who have been waiting for a replacement of the venerable Fuji
FinePix S602 Zoom have really had their patience tested. The
S602 was one of the sleeper hits of 2002, with its 6X zoom lens,
high resolution SuperCCD sensor, full manual controls, and VGA
took the S602, added a new 4th generation SuperCCD sensor, and
called the result the FinePix
S7000 ($799). Like its predecessor, this new 6.3 million
pixel SuperCCD HR sensor can interpolate to a higher resolution
-- in this case 12.3 million pixels! The S602 had a 3.1 million
pixel SuperCCD sensor, capable of producing images with 6.2 million
this the upgrade all the S602 owners have been waiting for? Find
out now in our review!
in the Box?
FinePix S7000 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
6.3 (effective) Mpixel FinePix S7000 camera
xD Picture Card
AA alkaline batteries
cap w/retaining strap
featuring FinePix SX software
page camera manual (printed)
includes a tiny (in more ways than one) 16MB xD card with the
camera, which holds a grand total of three photos taken at the
highest resolution. So plan on buying a memory card instantly.
The S7000 can use xD cards, or the much higher capacity CompactFlash
cards, including the Microdrive. A few weird notes about CompactFlash
support on this camera. First, Fuji only officially supports
the use of Microdrives in the CF slot, though regular cards will
work as well. Secondly, although I'm having a hard time confirming
this, I've heard that the S7000 is not FAT32 compatible, meaning
that it can only see 2GB of data on a memory card.
are something else that you'll need to buy right away. Fuji includes
four non-rechargeable alkaline batteries along with the camera,
which will quickly find their way into the trash (or should I
say, recycling bin). Buy yourself two or more sets of NiMH batteries
(2000 mAh or greater) and a fast charger, and you'll be set.
estimates that you can take about 340 pictures using LCD (50%
flash use) with a set of 2100 mAh batteries -- not too shabby.
Using the Microdrive knocks about 10% from those numbers. (I
must say that I'm not a fan of Microdrives anymore; for one,
they increase power consumption. Two, they seem unreliable: both
of mine failed.)
includes a lens cap and retaining strap in the box with the S7000.
terms of accessories, you have a few options. First, you can
add a wide-angle or telephoto lens to the camera (both cost $180).
The WL-FX9 wide-angle lens brings the wide end of the lens down
to 28mm, while the TL-FX9 brings the top end to 315 mm. Both
of these lenses include the required AR-FX9 lens adapter ring.
If you want to add filters (55mm) to the camera, you can buy
the adapter ring separately ($53).
S7000 can also use nearly any third-party external flash. More
on that later.
accessories for the S7000 include an AC adapter ($50), camera
case ($46), and NiMH battery kit, and various card readers.
includes their FinePixViewer software with the S7000. The version
numbers are 4.1 for Windows, and 3.3 for Mac OS 9+ and 10.1+.
Even with the differing version numbers, the software acts about
the same on each platform. FinePixViewer is for basic image organizing
and editing, and is no substitute for something like Photoshop
Elements. Fuji also includes a RAW File Converter, and ImageMixer
VCD2 (for making video CDs) on the CD. While ImageMixer VCD2
is (finally) Mac OS X native, it does not support direct CD-R
burning on the Mac -- you'll need Roxio's Toast to do that.
camera manual is typical of those included with digital cameras.
It's complete, but finding what you're looking for may be difficult.
There are lots of small "notes" on
page, as well.
very little has changed between the S602 and the S7000. Don't
believe me? Have a look (S602 on top, S7000 on bottom):
darn similar, eh? The S7000 is a larger camera, closer in size
to an SLR than it is to say the PowerShot G5. The S7000's body
is a nice mix of high grade plastic and metal, and it feels very
solid (with a few exceptions). While you can hold and operate
the camera with one hand, you'll probably find two hands to be
closest cameras to the S7000 that I can think of are the HP Photosmart
945, Nikon Coolpix 5700, and the Sony DSC-F828. Here's how the
S7000's dimensions compare with those cameras, as well as the
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
x 3.2 x 3.8
FinePix S602 Zoom
x 3.2 x 3.8
x 3.4 x 3.4
x 3.0 x 4.0
x 3.6 x 6.2
Sony mass includes memory card and battery
you can see, the S7000 is right in the middle of the pack. It's
also 20% heavier than the S602Z.
get right into our tour of the camera now!
of the biggest features on the S7000 is its fast F2.8-3.1, 6X
optical zoom lens. The lens has a focal range of 7.8 - 46.8 mm,
which is equivalent to 35 - 210 mm. The lens is threaded, though
you'll need to pick up the conversion lens to do anything with
it (see previous section).
above the lens is the same passive autofocus sensor that the
S602 used. While not the same technology as an AF-assist lamp,
the effect is the same in low light and better in good lighting
(where it allows for faster focusing).
upward, we find the pop-up flash, with the flash sensor to its
right. The S7000's very powerful flash has a working range
of 0.3 - 8.5 m at wide-angle and 0.9 - 7.9 m at telephoto. If
that's still not enough flash for you, you can also attach an
external flash to the hot shoe you'll see in a moment.
hard to see, but to the upper-right of the lens is the camera's
microphone. The self-timer lamp can be seen on the opposite side,
at the top of the grip.
the back of the camera, you'll find a high resolution, 1.8" LCD
display. The LCD has a respectable 118,000 pixels, and images
on it are sharp, bright, and fluid. LCD brightness can easily
be adjusted by using the "shift" button you'll see
in a minute.
the LCD is a huge electronic viewfinder (0.44"). The resolution
of 235,000 is higher than the LCD, and it shows -- this is a
high quality display. As with the LCD, images on the EVF are
sharp and fluid. It does get a little hard to see things on the
EVF in low light situations, though. There's also a diopter correction
knob, which helps focus the image on the EVF.
the right of the LCD are three buttons. EVF/LCD toggles between,
well, the EVF and LCD. The display button toggles what is shown
on the LCD/EVF, including a framing guide (perfect for people
like me who only take crooked pictures).
Photo mode menu
next button down, which has an "F" on it, opens the
Photo mode menu. It
has the following options:
quality (12M/Fine, 12M/Normal, 6M, 3M, 2M, 1M)
sensitivity (Auto, 200, 400, 800)
(Standard, chrome, B&W)
thing I like about the photo mode menu is that it tells you how
many photos you can take at a given image quality setting (see
lowest ISO on the camera is a rather unusual 200. If you need
more sensitivity (at the expense of noise), you can bump it up
to 400, or 800. Note that ISO 800 is only available at 3M or
lower resolutions. The ISO Auto mode (which selects from 160-800)
is only available when the mode dial is on "Auto".
I'll have a comparison of the various ISO sensitivities later
in the review.
FinePix color options let you select normal color, chrome (high
contrast and saturation), and black & white.
to our tour now. To the right of the "F" button, we
find the four-way controller (with Menu/OK in the middle), the
Focus Check button, and the back button. The Focus Check button
enlarges the center of the frame, so you can make sure the subject
is in focus. You'll probably use this exclusively in manual focus
mode, which I'll touch on in a bit.
the top-right of the photo is
the S7000's zoom controller. This moves the lens from wide-angle
to telephoto in under two
seconds. Quick presses of the button allow for precise zoom adjustments.
the right of the zoom controller is the AE Lock button. Keep
it held down to lock the current exposure.
the top of the camera, you'll find even more buttons. There are
plenty more where that came from, too.
the center of the picture is the S7000's hot shoe. The camera
can sync with an external flash as fast as 1/1000 sec. You will
probably need to manually set the settings on the flash. Fuji
recommends using "A" and "M" mode on the
camera when using one, as well.
next item over is the mode dial, which has the following options:
mode - more on this later
position mode (portrait, landscape, sports, night scene) -
kind of a limited selection, but does the target audience care?
record - point and shoot, some menu options locked up
mode - still point and shoot, but you have access to all camera
priority mode - you choose shutter speed, camera picks appropriate
aperture. Shutter speed range is 3 - 1/1000 sec; I don't like
it when the full shutter speed range is not available in this
mode, as is the case here.
priority mode - you choose aperture, camera picks shutter speed.
Range is F2.8 - F8, depending on focal length
manual - you choose both the shutter speed and aperture; same
aperture range, shutter speed range expands to 15 - 1/10000
(!) sec; I'm not sure of the point of bulb mode here, as exposures
are still limited to 15 secs.
- described later
Program mode, you can do something called "program shift",
by using the command dial. You can cycle through sets of shutter
speed/aperture combinations, which lets you use a faster shutter
speed (when you don't have a tripod) or a smaller aperture (for
more depth of field).
next thing to see is the command dial, which is located to the
right of the mode dial. You'll use this to adjust manual settings.
that is a button for continuous shooting. The S7000 has an impressive
set of continuous modes, including:
5-frame - camera takes 5 frames in a row at 3.3 frames/sec
bracketing - Camera takes three shots in a row, each with a
different exposure. Choose from ±1/3EV, ±2/3EV, ±1EV
5-frame - Hold the shutter release button down to take up to
40 shots at 2 frames/sec; camera saves the last five shots
taken before the shutter button is released
continuous - camera takes up to 40 shots at 1 frame/sec; Must
use 3M or lower resolution.
toward the upper-right of the above photo, we reach the flash
and exposure compensation buttons. The available flash settings
are auto, auto w/redeye reduction, forced flash, slow synchro,
and redeye reduction + slow synchro. The exposure compensation
range is the usual -2EV to +2EV, in 1/3EV increments. The exposure
compensation button is also used to adjust the aperture when
in "M" mode.
should add that you adjust all these items I just discussed by
holding down the appropriate button, and turning the command
dial. This may be a little different than what you're used to.
final item on the top of the S7000 is the shutter release button,
which has the power/mode switch around it. This switch moves
the camera between the powered off, record, and playback modes.
like the S602, this side of the S7000 is covered with buttons.
But before I get to those, let me tell you about the focus/zoom
(FZ) ring. In normal usage (meaning autofocus), you can turn
this ring to adjust the zoom setting. It's a "fly-by-wire" control,
meaning that you're telling the camera to move the lens, as opposed
to mechanically moving it yourself.
don't like how this feature is implemented, though. The zoom
ring is just not sensitive enough, which means that you have
to turn it, move your hand back, repeat (several times).
Manual focus + Focus check
the camera into manual focus mode, and the zoom ring becomes
a focus ring. The camera shows a hint as to your current focus
distance on the LCD/EVF, and the Focus check function lets you
enlarge the center of the image to make sure you're focused properly.
One thing missing here is a guide showing the current focus distance.
I'll have a little more on manual focus in a second.
to the right of the focus ring is one of my big camera pet peeves:
printing zoom numbers that include digital zoom. They should
have "6X" in big letters, and have the 3.2X digital
zoom in small print. This is not a 19X zoom camera (kind of like
how it's not a 12 Megapixel camera).
that label is the macro button. I'll have more on that later
in this review.
to that is the Shift button, which I believe is exclusive to
the S602 and S7000. Basically it's a quick way to get to commonly-accessed
camera settings. You hold it down and press one of the other
buttons to change a setting. You can see what you can change
in the screen shot above.
next buttons over are info and focus. Pressing the info button
(in record and playback modes) shows the current camera settings,
as well as a live histogram.
focus dial has three choices: Continuous AF means that the camera
is always trying to focus (you'll hear it trying). Single AF
is the usual half-press to lock focus thing that most of us are
used to. And I already described manual focus. If you press the
button in the middle of the switch while in manual focus mode,
the camera will autofocus, and then you can fine tune things
that, under a plastic cover, is the DC-in port, which is where
the optional AC adapter is plugged in.
more I/O ports, just move your eyes to the right. There you'll
find USB 2.0 high speed, as well as video out. Those ports are
covered by a sturdy plastic door.
that is the S7000's speaker.
find the S7000's dual memory card slots behind a big plastic
door. The slots include CompactFlash Type II as well as xD. The
IBM/Hitachi Microdrive is supported.
included 16MB xD card is shown.
the bottom of the S7000, you'll find the battery compartment
and metal tripod mount. The batteries are under a sturdy plastic
cover, keeping with the overall high quality construction of
tripod mount is inline with the lens.
the Fuji FinePix S7000
a camera with a big zoom lens, the S7000's 2.7 second startup
time is impressive.
Live histogram in record mode
impressive are the autofocus speeds. The camera locked focus
in 1/2 second in most situations, taking slightly longer when
the lens was near the telephoto position. The S7000 did a pretty
good job focusing in low light, as well.
did notice that both the LCD and EVF pause for a second when
you halfway-press the shutter release button, which may be a
problem for action shots.
lag was not an issue, even at slower shutter speeds.
speed is superb -- you can take another shot as fast as you can
compose it (assuming the post-shot review is turned off). Fuji
definitely has the shooting performance thing nailed on their
higher end cameras.
setting "image view" in the setup menu to "preview",
the camera will let you decide whether to keep or delete a photo
after it is taken.
let's take a look at the resolution and quality choices available
on this camera.
photos on 16MB card (included)
(4048 x 3040)
(2848 x 2136)
(2016 x 1512)
(1600 x 1200)
(1280 x 960)
is a subject that must be mentioned when reviewing a SuperCCD-based
camera. As you know, the S7000 has 6.3 million pixels, but it's
capable of generating images with twice that many pixels. How?
Interpolation is the answer. In (very) simple terms, the camera
is "guessing" at the data that makes up the 12M image.
That always leads to digital artifacts like noise. You'll see
plenty of discussion about noise below.
with other recent Fuji cameras, there's a CCD-RAW mode on the
S7000. If you want to view the images in your favorite software,
first you'll need to use Fuji's RAW converter software. It will
convert the image into a TIFF file, which you can later convert
to JPEG or whatever else you'd like. There's no performance hit
when shooting in RAW mode (except that your memory card fills
up faster). It would've been nice to have a RAW/6M image, but
apparently that's not possible due to the design of the sensor.
The camera always records images at 12M, and it then downsizes
them to the chosen resolution.
[Paragraph updated 10/30/03, 5pm; Thanks Karl & Jake]
camera names files as DSCF####.JPG, where # = 0001 - 9999. The
camera maintains the numbering even if you erase the memory card.
This is something that the S602 could not do.
FinePix S7000 has a attractive, easy-to-use menu system. It doesn't
have all the crazy manual features like some Canon and Nikon
camera, but they've got the important things covered. The menu
(Off, 2, 10 seconds)
balance (Auto, custom 1/2, sunlight, shade, fluorescent x3,
mode (Area, center, multi) - more below
[metering] (Multi-pattern, spot, average)
(±1/3EV, ±2/3EV, ±1EV) - choose the interval
for AE bracketing
(Hard, normal, soft)
exposure (on/off) - overlays two images on top of each other
to create one image
brightness (-0.6EV to +0.6EV, 1/3EV increments)
S7000 lets you store two custom white balance settings into memory
-- very nice.
multi AF mode lets you choose exactly what the camera focuses.
You do this by holding down the one-touch AF button and using
the four-way controller. There are 49 points to choose from (7
turning the mode dial to the "set" position, you can
access the setup menu. It has the following options:
display (On, off, preview) - post-shot review; preview will
confirm that you want to save each photo to memory
(xD, Microdrive) - select which slot to use when both have
save (2, 5 mins, off) - turn off camera automatically after
a few minutes
(Off, 1-3) - volume level
(Off, 1-3) - volume level
(yes/no) - turn this on when you're using a conversion lens
number (Continuous, renew)
(on/off) - take shots in 12M/RAW mode
(Japanese, English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese)
system (NTSC, PAL)
mode (DSC, PC-Cam) - the latter option lets you use the S7000
as a webcam for videoconferencing; Windows only.
- discharges NiMH batteries
- settings to defaults
enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.
S7000 turned in a good performance in the macro test. Color and
detail both seem fine to me. The S7000 offers two macro modes:
normal and super. In normal mode, the focal range is a fairly
normal 10 - 80 cm. The real action i with super macro mode, where
you can get as close as 1 cm to your subject. Do note that the
lens is locked at the wide-angle position in super macro mode.
S7000 is capable of taking good night shots like the one you
see above, though you'll probably need to use the "M" mode.
That's because the slowest shutter speed you can use in auto
mode is 1/4 sec, and in "S" and Night Scene mode it's
3 seconds. "M" mode is the only way to get at the full
range of shutter speeds. The results above are good, with minimal
purple fringing, plenty of light, and low noise levels (though
there seem to be several little "hot pixels").
that the full size images are a little crooked.
let's a look at how changing the ISO sensitivity affects image
you'd expect, noise levels increase along with the ISO sensitivity.
Even at ISO 800, the noise isn't too horrible.
S7000's pop-up flash means no redeye. There's a bit of what I'd
call flash reflection, but no red.
distortion test shows moderate barrel distortion, and no vignetting
now we've reached my least favorite part of camera reviews: image
all of Fuji's SuperCCD-based cameras, you should consider the
S7000 as a 6 Megapixel camera with a 12 Megapixel mode that should
only be used for making large prints. Viewed at 100%, the 12M
images are very noisy:
Full Size Image
that noise reduces the detail in your images! You'll get much
better results by shooting in 6M mode:
Full Size Image
even then, the images are still very noisy for a camera shooting
at its native resolution (have a look at the sky). I think this
is probably due to overaggressive image processing and too much
other ways to reduce noise in 12M mode are to shoot in RAW mode,
or turn the sharpening down to low -- or both.
problem with always shooting in RAW mode is that your memory
card will quickly fill up. Also, all your images will need to
be post-processed. If you're willing to live with those two things,
then shoot in RAW mode. As someone who wants my pictures without
a lot of hassle, I'd just shoot in 6M -- possibly at soft sharpness,
depending on your tastes.
a few more comparisons, I took the S7000 and two other cameras
out for some test shots. Camera #1 was my own Canon EOS-D60,
which is comparable to the Digital Rebel which costs only $899.
If someone is already willing to spend $700 or more on a camera,
what's a few hundred more, right? Camera #2 was the Pentax Optio
555, a compact 5 Megapixel camera with a 5X zoom (which also
has a small, pixel-packed CCD).
shot all the photos at the highest quality setting and lowest
ISO (which is unfortunately 200 on the S7000), with everything
else at defaults.
Old St. Mary's Church
View S7000 Image
View D60 Image
View Optio 555
Chinatown Grant St. Gate
S7000 Image (6M)
View D60 Image
View Optio 555 Image
you'd expect, the D60 and it's larger sensor came out ahead of
the pack. But I also think that the Optio performed better than
the S7000. The two examples above are some of the best pictures
I took with the S7000 (see the gallery for some bad ones).
bottom line is that Fuji needs to get their act together in the
noise department - and turning the JPEG down a notch would be
a nice bonus. They certainly have the color and exposure parts
down. The S7000 also has higher than average purple fringing,
which is fairly typical of big zoom cameras.
always, you may not agree with my conclusions -- and you're welcome
to. But do have a look at the full photo
gallery to see how the images look to your eyes.
like on the S602, the movie mode on the S7000 is as good as it
gets. You can shoot VGA quality video (640 x 480) at 30 frames/second,
until the memory card is full. Sound is recorded as well. A 320
x 240, 30 frame/second mode is also available.
can store a grand total of 13 seconds of VGA video on the included
16MB xD card (or 26 seconds at 320 x 240). Stuff in a 1GB CompactFlash
card and you can record over 15 and 30 minutes, respectively.
you'd expect, you cannot use the zoom lens during filming.
are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.
a fairly short movie -- but be warned, it's a big download since
it's 640 x 480. The quality is quite impressive for a digicam.
to play movie (12.2MB, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
mode on the S7000 is pretty standard-issue. Basic features here
include slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail
mode, and zoom and scroll.
zoom and scroll feature lets you enlarge your image anywhere
from 8-25X, depending on the resolution of the photo, and then
move around in the zoomed-in area. When you enlarge an image,
you have the option to trim (crop) it down. The zoom and scroll
feature is a little on the slow side.
S7000 allows you to add 30 second voice clips to each image.
S7000 doesn't normally show you any exposure info while in playback
mode. That can quickly be resolved by pressing the Info button
on the side of the camera. You'll then see the info and histogram
camera moves though photos quickly in playback mode, with about
a 1/2 delay between high res images.
Does it Compare?
Fuji FinePix S7000 is a camera with a lot of potential that was
ultimately a let down in the image quality department. In what
seems to be a trend lately on their cameras, Fuji is processing
and compressing their images to death, causing higher than average
noise and other digital junk. I can live with a little "grain" in
images, but when it starts eating away at details, it's too much.
best way to get good images out of the S7000 is to shoot in CCD-RAW
mode with the sharpening set to "soft". But then you'll
have to post-process all your images, which is something that
I (personally) don't want to do. Also, as each RAW image takes
up 13MB, you'll quickly burn through the average memory card.
Shooting at the 6M setting is advisable in most situations, as
the 12M modes are just too noisy to be useful, except for when
you know you're making large prints. If Fuji could just get the
noise under control (firmware upgrade?) they'd have a much more
compelling product, as color and exposure were both very good.
highlights of the S7000 include its 6X optical zoom lens, full
manual controls, hot shoe, manual zoom/focus ring, and support
for add-on lenses. The performance of the camera is as good as
it gets in all areas. The VGA movie, macro, and burst modes are
top-notch, as well. Those of you with a large collection of CompactFlash
cards will be pleased to see that the camera has a slot for them,
but it appears to be limited to those with capacities under 2GB.
The build quality of this large camera is very good.
were also some other things unrelated to image quality that bugged
me about the S7000. For one, the zoom ring is too unresponsive
-- I didn't want to use it. The manual focus feature would be
far more useful if there was some kind of guide on the LCD showing
the current focus distance. I'm also not a fan of Fuji saving
the full range of shutter speeds for "M" mode only.
been disappointed by the images produced by cameras using the
SuperCCD HR sensor (on the S5000 and now the S7000), and I've
folks" who feel the same way. A camera can have the fanciest
movie mode in the world, but it doesn't matter if the pictures
don't look good. The S7000 was a camera that I wanted to love,
there are many other cameras out there that take far better pictures.
optical zoom lens
manual controls (more or less)
AF system helps camera focus quickly in all lighting situations
rate movie mode
macro mode lets you get 1 cm from your subject
continuous shooting modes
in record and playback modes
shoe + support for conversion lenses
LCD and EVF
for USB 2.0 high speed
I didn't care for:
too much noise in images, even at native 6M resolution
shutter speed range only available in "M" mode
ring not sensitive enough; takes too much turning to move the
guide in manual focus showing current focus distance
like to choose compression levels at ALL resolutions
are a whole bunch of other cameras worth looking at, including
the Canon Digital
Rebel and PowerShot
Photosmart 945, Minolta
DiMAGE A1, Nikon Coolpix 5400 and 5700, Olympus
C-5060 Wide Zoom and C-750
Ultra Zoom, Panasonic
Lumix DMC-FZ10, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F717 and DSC-F828.
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try
out the FinePix S7000 before you buy!
how the photo quality stacks up in our photo
a different opinion at Steve's
Feedback & Discussion
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.
discuss this review with other DCRP readers, please visit our forums.