on November 25, 2003
This camera evokes love/hate relationship based on the numerous reviews and comments from users. So the bottom line really is the picture quality.
Prior to owning this I had been an Nikon and Canon SLR user but like many, I also have to adapt to the current trend in using digicams. So before purchasing, I spent a whole month researching through the web, visited shops and get a feel of the current digicams on offer. In my quest for the best digicam for my needs, I have seen their output, held the camera itself and thoroughly inspected everything about them. Besides, Im spending U$600-700 so I really need the best for my needs. In those times, I have seen them all, and finally purchased the S7000.
What about S7000? I must say that the picture quality of this camera is best at 6mp native resolution. Although it is capable of taking 12MP interpolated photos, I would personally skip that because at that resolution it does become noticeable noisy. However, pictures taken at 6MP and below are by far the best amonth the current offerings. I have tested the Minolta Dimage A1, Nikon coolpix 5700, Sony F707 and the Canon and by far the Fuji have the best color saturation, more natural, vibrant and crisp photos among these cameras.
At U$650, you just cannot go wrong with the S7000. The other cameras mentioned here are even pricier and doesnt give all the extras that the Fuji can give.
Right now, I am having a blast taking photos with this baby witout worrying about film development cost. It is a great way to learn the ropes about photography espcially in manual mode because as long as you have the memory, you can practice your skills endlessly.
When I am done with it, I would like to upgrade to the Nikon D100 because despite the excellent features of s7000 it still is not perfect, but the s7000 is way ahead of the current Nikon, Canon, Minolta offerings at this price range.
on April 25, 2004
Now that I've had the camera for several months its seems like a good time for an update, especially given some of the criticisms that have been leveled at the S7000.
The short answer is that I still love the camera, even though it's not perfect. The long answer deserves some explanation.
I have many years experience with 35mm film, but also many years experience with computers and computer graphics. Even today, film has capabilities that can't be matched with digital cameras, except possibly by cameras beyond the means of most people. On the other hand, digital photography has huge advantages in terms of immediate accessibility, cost per shot, electronic distribution, editing and enhancement, and the ability to control the printing process to get prints that look the way you want them to.
My initial path into digital photography was to buy a film scanner and scan 35mm slides, which in some ways still represents the best of both worlds. But it is a time consuming and expensive (on a per shot basis) approach. My move into digital cameras has occurred in two steps. The first was to replace my "little" 35mm camera with a compact digital camera. For recording events and snapshot photography digital cameras became the preferred approach several years ago, and I'm on my second generation compact digital camera. I love being able to go to a family gathering, then go home and do a quick sorting and editing of the pictures, dump them on the web, and e-mail out a URL so everyone can see them while the gathering is still fresh in their minds.
Replacing my 35mm SLR is a tougher problem, and one that hasn't been completely solved yet. The biggest issue I have is that the format of available digital sensors means that there are no really wide angle lenses available for reasonably priced digital SLRs. This, more than any other issue, keeps me from buying a digital SLR. I bought the S7000 as a way to get most of what my 35mm SLR does at a reasonable price, while retaining the 35mm SLR, the film in the refrigerator, and the film scanner as a backup until there is a digital SLR that comes close enough to my ultimate requirements that I'm willing to pay the extra money for it.
The S7000 is a remarkably capable camera for the price. The wide end of the zoom is restrictive for me, but I have an adaptor and a Raynox 0.66x lens that help. A fast 1GB compact flash card makes it easy to take a lot of pictures at essentially zero marginal cost. It is true that the lack of control over the compression is an occasional annoyance, but the compressed pictures usually come out very well.
Then there is the noise issue. There is no question that if you want to blow up the images and look for noise you will find it. For many shots it's not an issue, but for clear skies and a few other situations you can clearly see it. In most cases screen images and prints of modest size won't show unacceptable noise, but there are situations where it will be evident. Note that there are tools available to make the nose less apparent in images, and if you only occasionally make big enlargements they may solve the problem (if it is one) for you.
To continue on this issue, if I scan a slide from ten or more years ago I will generally get grain that is more evident than the noise in an S7000 image. Newer film, thanks to the intense rivalry between Kodak and Fuji in the 90s, has noticeably less grain, but it is still there. So it is all a matter of expectations. The S7000 can create images with noise no more evident than the film grain of days not long since past. Yes, for half again as much you can buy a camera with less noise, but is that a reason to criticize the performance of the S7000?
The S7000 can create marvelous images at a great price. It doesn't quite match the capabilities of a cameras that cost significantly more, but why should it?
I'm delighted with the S7000, and have taken a lot of pictures that I really like with it. I like being able to shoot hundreds of pictures without changing film. The battery draw bugs me a little, but the problem is not that I've ever had to stop while shooting to change batteries. The strange thing is that it draws down batteries while it is turned off, so I have to plan on inserting fresh batteries each day. But that's a small problem when you expect it.
I keep up on what's happening in the digital camera world, and I knew when I bought it that it was possible to buy a better camera at a higher price. But, as I alluded to above, I'm waiting for the digital SLR system that gives me everything I want before I make a big investment, and this camera offered pretty much everything available at its price point or even a step or two higher. The one competing camera that intrigues me is the Sony DSC-F828, which has a wider zoom and a four color CCD mask. But it not only costs half again as much, it weighs nearly twice as much as the S7000. So I still think the S7000 is the right camera for me at this time. That doesn't mean that it is the right camera for everyone. But when you compare its strengths and weaknesses it should be clear why many people love it even though, as some critics point out, it certainly isn't perfect. But it is a very capable and fun camera!
on December 5, 2003
I had the chance to tinker with this camera and had it set to 12MP, Fine, and soft sharpness as suggested by one reviewer here. Started taking pictures mostly outside without the flash. I was so delighted with the shots that I had them developed at a local Kodak processing center. 5 A4 sizes and the rest in 6X4s. This is a native 6MP camera but the shots taken at 12 MP can rival a 9 or 10MP camera without paying extra. The printed photos were just amazingly clean of noise and artifacts.
I suggest getting a circular polarizer with it because it just brings out more vibrant color to your outdoor shots.
I am so thrilled with the performance that I have started buying accessories for it to really take advantage of all its features.
The accessories I bought are
1. Adapter ring (I suggest getting 55-55 not the suggested 55-52)I bought mine from cameragear.com because it is not availble from any stores in amazon.
2. Tiffen deluxe filter set (FL-D, Neutral Density, Warming Filter)
3. Tiffen circular polarizer
4. Vivitar 285HV Professional Flash (this one is highly recommended from pro to amateur users because of its price and features)I got mine from amazon as well.
All this accessories only cost me U$ 160.00 but it really brought out the best from the S7000.
For the price and feature set, nothing comes close to the s7000. It is the new king of prosumer digicams at the moment.
on October 31, 2003
I've only had this camera for a week now, but the "shake out cruise" at a local botanical garden left me anxious to get out and take more pictures with it. Even in 3 MP mode the images can handle significant enlargement, and my tests to date (partial frames printed on an Epson 2000P printer) suggest that the higher resolution modes will support at least 22.5x30" prints assuming you don't insist on pressing your nose against them to find fault with them. The super macro mode allowed very close up pictures of tiny flowers, and the "ISO 800" setting coupled with shutter priority mode allowed me to freeze the wings on a hummingbird. The electronic viewfinder works very well, and I like having a ring on the lens for zooming. I still haven't tried all the features, but I got a lot of decent pictures on the first time out. This is a digital camera that can do a lot of what I've done in the past with a 35mm SLR. (I shoot slides and scan them.) To be fair, it isn't perfect. I would have preferred the handgrip to be a little smaller, but I have small hands. I would have liked a 28mm equivalent short end on the zoom, but I have an adapter to give me that capability that I need to get out and try. More options on image compression would also have been nice, although it produces very good images given the level of compression it achieves. I do like the fact it runs on 4 AA batteries (but get high capacity NiMHs) and will take CF cards (preferably fast, high capacity ones). All in all, it's a lot of camera for the price.
on March 20, 2004
I asked my wife "what is the opposite of buyer's remorse," to which she said "buyer's ecstacy," which is what I am experiencing ever since the camera arrived a couple days ago.
It took me about 2 minutes to figure out how to hook up the video cable to my TV and how to record a video clip. Moments later I was amazing the kids with short video clips with sound of themselves dancing around the room. Later in the evening I started delving into the incredible depth of feature sets this camera has and realized that this thing is as sophisticated and "manual" as I want it to be while also being as simple and "automatic" as a novice would want it to be. It covers the entire spectrum.
One issue that was very important to me in upgrading to a better camera was getting one that would fire the shutter right away and be ready to go for more a moment later. My previous camera left a lot to be desired in the confidence that I would end up with an image that bore any resemblance to what I was looking at when the shutter button was pushed. Add to that the interminable wait before the next shot was able to be taken, and it was a real roulette of experiences.
The S7000 is ready to take pictures when I am, and includes a function that will take several frames in sequence if desired. The SLR function means I get pictures framed correctly instead of the viewfinder offset that spoiled a few clever photos I experimented with on my old camera.
I cannot imagine a better value out there. The technology that is built into this camera and the results it produces are phenomenal. The body seems rugged and the controls seem solid with good feedback. There are several buttons positioned all around the camera to perform various functions, but they seem pretty intuitive.
I wish the camera came with an AC adapter. I can't find it among the listed Amazon accessories, so I'll be tracking that down elsewhere since the provided AA batteries didn't last long (but I put it through its paces). Rechargeables (NiMH recommended) look like the way to go.
I am not an expert, and can't offer much in the way of comparisons, but this seems as good a camera as a casual hobbyist like me ought to be allowed to have without being overcome with a sense of importance and photo-journalistic flair. Fujifilm did great on this one!
on May 16, 2004
I've now learned that the problem with the batteries discharging while the camera is turned off is limited to early production models with certain CF cards left in them while turned off. In the UK Fuji repaired the cameras. In the US they've just told people not to leave CF cards in them. It turns out that the problem can also be solved by opening and then re-closing the battery compartment after turning off the camera. (It some how resets the power supply so that it doesn't drain the batteries through the CF card.) In any event, this shouldn't be an issue for anyone buying a new S7000 at this time.
on June 9, 2004
I received the S-7000 about a week ago and have taken about 250 pictures with it so far. Generally, the image quality is very good even at the lowest setting (1M) and the resolution is a great improvement over my old Sony FD-91. The color is more true than with the Sony.
My only dissapointments so far are:
When you have an image with a solid background there is noticable noise that manifests itself as slight color splotchiness in dark backgrounds. A 2 second empty image (with the lens cap on) had various white, blue, green, and red dots throughout the black field. I don't know if this is a sensor or firmware function but long exposures at night might be affected. Good news is fringing is minimal.
Using the flash at longer distances is one of the reasons I choose the S-7000 and it works very well even at around 30 feet. But it does seem to be a bit on the warm side yielding a slightly greenish-yellow tint to whites. This may have been due to my proximity to the subject at the time since other images seem to be well balanced.
The auto focus has problems in low light situations but if you keep the subject greater than about 7 feet away you should be alright. I tested this last night in a darkened house and it seems to work alright.
Fuji says it has a CF II memory slot but they say it's for a microdrive only (max. 1 GB but I've seen packages that include 2GB microdrives). Most info doesn't mention that. I have read that 512 MB 40x Lexar CF cards work without a problem but since Fuji doesn't specfically recommend them you take your chances if you use them. Also, some CF cards can cause your batteries to drain even with the camera powered off. I understand openning the storage compartment door, after the camera is shut down, will prevent this. Since the file system is fat16, you are also limited to 2 GB storage, which should be plenty for anyone buying this camera. The 16MB xD card that comes with the camera won't do you much good unless you stay close to a computer to empty the card when it's full.
That Fuji doesn't supply a set of rechargable NiMH batteries and a charger with the camera is something else to take into a purchasing decision. If you already have them you're in good shape but look for the added expense for them and storage if you do not have them. A set of fully-charged 1900 mA NiMH batteries lasted for about 150 images. Most of these images were taken using the flash and the LCD panel. Since I'm still using just the 16MB card it also involved uploading the files to the computer for evaluations. Just a note here I do wish the LCD was tiltable.
Having been involved with technical documentation for 30+ years I have to say that the manual leaves a bit to be desired as well. There is no index and it seems Fugi has it's own terminology for some functions/features. They haven't separated feature information from usage tips. (This is good for beginning users but this and the lack of an index made the manual hard to use when looking for specifics.)
(...) it's a fair to good point-and-click camera but if it was any more than that I be very disappointed with the noise in the images and the non recommending of CF cards. I'll probably be contacting Fuji to see if there is a firmware update available or if there is anything that can be done about the noise.
Follow up to previous review...
072604 - Just got back from a one week vacation around Mt. Rushmore and must say I was disappointed with the S7000 in auto mode. I took more than 200 6MP photos with the camera in the auto mode in daylight and darker situations requiring the flash. (BTW the NiMH batteries lasted the entire trip even with the 1GB microdrive and the flash.) The noise in the images has made them essentially useless to me for anything but computer desktops or snapshot use and the color bias toward the green end is bad enough in some images to make the sky look teal in color. (Photoshop may be able to correct this but I don't feel I should have to do this.)
The auto focus may have caused some of the detail problems since it focuses in steps (about 21) not in one smooth range.
The lack of image stabilization hurt the quality of some of my images where I was at a location that would not allow visitors to use the flash and tripod use was not feasible.
I have images from an Olympus C-50 in auto mode that produced color much more true and free of the noise that blurs details.
There are cameras that yield better images for less money. They may not have all the features of the S7000 but if you think about it, you really won't use most of them. I should have kept the Olympus C-5050.
I wouldn't recommend this camera unless you're willing to put up with it's short-comings. To some people they are minor but for my use they are not.
I've contacted Fugi several times about firmware updates and have only recieved form-letter responses that pretty much say we're not doing it cause we think it works fine. Their web site has not improved since I got the camera.
I just came back from a short trip and the images I got at a 6MP setting were of considerably lower image quality of the same subject, under the same conditions, a friend got using a less expensive 5MP Sony camera.
The more I use this camera the more disappointed I'm becoming.
on January 13, 2004
The s7000 has the essential features I wanted : large 6 Mpixel sensor, dynamic range of light (no more white-outs!), excellent resolution and colors, value for money, 6x optical zoom, external flash hot shoe, standard AA batteries and compactFlash memory cards. The camera is very easy to operate, including with gloves. (tried it outside in winter!)
The image quality is great when using the best settings (12M pixels fine or RAW, ISO 200). The AUTO mode, the default sharpening, and the JPEG compressor for 1-3 MPixel images produce artefacts or boost sensor noise.
I just changed the rating of the camera from 4 to 5 stars after seeing what the raw format is capable of (not using Fuji's bundled software). Note that the s7000 is not a 12-MPixel camera: it has 6 MPixels. For a fair assessment of the s7000, use at raw files converted using a lossless format (e.g. TIFF) before magnifying the image at a 1:1 ratio on your monitor.
If you use the best settings, you will have excellent pictures. However, the s7000 is not comparable to cameras with larger sensors. If you really want to remove the noise, the "advanced sharpen" tool of Picture Window Pro 3.5 will clean it up. Resolution is great. Chromatic aberration is very low but can be noticed (by a purist) when viewing pictures at high magnification.
The viewfinder is comfortable and accurate. The delay for taking pictures is better than my other digital camera's (Canon S10). To aid focusing, you can hit a Focus Check button that pops-up a magnified area of the image. The macro photography modes allow for extremely close shootings (1 cm); the auto-bracketing works fine; the last-5 frames continuous capture is a great idea for action shots.
Video quality is awsome, and there is no limit to the duration of the videos. I don't need another video camera, since the s7000 is good enough for my needs.
- a tool for rotating images in the camera
- a mode for taking pictures to be stitched (panorama)
- 24 hour time format is not supported
- range of flash adjustment should extend beyond -0.6 EV
- 16 or 24 FPS video rate (only 30 FPS is supported)
- Zoom is not enabled during video shooting
- sensitivity cannot be set manually lower than ISO 200
- bundled RAW converter has no controls, and is not taking the best out of the RAW files. Use alternatives!
- RAW setting should be available from the "F button" for Image Quality (not the SET mode).
- LCD display is fixed (many other cameras have an articulated extension)
- Audio annotations to photos require tedious manipulations
Third party RAW converters are available on the web. For example, s7raw has more controls than RAW Converter LE that comes with the camera, and it can output 16-bit TIFF images. dcraw is also very good, and you can experiment with its source code.
rawgem (my own converter) is also available for download, and produces PSD 24/48 bit or BMP 24-bit files.
The histogram shown during picture taking in manual mode is different from the actual histogram of the picture taken. It can be way off -- don't rely on it for setting the camera aperture/speed.
on January 26, 2005
May be this sounds interesting, but I'd been upgraded to the FinePix S7000 from a Canon A95.
You can ask me the question: why did I ever upgrade when I was mad about my A95?
The reasons are simple:
- Because I cannot afford two digit cams at the same time at this price level (so my second one is a Fuji A200 for pocket use).
- Because I needed a hot-shoe for future plans,
- Because it has 6x optical, 2.8-3.1 fast zoom lens,
- Because it has unlimited movie mode,
- Because although the ISO starts at 200 (160 in auto mode) it is quite clear even at ISO 400 (and 800 at the 3MP mode),
- Because of the professional feeling, excellent ergonomics,
- Because of the high resolution viewfinder,
- Because of the many extra settings and external buttons for quick menu accessing,
- Because of the 1/10,000 min. shutter speed,
- Because of the "last 5" continious shooting mode,
- Because of the 1cm super macro mode,
- Because of the faster performance in record mode, faster AF,
- Because of the USB 2.0 high-speed transfer from camera to PC,
- And because of the dual media slot that is very useful.
So what are the things I miss from my S7000 at this price range?
- Flip-out and rotating LCD
- Custom modes on mode dial (or anywhere)
- ISO 800 at full CCD resolution (6 MP) - Yes, I DO NOT miss ISO 100!
- Continious shooting mode with flash on
- A bit better auto white balance
- An AF-assist lamp would be nice (passive sensor helps mainly in good light)
Many people compare the S7000 to DSLRs. This is NOT fair IMO. Compare DSLRs to each other, this camera may look like a DSLR (that is very nice) but that is not a DSLR and it doesn't want to be one. It's an all around, full-featured prosumer camera with high quality lens and longer than average zoom.
I use only the 6MP mode, the 12MP interpolated is not my cup of tea. The images are soft and noisy for my liking in the 12MP modes, but in the 6MP mode everything is clear - so if noise is the issue you hesitate buying this camera, then go and get it, it's not an issue - at least for me.
I like the aperture of 3.1 of the 6x zoom lens at tele position very much. With this, I can make crystal clear and sharp images at full zoom, without having to struggle with light and AF. Of course, it needs external light that can be a flash unit, but this property of the S7000 is really outstanding, comparing it to any of my previous Canons.
The last 5 continious shooting mode is very useful - it even works for moving objects, I shot several sharp images of my 2-year-old daughter without any problems. Just make sure you have a big memory card, make as many photos as possible and keep the best of them at the end of the day.
Strong jpeg compression is another thing I was afraid of. Having 5 Canon compacts before, my first thing was to test the image quality straight out of the S7000 without any post-processing. Some of the photos I saw on the net (on pbase) were great, but some of them looked grainy and soft. Here's my opinion: again, at the 6MP mode the images are GREAT. At the 12MP modes, although it allows for larger print sizes, images look grainy and soft to me. So I stick with the 6MP mode, it's enough for me and gives at least as detailed pictures as my A95 gave before.
What can I say about the macro mode? It's outstanding with great DOF, very high resolution and image detail. No complaining about the S7000's macro performance.
VGA movie mode - it's nice. Fills up the memory card quickly so be sure to get a few ones (or a big one). Try to avoid microdrives, nowdays high capacity CF cards can be bought, no need to a microdrive, I always preferred flash cards to microdrives.
One of the big big advantage of the S7000 to other cameras is user friendliness, ergonomics, menu and button layout. It's unbeatable I think. Everything is in the right place, you can manage the camera even with one hand.
I have only one problem at the moment, but it's not that big really. The camera seems to misfire the white balance sometimes when using flash indoors. It has a blueish tint to the images taken, that happens occassionally. In the same environment, without changing anything, I was obtain to take 9 pictures with great wb and 1 with bad (blueish) all the time out of 10. This is quite strange, may be I have a faulty camera I don't know, but it can be easily corrected in post-processing afterwards.
It did the same when using one of the pre-programmed wbs, like the incandescent setting.
Still, despite of the white balance issue, I HIGHLY recommend this camera to every serious amateur photographer out there. It's certanly NOT a DSLR but can you get a DSLR for this price? I don't think so. The S7000's outstanding ergonomics and appereance, feature set and high quality optics raise above most of today's compact (and even prosumer) cams, just go and buy it you'll love it I promise. That's what I've been told and they were right!
Back again. Did I ever mention the RAW format and the zoom ring for manual focus?
I would like to talk about the noise issue. The S7000's lowest noise setting is ISO200 in P, A, T and M modes, and the camera can select ISO 160 if it can. Are the images of the S7000 noisy at ISO200? I would say definitely NO. In fact, image noise of the S7000 at ISO200 match the image noise of my A95 at ISO100. One of my favourite digitcam reviewers on the net was complaining about ISO200 as the lowest selectable ISO and higher than average noise. OK, a Rebel has less noise. But hey, again, this is not the same price point. For the price, the S7000's noise is lower than average. I can shoot hand-held images without flash at ISO400 (or 800) and I don't need a tripod. Just try it yourself and you'll see that noise is not an issue, indeed it's better(lower) than average. Show me another camera at this price that has lower noise at ISO200 and ISO400 than the S7000. I wonder if you could.
So come on people, hurry up, before this excellent camera gets discontinued!
Another update: the more I use the camera the more I like it. There is another issue unfortunately: blown highlights. The S7000 tends to overexpose images occasionally that many times leads to blown highlights and therefore loss of detail. Be careful with the right exposure setting. I know that in winter it's really tough for the camera to set the correct metering, but the number of overexposed images seem a bit more than average to me. Still, I love this camera you just have to check and set the exposure manually a few times and then you're ready.
DOF of this camera is SOOO great!
on November 17, 2003
Ease of Use: Excellent - It is easy to use right out of the box
Durability: Very Good - Well made and will last a long time
Portability: Very Good - Small and usually functions well
Photo Quality: Excellent - Pictures are professional grade
Battery Life: Very Good - Lasts all day
Lighting Conditions: Use inside & outside, with or without a flash
I would recommend this camera primarily for: Anyone
I went from a Casio QV-3000, to a Canon G5. After testing the S7000, I sold the G5 in favor of the S7000. The options exceed those of the G5, included 12MP image capability. A buddy of mine (you know him, Mr. Pro-photographer) said that digital camera's that do RAW format is the one to go with. I had no idea what he meant until I had one printed out. Stunning.
As the QV-3000 and G5 had, and the S7000 has, the ability to use IBM Microdrives. I tested the seek/write times between the Microdrive and the xD-Picture card ... my recommendation is to dump the Microdrive. The xD-Picture card uses less power and seeks much quicker than the Microdrive. Well, not wanting to get rid of my investment, I was happy to find that I can use both the xD-Picture card and the Microdrive at the same time (in case I run out of room on the 256MB xD).
Ease of use. In my family, I'm the one who figures techy stuff out (like the blinking VCR time). This time my wife figured this one out way before I did. We had it in the house for 1 day and when I came home, she told me of all the neat stuff it did. Very easy to use.