DCRP Review: Fuji FinePix S5000
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: August 23, 2003
Last Updated: April 28, 2004

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One camera that got a lot of people's attention in late July was Fuji's new FinePix S5000 ($499). The S5000 is a mix of the FinePix 3800 and S602 models, and it's also Fuji's first Ultra Zoom (10X) camera. The S5000 uses a 3.2 Megapixel SuperCCD HR sensor, which can produce images with 6 million pixels (through interpolation).

Couple that with full manual controls and a stunning, SLR-like design, and Fuji may have a hit on its hands. How does it do in our tests, though? Find out in our review!

What's in the Box?

The FinePix S5000 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 3.2 (effective) Mpixel FinePix S5000 camera
  • 16MB xD Picture Card
  • Four AA alkaline batteries (non-rechargeable)
  • Shoulder strap
  • Lens adapter ring
  • A/V cable
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM featuring FinePix SX software
  • 109 page camera manual (printed)

Fuji includes a 16MB xD card with the camera. That's enough to get started with, but you'll want a larger one right away. xD cards are currently available as large as 512MB, and Fuji lists them as supported in the manual.

You're on your own when it comes to batteries. Fuji includes four throwaway (or should I say, recyclable) AAs with the camera. I highly recommend purchasing two sets of NiMH rechargeables and a fast charger. You'll save money and its better for the environment. Fuji estimates that you'll be able to take about 450 shots using 2100 mAh NiMH batteries, and that sounds pretty good to me.

One very nice thing included with the camera is the AR-FX5 lens adapter ring. This lets you hook up optional conversion lenses (more on that in a second), and it doubles as a lens hood.

Fuji includes a lens cap and retaining strap, to help protect that big lens.

In terms of accessories, you have just a few choices. There are two conversion lenses, one wide-angle, the other telephoto. The WL-FX9 ($179) is a 0.79x wide-angle, giving your S5000 a 30 mm ability. The TL-FX9 ($179) is a 1.5X converter, which gives you an impressive 555 mm telephoto lens. The only other interesting accessory (beside boring stuff like card readers) is the AC-5VHS AC adapter ($50).

Fuji includes their FinePixViewer software with the S5000. The version numbers are 4.0 for Windows, 3.2 for Mac OS 8/9, and 1.4 for Mac OS X. 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 VCD (for making video CDs, Windows only) on the CD.

The camera manual is typical of those included with digital cameras. It's complete, but finding what you're looking for may be difficult. There's lots of small print as well.

Look and Feel

In terms of design, the FinePix S5000 gets a 10 out of 10 from me. Fuji has tried to replicate the look of a digital SLR, and they've done a brilliant job. The S5000 is like a miniature version of the EOS-D60 that I own.

In terms of build quality, I'd probably say 5/10. The camera is very plastic, and does not feel terribly solid. Obviously this is my personal opinion, and yours may differ -- so try one if you can. The S5000's large right-hand grip and substantial lens barrel makes it easy to hold.

The official dimensions of the S5000 are 4.4 x 3.2 x 3.1 inches (W x H x D, excluding protrusions), and it weighs 337 grams empty.

Let's begin our tour of this camera now!

You can really get a feel for the SLR-like design of the S5000 in this shot. Well done, Fuji!

As I mentioned, this is Fuji's first real "ultra zoom" camera. The lens in question here is an F2.8-3.1, 10X optical zoom lens, with a focal range of 5.7 - 57 mm. That's equivalent to 37 - 370 mm. The lens is threaded, though you'll need to screw on the included lens adapter to actually attach anything. The lens adapter supports 55 mm attachments.

Directly above the lens is the pop-up flash, with flash sensor just below it. The working range of the flash is a very impressive 0.3 - 6.0 m at wide-angle, and 0.8 - 5.5 m at telephoto. One thing the S5000 does not support is an external flash.

To the left of the FinePix logo, we find the S5000's AF illuminator. Yes, that's not a typo. Now if we could get one of these on every camera Fuji makes, we'd be set.

On the opposite side, you'll find the microphone.

Moving on to the back of the camera now, we find that the S5000 has a 1.5" LCD display. It's on the small side, but at least the resolution is good, with 114k pixels. LCD brightness can be adjusted in the setup menu.

Directly above the LCD is what looks like an optical viewfinder, but in reality, it's an electronic one (also called an EVF). The EVF has the same 114k pixel resolution as the LCD, and it's 0.33" in size. The EVF is bright, and has a good refresh rate, and it can be viewed fairly well in low light, although the image may be somewhat grainy.

There's a nice large eyecup too, which helps keep ambient light out. A diopter correction knob, located to the left of the EVF, will focus the image on the EVF.

Photo mode menu

Between the LCD and EVF are two buttons. The one on the right will switch between the EVF and LCD (you cannot use both at the same time). The blue button (with an "f" on it) is known as the photo mode button, and it lets you select:

  • Image quality (6M, 3M, 2M, 1M)
  • ISO sensitivity (200, 400, 800)
  • Color (Standard, chrome, B&W)

One thing I love about the photo mode menu is that it tells you how many photos you can take at a given image quality setting (see above).

The 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. Do note that ISO 800 is only available at the 1M resolution.

The FinePix color options let you select normal color, chrome (high contrast and saturation), and black & white.

Over on the right side of the LCD, you'll find several more buttons, including back (for menus), four-way controller (activates the menu and more), and the display button (toggles info shown on LCD/EVF). In addition to navigating the menus, the four-way controller is also used to activate macro mode and to change the current flash setting (auto, redeye reduction, forced flash, slow synchro, redeye reduction + slow synchro).

At the top of the photo, you can see the zoom controller. The controller moves the lens smoothly from wide-angle to telephoto in a little over two seconds. By pressing quickly on the buttons, you can make precise changes.

On the top of the S5000, you'll find more buttons and dials. I'll work my way from left to right.

The dial on the far left changes the focus mode. You can choose from single, continuous, and manual focus. Single AF is what most people are used to: press the shutter release and the camera locks focus. Continuous AF has the camera focusing constantly, even when the button isn't pressed. This will reduce AF lag at the expense of battery life. Manual focus mode lets you do the work yourself. You hold down the exposure compensation button and use the zoom controller to focus, and the camera doesn't show you the focus distance, so the whole thing is pretty clumsy.

Moving to the right side now, let's take a look at the mode wheel. The items here are:

  • Scene mode (portrait, landscape, sports, night scene) - you just select SP on the dial, you cannot choose one of the items in gray; I don't know why Fuji did this.
  • Movie mode - more on this later
  • Auto record - point and shoot
  • Program mode - still point and shoot, but you have access to all camera settings
  • Shutter priority mode - you choose shutter speed, camera picks appropriate aperture. Shutter speed range is disappointing at 2 - 1/1000 sec
  • Aperture priority mode - you choose shutter speed, camera picks aperture. Range is F2.8 - F9, depending on focal length
  • Full manual - you choose both the shutter speed and aperture; same ranges as above

I was disappointed to see that the slowest shutter speed available on the S5000 is 2 seconds. There are plenty of other low-cost cameras that do 15 seconds, or more.

In Program mode, you can do something called "program shift", by using the four-way controller. 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).

Above the mode wheel, you'll find the continuous shooting and exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments) buttons.

There are four continuous shooting modes on the S5000:

  • Top 5-frame - camera takes 5 frames in a row with intervals "as short as" 0.2 sec
  • Auto bracketing - Camera takes three shots in a row with different exposures. Choose from ±1/3EV, ±2/3EV, ±1EV intervals
  • Final 5-frame - Hold the shutter release button down to take up to 40 shots at 0.2 sec interval; camera saves the last five shots taken before the shutter button is released
  • Long-period continuous - camera takes up to 40 shots (interval of 0.6 sec) at 1M setting

The final item on the top of the camera is the shutter release button, which has the power/record/playback switch wrapped around it.

The first thing that I want to say is "boo" to Fuji for putting "22x" in big type on this side of the camera. Digital zoom does not count! Okay, off the soapbox now.

While it looks like the camera has a manual focus ring, it does not. Other items to see here include the speaker, I/O ports, and xD slot.

The I/O ports, kept under a rubber cover, include USB, DC-in (for optional AC adapter), and A/V out. The xD slot will hold cards as large as 512MB, according to the manual. The slot is protected by a plastic door that seems sturdy enough.

The 64MB xD card shown here is not included -- you'll get a 16MB card with your camera.

Nothing to see on this side.

On the bottom of the S5000, you'll find the battery compartment and plastic tripod mount. The S5000 uses four AA batteries. The tripod mount is not centered, nor inline with the lens.

Using the Fuji FinePix S5000

Record Mode

It takes a little over 4.5 seconds for the S5000 to extend its lens and "warm up" before you can start taking pictures.

Auto focus speeds are about average, with the camera taking under a second to lock focus. Using C-AF (continuous AF) will speed things up a bit. Even though the S5000 has an AF illuminator, it still gave me the !AF warning in dim light situations.

There's a very small amount of shutter lag between the time you fully press the shutter release and the time the picture is taken. It's barely noticeable.

Shot-to-shot speed on the S5000 is excellent. Assuming you have the post-shot review feature turned off, you can shoot as fast as you can compose another shot.

By 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.

Now, let's take a look at the resolution and quality choices available on this camera.

Resolution Quality Approx. File Size # photos on 16MB card (included)
(2816 x 2120)
CCD-RAW 6.7 MB 2
Normal 1.5 MB 10
(2048 x 1536)
Normal 780 KB 19
(1600 x 1200)
Normal 630 KB 25
(1280 x 960)
Normal 470 KB 33

Fuji really compresses the heck out of their JPEG images. More on that later.

As you can see, there is a CCD-RAW mode on the S5000. Strangely enough it's at the 6M size, which isn't the native resolution of the CCD. If you want to view the images in your favorite software, first you'll need to use Fuji's RAW converter software. There's no extra delay in saving RAW files to the memory card.

The camera names files as DSCF####.JPG, where # = 0001 - 9999. The camera maintains the numbering even if you erase the memory card.

The FinePix S5000 has a very attractive, easy-to-use menu system (though the F700's menus are a little flashier). Here's what you'll find in the menu:

  • Self-timer (on/off)
  • AF mode (Area, center, multi) - more below
  • White balance (Auto, sunlight, shade, fluorescent x3, incandescent) - no preset option available
  • Photometry [metering] (Average, spot, multi)
  • Bracketing (±1/3EV, ±2/3EV, ±1EV) - choose the interval for AE bracketing
  • Sharpness (Hard, normal, soft)
  • Flash brightness (-0.6EV to +0.6EV, 1/3EV increments)

The only thing that needs mentioning here are the AF modes. Multi AF selects a spot in the frame to focus on, while Center AF always chooses whatever is in the center of the frame. Area AF divides the frame into a 6 x 6 grid, and lets you choose a spot to focus on by using the four-way controller.

In addition to that menu, there's also a setup menu, with the following options:

  • Image display (On, off, preview) - post-shot review; preview will confirm that you want to save each photo to memory
  • Power save (2, 5 mins, off) - turn off camera automatically after a few minutes
  • Format card
  • Beep (Off, 1-3) - volume level
  • Shutter (Off, 1-3) - volume level
  • Date/time (set)
  • Frame number (Continuous, renew)
  • USB mode (DSC, PC-Cam) - the latter option lets you use the S5000 as a webcam for videoconferencing; Windows only.
  • CCD-RAW (on/off) - take shots in 6M/RAW mode
  • Language (Japanese, English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese [I think])
  • Video system (NTSC, PAL)
  • Discharge - unusual option for discharging NiMH batteries
  • Reset - settings to defaults

Well enough about menus, let's do photo tests now.

The S5000 did a decent job with the macro test, though the red is way over-saturated. There's a bit of noise in the background of this shot as well, which was taken at 3M. The focal range in macro mode is 10 - 200 cm at wide-angle, and 90 - 200 cm at telephoto.

I've got two night shots for you, and the S5000 did a good job with both. They're a little soft, but otherwise low in noise and well-exposed. I'm still a little bummed about having a 2 second slow shutter speed limit on the camera, though.

The S5000 did a great job with our redeye test -- there's none to speak of. I think we have the pop-up flash to thank for it, too. There's a little flash reflection, but no red.

The distortion test shows moderate barrel distortion as well as noticeable vignetting (dark corners). I noticed vignetting in many of my real world gallery shots as well.

In terms of photo quality on the S5000, here are two important things to remember:

1) No matter what it says on the box, this is not a 6 Megapixel camera. It's a 3.2 Megapixel camera that can interpolate to create decent-looking 6MP photos. I would use 6M mode only in situations where you know you'll be making large prints.

2) If you're shooting at the 6M setting and can spare the memory, I recommend using CCD-RAW mode and then converting to JPEG. Fuji really compresses their JPEGs to death. A 6 Megapixel photo from a Canon EOS-10D is 2.1MB, while it's just 1.5MB on the S5000. A 3.2MP image from a Casio EX-Z3 is 1MB at the normal setting (1.5MB at fine quality), while it's 780KB on the S5000. Fuji needs to offer a JPEG-Fine mode.

In 3M mode, the S5000 takes pretty decent shots, though they are fairly noisy, and have a "video capture" look to them. At the 6M setting, you'll notice a lot more noise, which is why I don't recommend using it unless you have to. Purple fringing is definitely an issue on this big zoom camera, as you can see here and here. Something else I noticed is that the camera"blew out the highlights" during a recent outing (see this and this for example). Colors were generally good and quite saturated, and most of my outdoor shots were well-exposed.

Please don't just take my word for it, though. Have a look at our extensive photo gallery and decide if the S5000's photo quality is acceptable to you!

Movie Mode

The FinePix S5000's movie mode isn't as good as the one on the F700, but it's still better than average. You can record 320 x 240 video, with sound, until the memory card is full. Videos are recorded at 30 frames/sec, which is really nice. The included 16MB card can hold about 26 seconds of video, while the top-end 512MB card can hold 14.6 minutes.

Like most cameras, you cannot use the zoom during filming.

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

Here's a sample movie for you. I apologize for the wind noise... but it's always windy here.

Click to play movie (5.1MB, AVI format)

Can't view it? Download QuickTime.

Playback Mode

Playback mode on the S5000 is typical of those on other cameras. Basic features are here, including slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail mode, and zoom and scroll.

The zoom and scroll feature lets you enlarge your image anywhere from 8-18X, 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 S5000 allows you to add 30 second voice clips to each image.

If you want to see more information about your photos, you're out of luck with this camera. What you see above is all that the camera tells you. The S5000 does move through images with great speed, with virtually no delay between them.

How Does it Compare?

Although the Fuji FinePix S5000 has a very exciting design and good feature set, but I think it's a little disappointing in photo quality when compared to the latest offerings from HP, Olympus, and Toshiba. The 3.2 Megapixel SuperCCD HR sensor takes good shots at its native resolution, and so-so shots at the 6M interpolated size. Noise levels are above-average at 3M, and noticeably higher at 6M. As I mentioned earlier, I recommend using 6M (and RAW mode if possible) only when you're making large prints. Purple fringing, vignetting, and blown-out highlights were seen in many photos that I took.

In terms of performance, the S5000 is fast in terms of shutter lag, shot-to-shot speed, and playback image viewing. It does have an AF illuminator, though it didn't seem to help that much. The camera almost has a full suite of manual controls, missing only manual white balance. I would've liked to see some kind of distance guide in manual focus mode, and longer shutter speeds would've been nice as well.

The last thing I want to comment on is the S5000's design. It looks fabulous -- I only wish it felt that way when you pick it up. It needs either higher grade plastic, or some metal, to give it a more sturdy feel. The S5000's pop-up flash did a great job of reducing redeye. The camera can support both wide-angle and telephoto lenses (the former may be useful, as the S5000 has a 38mm wide end), and I applaud Fuji for including the lens adapter in the box.

The S5000 is certainly worth a look -- just be sure to carefully compare it to the competition.

What I liked:

  • 10X optical zoom lens
  • Supports add-on lenses; adapter ring (which doubles as lens hood) included
  • Manual control of shutter speed, aperture, focus
  • Great looking (if only it felt more solid)
  • Low redeye
  • Robust performance (except for my autofocus speed)
  • AF illuminator (though it didn't seem to help much)
  • Good frame rate in movie mode

What I didn't care for:

  • Image quality could be better -- too noisy and over-compressed; Purple fringing, vignetting also noticeable.
  • Slowest shutter speed available is 2 sec
  • No guide in manual focus showing current focus distance
  • No manual white balance
  • Plastic body doesn't feel very solid
  • No exposure info for photos in playback mode

Other Ultra Zoom cameras (8X or higher) to consider include the HP Photosmart 945, Kodak EasyShare DX6490, Minolta DiMAGE Z1, Nikon Coolpix 5700, Olympus C-740 and C-750 Ultra Zoom, Panasonic DMC-FZ1, Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F828, and the Toshiba PDR-M500 and PDR-M700.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the FinePix S5000 and it's competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

See how the photo quality stacks up in our photo gallery!

Want another opinion?

Read other reviews at DP Review and Steve's Digicams.

Buy it now

Feedback & Discussion

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.

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

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