FujiFilm’s not so FinePix S2950 digital camera.

There really are one too many of these. If flooding the market so you cant see the majestic redwoods for the rest of the trees was the goal, then their work is done. I can save you the time of reading the rest of the review by saying in summary that you should stay far away. Lock the doors, hide your daughters, and if per chance one were to sneak across the threshold due to the some alzherheimic sense of judgement by someone other than yourself,  don’t sully yourself with it,… gently herd it out the door with a large stick, and then beat it to death! Or you could, with very strong conviction return it to the store from where it came. I’d rather beat it to death,… but thats just me.

But why would I? Just how evil is this thing. 18x wide angle zoom (thats 28mm-504mm for anybody who needs to make some sense of it), 14 glorious Megapixels, 720p HD movie recording, Intelligent flash, Focus tracking,… make you breakfast in bed while shooting 8 frames per second. This all sound very good. But its not. Not by a long shot. First off, let me be fair by saying it does have all the features it claims to have, just like a prostitute will promise you sex, the Fuji, like her, at the end of it all will leave you quite unsatisfied and give you a nasty sexually transmitted disease to boot. Just because the sum of the parts are “all” there, doesn’t mean it all works quite like it should leaving you pulling up your trousers with an endearing look at the end of it all. Which is what it should be doing to you honestly. Even if its not “i love you”, maybe a whisper of appreciation and an approving look wouldn’t be too much to ask for.

Size in my hand.

So whats wrong with it. A lot. First off, keeping in view that this retails for $150 (Amazon), the build quality is more like $69.99. Its plastic body feels really cheap in your hands and the build quality is somewhat suspect. The battery cover even when firmly shut with the 4 AA batteries (one of its only real redeeming qualities i would say is the fact that it uses AA batteries.. particularly useful when travelling less developed parts of the world) inside, wiggles about and feels as if its about to come off.  I feared i would break it just by handling this thing in a very normal way. While its physical dimensions are pretty comfortable to hold on to, nothing about this thing exudes quality… maybe thats all $150 buys you these days in the super zoom department. Maybe this heralds the new age of the disposable super zoom, just in case you left it hanging of the hook in the dunny while trekking the outback. In short, the build quality leaves a lot to be desired.

Side view

Then theres the shooting experience. Turn the thing on and the lens pops out with a whir. Unless you’re in bright sunny outside light, the S2950 is arthrithic at best when it comes to achiveing focus. Inside in lower light or at the long end of the zoom, it fights you every inch of the way even with the focus assist lamp blinding everybody its pointed at. Forget about getting fabulous pictures of  little Johnny at the soccer game, or little Julies birthday party for that matter of fact. And if you didnt know, let me tell you that at 504mm or whatever the long end is as it makes as much difference as no difference, the widest aperture is f5.6 and unless you have a shutter speed of at elast 1/500s nothing is going to come out without blur 9 times out of 10. Thats tripod territory mind you. Trust me i tried.

Shutter lag is just horrible. Little Johnny would have scored the goal, done cartwheels and gone off to college between pressing the shutter button and it actually taking the picture. No bird shots, no squirerls, no little Johnny. This thing only takes pictures of things that sit perfectly still. That would either  be landscapes if you can get the trees to stand still, buildings or grandma, when shes dozing. Ok, its not really that bad… but its pretty darned close.

LCD screen and button layout FinePix S2950

The LCD screen is pretty nice though. Its large and bright, even grandma through her cataracts would be able to frame adequately on this. The EVF, while isnt the highest of resolutions, does make short work of composing in bright sunlight… the only place this camera will ever work without inducing a fit of rage. See, its got the pieces, but put it all together and it still makes for a miserable shooting experience. And i am a fan of Fuji. I am still very much fond of my 6 Megapixel Fuji F20. It still produces amazing images under any condition. Its a much older model, but yet faster in every way. No stabilization, nothing, just neat engineering. Its not that Fuji arent capable of great engineering. The F30, F31FD, AX100 are all testament to how good they can be when not saddled with trying to shoehorn everything including the kitchen sink into a thimble of a budget travel superzoom.

Shot to shot interval is terrible. The processing of images takes darned near forever. As a word of caution, you may want to make peace with grandma before ever taking her picture. The processor that Fuji put into this thing is lethargic at best. It wheezes along making you wait at every turn. The smile detect is barely useful as the smile has come and gone by the time camera gets around to taking a the image. It required some serious fixed grinning to work as how you’d expect it to.

Then theres that lens in all its glory. That there would compensate for some phallic inadequacies indeed. Except that you could get Mr Happy to attention quicker than zooming that thing all the way out. I certainly would like to know who designed that lenscap. Its just held on by friction with a thin strip of felt. Looking at it wrongly causes it to pop off and all that beautiful glass is at the mercy of the elements and little Johnny’s grubby fingers. Really? And its not like it shines in the image quality department either. Its rather soft. (i really must apologize for the sexual innuendo, but i just cant help myself…). My ancient Nikon Coolpix 7000 was just as slow to zoom and focus but at least was pretty darned sharp. The automatic white balance is confused easily even under single colored indoor lighting. Mixed lighting was worse.

Fuji F20 (released 2006) VS Fuji S2950 (released 2011) – both images at ISO 800, not much improvement in 5 years.

Paired with this mediocre lens, the sensor pretty much loses it composure along with its lunch with anything above ISO 400. Noise is intrusive but tolerable in web resolutions or 4×6 prints until 800 and then its all utter rubbish. But thats whats to be expected from this size sensor anyway. The sensor is stabilized but didn’t seem to help out enough. I dread to think if it wasn’t. If the lens would have been sharper, it would have helped. but that as it turns out is not the case. Most indoor images ended up being in the upper end of the ISO when set to auto as the camera struggled to find a decent shutter speed to prevent blur. The pop up flash needs to be manually deployed for it to work. An automatic pop up flash would have served much better for the target audience.

Fuji S2950 – 1/50s f3.1 ISO800 (auto mode) – notice the noise.

1/50s f3.1 (wide open, auto mode), ISO 400

Im not even going to go on about post processing, because thats not the market segment this camera is for. The most post processing the images out of this camera might ever see is Picassa, even at that. Its about taking reasonably good images straight out of the camera. On vacation, you will get reasonably good images of the sunlit vista and glorious sun soaked beaches lined with palm trees,..  that is until the rains arrive or the sun sets, whichever comes first. Then its just mostly frustrating to use indoors or in any kind of low light.

Video is not much better. It takes video all right, but saving it takes forever and playing it back is a trial. To be fair, my 2 year old HTC Evo 4G smartphone works faster and is more responsive. So, poor build quality, mediocre lens and a slow as molasses interface so far is all $150 buys you. It can’t be, can it?

Unfortunately, it is. In a bit of seriousness, It breaks down to this:

Good:

  • – Large LCD screen.
  • – Electronic viewfinder.
  • – AA batteries

Bad:

  • – Mediocre lens. (Soft images, poor focus and slow zoom)
  • – Lethargic wheezy asthamatic interface
  • – Poor build quality
  • – Mind bendingly frustrating shooting experience for anything other than ideal shooting conditions – ie bright sunhine outdoors.. (even when compared to some older models)

Anything good that it may have had in its favor is pointless if the shooting experience where the camera is to be used most of the time is going to be abysmal. Struggling to find focus in indoor lighting and poor white balance performance really should be unacceptable at the time of this writing. Its not like they haven’t figured it out. Well at least up to par with the current crop of travel zooms leading the pack.  It would be prudent to spend a little more and get something much better. One that will in the end of the day provide what a budget camera is supposed to do, reasonable images with a minimum of fuss without the migraine.

As a suggestion, Canons Powershot SX230HS is a much more remarkable camera than the S2950 and will run you only about $80 more. Its much smaller –  just pocketable (i find it fits my trousers pocket just fine), faster, built heaps better, better low light performance (with its HS badge), GPS (for what its worth) and has a few other added features to boot. The flash even pops up and fires on its own accord when needed. And what do you have to give up for all this? The last bit of 4x zoom. Thats it. The only thing the Fuji has over the Canon is its 18X zoom and its AA batteries. I’d rather the 14X zoom on the Canon to the poorer implemented 18X zoom on the S2950. Trust me when i say 14X zoom is plenty enough. The two occasions during a vacation where the extra reach may be required to get a snapshot for the album is way more then compensated by having many more images that are of better quality than otherwise would have been with the S2950. Although truth be said, i personally hardly ever use more than 3X zoom tops,.. ever. The extra $80 will more than make up for itself in savings from all the migraine pills and doctor visits that you wont have to pay for.

Canon SX230HS, simply better in every way than the S2950

The thing of it is, every manufacturer is trying to get the best specced product out there to the consumer for the lowest price. And somewhere along the way, the line gets blurred as to just how much performance the product ought to provide under all reasonable circumstances during daily use. Its all left to the consumer to figure out while wading through the mire of multiples of products touting themselves to be the best bang for the buck in its respective category.

The Fuji S2950 is specced remarkably well on paper, but fails to impress in any way in actual use. In fact, i’ll reiterate just how downright frustrating it can be at times. It doesnt stop them trying though, and unless its beaten to bits publicly with a big stick, manufacturers are going to keep shoveling these lemons on unsuspecting consumers. This particular Canon is not the only viable alternative here, my point being that there are other cameras that will work better and cost roughly the same if not a little more. Research is key.

To wrap it up, avoid this particular not so FinePix for something all together worth your while.

-asmd.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: