Introduction

Digital cameras are extremely popular now. They are extremely useful, have many features and you don't have to pay for film. Today, SLCentral.com is reviewing the Fuji S602 Zoom digital camera. While it doesn't look like the average consumer's camera, it's priced reasonably, at around $600 at many stores. Not only does it have advanced features, but it is extremely easy to use.

But was the quality good, and did the camera meet my expectations? Read on to find out.



Design

The S602 Zoom digital camera has a stylish, professional design to it. Most of the camera is black, and the back of the camera is a nice silvery color. The grip on the camera is extremely comfortable and deep, and makes it feel great in almost anyone's hand.

Around the shutter release button, you'll find the Off/Preview/Picture modes, which are self-explanatory. Near that, you'll find the Flash button, and the exposure button, as well as well as the continuous shooting mode button. These buttons are well placed, since many people (like me) will use them often.

There are two dials on the camera; one is the Mode Dial, which lets you select different modes for taking pictures. You can select from Manual, Aperture-priority Auto, Shutter-priority Auto, Programmed Auto, Auto, Scene Position, and Movie. While these modes are useful for the professional, most people should be fine with the Auto mode.

The other dial is the Command Dial, which is for program shift settings.

On the back of the S602 Zoom, you'll find a excellent 1.8" LCD display, as well as a EVF (Electronic Viewfinder). There's also a vast selection of buttons, but the most useful ones are the zoom (6x Optical, 4.4x Digital), Menu buttons, and the display buttons, which will let you choose between using the LCD or EVF.

On the sides of the camera, you'll find the Macro button, for use while doing close-up photography, the Focus selector switch (auto or manual), the Info button, the DC-in port, and finally, the Shift button. By holding down the Shift button, you'll gain access to some advanced menus, where you can set options such as ISO and white balance. On the other side of the camera, you'll find the memory slots. This camera accepts SmartMedia, Compact Flash, and IBM's Microdrive. Quite a big selection, isn't it?

On the bottom of the camera, you'll find the battery compartment. This camera uses 4 AA batteries, or you can buy the optional rechargeable battery pack, which, in my opinion, is definitely worth the investment.



Features

The S602 Zoom uses a 3rd generation Super CCD, which provides an effective 3.1 megapixels of resolution.

The Super CCD's honeycomb arrangement of pixels allows the camera to capture 3.1 megapixels in a shot, but can also capture a 6 mexapixel shot when interpolating the image. While this is confusing, the basic idea is that you can get the camera to produce a 3.1 MP effective image, but you can also make the image be recorded as a 6 MP image, making it 2832x2128.

The camera has a wide selection of ISO settings, and can be amplified to 200, 400, 800, and 1600 ISO, but when 800 and 1600 ISO is selected, the image is reduced to 1280x960 pixels, making it a 1 MP shot.

The S602 Zoom provides four different resolutions, which are as follows:

6 MP

2832x2128

3 MP

2048x1536

1 MP

1280x960

VGA

640x480

Most people should end up using the 3 MP resolution. It provides excellent quality, and doesn't take up too much space on the memory card. The VGA mode is fairly useless, since it can't do much more then allow a person to e-mail a picture.

There are various modes for JPEG compression on the camera. For 3 MP and 1 MP, you can select from Fine and Normal. For 6 MP, there's high, fine, normal, or basic, and for VGA, there's just Normal. When taking a 3 MP shot on Fine mode, each image is about 1.3 MB in size. When taking a 3 MP using Normal mode, each image is about 600 KB in size.

However, when taking pictures with 6 MP's in Fine mode, it uses 2.4 MB, and on High mode (.TIFF uncompressed), it uses a whopping 18 MB of your memory card.

I found that the best selection was 3 MP on Fine mode. It lets you take just 12 pictures using the included 16MB SmartMedia card, but if you buy a bigger card, it provides you with high-quality shots while still letting you use the camera for a long period of time without having to delete or upload pictures.

The camera also provides many other features, such as Continuous Shot Mode. Here, you can choose between four different CSM's, Top 5-frame continuous shooting, Auto Bracketing, Final 5-frame continuous shooting, and Long Period Continuous Shooting 1280x960 pixel mode. Below is a small chart of each mode in detail:

Top 5-Frame Continuous Shooting

Takes five shots with intervals of as little as .2 seconds

Auto Bracketing

Takes three shots, one underexposed, one overexposed, and the other is by the camera's meter

Final 5-Frame Continuous Shooting

Takes 25 shots, but saves the last five only

Long-period Continuous Shooting

Takes 40 pictures at 1 MP resolution

 

You can also set the self-timer at 2 or 10 seconds, set White Balance (Auto, Sun, Shade, Daylight, Warm White, Cool White, and Shooting in incandescent light), ISO sensitivity (160, 200, 400, 800, 1600), and Photometry (Multi, Spot, or average).

The camera also features two Macro settings, Macro, and Super Macro. In case you aren't sure, Macro is a setting to allow you to take close-up shots.

The Macro setting lets you take shots from 10cm to 80cm away, and the Super Macro mode lets you take images from 1cm to 20cm away.

Both settings are extremely powerful and useful, and results can be seen on the Test Images page.

In playback mode, you can delete pictures, format the entire card, select pictures to be printed (DPOF), and add voice memos, which lets you add up to 30 seconds of noise for each picture so you can be reminded, for example, where and when you took that picture. You can also look at the picture's settings, such as ISO, image size, and aperture. You can also zoom into the picture. When taking shots at 6 MP, you can zoom up to 18x into the picture on the camera.

You can also connect the camera to the TV via the AV Out port. If you purchased the camera in North America and Japan, it is NTSC, and in Europe it is PAL.

Battery Life

Battery life on the camera was like most other digital cameras; horrible. I got probably about 15 minutes of use off of 4 AA batteries, which is really unacceptable. If you do pick up this camera, I strongly advise getting the rechargeable lithium battery for the camera, or at least pick up some rechargeable AA batteries. Otherwise, you'll find that the camera is a complete pain to use, because it just sucks up batteries.

Displays

The S602 Zoom features two different displays, the 1.8" LCD screen, or the EVF. Both are excellent, and are useful in various situations. First off, in case you aren't quite sure what it is, the EVF is the viewfinder on the camera, but instead of just being a clear screen, it's actually electronic, much like a mini LCD screen. This means you can do things like view already taken photos and change settings right on the viewfinder.

The traditional digital camera display is the LCD screen, and the one on the S602 Zoom is great. It's crisp, large, and demonstrates image quality exceptionally. It does take up more battery life then the EVF, however, so I ended up using the viewfinder more then the LCD screen. But if you have rechargeable batteries, the LCD screen is a good bet.

Software

Fuji bundles quite a bit of software on one CD that comes with the S602 Zoom. Here's a run-through of each thing:

Name

Description

   

USB Mass Storage Driver

Camera drivers. They are not needed for Windows XP.

FinePix Viewer 3.0

A program to view pictures that are on the camera in a easy layout.

ArcSoft Video Impressions 1.6

 

Adobe PhotoDeluxe Home 4.0

Has features for photo-editing in a easy-to-use interface

Adobe ActiveShare

 

I didn't really find it important to use any of the software included unless you need to do photo editing. Otherwise, it's not really important to install any of the software. But, the software is good, and is great for newbie's.



Test Images

Below, you'll find various test images that reflect the quality of the camera's pictures. All were taken using the 3 megapixel Fine mode, unless otherwise noted. I used the Automatic picture taking mode for taking all shots. It is specified below if flash was on or off when the picture was taken.


This was taken using Super Macro mode.


This was taken using Super Macro mode.

This is a TIFF file taken in 6 megapixel mode, the uncompressed version is 18MB, this ziped version is about 10MB! Download


This was taken using Super Macro mode.



Pros:

Excellent quality

Durable

Powerful

Lots of features

Fairly inexpensive

Macro mode is great

Big zoom

Multiple memory slots

Cons:

"Just" 3 megapixel

Interpolated 6 megapixel image

Battery life is short (BUY the lithium battery!)

 

SLRating: 9.5/10

 

Conclusions

It's been a pleasure working with the Fuji S602 Zoom camera. I enjoyed it so much, I even asked Fuji if I could get a discount if I bought it. Unfortunately, there was no discount available. The camera is durable, powerful, takes excellent shots, has many features, and is reasonably priced. While it may be too big for many, this camera isn't really designed for the average "soccer mom." Instead, it's designed for people who appreciate photography. Not a professional photographer, but someone who's hobby is photography, like me.

The image quality is excellent on the camera, and from what I've seen, surpasses any other 3 megapixel camera. It accepts multiple formats of memory cards, has a 6x optical zoom, a EVF and LCD, and has a countless number of other features that can be used by a newbie, or a professional. I really liked the Macro and Super macro modes on the camera. They worked great, and were extremely powerful, and gave me excellent close up shots.

Hopefully by reading the above you've figured out that I had a great time with this camera. I would recommend it to just about anyone looking for a powerful camera that has a plethora of features, but doesn't break the bank. Fuji has done a great job on the S602 Zoom, and if you're looking for a camera that is powerful and has a plethora of features, but doesn't break the bank, look no further; The S602 Zoom is your answer.





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