Fuji FinePix S5600 Zoom
A worthy upgrade?
Auto settings include the usual gamut of Landscape, Portrait and Night scene modes, for example. Auto settings get a big boost from a range of other settings including a high-quality 640 x 480, 30fps video mode (with sound), and a Natural Light mode, optimised for lower lighting or where you can't use the flash. A high-speed shooting mode is ideal for fleeting subjects while the camera's ISO range runs between 64 and 1600 ISO making it one of the best in its class.
Other, more advanced features include histogram display and highlight warning, both during playback; exposure compensation to +/-2EV, image trimming (in playback again) and there's a built-in pop-up flash unit that is a tad underpowered for my liking. The EVF is horrible. It's grainy and dark to use and all but useless for critical focus judgment.
The S5600 easily lives up to the standards set by its forbears with sharp colourful images. A vivid 'Chrome' setting allows for extra saturation of shots (there's a black and white mode too), ideal for vivid greens and reds. Noise is well controlled, but highlights become lost quickly if there's a bright background in a scene, for example - all almost identical to problems I found with the 5500. Over-processing for noise is an issue on this model, but shooting RAW allows you to control this with greater precision.
There's an accomplished 64-zone metering set up, even if it is overly biased to darker foregrounds, the net result of which, worsens the lost highlight problems. Focusing is fast and there's almost no shutter lag, very impressive, until that is you switch to macro mode. The darn camera would not focus no matter what I did, and turning the camera this way and that.
Switching to manual focus was better but very fiddly and I virtually had to measure the distances to small subjects in order to get that right. Macro focusing aside, however, image quality is good enough to please all but the most discerning of photographers needing very large enlargements. But I doubt they'd buy a camera of this ilk anyway.
The 5600 provides just enough in terms of new kit and more advanced shooting options to make it a worthy upgrade to the 5500. The EVF is a nightmare, as was macro focusing, but the overall package, with its improved image noise suppressions and manual controls make it worthy of scrutiny if you've got £300 to spare on a digital camera.
A worthy upgrade with enough to please all but the most discerning of photographers...
Suggested Price: £300
More Info: The Fuji Finepix S5600 page