Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd

18x ultra-zoom camera with image stabilisation

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Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd
  • Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd
  • Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd
  • Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd

Pros

  • 18x zoom, image stabilisation, fast shutter speed

Cons

  • Some noise issues, colours a little too vivid

Bottom Line

A solid advanced ultra-zoom camera, FujiFilm's FinePix S8100fd offers an 18x zoom lens with sensor shift stabilisation and captures good but not outstanding photographs.

Would you buy this?

A slightly upgraded version of the FinePix S1000fd, the FujiFilm FinePix S8100fd features several key improvements over its sibling. This time around sensor shift stabilisation is included and several of the speed issues have been rectified. While you will pay more for this unit, it is definitely worth it if you're after an advanced camera with a large zoom.

With an 18x lens, the S8100fd offers one of the biggest zooms in the business. Furthermore, unlike the FinePix S1000fd, it is supported by dual image stabilisation (both ISO adjustment and sensor shift) which is a huge boon. It's almost impossible to take handheld shots at any kind of large zoom level without stabilisation, as even the most minute hand shake is enough to blur the image.

On the whole we were impressed with the S8100fd's shots, although there were a few niggling issues. The 10-megapixel sensor captures fairly sharp snaps with no prominent over- or under-sharpening. It didn't capture quite as much detail as some competing units, but it certainly produced shots that will be fine for most print sizes. Chromatic aberration was well controlled despite the large lens, with only slight haloing on high-contrast edges, minimal purple fringing, and no detail loss towards the edges of the frame.

Colour balance wasn't all that accurate, with a bright, over-saturated tone. While this may be suitable for an entry-level unit, on an ultra-zoom that is clearly targeted at more experienced users we'd have preferred a softer, more natural look. As with past FujiFilm models, there are no onboard colour calibration options, so if you do want to tweak the balance you'll need to do it in post processing.

The biggest issue with the S8100fd's shots is noise. Even at ISO 100 our shots were quite grainy and by ISO 400 there was some detail loss creeping in. Once we hit ISO 800 our shots lost significant clarity; we wouldn't recommend pushing above this limit unless you absolutely have to.

In our speed tests this unit did much better than many other ultra-zooms. It took 2.5 seconds to fire up, which is speedy considering the large lens, exhibited an extremely quick 0.05 seconds of shutter lag, and took 2.2 seconds between shots. The burst mode was a little sluggish at two frames per second at full resolution, but there are several faster options if you're happy with less detailed shots.

The unit has a relatively robust set of features, with full manual shooting modes for more creative photography. There is also Face Detect as well as the aforementioned dual stabilisation. A handful of scene modes are also present, along with a bracketing option and sharpness controls.

The design is chunky; this is unavoidable in a camera housing a lens of this size. It is quite comfortable to hold thanks to the rubber grips, but it certainly is a hefty device weighing in at 410g (almost as much as a low-end SLR). One feature we loved was the 2.5in screen, which was colourful, detailed and had an excellent refresh rate. It responded perfectly to fast movement and made framing our shots a joy.

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