so we were eager to inflict our ugly mugs with this 6-megapixel superzoom

If you've left the compact camera behind, but aren't ready for a dSLR, a superzoom could be the camera for you. These cameras sport 10x optical zoom or larger, and boast dSLR-style flexibility alongside compact camera user-friendliness. The 6.3-megapixel Fujifilm FinePix S6500 -- the first camera to sport facial recognition -- makes the grade with its 10x zoom, full manual or aperture and shutter priority, and simple controls.

The S6500 also boasts a lovely wide-angle 28mm lens, equivalent to a 35mm camera. Zoom and focus are controlled with the lens ring, for that dSLR experience. The standard 64mm (2.5-inch) screen is round the back, next to a surprisingly uncluttered control layout for such a clever camera: there's just a shooting mode F button, a clickpad with menu button, a toggle between live view and electronic viewfinder, and a focus button.

One of the display options keeps your last three shots displayed at the side of the screen, for quick reference. Cleverly, this works with continuous mode, so you get to monitor your sequence of shots unfolding in real-time. We'll be giving you the figures on shot-to-shot speed in our forthcoming review.

Another feature that impressed us is the option to zoom in and out while filming video. Although zoom should be used sparingly, it's a useful option. What we really like is the quick autofocus: no matter how fast we whipped the zoom ring around, the autofocus compensated momentarily. It's better in this regard than some camcorders, which often have to think about refocussing and can't cope with fast zooms.

The Fujifilm FinePix S6500 is available now, and can be yours online for £185. -Rich Trenholm

Update: Read our full Fujifilm FinePix S6500fd review here.