printer-friendly reviews are for non-commercial use only

DCRP Review: Fuji FinePix S700
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: June 18, 2007
Last Updated: April 6, 2008

The FinePix S700 ($249) is Fuji's new entry-level ultra zoom camera. It replaces the FinePix S5200, and sits below the S6000fd, which was introduced last summer. The S700 lacks the SuperCCD sensor, face detection, and SLR-styling of the S6000fd, but it still has a plethora of features, including a 7 Megapixel CCD, 10X zoom lens, full manual controls, VGA movie mode, and more. It's also one of the first Fuji cameras to have a memory card slot that accepts the xD and SD formats.

The entry-level ultra zoom field is pretty crowded these days. How does the FinePix S700 compare? Find out now in our review!

The S700 is known as the FinePix S5700 in some countries.

What's in the Box?

The FinePix S700 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

Like so many cameras these days, Fuji built memory into the S700 instead of bundling a memory card. The S700 has 27MB of built-in memory, which holds just seven photos at the highest quality setting. That means that you'll want to buy a memory card right away. As I said in the introduction, the S700 supports both SD and xD memory cards, which is a big win for the consumer. As far as I can tell, the new high capacity SDHC cards are not supported. If you are going to buy an xD card, make sure it's a "Type H" high speed model -- it makes a big difference. I recommend picking up a high speed 1GB card to use with the FinePix S700.

The FinePix S700 uses four AA batteries for power. Fuji includes alkaline batteries in the box, which will quickly end up in your trash can. Thus, you should be a set or two of NiMH rechargeable batteries (2500 mAh or higher), plus a fast charger. Once you've done that, you'll get these battery life numbers out of the camera:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon PowerShot S3 IS * 550 shots 4 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Fuji FinePix S700 500 shots 4 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Fuji FinePix S6000fd 400 shots 4 x 2500 mAh NiMH
GE X1 * 600 shots 4 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Kodak EasyShare Z710 225 shots 2 x 2100 mAh NiMH
Kodak EasyShare Z712 IS * 275 shots KLIC-8000
Nikon Coolpix S10 * 300 shots EN-EL5
Olympus SP-510 Ultra Zoom 670 shots 4 x 2300 mAh NiMH
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 * 380 shots CGR-S006
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H7 * 300 shots NP-BG1

* Has optical image stabilization

Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

When equipped with NiMH batteries, the FinePix S700 delivers battery life that is well above average. And it uses AA batteries, which is a huge plus in my book. They're cheaper than proprietary lithium-ion batteries, and you can use off-the-shelf alkalines when the rechargeable ones die.

Fuji includes a lens cap and retaining strap to protect the S700's lens. No lens hood is available for the camera.

Unlike most ultra zooms, the S700 is hardly expandable at all. The only official accessory is the AC-5VX AC adapter (priced from $37), which powers the camera without draining your batteries. The lens is threaded, though, so you could add third party 46 mm filters if you wanted to.


FinePixViewer 3.4 for Mac

Fuji includes their FinePixViewer software with the S700, which you can use to transfer photos from the camera to your computer. The Mac version is very basic, featuring things like slideshows, image rotating, resizing, and e-mailing. And that's about it. Yeah, you should use iPhoto instead.


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, adding image editing and redeye reduction tools.

Fuji also includes ImageMixer VCD2 LE with the camera, 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 $50 for the unlimited version you can also burn to DVD discs.

Fuji includes a nice thick manual with the FinePix S700. It won't win any awards for being user friendly, but you will get any question you may have about the camera. The manual for FinePixViewer is built into the software.

Look and Feel

The FinePix S700 is a midsize ultra zoom camera made entirely of plastic. That doesn't mean that it feels cheap, though -- Fuji used some high quality materials here. Ergonomically speaking, the S700 is very well designed, with maybe the exception of the awkwardly placed power button. The important controls ar easy to reach, and the substantial right hand grip ensures that the camera is stable.

Alright, now let's see how the camera compares to other ultra zooms in terms of size and weight:

Camera Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions) Volume (bulk) Mass (empty)
Canon PowerShot S3 IS 4.6 x 3.1 x 3.0 in. 42.8 cu in. 410 g
Fujifilm FinePix S6000fd 5.2 x 3.8 x 5.0 in. 98.8 cu in. 600 g
Fujifilm FinePix S700 4.2 x 3.0 x 3.2 in. 40.3 cu in. 306 g
Kodak EasyShare Z710 3.8 x 3.1 x 2.9 in. 34.2 cu in. 285 g
Kodak Easyshare Z712 IS 4.1 x 2.9 x 2.7 in. 32.1 cu in. 300 g
Nikon Coolpix S10 4.4 x 2.9 x 1.6 in. 20.4 cu in. 220 g
Olympus SP-510 Ultra Zoom 4.2 x 2.9 x 2.8 in. 34.1 cu in. 325 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 4.4 x 2.8 x 3.1 in. 38.2 cu in. 310 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H7 4.3 x 3.3 x 3.4 in. 48.2 cu in. 375 g

As you can see, the S700 is one of the larger cameras in the entry-level ultra zoom class. It's not nearly as large as its big brother, the FinePix S6000fd, which looks more like a digital SLR than a fixed-lens camera.

Ready to tour the S700? Let's start with the front of the camera.

The FinePix S700 has a new (to Fuji cameras, at least) 10X optical zoom lens. This lens isn't terribly "fast", with a maximum aperture range of F3.5 - F3.7. What this means in layman's terms is that the lens does not let in as much light as other ultra zooms in this class. The focal range of the lens is 6.3 - 63 mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 380 mm. The lens barrel is threaded for 46 mm attachments, though the camera only supports filters as far as I know. The lens does not extend out of the body -- all the moving parts are internal.

Directly above the lens is the camera's pop-up flash, which is released electronically. Fuji gives just one flash range number for the S700, and that's 0.5 - 6.2 m at ISO 800. Keep in mind that you probably won't actually want to take photos at ISO 800 on this camera, so the real world flash range isn't quite that high. You cannot attach an external flash to the FinePix S700.

The only other item of note on the front of the camera is the AF-assist lamp, which is located to the left of the Fujifilm logo. This is used by the camera as a focusing aid in low light situations. It also doubles as the visual countdown for the self-timer.

Fuji has been putting some very nice LCDs on their recent cameras, and the S700 is no exception. This screen is large (2.5"), sharp (230,000 pixels), and fluid (60 fps). Outdoor visibility is decent, though I'd avoid the "quick brighten" feature, as it just washes the image out. This feature is more helpful in low light, though it's certainly not necessary to use it when shooting in those situations.

Above the LCD is a fairly small electronic viewfinder, or EVF. An EVF is essentially a small LCD (0.24" in size) that you view as if it was an optical viewfinder. Unfortunately, EVFs never come close to the "real thing" in terms of quality, but you do get a 100% view of the frame and no parallax error. Anything you can see on the LCD can also be viewed on the EVF, including menus. The EVF has the same resolution and refresh rate as the LCD, which is good news. One thing lacking is a diopter correction knob, which focuses the image on the screen.

The EVF/LCD button at the top of the photo switches between the two displays. Moving to the lower-right, we find the playback and F-mode buttons.


F-mode menu

Press the F-mode button and you'll open up -- get this -- the F-mode menu. In it you'll find these options:

There are a bunch of Auto ISO modes on the S700, and basically you're choosing the highest sensitivity the camera will use. If you're in the "auto" shooting mode then you won't have any of those choices -- just "auto". I'll have more on the S700's ISO performance later in this review.

Below those two buttons we find the four-way controller, used for menu navigation as well as:

Below the four-way controller are two final buttons. The display button toggles what is shown on the LCD/EVF, and is also used to "back out" of menus. The other button adjusts the exposure compensation in 1/3EV increments, with the usual range of -2EV to +2EV.

There's more to see on the top of the FinePix S700. First up is the camera's mode dial, which has these options (moving counterclockwise):

Option Function
Auto mode Point-and-shoot operation with some menu options locked up
Picture Stabilization mode Boosts the ISO in order to produce a sharp photo
Natural Light mode Same concept as above but with flash unavailable
Natural Light & Flash mode Takes two photos in a row: one with ISO boost, and the other with the flash (see comparison below)
Scene Position 1/2 You choose the situation, and the camera uses the appropriate settings. Choose from portrait, landscape, sport, night, fireworks, sunset, snow, beach, museum, party, flower, and text. There are two spots on the mode dial so you can have two separate, easily accessible "defaults"
Program mode Point-and-shoot, with full menu access; a Program Shift feature lets you select from various shutter speed/aperture combos by using the four-way controller
Aperture priority (Av) mode You choose the aperture from a range of F3.5 - F13.6, and the camera uses the appropriate shutter speed
Shutter priority (Tv) mode Just the opposite: you choose the shutter speed from a range of 4 - 1/1000 sec and the camera picks the aperture
Full manual (M) mode You select both the shutter speed and aperture; same ranges as above.
Movie mode More on this later

As you can see, the FinePix S700 has both automatic and manual controls. The similar Picture Stabilization and Natural Light modes aren't as useful here as they would be on a SuperCCD-equipped FinePix (the S700 has a "regular" CCD), as those cameras are much better low light performers. I'd only recommend using these modes if you know that you'll never make a print larger than 4 x 6, as the photo quality isn't the best at high ISOs (example). Instead, adjust the ISO manually, or use the Auto ISO (400 limit) mode.

My only beef about the manual controls is that the slowest shutter speed available is 4 seconds.

Directly to the right of the mode dial you'll find a button that activates the S700's continuous shooting modes. The first of these modes is called "top 3", and it takes just three shots in a row at a pokey 1.2 frames/second. The long period continuous mode is even worse -- it shoots at 0.4 frames/second, though it doesn't stop until the memory card fills up. The LCD and EVF lag noticeably behind the action, which makes it difficult to track a moving subject. Finally, there's an auto bracketing feature, which takes three shots in a row, each with a different exposure. The interval between exposures can be ±1/3EV, ±2/3EV, or ±1EV.

Moving up onto the camera grip now, we find the power switch, zoom controller, and shutter release button. The zoom controller quickly moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in just 1.6 seconds. I counted an impressive thirty-five steps in the camera's 10X zoom range.

On this side of the S700 you'll find the camera's speaker, as well as its I/O ports. These ports, which are under a plastic cover, include USB + A/V out (one port for both) and DC-in (for an optional AC adapter). The camera does not support the USB 2.0 High Speed standard, which means that image transfer speeds will be slower than they could be.

You'll find the memory card slot on the other side of the FinePix S700. This slot, which is protected by a plastic cover of average quality, supports both xD and SD memory card media.

On the bottom of the S700 is a plastic tripod mount and the battery compartment. As you can see, the battery compartment holds four AA batteries. The door that covers it is quite sturdy, and it features a lock as well.

Using the Fuji FinePix S700

Record Mode

It takes about 1.7 seconds for the FinePix S700 to prepare for shooting. That's not bad for an ultra zoom.


A live histogram is only available when you're adjusting exposure

Focusing speeds were good, but not best-in-class. Typically it took between 0.3 - 0.5 seconds for the camera to lock focus at wide-angle, with slightly longer waits at the telephoto end of the lens. Low light focusing was accurate, but quite slow, with focus times easily exceeded one second.

I did not find shutter lag to be a problem, even at the slower shutter speeds at which it can occur.

Shot-to-shot speeds were sluggish. With a Type M xD card, there was almost a three second delay before I could take another photo. Using a Type H (high speed) xD card, that delay dropped to around two seconds. These times did not change when the flash was used.

There's no way to delete a photo immediately after taking it -- you must enter playback mode to do so.

Now here's a look at the available image resolution and quality options on the FinePix S700:

Resolution Quality Approx. file size # images on 27MB onboard memory # images on 1GB xD card (optional)
7M
3072 x 2304
Fine 3.5 MB 7 294
Normal 1.8 MB 15 586
3:2
3072 x 2048
Normal 1.6 MB 17 659
4M
2304 x 1728
Normal 980 KB 27 1031
2M
1600 x 1200
Normal 630 KB 44 1640
0.3M
640 x 480
Normal 130 KB 215 7996

And now you see why buying a memory card right away is a good idea.

The S700 doesn't support the RAW image format, nor would I really expect it to (though it would be nice!).

Files are numbered using a simple convention: DSCF####.JPG, where #### = 0001 - 9999. The file numbering is maintained as you swap or erase memory cards.

The S700 has a pretty basic record menu, which is in addition to that F-mode menu that I covered earlier. Keep in mind that some of these options are only available in the manual shooting modes. Here's the full list:

The FinePix S700 offers manual control over white balance. Select the custom option, point the camera at something white or gray, and you'll get accurate colors even under unusual lighting conditions. One annoyance though: the custom WB is not previewed on the LCD as it is on other cameras.


Manual focus

The camera has three focus modes. Single AF locks the focus only when you halfway press the shutter release button. In continuous AF mode, the camera is always trying to focus, even when you're not touching any buttons. This reduces focus times, but at the expense of your battery life. Manual AF is not terribly useful. To operate it you must hold down the exposure compensation button and then use the zoom controller to set the focus. The current focus distance is not shown on the LCD/EVF, and there's no center-frame enlargement either. About the only help you get is when the circle in the center of the frame turns yellow, which is the camera's way of telling you that it thinks the subject is in focus.

The S700 also has a setup menu, and it contains these options:

Enough menus, let's talk about photo quality now!

The S700 turned in a pretty good performance in our macro test. About the only complaint I have is that the "cloak" is too orange -- it should be a lot redder. Aside from that, the news is good -- there's plenty of detail captured, and no sign of any noise.

There are three macro modes on the FinePix S700. In normal macro mode, the minimum focus distances are 4 cm at wide-angle and 60 cm at telephoto -- both pretty good numbers. If you want to get even closer to your subject, put the camera into super macro mode. This locks the lens at the full wide-angle position and lets you be just 1 cm away from your subject.

The S700's night scene performance was just fair. The slow lens and 4 second maximum exposure time didn't bring in as much light as I would've liked. There's not much in the line of noise here, and plenty of detail was captured. There is strong purple fringing, however -- definitely worse than on your typical ultra zoom camera.

I have two ISO tests in this review, and the first one uses the night scene above to illustrate how the camera performs in low light situations. Since these photos came out pretty dark, you may want to view the full size images and look in other areas of the image in order to compare the noise levels at each ISO setting.


ISO 64

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400


ISO 800


ISO 1600

Not surprisingly, there's little difference between the ISO 64 and 100 shots. At ISO 200 noise becomes visible, limiting you to smaller print sizes. At ISO 400 we see a noticeable loss of detail, and things only go downhill from there. Thus, in low light situations I'd keep the ISO at 200 or below when possible.

I'll show you how the camera performs in better light in a bit.

There's moderate barrel distortion at the wide-end of the FinePix S700's 10X zoom lens. If you want to see what this does to your real world photos, look no further than this picture. While the camera had no problems with vignetting (dark corners), it did have a problem with blurry corners (example), which is something you don't normally see on a big zoom lens.

As you can see, the FinePix S700 has a pretty big problem with redeye. The lens and flash are fairly close together, which tends to worsen this phenomenon. While your results may vary, odds are that you'll deal with this annoyance at least occasionally.

Here now is our studio ISO test, which can be compared between cameras that I've reviewed. While the crops below give you a quick idea as to the noise levels at each setting, viewing the full size images is always a good idea. Here we go:


ISO 64

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400


ISO 800


ISO 1600

Everything's nice and clean through ISO 200. We pick up some visible noise/grain at ISO 400, but that shouldn't stop you from making midsize to large prints at that setting. While not quite as crisp as the FinePix S6000fd, the S700 definitely does a better job than the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 at this setting. At ISO 800 we get a drop in color saturation, and detail loss due to noise reduction. It's here where the SuperCCD-based FinePix S6000fd really shows its stuff over the traditional CCDs used by the S700 and FZ8. The ISO 1600 shot is filled with both noise and noise reduction artifacting, and I would recommend not using this sensitivity.

Overall, the photo quality on the FinePix S700 was good but not spectacular. While photos were generally well-exposed, I did notice that the camera had the tendency to "blow out the highlights". Colors were accurate, and sharpness was pleasing, except for in the corners of the frame. Noise isn't much of a problem until the higher ISOs settings, but I'd still try to keep the sensitivity at 400 or less unless you're really desperate. The camera does exhibit strong purple fringing at times, which I wouldn't expect to see on a ultra zoom in 2007.

Now, I invite you to check out the S700 photo gallery. There you'll find twelve lovely photos, which I recommend printing if you can. After you've had a look at the samples, you should be able to decide if the camera's image quality meets your expectations.

Movie Mode

The FinePix S700 has a nice VGA movie mode. You can record video at 640 x 480 (30 frames/second) with sound until your memory card fills up. That takes just 30 seconds with the built-in memory, so you'll want a large, high speed memory card for longer movies. A 1GB card holds about 19 minutes of VGA quality video.

For longer movies you can reduce the resolution to 320 x 240, which doubles your recording time.

One of the nice features on the S700 is the ability to operate the optical zoom while you're recording a movie. There's also a digital image stabilization function available, which helps reduce the effects of "camera shake" in your video clips.

Movies are saved in AVI format using the M-JPEG codec.

Here's a sample movie for you, complete with zooming!


Click to play movie (6 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime
.

Playback Mode

The S700 has a pretty standard playback menu. Basic features include slideshows, image protection, 30 second voice captions, DPOF print marking, thumbnail view, and zoom & scroll. This last option lets you enlarge the frame by a factor of up to 4.5 times and then move around in the zoomed-in area.

Photos can be viewed one at a time sequentially, or by date (see above). You can rotate and crop photos right on the camera. A copy feature lets you move images between the internal memory and a memory card.

By default, the camera doesn't tell you much information about your photos. But press the exposure compensation button and you'll get the screen shown on the right, which includes a histogram.

The S700 feels a bit sluggish when you're viewing photos. It takes about one full second to move from one image to another.

How Does it Compare?

The FinePix S700 is the entry-level ultra zoom camera in Fuji's lineup, and it has a lot to offer for its $230 street price. It has a solid design, good photo quality, full manual controls, and a nice movie mode. It's not without its flaws though: the camera lacks image stabilization, has problems with purple fringing, corner softness, and redeye, and has a lens that's slow at the wide-angle end. Still, if you're looking for a budget ultra zoom camera, the FinePix S700 is well worth a look.

Despite its low price, the FinePix S700 is a well built camera. It's made of plastic, though it never feels cheap. The camera has a large right hand grip, so it's easy to hold. The important controls are in the right places, and the camera is easy to figure out without having to read the manual from cover to cover. The S700 has a rather slow F3.5 - F3.7, 10X optical zoom lens -- most ultra zooms start at F2.8. This lets less light through the lens, making this not the greatest low light camera. The camera does not have optical image stabilization, though it offers several shake reduction features, which boost the ISO in order to ensure a sharp photo. These modes are best left alone, as they can boost the ISO to a point where the image quality is noticeably degraded.

On the back of the camera you'll find a beautiful 2.5" LCD display, with 230,000 pixels and a fluid 60 fps frame rate. Outdoor visibility is about average, while in low light the screen brightens automatically, so you can see your subject. If you need a little extra help in low light, you can press up on the four-way controller and the screen will brighten even more. The S700's electronic viewfinder shares the same traits as the main LCD, though it's small and lacks diopter correction controls. One other nice design-related feature on the camera is its dual xD/SD memory card slot -- thank you Fuji!

The S700 has both automatic and manual controls. The auto controls include several scene modes, plus the similar Picture Stabilization and Natural Light modes. Since this isn't a SuperCCD-based camera, I would think twice about using either of those ISO-boosting modes. On the manual side, the S700 offers full control over exposure, white balance, and focus. The manual focus feature is weak, though, with no focus distance guide or center-frame enlargement. Operating the MF is also awkward, as you must hold down the exposure compensation button while using the zoom controller, which is quite a stretch. Regardless of your skill level you'll be sure to like the S700's movie mode, which allows for continuous VGA recording, with both optical zoom and digital image stabilization available.

Camera performance was generally good. The FinePix S700 starts up in around 1.7 seconds, focuses quickly (except in low light), and has no noticeable shutter lag. As I said, low light focusing was slow, but it was accurate. Speaking of slow, shot-to-shot times were below average, with the camera taking between 2 and 3 seconds to save an image to your memory card. The camera's continuous shooting modes aren't worth writing home about either. If you use the faster of the two continuous modes, you'll take just three photos at 1.2 frames/second. The "long period" (unlimited) mode lets you keep shooting, but at a glacial 0.4 fps. One bright spot in the performance department is in terms of battery life: the S700 scores well above average when equipped with NiMH rechargeable batteries.

Photo quality was good, but not without some noticeable issues. On the positive side, the S700 generally took well-exposed photos, with accurate colors and pleasing sharpness. The camera keeps noise down to a minimum until ISO 400, with things going downhill after that (due to increased softness and reduced color saturation). Now the bad news: the camera has issues with corner softness, blown highlights, and purple fringing. None of these matter for small prints, but if you're doing a lot of 8 x 10's or viewing things on your computer screen then you'll certainly notice them. The S700 also has a redeye problem, even with the flash-based reduction feature turned on.

I have a few other comments before I wrap things up. One of the big omissions on the FinePix S700 is support for the USB 2.0 High Speed protocol. If you're using a card reader this won't matter, but if you're connected the camera to a PC, expect slow file transfers. Also, the slowest shutter speed available on the camera is 4 seconds, so your night scenes may turn out dark, as mine did.

While the FinePix S700 isn't the best ultra zoom camera, it's arguably one of the best ultra zooms for people on a budget. It has features not typically found on lower-end cameras, and puts them into a solid, well designed body. It's far from a perfect camera, but if you want a lot of zoom for not a lot of dough, the FinePix S700 is worth checking out.

What I liked:

What I didn't care for:

Some other ultra zooms worth considering include the Canon PowerShot S3 IS, Fuji FinePix S6000fd, GE X1, Kodak EasyShare Z710 and Z712 IS, Nikon Coolpix S10, Olympus SP-510UZ, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H7.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the FinePix S700 and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

See how the photos turned out in our gallery!

Feedback & Discussion

To discuss this review with other DCRP readers, please visit our forums.

If you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation or technical support.

Want another opinion?

You'll find another review of the FinePix S700 at CNET.com.

 

Home | News | Digital Camera Reviews & Info | Forums | Buyers Guide | Digital Camera Prices | FAQ | Newsletter | About | Advertising | Feedback

All content © 1997 - 2008 Digital Camera Resource Page LLC (R)
Content and images from this site may not be reposted on your website or online auction.
All trademarks are property of their respective owners.