Home News Buyers Guide Forums FAQ Links About Advertising
DCRP Review: Fuji FinePix S8000fd  

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: January 30, 2008
Last updated: February 7, 2008

View Printer Friendly Version



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:

  • The 8.0 effective Megapixel FinePix S8000fd digital camera
  • Four alkaline AA batteries
  • Lens cap w/retaining strap
  • Shoulder strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring FinePix software
  • 163 page camera manual (printed)

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:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon PowerShot S5 IS * 450 shots 4 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Fuji FinePix S8000fd */** 500 shots 4 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Fuji FinePix S8100fd */** 500 shots 4 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Kodak EasyShare Z812 IS * 275 shots KLIC-8000
Olympus SP-560 Ultra Zoom */** 610 shots 4 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 */** 400 shots CGR-S006
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H7 * 300 shots NP-BG1

* Has optical image stabilization
** Has an 18X zoom lens

Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

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.

Fuji FinePix S8000fd in the hand

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:

Camera Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions) Volume (bulk) Mass (empty)
Canon PowerShot S5 IS 4.6 x 3.2 x 3.1 in. 45.6 cu in. 450 g
Fujifilm FinePix S8000fd 4.4 x 3.1 x 3.1 in. 42.3 cu in. 412 g
Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd 4.3 x 3.1 x 3.1 in. 41.3 cu in. 405 g
Kodak EasyShare Z812 IS 4.3 x 2.9 x 3.0 in. 37.4 cu in. 330 g
Olympus SP-560 Ultra Zoom 4.6 x 3.1 x 3.1 in. 44.2 cu in. 365 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 4.6 x 3.0 x 3.5 in. 48.3 cu in. 360 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H7 4.3 x 3.3 x 3.4 in. 48.2 cu in. 375 g

The S8000fd's replacement, the S8100fd, is just a tad bit smaller and lighter. In the group as a whole, the S8000 is right in the middle of the pack. It obviously won't be fitting into your jeans pocket, but it can go in a small bag, around your neck, or in a jacket pocket with ease.

Enough numbers, let's start touring the FinePix S8000fd now, beginning with the front of the camera.

Front of the Fuji S8000fd

Undoubtedly, the biggest feature on the FinePix S8000fd is its lens -- no pun intended. With a total zoom of 18X, it's almost as large as you'll find, with only the new Olympus SP-570UZ eclipsing it. Speaking of Olympus: while I can't say this with 100% certainty, I believe that the lens on their SP-560UZ is the same as the one on the S8000fd.

These two photos illustrate the camera's impressive zoom range. The shot on the left is taken at full wide-angle, while the shot on the right is at full telephoto. The arrow on the wide-angle shot shows the relative position of the house in the telephoto shot.

Anyhow, the S8000's lens has a maximum aperture of F2.8 - F4.5, which is pretty fast considering its reach. The focal length of the lens is 4.7 - 84.2 mm, which is equivalent to a very nice 27 - 486 mm. Who says you can't have both wide and telephoto power on one camera? While the lens is threaded for 38.1 mm filters, I don't think anyone actually makes a filter in that size.

At the back of the lens is the camera's 1/2.35" CCD sensor, which is mounted on a movable plate. The movable plate is part of the S8000's CCD-shift image stabilization system, which definitely comes in handy on cameras like this. If you've been frustrated with blurry indoor or telephoto photos, then listen up. The camera sensors the tiny movements of your hands that can cause camera shake. It then shifts the sensor to compensate for this motion, allowing for sharp photos at shutter speeds that would be otherwise unusable. Image stabilization systems can't work miracles -- they won't freeze a moving subject, nor do they allow for multi-second exposures -- but they definitely help. Want some evidence? Have a look at these:

Image stabilization off

Image stabilization on

Both of these photos were taken at 1/4 second. As you can see, the photo is noticeably sharper with image stabilization turned on. Like most cameras that use sensor-shift image stabilization, you cannot use IS while recording movies (though Fuji doesn't actually tell you this anywhere). There is a digital IS function available, though it's not very effective, as you can see here.

Directly above the lens is the S8000's pop-up flash, which is released manually. The working range of the flash is 0.5 - 8.0 m at wide-angle, and 0.3 - 3.0 m at telephoto, which are good numbers. Do keep in mind that those numbers are obtained at Auto ISO, which you may not want to use in real world flash shooting, as the resulting photos can be quite noisy. You cannot attach an external flash to the FinePix S8000fd.

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

Back of the Fuji FinePix S8000fd

On the back of the camera, you'll find a standard-issue 2.5" LCD display. The screen has 230,000 pixels, so everything is nice and sharp. The LCD shows 97% of the frame. Outdoor visibility is about average at default settings, and even better if you turn on the "quick LCD brighten" feature (press up on the four-way controller). Low light viewing is very good, as the screen brightens (and gets a bit grainy) automatically in those situations.

Directly above the LCD is the camera's electronic viewfinder. These viewfinders, or EVFs, are essentially small LCDs that you view as if they were optical viewfinders. The resolution and coverage are the same as the main LCD, and you can view the same menus and screens that you as the main screen. Unfortunately, EVFs don't come close to "real" optical viewfinders in terms of brightness and sharpness. A diopter correction knob, located on the side of the viewfinder, can be used to focus what you're looking at.

To the right of the viewfinder is the EVF/LCD button, which toggles between the two screens.

F-mode menu

Continuing downward, we find the playback and F-mode buttons. Pressing the F-mode button opens up the F-mode menu, which has the following options:

  • ISO sensitivity (100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, Auto 400, Auto 800, Auto 1600) - see below
  • Image quality (see chart later in review)
  • FinePix Color (Standard, chrome, black & white) - the chrome setting boosts the contrast and color saturation

There are several Auto ISO modes on the S8000fd, and basically you're choosing the highest sensitivity the camera will use. There may be a generic "auto" option in some of the scene modes, as well. I'll have more on on the camera's ISO capabilities later in the review.

Below those two buttons we find the four-way controller, used for menu navigation, adjusting manual controls, and also:

  • Up - Brighten LCD + Delete photo
  • Down - Self-timer (Off, 2 sec, 10 sec)
  • Left - Macro mode (Off, macro, super macro) - more on this later
  • Right - Flash (Auto, forced flash, slow synchro) - obviously this only works when the flash is popped up
  • Center - Menu/OK

Below the four-way controller are two final buttons. One toggles what is shown on the LCD or EVF (and can also be used to "back out" of menus), while the other lets you adjust the exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, in 1/3EV increments).

Top of the Fuji FinePix S8000fd

The first thing to see on the top of the S8000fd is its mode dial, which has these options:

Option Function
Auto mode Fully automatic, some menu options locked up
Picture stabilization mode Boosts the ISO in order to reduce blurring; flash is available
Natural light mode Same as above, but with the flash disabled
Natural light & flash mode Takes two photos in a row: one in natural light mode, and the other with the flash
Scene position 1/2 You pick the situation, and the camera uses the appropriate settings; select from portrait, landscape, sport, night, fireworks, sunset, snow, beach, museum, party, flower, text, and auction mode
Program mode Point-and-shoot, with full menu access; a program shift feature lets you select from various aperture/shutter speed combos
Aperture priority mode You choose the aperture from a range of F2.8 - F8.0 and the camera uses the appropriate shutter speed
Shutter priority mode Just the opposite: you choose the shutter speed from a range of 4 - 1/2000 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 I'll have more on this later

There are a few things to mention about those mode dial items before I continue the tour. First, about the picture stabilization and natural light modes. Both of these modes rely on ISO boosting in order to reduce camera shake and freeze moving subject. This can result in some noisy photos, though, so you'll probably want to save these for small prints only.

The S8000fd has full manual control over shutter speed and aperture, though I'm disappointed with the 4 second maximum shutter speed. Oh, and in case you're wondering why there are two scene position spots on the mode dial, it's so you can have two different default scenes -- one in each.

The camera typically only locked onto 3 faces; sorry this image looks so bad!

Back to the tour, now. To the right of the mode dial are buttons for face detection and dual image stabilization. Fuji was one of the first to do face detection, and their latest cameras (e.g. F100fd) can do all sorts of tricks. On the S8000fd, the FD system can find up to 10 people in the frame, making sure they are properly focused and exposure. In addition, the camera can remove redeye as the picture is taken, which can be a real time saver. That said, I wasn't overly impressed with the S8000's face detection system. At best, it would locate four of the six faces in our test scene -- the best cameras at this can find all six.

While Fuji claims that the S8000fd has "dual image stabilization", that's really just marketing-speak for "CCD-shift image stabilization plus ISO boosting". The CCD-shift stabilization can be used without reducing image quality, and it's a good idea to always have it turned on (save for when you're using a tripod). The ISO boost portion only works when the sensitivity is set to "auto", and image quality can go downhill rapidly, especially in low light. Thus, you're better off sticking to the CCD-shift stabilization only.

Above those two buttons is the power switch, with the zoom controller and shutter release button above that. The zoom controller moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in about 2.4 seconds. I counted around forty steps in the 18X zoom range, which is very nice.

And that's all for the top of the camera!

Side of the Fuji FinePix S8000fd

There's more to see on this side of the S8000. First up is the flash release button, which has the microphone to its right (hard to see here). Continuing to the right, we find the speaker.

Under that plastic cover are both of the camera's I/O ports, including USB+A/V (one for both) and DC-in (for the optional AC adapter). The S8000fd supports the USB 2.0 High Speed protocol, so data transfers to your computer will be quick.

Side of the Fuji FinePix S8000fd

On the opposite side of the camera is the S8000fd's memory card slot, which is protected by a reinforced plastic door of average quality. Like most of Fuji's recent cameras, this slot supports both xD and SD/SDHC cards. Now if only Olympus would follow their lead...

The lens is at the full telephoto position here. As you can see, the S8000 has a pretty big nose.

Bottom of the Fuji FinePix S8000fd

Our tour ends with a view of the bottom of the FinePix S8000fd. Here you'll find a plastic tripod mount (boo!) and the battery compartment. The battery compartment is protected by a fairly sturdy plastic door with a locking mechanism.

Using the Fuji FinePix S8000fd

Record Mode

It takes the FinePix S8000fd about 2.3 seconds to extend its lens and prepare for shooting. That's about average.

There's normally no live histogram shown in record mode; however, one becomes visible when adjusting exposure compensation

Focusing speeds were about average as well. At the wide end of the lens, it usually took the S8000fd between 0.3 and 0.5 seconds to lock focus. At the telephoto end, those times were closer to 1 second. Low light focusing was slow (1-2 second focus times), but the camera ultimately would lock focus.

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 also average (detecting a pattern here?). You'll wait about two seconds between shots, with or without the flash.

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 S8000fd:

Resolution Quality Approx. file size # images on 58MB onboard memory # images on 1GB SD card (optional)
3264 x 2448
Fine 3.9 MB 14 252
Normal 2.0 MB 29 503
3264 x 2176
Normal 1.8 MB 32 563
2304 x 1728
Normal 980 KB 57 999
1600 x 1200
Normal 630 KB 91 1589
640 x 480
Normal 130 KB 448 7746

That built-in memory isn't too bad, but you'll still want a larger memory card right away for any serious photo outings.

Unlike its Olympus and Panasonic counterparts, the S8000fd does not support the RAW image format.

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 S8000fd 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:

  • Photometry [metering] (Multi, spot, average)
  • White balance (Auto, custom, sunlight, shade, daylight fluorescent, warm white fluorescent, cool white fluorescent, incandescent) - see below
  • High speed shooting (on/off) - reduces focus times by limiting focus range
  • Continuous (Off, top-3, bracketing, long period, high speed top-15, ultra high speed top-15) - see below
  • Focusing mode (Continuous AF, single AF, manual) - see below
  • AF mode (Center, multi, area) - the last option lets you select in area in the frame on which to focus
  • Sharpness (Soft, standard, hard)
  • Flash brightness (-2/3EV to +2/3EV in 1/3EV increments)
  • Bracketing interval (±1/3EV,± 2/3EV, ±1EV)
  • Setup - see below

The FinePix S8000fd 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.

There are a whopping four continuous modes on the S8000fd, though all of them involve a compromise of some kind. The first one, top-3, is supposed to take three shots in a row at 1.5 frames/second, but I couldn't get it to go any faster than 1 fps. Long period continuous will shoot until your memory card fills up, but since it's refocusing before each shot, the frame rate is just 0.5 fps. High speed top-15 takes fifteen photos in a row at a speedy 6.3 frames/second. Ultra high speed mode does even better, approaching 15 fps. The catch? The high speed mode locks the resolution at 4M, ultra high speed at 2M, and for both the ISO is set to 800 or higher, which can't be a good thing.

The camera's exposure bracketing option can also be found in the continuous shooting submenu. This will take three shots in a row, each with a different exposure. The interval between shots can be ±1/3EV,± 2/3EV, or ±1EV.

Manual focus

The S8000fd 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. The manual focus feature is not well implemented. 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 tells you that the camera thinks the subject is in focus.

The S8000fd also has a setup menu, and it contains these options:

  • Shooting options
    • Image display (1.5, 3 secs, continuous, zoom/continuous) - post-shot review; continuous shows the image until you hit the Menu button; the zoom option enlarges the image automatically
    • Frame numbering (Continuous, renew)
    • AF illuminator (on/off)
    • Digital zoom (on/off) - I highly recommend keeping this off
    • EVF/LCD mode (30, 60 fps) - refresh rate
  • Setup 1
    • Date/time (set)
    • Operation volume (Off, 1-3)
    • Shutter volume (Off, 1-3)
    • Playback volume
    • LCD brightness (-5 to +5 in 1-step increments)
    • Format (Internal memory or memory card)
  • Setup 2
    • Language
    • Auto power off (Off, 2, 5 mins)
    • Time difference (Home, travel) - for when you're on the road
    • Background color (Blue, purple, pink, orange, green, black) - choose the menu background color
    • Discharge - discharges NiMH batteries
    • Video system (NTSC, PAL)
  • Setup 3
    • Reset - back to defaults

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

Overall, the FinePix S8000fd's macro performance was good, though the reds are way off. I'm guessing that the camera's white balance system had some trouble with my studio lamps. Putting the camera into the "chrome" film mode make the colors a lot more pleasant (though slightly over-the-top). The subject is sharp, with plenty of detail captured. While there's no noise to speak of, I did spy some noise reduction artifacting in the shadows at the bottom of the figurine.

There are two macro modes on the FinePix S8000fd. In normal macro mode, the minimum focus distances are 10 cm at wide-angle and 1.2 cm at telephoto, which are average numbers for an ultra zoom. If you want to get even closer, put the camera into super macro mode. This locks the lens at 60 mm (35 mm equivalent) and allows you to be just 1 cm from your subject.

Now onto the night scene. I was afraid that I was going to be limited by the S8000's 4 second exposure limit, but that didn't turn out to be the case -- the camera was able to take in enough light. The buildings are are slightly soft, and you can see a bit of noise reduction on them if you look closely. Purple fringing was well controlled in a scene which is often filled with it.

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. Here we go:

ISO 64

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

The only real difference between the first two crops is a slight increase in noise reduction at ISO 100. One stop above that, the noise reduction becomes a lot more noticeable. You should be able to still make a small (4 x 6) print at this setting. Details really start to go at ISO 400 and above, so I wouldn't use any of those sensitivities. I left out the ISO 3200 and 6400 samples from this comparison since they're so utterly bad. If you must see them, here you go: ISO 3200, ISO 6400.

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

There's mild-to-moderate barrel distortion at the wide end of the FinePix S8000's 18X zoom range. This can make things like buildings appear to "lean" toward the center of the frame. I did not find vignetting (dark corners) or corner blurriness to be a problem here.

I took the redeye test shot with the camera's automatic redeye reduction turned on and, as you can see, it did a great job. If you're taking people pictures, then it's a good idea to shoot with this option turned on.

Here now is our studio ISO test, which can be compared between cameras that I've reviewed. Speaking of which, now's a good time to open up the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 review for comparison purposes. 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

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

The first two shots look nice and clean, though a bit on the soft side. Some noise starts to pop up at ISO 200, but it's not enough to prevent you from making mid-to-large prints. Noise reduction becomes more noticeable at ISO 400, reducing the print sizes that you could make. The image gets some pretty obvious noise/grain at ISO 800, but at least that detail isn't being smudged away like Panasonic does on the FZ18. Even so, I'd save this setting for small prints, and only if you absolutely have to. More detail is loss at ISO 1600, so I'd avoid using this sensitivity. Speaking of avoiding sensitivities, don't even bother with the ISO 3200 or 6400 settings (which only exist for marketing purposes). The camera lowers the resolution to 4 Megapixel at those settings, which makes for smaller poor quality photos than you'd get at full res.

Overall, the FinePix S8000fd produced good (but not great) photos. They were generally well-exposed, with pleasing, saturated colors. Things were on the soft side, especially fine details like grass, hair, and trees, probably due to noise reduction. The sky appears slightly mottled as well. On the flip side, noise isn't much of a problem until ISO 200 in low light, and ISO 400 in good light. Purple fringing, a common occurrence on ultra zoom cameras, was moderate.

Don't just take my word for it, though. Have a look at our photo gallery, maybe printing a few of them if you can, and then decide if the S8000fd's photo quality meets your expectations.

Movie Mode

The FinePix S8000fd has a fairly standard movie mode. You can record video at 640 x 480 and 30 frames/second (with sound) until the file size hits 2GB. That takes around 35 minutes. The internal memory only holds about a minute of video, so you'll want a large, high speed card for longer movies.

To increase recording time, you can drop the resolution down to 320 x 240 (30 fps). This allows for movies as long as an hour.

As is usually the case, you cannot use the optical zoom lens while recording a movie. You can't use the CCD-shift image stabilizer either. There is a digital IS feature available, though I didn't find it to be very effective (see demo earlier in review).

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

Here's a brief sample movie for you:

Click to play movie (6.1 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime

Playback Mode

The S8000fd 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 5.1 times and then move around in the zoomed-in area.

Viewing photos by date 100 thumbs at once!

Photos can be viewed one at a time, by date, or as thumbnails. One view shows 100 thumbnails at once, though they're so tiny that it's hard to make out anything.

You can rotate and crop (but not resize) 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 S8000 moves through photos at an average clip. Expect to wait about 1/2 second between each image.

How Does it Compare?

The Fuji FinePix S8000fd is a good (but not spectacular) super zoom camera that brings a lot to the table. It offers an 18X zoom lens, CCD-shift image stabilization, full manual controls, effective redeye reduction, and more. I do think that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 is a better overall camera, with its RAW support and superior performance, but the Finepix S8000fd is definitely worth a look.

The FinePix S8000fd is a midsize ultra zoom camera whose biggest claim to fame is its lens. Not only is it powerful (18X), but its range is wonderful: 27 - 486 mm. Big zoom lenses almost require image stabilization, and Fuji has included sensor-shift IS on the S8000, which works as advertised. Do note that you cannot use the IS system in movie mode like you can on most cameras. There's an electronic version available, but it's not very effective. Despite being constructed of plastic, the S8000 is well put together. It's easy to hold, with a large rubberized grip for your right hand. My only real ergonomic complaint is that your thumb often presses the F-mode button by accident. On the back of the camera you'll find a standard-issue 2.5" LCD display. It offers 230,000 pixels, and good outdoor and low light visibility. The electronic viewfinder shares the same traits. The S8000 supports SD and SDHC memory cards in addition to the expensive and slow xD cards that Fuji (and Olympus) buyers have been stuck with for years.

The S8000 has a host of features for both beginners and enthusiasts alike. For those starting out, there are a number of scene modes, plus a plain old automatic mode. Two of the scene modes boost the ISO, though be careful with these: this isn't a SuperCCD-based camera, so noise can be more apparent. For those wanting manual controls, you can adjust focus, white balance, shutter speed, and aperture. However, the manual focus feature is poorly implemented, and the slowest shutter speed available is 4 seconds (which is probably fine for most people). Unlike its Olympus and Panasonic counterparts, the S8000fd lacks support for the RAW image format. The "fd" in S8000fd stands for face detection, and the camera can find up to 10 faces in the frame. While I wasn't overly impressed with the FD system, the redeye reduction system tied to it worked quite well. The S8000 offers a fairly normal movie mode, allowing for up to 35 minutes of continuous VGA (30 fps) recording.

Camera performance was average in most respects. The S8000fd takes about 2.3 seconds to start up, which is a bit slower than the Panasonic FZ18. Focus times were average, ranging from 0.3 seconds at wide-angle to 1 second at telephoto. Low light focusing was slow, but accurate. I did not find shutter lag to be an issue, and shot-to-shot times hovered around 2 seconds. The camera's battery life is above average (with NiMH rechargeables), and its support for the USB 2.0 High Speed standard will keep data transfer times to a minimum. The only real weak spot in this department was the S8000's continuous shooting modes. The two full resolution ones are slow, with a frame rate of 0.5 to 1.0 fps, and the fast ones are low resolution / high ISO only.

Photo quality was good, though there's room for improvement in several areas. The S8000fd took well-exposed photos, with pleasing colors (though it had some trouble with my studio lamps). Images are on the soft side, especially in areas with fine detail -- probably due to noise reduction. Noise isn't really a problem until ISO 200 in low light, and ISO 400 in good light. The S8000fd definitely retains more detail at ISO 400 and 800 than the DMC-FZ18. The highest ISO settings, ISO 3200 and 6400, are only here for show, as the image quality is quite poor. Purple fringing levels were moderate. And, as I mentioned earlier, the S8000fd's auto redeye reduction system works as promised.

All things considered, the Fuji FinePix S8000fd is a solid, though unremarkable super zoom camera. It's not the best camera in its class, but it gets the job done fairly well, and ultimately that's why I can recommend it.

What I liked:

  • Very good photo quality (though see issues below)
  • Whopping 18X zoom with a great 27 - 486 mm range
  • Sensor-shift image stabilization
  • Well built for its price
  • Sharp 2.5" LCD has good outdoor/low light visibility
  • Full manual controls
  • Effective redeye reduction system
  • Dual xD/SD memory card slot
  • Can record over 35 mins of continuous VGA video (though see below)
  • Battery life is above average; uses AA batteries
  • USB 2.0 High Speed support

What I didn't care for:

  • Photos are on the soft side, especially fine details; moderate purple fringing
  • Disappointing continuous shooting modes
  • Poorly implemented manual focus feature
  • No RAW support, unlike the competition
  • "Real" image stabilization not available in movie mode
  • Completely useless ISO 3200 and 6400 settings
  • Too easy to accidentally hit F-mode button with your thumb
  • Plastic tripod mount
  • Weak Mac software

Some other super zooms worth considering include the Canon PowerShot S5 IS, Kodak EasyShare Z812 IS, Olympus SP-560 Ultra Zoom, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H9. Some upcoming cameras that you should look at include the Fuji FinePix S8100fd, Kodak EasyShare Z8612 IS, and the Olympus SP-570UZ.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the FinePix S8000fd 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.

Want another opinion?

You'll find another review of the FinePix S8000fd at Digital Photography Review, Imaging Resource, Cameralabs, and CNET.