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DCRP Review: Fuji FinePix S6000fd
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: November 5, 2006
Last Updated: April 6, 2008
The FinePix S6000fd ($499) is really the combination of two of their most popular models. It takes the "guts" from the FinePix F30 and puts them into something resembling the FinePix S9000/S9100. The result is an ultra zoom camera with a 6.3 Megapixel SuperCCD sensor that produces less noise than regular CCDs, giving this camera that potential to be the low light king in its class.
One of the unique features on the camera (which puts the "fd" it its model name) is face detection. The camera actively seeks out faces and makes sure that they are in focus and properly exposed. Other features on the S6000fd include a 10.7X optical zoom lens, manual zoom and focus rings, full manual controls, a VGA movie mode, and more. One thing missing: optical image stabilization.
There are lots of ultra zoom cameras out there, many of which are excellent. How does the FinePix S6000fd compare? Find out now!
The FinePix S6000fd is known as the S6500fd in some countries.
What's in the Box?
The FinePix S6000fd has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
Like so many cameras these days, Fuji built memory into the S6000fd instead of including a memory card. Unfortunately, there's just 10MB built into the camera, which isn't nearly enough. Therefore, you'll want to buy a memory card right away. Like all of Fuji's FinePix cameras, the S6000 uses xD Picture cards, and I recommend a 512MB card as a good starter size. There are now high speed (Type H) xD cards available, and I only recommend one of those if you plan on using the burst modes, as that's the only place where I saw a real performance improvement.
The FinePix S6000fd uses AA batteries for power. Fuji gives you four alkaline batteries, which will quickly run dry and end up in your trash. That means that you'll want to be a set or two of NiMH batteries plus a fast charger. This will save both money and the environment in the long run. Here's how this camera compares to other ultra zooms in terms of battery life:
As you can see, the S6000 has above average battery life. And it uses AA batteries, something I'm a big fan of. A four-pack of NiMH rechargeables sells for maybe a 1/5th of what a proprietary battery goes for, and you can use off-the-shelf alkalines if those die.
The S6000 includes a lens cap and retaining strap, so that big lens won't get scratched up.
Something else you'll find in the box is a lens hood, which comes in handy when you're shooting outdoors.
There are just a few accessories available for the S6000fd, and I've compiled them into this handy chart:
This list is a bit disappointing compared to some other ultra zooms... but since the lens is threaded, you may have some third party options available.
FinePixViewer 3.4 for Mac
Fuji includes their FinePixViewer software with the S6000fd. The Mac version is very basic, doing things like slideshows, image rotating, resizing, and e-mailing. And that's about it. It can't even view RAW images, instead sending you into the FinePix Studio software that I'll describe below.
FInePixViewer 5.3 for Windows
As is often the case, Windows users get a better version of FinePixViewer. This one does everything the Mac version does, plus there are image editing, redeye reduction, and RAW conversion tools as well.
FinePix Studio for Mac OS X
Both Mac and Windows users get roughly equal version of the new FinePix Studio software. This is your RAW editor, and it lets you manipulate nearly all the properties that make the format useful. That includes color, tone curves, white balance, sharpness, and exposure compensation (no noise reduction though). The beauty of RAW is that you can change all of things without reducing the quality of the image -- it's as if you took the shot again. The downside is that you must process every photo on your computer in order to get the RAW image into a more common format like JPEG. Later in the review you'll see why sometimes this may be worth the trouble.
A negative about the Studio software specifically is that it's really slow to redraw the image after you adjust one of the RAW properties -- and this is on a real workhorse of a computer too: a Mac Pro with 4GB of RAM. If you've got Photoshop CS2, you can edit the RAW images using the latest version of the Camera Raw plug-in.
Fuji also includes ImageMixer VCD2 LE with the S6000fd, which lets you create Video CDs (for viewing on your DVD player) and CD albums (for your computer) of your photos. If you shell out a whopping $50 for the unlimited version you can also burn to DVD discs.
The S6000fd comes with a thick, in-depth manual. It's not terribly user friendly, but every question you may have about the camera will be answered.
Look and Feel
The FinePix S6000fd looks a lot like the S9000/S9100, so if you've used one of those, you'll feel right at home here. The camera has a plastic shell over a metal frame, and it feels very sturdy in your hands. Speaking of hands, the large grip makes holding the S6000 a piece of cake.
In terms of usability, the S6000 does suffer a bit from button clutter, with various buttons scattered around the body. I'm not a fan of the power switch either, as it's too easy to accidentally bump.
Two really nice things carried over from the S9000 are the manual zoom and focus rings. They make the S6000fd feel a lot more professional than most of the other ultra zooms on the market. Plus, you won't have to mash buttons anymore to precisely adjust the zoom and/or focus.
Now, let's see how the S6000fd compares to other ultra zoom cameras on the market: