The Fuji Finepix S5500 is a 4 megapixel digital camera with a 10x optical zoom lens. Although it has a wide range of features it also retains an ease of use that is likely to appeal to many people.
It is primarily aimed at anyone who is serious about their photography and is looking for a digital camera that they can spend time getting to know and experimenting with to achieve the best results. The Finepix S5500 is likely to be seen as a camera that is an ideal step up for someone who is looking for more than a simple point and shoot, but doesn't need the sophistication of a digital SLR or the most advanced compacts.
112.7 x 81.1 x 79.3m
Overall I was impressed by the images produced by the Fuji Finepix S5500. The camera performed well in each of the categories and there was no area where I felt the camera was poor.
Starting with the outdoor shots the Finepix S5500 reproduced all the scenes as a fair reflection as to how they were on the day. The only reservation I have is when the lens is fully extended. At this point there is an element of purple fringing. This is where a purple line creeps in at the edge of light coloured objects. Looking at the sample images purple fringing can be seen at the edge of the white boat in outdoor shot 3. There is a tendency for this to occur with cameras with an extended zoom lens and the Finepix S5500 performed far better than the Canon Powershot S1 IS did. Also when the lens is fully extended the sky tends to lose some of its colour.
The indoor shots were very good indeed. In fact these are some of the best produced so far. The picture of the beer bottles is taken in extremely poor light yet the Finepix S5500 had no problem focusing and the flash fired at a level to create one of the best exposures. A common problem with the indoor portrait is a loss of detail in the dark area of the hair. Again the Finepix S5500 is one of the few cameras to overcome this problem.
The macro or close up shot is acceptable, but the problem with purple fringing crops up again and the image is not quite as sharp as others.
The colour test produced average results. Although not the most vibrant of colours the result is also better than that produced by a number of other cameras.
For composing images there is an Electronic viewfinder with dioptre correction. Alternatively you can use the 1.5" LCD screen.
There is a pop up flash unit with a range of up to 4.5m. This drops down slightly to 4m when the zoom is in use. The flash modes are Auto (where the camera decides whether or not flash is required, Red-eye Reduction, Forced Flash (always on), Suppressed Flash (always off) Slow Synchro, Red-eye Reduction + Slow Synchro.
The optical zoom is backed up by a 3.6x digital zoom lens. If you are interested in close up photography you can use the macro facility to take pictures from 10cms away. There is also a self timer with a two or a ten second delay for when you would like to appear in the picture.
When you first start out with the Finepix S5500 you may wish to take advantage of the scene modes. These are pre programmed modes that help you to take the best possible picture in differing photographic conditions. The scene modes available are Portrait, Landscape, Sports and Night Scene.
Movie mode allows you to shoot movies at a resolution of 640x480 and at a rate of 30 frames per second.
As you become more adventurous fully manual exposure is available to you. There are also exposure modes for Programmed AE, Aperture Priority AE and Shutter Priority AE.
Other advanced settings available are three types of metering (multi, spot and average), exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV - 13 steps in 1/3EV increments), white balance (Custom, Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light) and ISO equivalent settings of 64, 100, 200 and 400. You can also focus manually and store images in RAW mode as well as JPEG. There are facilities for continuous shooting and colour modes for black and white and chrome.
Ease of Use
Compared with other extended zoom cameras I found it easier to find my way around the Finepix S5500 than all of its competitors to date. I am a big fan of the Fuji menu systems as I feel that along with Sony they are the easiest I have seen to navigate.
You can pick up a Fuji Finepix S5500 for around £225 including postage. This makes it around £20 more expensive than the Olympus C-765, but £15 cheaper than the Canon Powershot S1 IS (as at January 2005).
Out of the extended zoom cameras I have looked at I prefer the Finepix S5500 to all of them. It is designed on similar lines to a traditional 35mm SLR camera and has a very good feel in the hand. There is a handy grip on the front of the camera and a pop up flash on the top. The black finish is not smooth like on other digital cameras and give a feeling of a higher quality finish.
The camera weighs in at 337g and has dimensions of 112.7(W) x 81.1(H) x 79.3(D) mm. It also comes with a lens cap.
Batteries and Memory Cards
Four AA batteries are used to power the Finepix S5500. If you buy a camera like this one I would imagine that you would use it on a regular basis and constantly replacing the batteries will certainly add to the running costs. Therefore I would say that a set of rechargeable batteries and a charger should be included in your budget.
Likewise the 16mb xD Picture Card supplied by Fuji with the Finepix S5500 will soon become full. Therefore you are advised to add a spare, high capacity memory card to go with the camera. Click here to compare xD card prices.
Points I like:
Good all round picture quality
Attractive and well built
Easier to use than similar cameras
Where it is not so hot:
Purple fringing and loss of colour when zoom extended
All in all I like the Fuji Finepix S5500. It feels good in the hand and produces a range of quality pictures. Having performed well in all the tests it also appears to be a versatile camera. It you are looking for a camera with an extended zoom lens and is also fairly straightforward to use then this one is certainly worth considering.
Fuji Finepix S5500 Front View
Fuji Finepix S5500 Back View
Fuji Finepix S5500 Top View
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