Fuji FinePix S5600 Zoom
A worthy upgrade?
Review The 5600 is around 30g heavier than its predecessor, weight that's in no way a burden but arises from the larger - but still small by today's standards - 1.8in colour screen. It's bright and crisp though, so is a cinch to use and it even comes with a fast, 'LCD brighten' button for fast switching if you suddenly find yourself in the spotlight - or in bright sunshine.
Other new technology includes Fuji's 'Anti Blur Mode', in effect a boosted ISO setting. That means the camera can achieve a faster shutter speed due to the increased sensor sensitivity, helping reduce camera shake or subject blur.
'Ah!' I hear you cry, 'what about boosted noise?' Well, Fuji's done some neat software trickery and combined it with the camera's fifth-generation SuperCCD HR sensor, which together yield a much lower noise ratio at a given ISO setting. That said, I still had some weird image artefacts - primarily crowds of dense, black pixels in shadow areas - in some low-contrast scenes.
The 5600 sports a 10x zoom lens offering a 38-380mm zoom range, so there's more than enough to play with. But unlike the 5500, which had a F2.8 optic, the 5600 has a less bright F3.2 maximum aperture, meaning that extra noise reduction processing is called into play sooner than would otherwise be needed. Ultimately, it's this processing that I believe is creating the odd crowds of artefacts within shadows.
Shooting in the camera's CCD-RAW mode provides you with virgin, unprocessed images that you can convert to TIFF or JPEG files later with the supplied PC-based converter software, which allows you to tweak all the image parameters as required. In this way, the 5600's combination of manual and auto controls and RAW capture, provides almost complete control - as befits the camera's SLR inspiration.
Another 1.1 million pixels over the 5500 provide 5.1mp resolution, that's enough for prints up to A3 in size, so there's more than enough detail to play with within the images. If you know a bit about image processing, you will get bigger prints even than this with a modicum of PC tinkering.