I puchased the FujiFilm S1600 as a replacement for my aging 5MP Olympus point and shoot. When looking for a new camera, I was looking for something that had some of the features of an SLR, but without the hefty pricetag, and bulk of carrying around a large camera. This line of cameras seems to be geared towards just that time of person.
The cameras controls are very well designed, giving you all the options the average person would need, without being overly complicated. The mode switch is a wheel at the top, making it easy to quickly change between automatic and manual settings, and has just the right amount of button controls to not be overly confusing. The menus are well layed out, and are intuitive as to what the particular setting does without having to pull out the manual...something some of the other brands I compared with lacked.
Image stabilization on this camera uses a bit of a different system than some of the other comparible brands, but do not let this scare you off, it works very well, rarely giving you a blurry shot.
Lighting is a weak spot on this camera, where in low light situations, using the automatic mode, will usually result in grainy pictures, due to the software trying to set the ISO level too high to compensate for the low light situation. In these cases it is best to use the built in flash, or switch to manual mode. This camera will take excellent pictures in low light without the flash on, but you will need to learn how to set it properly in manual mode to acheive this without a flash, and a tripod is a necessity in these situations. The camera offers a standard tripod mount on the bottom for just this purpose.
This camera is also equipped with a colour LCD viewfinder, which is one of the best features of this model, giving you simular use to an SLR. Most cameras in this price range, simply have a looking glass to look through, where the Fujifilm, gives you the same display on the viewfinder, as you would get on the larger LCD screen, including all of your settings. If you often shoot pictures outside on bright sunny days, you will soon wonder how you got by without it.
Battery life on this camera is outstanding. Using good quality batteries, and a good quality charger (eneloop, powerex or simular) you can easily take this camera on a trip and not have to worry about the batteries. I have taken the camera on week long trips, and have still had battery power left over when I arrived home. The other advantage, is this model uses 4 standard AA batteries, so in the event you do run out, you can pop into any local store and pick up another set, unlike competitors models that include expensive proprietary rechargeables.
Video is possible on this camera, but it is only suitable for short clips in good daylight with passable results. Low light situations will give you a grainy and blurry picture. The zoom and focus mechanisms are also quite noisey, and you will hear it in your video. Videos are also restricted to around 10 mins, and if you go over that limit, it creates an unreadable corrupted file without warning. This is one of the major drawbacks of this camera. If you are looking to use it as a camcorder, this may not be the model for you. The sound pickup, aside from hearing the noise of the camera working, is quite good, but is only in mono. Don't plan to video a wedding reception or your kids recital with it. Short clips for youtube...is probably adequate.
I would recommend this camera for anyone who is looking for something a little better than your pocket point and shoot, but do not want to spend the money on a full SLR. The size and design make this camera easy to take with you, and it's wide range of features and settings are great for someone wanting to do more than just take snapshots in auto mode, without being overly complicated for those who don't.
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Amount Paid (US$): 130
This Camera is a Good Choice if You Want Something... Flexible Enough for Enthusiasts