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Fujifilm FinePix S4500 Digital Camera Review

fujuifilm20120524aa.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Katrina Putker 

 

The S4500 from Fuji would be a perfect unit for those wishing to graduate from the often-limiting simplicity of their point-and-shoot-compact but equally are nowhere near ready to take on the complexity of a digital SLR.

Hence referred to as a ‘bridging’ unit, the S4500 offers both automatic and manual controls, a 14-megapixel CCD sensor, 720p movie mode and of course the piece de resistance: a whopping 30x super zoom (hence the ‘S’ in ‘S4500’) 24-720mm equivalent lens that will be the likely selling point for those photography amateurs who love shooting sports and wild life or getting in close on the sights of their travels and/or day-to-day life..

 

Appearance and Functionality


On first impressions the S4500 bodes fairly well: it has all the stylings of a consumer DSLR without the excessive weight or body bulk and is available in black only. A great physical portion of the unit is comprised of the fixed super zoom lens and the chunky handgrip and as such its proportions are not unlike those of a buxom lass: rather front heavy.

Truth be told the handgrip – though perfectly functional – is as chunky as it is in order to host the four AA batteries required to power the unit. The mind boggles a little that come 2012 new cameras are being released onto the market without a single dedicated battery but alas this very point helps to hint back to the manufacturer’s likely intended buyer: the not-so-tech-savvy and those new to digital technology.

fujuifilm20120524ab.jpgThe buttons and mode dials are placed logically overall and though labelled well, their existence may cause an initial degree of intimidation for entry-level users who ideally just want a decent point-and-shoot unit. Fortunately for them however, the S4500’s looks deny both its price point in the market along with in some senses, its capabilities.

In essence this is actually a very basic and easy-to-use unit with a slight case of the old ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ syndrome: while it looks like a shrunken DSLR it is in fact much closer to a compact point-and-shoot camera in capability yet seemingly aesthetically designed to tickle the fancy of those teetering on the edge of the DSLR realm.

Coming from the point-and-shoot side of things the S4500 is equipped with automatic scene recognition technology that assesses images according to content (people, landscape, night scene or macro) to help filter and speed up future image searches, along with face recognition that allows for up to eight individuals to be tagged and named and thus be automatically recognised again in subsequent photographs.

Separate smile and blink detection modes also exist and hark back to popular point-and-shoot technologies that can help to ensure images of amply grinning and open-eyed subjects that can then be automatically uploaded to and tagged in either Facebook or YouTube (when connected to a computer loaded with the included My FinePix Studio software.)

The internal menu system is near on identical to preceding Fuji compact cameras so those already familiar with the brand will find the transition an especially easy one and everyone else will quickly become familiar with its fairly primitive workings also.

A whole host of scene modes are included from the usual suspects portrait, landscape, night, night portrait, backlit portrait, text, baby, macro etc. also including the handy zoom bracketing mode that allows for three different zoom ratios (x1, x2 and x4) to be applied to a scene all within a single shutter click.

General handling of the S4500 is comfortable and while its light weight allows for easier portability and use, it does give a sense of plasticity and delicacy so it certainly isn’t a unit that would be likely to withstand a lot of rough and tumble. 

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Image / Lens Quality


It really can’t be said enough: the 30x zoom offered by the S4500 is without doubt going to be the key selling point of this unit and rightly so – it certainly isn’t common to find such a generous zoom on a camera in the sub $300.00 price range.

The lens is a 24-720mm equivalent thus offering users a massive range of view to play around with and one that certainly can’t be matched (to my knowledge) with a single lens on a prosumer DSLR.

On the other end of the spectrum, super macro mode is also available and can focus as close as just 2cm away so it’s safe to say the S4500 offers a lot of flexibility in this regard.

At full zoom and without flash it can be difficult to achieve perfectly crisp results (whilst hand holding at least) but generally speaking this camera offers edge-to-edge sharpness when shooting in ample lighting conditions. It doesn’t cope fantastically in low light or challenging lighting conditions but good luck finding any $300.00 unit that does. 

 

fujuifilm20120524ad.jpgLCD / Viewfinder

 
A basic 3-inch LCD sits on the back of the S4500 and users have the option of switching between this and the electronic viewfinder, which will appeal to some no doubt but for the most part the quality of the electronic preview offered isn’t fantastic.

 

Video


HD video is not available with the S4500, which is a little disappointing but not all that surprising given the affordability of the unit. 720p video is an option however and that’s certainly better than nothing at all. The quality is sufficient and it’s great to have the option there for those who enjoy taking and sharing short clips.

HDMI connectivity is available (with the additional purchase of the appropriate cable) but do remember that 720p video can only look so good on any high definition display device.

 

 

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Conclusion


The S4500 is certainly on the cheaper end of the scale particularly for the seriously generous amount of zoom it offers and in reality it has a slight cheap feel about it too – almost verging on deceptive in the sense that its smart looks don’t quite seem to align with its only acceptable performance.

The S4500 appears as a shrunken DSLR but in terms of image quality produces results closer to the better point-and-shoot units available for the same price.

That said, it’s fair to say Fuji has outdone itself in the design department leading one to believe the S4500 may be capable of one thing, where the unit’s price point very honestly positions it back in the market as a highly affordable entry-level camera.

To call it a bridging unit is entirely fair and indeed the manual controls offered would allow and encourage unpractised amateurs a chance to experiment further with their photography but certainly for anyone with existing knowledge, the S4500 is unlikely to suit.

All said and done however this unit is exceptionally affordable and offers such an extensive zoom range that will certainly appeal to many a buyer on a budget looking for versatility predominantly in that area.

 

Accessories Used During Testing:

Tamrac Aero 25 / 3325 Camera Bag 

SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s SD Card 

 

Recommended Retailer:

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View / Buy The Fujifilm FinePix S4500  

 

 

   
Appearance rating 3.5 stars
Functionality rating 3.5 stars
Image quality
3 stars
Video quality
3 stars
Lens quality
3 stars
LCD screen 3.5 stars
Value for money 4 star
Street Price $299
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 14.0 million pixels
Sensor Type
1/2.3-inch CCD with primary colour filter
Image Sizes 3 Sizes / 3 ratios
Lens Type: Fujinon 18x optical zoom lens
Focal length: f=5.0 - 90.0 mm, equivalent to 28 - 504mm on a 35 mm camera
Full-aperture: F3.1(Wide) - F5.6 (Telephoto)
Constitution: 11 groups 14 lenses
Lens Mount
-
Resolution Settings: Stills L : (4:3) 4288 x 3216
L : (3:2) 4288 x 2864
L : (16:9) 4288 x 2416
M : (4:3) 3072 x 2304
M : (3:2) 3072 x 2048
M : (16:9) 3072 x 1728
S : (4:3) 2048 x 1536
S : (3:2) 2048 x 1360
S : (16:9) 1920 x 1080
Resolution Settings: Video 1280 x 720 pixels
640 x 480 pixels
320 x 240 pixels
30 frames / sec. with monaural sound.
* Zoom function can be used. 
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus Yes
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority Yes
Shutter Speeds (Auto mode) 1/4 sec. to 1/2000 sec. , (All other modes) 8 sec. to 1/2000 sec. with mechanical shutter
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO Auto,Equivalent to ISO 64 / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200* / 6400* (Standard Output Sensitivity)
* ISO3200/6400 is effective in S mode.
LCD Monitor 3.0-inch, approx. 230,000 dots, TFT color LCD monitor, approx. 97% coverage
Viewfinder 0.2-inch., approx. 200,000 dots, color LCD viewfinder approx. 97% coverage
Flash Auto flash (i-flash)
Effective range: (ISO AUTO)
Normal
Wide: Approx. 40 cm - 7.0 m / 1.3 ft. - 22.9 ft.,
Telephoto: Approx. 2.5 m - 3.6 m / 8.2 ft. - 11.8 ft.
Macro
Wide: Approx. 30 cm - 3.0 m / 1 ft. - 9.8 ft.,
Telephoto: Approx.2.0 m - 3.0 m / 6.5 ft. - 9.8 ft. 
Hot Shoe No
White Balance Automatic scene recognition
Preset: Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light, Custom 
Self Timer Approx. 10 sec. / 2 sec. Delay
Stills Format/s
JPEG (Exif Ver 2.3 )
(Design rule for Camera File system compliant / DPOF-compatible)
Video Format/s AVI (Motion JPEG ) / WAVE format, Monaural sound
Video Recording Time/s -
Storage Type - External SD / SDHC memory card
Storage Type - Internal
-
Connectivity Video output: NTSC / PAL selectable with monaural sound
Digital interface: USB 2.0 High-Speed
HD output: HDMI Mini connector
Power Source -
Battery Options 4xAA type alkaline batteries (included) / 4xAA type Ni-MH rechargeable batteries (sold separately) / 4xAA type lithium batteries (sold separately)
Battery Life Alkaline batteries: Approx. 300 frames
Ni-MH rechargeable batteries : Approx 500 frames
Lithium batteries : Approx. 700 frames
Dimensions 118.0 mm (W) x 80.9mm (H) x 99.8mm (D)
Weight Approx. 543g inc. batteries & memory card)
Approx. 448g exc. batteries & memory card)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

About Fujifilm

 

FUJIFILM brings continuous innovation and leading-edge products to a broad spectrum of industries, including electronic imaging, photofinishing equipment, medical systems, life sciences, graphic arts, flat panel display materials, and office products, based on a vast portfolio of digital, optical, fine chemical and thin film coating technologies. The company was ranked number 15 for U.S. patents granted in 2006. Fujifilm is committed to environmental stewardship and good corporate citizenship.

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