Fujifilm FinePix S1600

The Fujifilm FinePix S1600 is a compact superzoom powered by AA batteries, let down by its average images.


7.5
CNET Rating
7.4
User Rating

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Following on from the 10-megapixel S1500 from last year, the S1600 steps into the superzoom arena with its 15x optical zoom in a compact body.

Design and features

Shaped like a normal superzoom camera, the S1600 sports a 15x optical zoom lens up front. It's relatively compact and easy to carry at just 337 grams without memory card or batteries. Those batteries are four AA ones, by the way, which slot in underneath the camera body to neatly shape the hand grip. The memory card, SD or SDHC, slots in along with the batteries under the same base flap.

The sliding on/off control is a little deceptive at first; rather than a button, it's a slider that controls the power at the top of the unit. Nearby is the mode dial with full PASM control as well as automatic mode, movie mode, panorama, and SP mode (automatic scene selector). Control buttons around the back are appropriately labelled depending on their task, but the Fuji menu interface takes some getting used to for those unfamiliar with the company's cameras.

Around the side, connectivity is limited; there's just one AV-out port using a proprietary mini-USB connection. The lens cap is rather intriguing; rather than having a more standard "pinch and attach" method, it's a bit like the end of a drainpipe — covering the end of the lens. In practice it works quite well, making it easier to remove quickly, but it does slide off much easier than the traditional design, which could result in damage to the lens. Opening up to 28mm at its widest, the lens is a Fujinon branded unit, with an aperture range of f/3.1-5.6.

The 3-inch LCD at the back is absolutely huge compared to the electronic viewfinder (EVF) that sits above it. Both are low resolution though; the EVF at just 200,000 dots and the LCD at 230,000 dots. The LCD is difficult to see in direct sunlight and makes it difficult to view images when you zoom in on camera as it's just not capable of rendering enough detail. There's a dedicated button to switch between the EVF and the LCD (no automatic eye-level sensor here, unfortunately). The viewfinder itself is incredibly small.

Inside you'll find a 12.2-megapixel CCD sensor, as well as HD video recording (720p) at 30fps, with mono audio recording. Fortunately, you can use the entire optical zoom length during video recording, but on the downside there is no dedicated record button on the camera. It's a tedious process having to enter into the correct mode via the top dial and then pressing the shutter button to begin recording. A pop-up flash at the top of the unit, enabled by pressing a physical button, completes the exterior.

Fuji S1600 image sample

A shot taken with the S1600 at its full 15x optical zoom reach. Click the image for the full, unaltered version straight from the camera. (Credit: CBSi)

There are multiple burst shooting modes available, from standard full resolution continuous shooting, last three shots which shoots continuously and stores just the final three shots, long continuous shooting and two reduced resolution continuous shooting modes.

The f button provides quick access to some shooting options, like ISO settings, aspect ratio (16:9, 4:3 or 3:2), image quality (fine or normal) and the colour mode (standard, Fujifilm chrome or Fujifilm black and white).

Fuji S1600 image sample

A comparison between standard and chrome picture modes. As you can see, the difference is minimal but the chrome version looks a tad underexposed and more saturated. (Credit: CBSi)

Performance

The S1600 takes an incredibly tedious 7.1 seconds to start up and take its first shot; the welcome screen and camera initialisation process makes up most of this waiting time. As noted there are multiple burst shooting options available from the dedicated button just behind the shutter. For our tests we used the "Top 3" mode, continuous shooting at full resolution, which took three shots in 1.7 seconds. Shutter lag is just under 0.4 second.

Image quality

In the past, Fuji superzooms have usually delivered some exceptional images, like the S200EXR, which makes us all the more disappointed to report that the S1600 performs way below expectations.

Overall, colour rendition is good if a little muted (though this can be adjusted by tweaking the picture mode). As images creep up to higher ISO sensitivities, noise and smear increases rapidly. Images at full magnification at ISO 400 and above also don't look sharp and have coloured noise visible. Fortunately, it's not an issue for small prints and web use, but large prints and cropping work will demonstrate the lack of overall sharpness. Chromatic aberration is very visible, as well as blown out highlights as the S1600 struggles to adequately capture areas of shadow and light in the one image.

Fuji S1600 image sample

A 100 per cent magnification (inset) of a shot taken at ISO 1600. (Credit: CBSi)

There's a distinct amount of lens distortion visible, particularly barrel distortion at the wide end, which is noticeable on screen and just after a shot is taken. However, we're sure the S1600 performs some lens distortion fixes in-camera during image processing, as shots viewed in playback don't exhibit the same degree of barrel distortion as when they are captured.

Video is encoded in AVI format and the quality is average for a camera of this class. The audio from the in-built mono microphone is also very noisy, susceptible to wind and ambient sound.

Conclusion

The S1600 has a lot going for it in terms of features and just how compact it is, but it's let down by image quality at sensitivities over ISO 200. It does, however, offer a convenient alternative to the Lithium-ion battery superzooms that are out there for photographers who prefer the AA option.

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mtclimber
7
Rating
 

"A Bargain Camera with a lot of features"

mtclimber posted a review   
United States

The Good:Good/Average Image Quality-HDvideo

The Bad:Slow Lens

You have to judge the S1600 for what it really is. It is a bargain super zoom camera that allows novice/beginner users to have a very good learning tool at well less than $(US)200.00.

It offers HD video as well as full automatic and manual controls. It offers many more features than snapshot cameras with far less zoom at the very same selling price.

 

sago posted a comment   

Sold it within 6 months of buying it.
Good - Fair to middling images in very good light.
Bad - Picture quality. Lens. Low light performance. Flash. Image stabilisation. Start up time. Lag time between shots.

Oz
8
Rating
 

Oz posted a review   

The Good:nothing better up to twice the price

The Bad:no manual focus

This review is very misjudging- you can shot very good images to say the least if you know how to use s1600 features. It's not on par with DSLR quality but gives some of their opportunities (shutter/aperture/ISO settings etc.) and make a sharp, crisp, saturated image up to say even ISO800 is not a problem, unlike mentioned in the review. Cheers

Keane Low
7
Rating
 

Keane Low posted a review   

The Good:Good Features,15x zoom,manual setting,user friendly,acceptable photo quality.

The Bad:Obvious noise over ISO 400,loose lense cover.

Good camera to learn and practise manual function before step into DSLR.

DaveJ
5
Rating
 

DaveJ posted a review   

The Good:Find it easy to use, for the average photographer it takes good shots

The Bad:Has AA batteries

Easy to use, good feel although a bit light.Pictures are reasonable quality.

 

publicsp posted a comment   

The Good:Great little camera

The Bad:Noisy video zoom?

We experience noise when videoing (light clicking mechanical sound), and the zoom introduces lots of "zoom noise" when moving in and out.
Is this just "our camera" or is everyone with a S1600 hearing this?
Overall an excellent camera, fantastic 15 x optical zoom and wonderful features.

 

Ozzman posted a reply   

I just got mine.
It is a little noisy when zooming as well.

 

Chrissy posted a comment   

The Good:Weight, simple to use, great features

The Bad:nothing as far as I know ; )

Above all, love it!

 

emily12 posted a comment   

The Good:zoom- price - battery options- standard memory

The Bad:Dont know yet

Its quite new for me however it seems easy to use and not to heavy to hold.

i love photography freak
10
Rating
 

i love photography freak posted a review   

The Good:There are many good features on the camera which is very useful for photographers.

The Bad:Nothing

Its a really good srl camera for people who want to do photography of subjects that are far away.


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User Reviews / Comments  Fujifilm FinePix S1600

  • mtclimber

    mtclimber

    Rating7

    "You have to judge the S1600 for what it really is. It is a bargain super zoom camera that allows novice/beginner users to have a very good learning tool at well less than $(US)200.00.

    ..."

  • sago

    sago

    "Sold it within 6 months of buying it.
    Good - Fair to middling images in very good light.
    Bad - Picture quality. Lens. Low light performance. Flash. Image stabilisation. Start up time...."

  • Oz

    Oz

    Rating8

    "This review is very misjudging- you can shot very good images to say the least if you know how to use s1600 features. It's not on par with DSLR quality but gives some of their opportunities (shutte..."

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