FujiFilm – FinePix S6500fd Zoom review

pro-sumer digital camera with face recognition
Photo of FujiFilm – FinePix S6500fd Zoom

By now most people should be at home with the ‘New World’ of digital cameras, especially the flat-fronted variety that require you to do little more than point and click, with instant playback. However, the move up to full digital SLRs might still appear too daunting and too expensive, with so many manual controls to organise in pursuit of the perfect photo.

In which case the so-called ‘bridge’ cameras like this one are ideal. They have all the look of a DSLR and many of the manual functions available, but also a comforting amount of the work can be handled automatically. In terms of picture quality you know you’re going to be on to a winner as Fujifilm has employed its 6.3-megapixel Super CCD sensor and Real Photo Technology II, as well as a comparatively new feature which should improve your portrait pictures.

Before we look at that, let’s review some of the statistics. The maximum resolution is 2,848 x 2,136 and the light sensitivity ranges from ISO100 to 3200 which means you can achieve exceptional results in poor lighting conditions without always having to use flash. Talking of which, the camera uses intelligent flash which can be adjusted to your circumstances and there’s a ‘Natural and Flash’ mode which can take two rapid pictures, one with and one without flash, so you can compare and contrast the results.

You can preview your shot via the 2.5-inch LCD screen or the electronic viewfinder and the zoom lens is a Fujinon 10.7x (28-300mm equivalent) optical which is manually twisted. You also have a 2x digital zoom and a manual focus ring if you want to take more control of your image sharpness, plus macro and super macro options which can take you as close as 1cm to your subject.

Fujifilm is particularly proud that this model includes its new Face Detection technology which will recognize up to 10 faces in a frame and auto-expose and autofocus on them to the best setting in just 0.04 seconds. We tried it out on humans and dogs and, yes, it could tell the difference!

This is going to be a big boon as the vast majority of photo enthusiasts take more portrait pics than any other type, and now you don’t have to fiddle about trying to focus in a hurry. Also the specialised Scene Position menu adds a further ten settings to the five on the top-mounted mode dial, including such exotica as Museum, Party, Fireworks and Text. It was noticeable, however, that the autofocus was struggling at the end of the zoom, something we’ve seen on other Fujifilm cameras with this length of lens.

With a 2GB memory card installed you can capture those fireworks or sporting occasions on video for up to 30 minutes at a resolution of 640 x 480 at 30fps. The only shame is that Fujifilm still insists on using the less popular xD-Picture Card format rather than, say, SD, which is much more widely available.

Having said that, the power comes from four AA alkaline batteries which is preferable to having a bulky battery pack attached, and the FinePix Viewer software provides a reliable means of organising and exporting your photos from the camera to the PC or printer via the USB 2 port, if you don’t have the relevant memory card holder.

Company: FujiFilm

Contact: 0870 084 1310

A reasonably priced 'bridge' pro-sumer camera for those wanting to upgrade their digital photography experience and make use of the impressive Face Detection technology to grab those portrait photos quicker and more accurately than before.