DCRP Review: Fuji FinePix S8000fd
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The Fuji FinePix S8000fd ($399) is one of three "mega zoom" cameras introduced in 2007 (the others being the Olympus SP-560 and the Panasonic DMC-FZ18). While most ultra zooms were hanging around 12X, these three cameras jumped all the way to 18X. The FinePix S8000fd offers that, plus image stabilization, a 2.5" LCD display, full manual controls, VGA movie mode, face detection with automatic redeye removal, and more.
As luck would have it, the S8000 has been replaced (less than five months after its introduction) by the new S8100fd. Still, that camera won't be shipping until March, so the S8000fd still has some life left in it.
Is the FinePix S8000fd a good choice for those who just can't get enough zoom? Find out now, our review starts now!
What's in the Box?
The FinePix S8000fd has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
Like so many cameras these days, Fuji built memory into the S8000fd instead of bundling a memory card. Unlike most of those other cameras, Fuji actually gives you a decent amount of memory -- 58MB to be exact. You'll still want to buy a memory card, though, and you've got several choices of format with the S8000fd. You can use xD, SD, or SDHC cards, and I'd lean toward the last two, as xD cards are quite slow. If you do get an xD card, make sure it's a "Type H" model. A 1GB card should be enough for most folks to start out with.
The S8000fd uses four AA batteries for power. Fuji includes four alkaline batteries with the camera, which will quickly end up in your trash or recycling bin. Thus, you'll want to buy a set or two of NiMH rechargeables (2500 mAh is good), plus a fast charger. Here's what kind of battery life you're looking at with those batteries installed:
In this group of ultra zooms, the FinePix S8000 pulls off better-than-average battery life.
As you may know, I'm a big fan of cameras that use AA batteries. They're cheaper than their proprietary counterparts, and if your rechargeables die, alkaline or lithium AAs are readily available.
As you can see, Fuji includes a large lens cap (and retaining strap) with the FinePix S8000fd. It's designed to only fit "correctly" (not upside down) -- which can be annoying -- though it stays attached fairly well.
For an ultra zoom, the FinePix S8000 is pretty lacking in terms of accessories. The only accessory of note is the AC-5VX AC adapter, which is priced from $34. No conversion lenses, external flashes, or underwater cases are available -- at least not from Fuji.
FinePixViewer 3.5 for Mac
Fuji includes their FinePixViewer software with the S8000fd, 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 for Windows
As is often the case, Windows users get a much better version of FinePixViewer. This one does everything the Mac version does, adding image editing and redeye reduction tools, not to mention a slicker interface.
Fuji includes a thick, fairly detailed manual with the FinePix S8000fd. It's not the most user-friendly read, but it will answer most any question that might come up about the camera.
Look and Feel
The FinePix S8000fd is a medium-sized ultra zoom camera. While the outer shell of the camera is plastic, there appears to be a metal frame beneath it. In other words, it feels quite solid for a "plastic" camera. Even the battery compartment door is well built. The S8000 has a substantial right hand grip, so it's easy to hold. The important controls are logically placed, and Fuji didn't go overboard with buttons either. My one complaint is that it's pretty easy to accidentally bump the F-mode button with your thumb.
Now, here's how the S8000 compares to other big zoom cameras in terms of size and weight: