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Testing / Performance
*Fujifilm claims its Real Photo Technology yields accurate color. The technology consists of the 1/2.5-inch Super CCD, the Real Image Processor, and the Fujinon lens. We tested the accuracy of the color output from this technological trio by taking several pictures of a GretagMacbeth color chart in optimal lighting. The images were uploaded into Imatest Imaging Software, where the images were analyzed for saturation and accuracy. Below is a modified color chart output by the software program. The inner vertical rectangle shows the color of the original GretagMacbeth chart; this is what colors should look like. The outer square represents the color produced by the Fujifilm FinePix S5200 and the inner square shows the ideal color of the chart, but corrected for luminance.
To better show the margin of error on these colors, Imatest also output a graph that plots the 24 original and the corresponding produced colors from the S5200. The graph is shown below with the squares representing the ideal colors from the GretagMacbeth chart and the circles representing the colors produced by the Fujifilm S5200. The line connecting the two shapes illustrates the degree of variance between the two; the longer the line, the more erroneous the particular color.
The Fujifilm FinePix S5200 received an impressive overall color score of 10.34. This is much improved from the camera’s outdated sibling, the FinePix S5100, which scored a 7.76 on the same test. The new S5200 also scored a low mean color error of 5.8, which is also much better than its S-series counterpart. When the digital camera was custom white balanced, the colors were muted and quite under-saturated at 94.83 percent. Surprisingly, these colors were not as accurate as the ones produced when the incandescent preset was used. This process was repeated multiple times, suggesting some deficiency in the camera’s custom white balance setting.
The incandescent white balance over-saturated by 7.6 percent, which is normal for the auto or custom setting on digital cameras. Overall, the Fujifilm FinePix S5200 performed impressively by producing accurate and rich colors.
**Still Life Scene **
Below is a shot of our timeless still life assemblage, captured with the Fuji FinePix S5200.
Click on the above image to view a full resolution version (CAUTION: the linked file is very large!)](https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/viewer.php?picture=FujiS5200-StillLife-LG.jpg)
Resolution / Sharpness* (4.01)
*We tested the resolution and sharpness of the Fuji S5200’s 1/2.5-inch Super CCD HR and Real Image Processor by taking a sequence of images of an ISO 12233 resolution chart. The chart has been traditionally used as one of the standard tests for measuring resolution. We shot several exposures at various aperture settings and focal lengths. The files were uploaded into Imatest to help observe how the setting adjustments alter the sharpness of the image.
Click on the chart above to view full res image](https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/viewer.php?picture=S5200-ResCH-LG.jpg)
We found the Fuji S5200 to achieve its sharpest results at f/4.0 when shooting at a focal length of 18.9mm. Resolution results from this test are expressed as line widths per picture height (LW/PH). This unit is a count of how many alternating black and white lines of equal thickness the camera could theoretically read before it started blurring them together. Traditional measurements are expressed as line pairs per picture height (LP/PH), but since this unit does not account for various sizes of imaging sensors we use the LW/PH standard.
The Fujifilm FinePix S5200 received an overall resolution score of 4.01, which is quite respectable. The camera produced results comparable with digital cameras that advertise higher resolution counts. The S5200 read 1607 LW/PH vertically and 1639 LW/PH horizontally. This is right on par with the Kodak EasyShare P880, a SLR-shaped digital camera that advertises 8 megapixels. The Kodak produced scores of 1505 LW/PH vertically and 1627 LW/PH horizontally. (Keep in mind that resolution quality varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and even from model to model.) The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H1 advertises 5.1 effective megapixels – just like the Fuji S5200 – but reads 1835 LW/PH vertically and 1723 LW/PH horizontally. The Fuji S5200 will not be quite as sharp as the Sony, but still beats out the Canon PowerShot S2 IS. The PowerShot read 1373 LW/PH vertically and 1490 LW/PH horizontally. From all these figures, it appears that the Fujifilm FinePix S5200 performed well and ranks in the upper tier of 5-megapixel models in terms of sharpness and definition.
Auto ISO – Noise*(3.55)*
The older S5100 model produced ridiculous amounts of noise when the camera automatically assigned ISO settings, and received a score of 1.61 on this test. Fortunately, the Fujifilm FinePix S5200 greatly improved on that result with a 3.55 automatic ISO noise score. The digital camera produced the same amount of noise that it does when manually set to an equivalent ISO setting of 200 when tested in the strong lighting of our studio. So while a 3.55 score doesn’t give the S5200 bragging rights, it’s much more respectable than its predecessor.
Manual ISO – Noise*(6.32)*
The FinePix S5200 has a wide range of ISO ratings from 64 to 1600. We tested the noise levels at each of these ratings and plotted it on the chart below. The horizontal axis shows the ISO ratings and the vertical axis shows the corresponding noise levels.
Once again, the Fuji S5200 vastly improved upon its predecessor. The older model scored a lackluster 4.05 overall score on this test and only offered a maximum sensitivity setting of ISO 800, while the S5200 extends up to ISO 1600 and handles noise much more effectively, earning a 6.32 overall manual ISO noise score. The chart shows a steady rise in the noise. ISO 64-800 settings on the Fuji S5200 have relatively low noise and outperform most similarly-styled models, while the ISO 1600 setting is a helpful inclusion for low light situations, but brings with it a sharp increase in noise.
Fujifilm includes these high sensitivity ratings and omits an image stabilization feature, encouraging users to select higher ISO settings when faster shutter speeds are desired. Unfortunately, high ISO ratings always bring more noise so the tradeoff isn’t exactly fair. Still, the Fujifilm S5200 produced less noise at ISO 400 than the Konica Minolta Z6’s ISO 320 setting as well as higher sensitivity settings on the Panasonic FZ5 and FZ30.
The Fuji S5200 has several features that optimize it for low light photography, such as its high 1600 ISO rating and slow 15-second shutter speed. We tested the digital camera in four situations of diminishing light levels of 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux. 60 lux is approximately equivalent to a living room after dusk with two soft lamps. A 40-watt light bulb emits the amount of light at 30 lux. The dimmest two situations are found in broom closets and under beds, but we tested them anyway to see how sensitive the 1/2.5-inch Super CCD is and how it handles longer exposures.
The modified color charts above show decreasing saturation and diminishing color accuracy as light levels dim, which is normal of course. Many compact models produce terribly dark images at 5 lux, but the S5200 is still quite bright due to its long exposure capabilities and high sensitivities. While users will be able to attain exposures with ample illumination, the images will bring with it a hefty amount of noise. Below is a graph exhibiting the increasing noise levels as the exposures are prolonged. The horizontal axis shows the exposure time in seconds and the vertical axis displays corresponding noise levels.
There is a sharp rise in noise from the 0.167-second exposure utilized at 60 lux and the longer 0.2-second exposure needed at 30 lux. The noise levels look steadier from the half-second 5 lux exposure to the dimmest 1.3-second exposure indicating that the most dramatic increase in noise occurs at about 1/5 of a second. With the manual settings available on the S5200, users will be able to control illumination (exposure) and noise; however, even at ISO 800 in low light, color vibrancy and image clarity will be an issue.
Speed / Timing
Start-up to First Shot (7.86)
The Fujifilm FinePix S5200 has an average start-up time of 2.14 seconds. This is slower than the single lens reflex cameras that the S5200 emulates but faster than most compact and point-and-shoot models.
Shot to Shot (9.46)
There are several burst modes available on the Fujifilm S5200. The First Burst mode takes 3 pictures at an average rate of 0.39 seconds; the camera takes about 8 seconds to write to the memory card before shooting its next set of pictures. The Last Burst mode shoots at a slightly slower 0.44-second rate for the clip and saves the last 3 shots taken before the shutter button is released. An Auto Bracketing mode shot 3 pictures at 3 different exposure values at an average rate of 0.35 seconds per picture. The Continuous burst mode can take up to 40 shots, but goes at a slower 1.7-second pace.
*Shutter to Shot (8.32)
*This digital camera takes about 0.34 seconds to take a shot after the shutter release button is pressed. So after the subject is posed and smiling, give them the 1-2-3 count and be sure to press the button on 2.
*The front of the FinePix S5200 is dominated by a large lens barrel with relatively little glass. That leaves a wide ring around the glass for a label, which reads "Fujinon Zoom Lens 10x Optical f=6.3-63mm 1:3.2-3.5 Ø 55mm." The barrel is threaded for standard 55mm filters.
The lens barrel has a deeply textured rubber ring, which seems as though it naturally turn to control zoom or focus. It doesn't – it's a good grip, but nothing else. There's also a narrow, flimsy strip of apparent chrome around the lens barrel. However, it appears to be tape, and looks like it might peel off pretty easily.
At the upper right, there's a satiny, metal finished microphone with large holes. The viewfinder hump encloses a pop-up flash, and it has the Fujifilm logo and name printed on it. A large AF assist lamp sits between the viewfinder and the handgrip. The grip is covered in a slightly rubbery, leather-textured plastic. The material, combined with an indentation for the user's middle finger, make for a secure hand-hold. The FinePix S5200 has Fujifilm's signature mirror-finish "Super CCD" badge, and "5.1 Mega Pixels" silk screened on the front of the camera.
*The FinePix S5200's viewfinder has a large, hard rubber eyepiece and a large magnifying lens, which make it easy to see the whole image. The viewfinder has a diopter adjustment dial on the left side. The 1.8-inch, 115,000 pixel LCD is below the viewfinder. A larger, higher-resolution display wouldn't crowd the back of the camera, and would be much more functional.
Two silver-toned buttons labeled "W" and "T" control the zoom setting in shooting mode. The buttons are high on the back, between the viewfinder and the mode dial, and they can be operated conveniently with the user's right thumb. In playback, they control the image magnification.
Along the right side of the LCD display, there is a button to switch the display between the viewfinder and the LCD. Just below, there is a button to boost the display brightness for use in sunlight. The boost affects both the viewfinder and the LCD. The four-way controller is below that. It's a continuous ring with a center button. In addition to navigating up, down, right and left, the controller offers direct controls -- "Up" also functions as the delete key, "Left" activates macro mode, and "Right" switches the flash mode. The center button brings up menus and functions as an "OK" button.
The Display/Back button is below and to the left of the four-way controller. In shooting or playback modes, it switches between display formats. In menu modes, it cancels menu actions. Alongside it is the ever-necessary "F" button, which brings users into a small menu of shooting options.
The right side of the back is covered with leather-textured rubber, which makes the camera easier to grip.
The left side of the FinePix S5200 features a wide, stamped metal strap lug, the door for an xD media card, and ports for USB, A/V and auxiliary power. The media card door does not latch, and snaps shut with only the slightest catch. If the door opens while the FinePix S5200 is on, the camera shuts off automatically and immediately, aborting file recording. It seems fairly easy to snag the door on something, and doing so while shooting will unfortunately result in lost images.
The ports are protected under a rubber door that is attached to the S5200 with a flexible tether. The door does not provide much of a seal against dust or moisture.
The lens barrel is emblazoned "10x Optical Zoom" in large letters, making the FinePix S5200 a real chick magnet.
Right Side* (7.0)
*The right strap lug is recessed to keep the FinePix S5200's grip comfortable, which is a nice touch. The rubber covering sweeps from back to front, making the contact comfortable and sure. The rubber is interrupted by a narrow strip of hard plastic, which reads "High Magnification Optical Zoom." The text is embossed in the plastic, and doesn't affect the comfort of the grip.
The focus mode switch is on the top left of the FinePix S5200, and it's surrounded by a locking ring. The top of the flash is printed with the FinePix logo and "S5200 Digital Camera." The rest of the top is all business, with the large, textured mode dial at the right rear, handy for the user's right thumb. On the far right side of the top, there's a button to control the burst mode and a button to activate exposure compensation. The large, round, chrome shutter release is forward of that, surrounded by a ring that is a three-position switch which turns the camera off, sets it to shoot, or sets it to play back images.
The tripod socket is roughly centered on the bottom of the camera. That's well to the right of the center of the lens. Adjusting the camera on a tripod will result in slight, unintentional camera angles, which would not occur on cameras where the tripod and the lens are lined up. It's hard to tell what Fujifilm used to make the tripod socket, but is seems to be much tougher than the rest of the camera exterior.
Though the FinePix S5200's 0.33-inch viewfinder sits behind a nice, large window and has a good magnifier, and offers 100% frame coverage, the display is disappointing. With only 115,000 pixels, it does not offer enough resolution to properly evaluate sharpness for manual focus. In playback mode, there's not enough magnification to evaluate the sharpness of saved images, either. All the shooting information is superimposed on the live image, though various display modes can suppress it.
The FinePix S5200 boosts the gain on the viewfinder and LCD in dark conditions, making the image noisy, though it also makes it easier to make out objects for framing a shot.
The FinePix S5200's LCD screen is 1.8 inches diagonally, and, like the viewfinder display, has only 115,000 pixels. Again, that's not enough to confirm focus in manual mode, or to check focus – even of magnified images – in playback. The color rendition and contrast are pleasing; most users would be delighted to get such good tonal response on their computer displays or prints.
The LCD display performance deteriorates quickly as it's tilted up or down, darkening and solarizing significantly. The range of good views is wider from left to right, which is useful when the user looks at images with another viewer.
The flash on the FinePix S5200 is good out to 13.1 feet, according to Fuji. That figure is a little conservative. With the ISO setting on Auto, the FinePix S5200 shot out to 15 or 16 feet in a room with a white, nine-foot ceiling. The S5200 set the ISO to 400 to get the image. The flash could not reach that far at ISO 100, but would logically be able to reach further at ISO 800 or 1600. Outdoors, or anywhere without a low, white ceiling, the ranges will be shorter.
The flash is mounted directly above the lens, which is good, because it means that the subjects will cast their shadows directly behind themselves, and they won't affect up the backgrounds of pictures taken from straight on. However, the FinePix S5200 does not have a hot shoe or PC connector for an external flash.
The internal flash offers the following modes: Auto, Red-eye Reduction, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro, and Red-eye Reduction + Slow Synchro.
The FinePix S5200 sports a 6.3-63mm Fujinon zoom lens, composed of 11 elements in 8 groups, with 2 aspherical elements and 2 anomalous dispersion elements. In 35mm equivalency, the zoom is 38–380 mm, or a slight wide angle to a long telephoto. At the wide angle end, users will still have to tell large groups to squeeze together to get everyone in. Users can purchase two optional wide conversion lenses to get around this problem, if they wish. At the telephoto end, users at the sidelines of a soccer field will be able to pull in pretty close shots of plays all the way across the pitch.
The optical zoom is 10x, and the digital zoom, 5.7x. If you’ve read our reviews before, you know that we advise users to disregard digital zoom, as it vastly degrades image quality.
Check out our testing section for sharpness data. We can say here however that as we handled the camera in the office, the lens delivered sharp images with little color fringing.
Design / Layout
Model Design / Appearance* (6.0)*
The FinePix S5200 is a small SLR-like camera. Nearly every feature of the S5200 imitates a typical DSLR – the grip, the viewfinder hump, the lens barrel, and many of the controls look similar to the ones on large DSLRs. The FinePix S5200 has fewer controls than most DSLRs, though, so it doesn't look as crowded. However, it does look a little fake. The grip on the lens barrel looks like a zoom ring, and it's disappointing that it isn’t one; a zoom ring would be a better control than the pair of buttons that actually control the focal length. The shiny accent strip around the lens seems to be Mylar tape. Whatever it is, it won't last long. The microphone grill is absurdly prominent, and not likely to improve the sound. Unfortunately, the S5200 isn’t a looker.
Size / Portability*(7.0)*
The FinePix S5200 weighs just over a pound with batteries and memory card. At 4.4 x 3.3 x 4.4 inches, it's very compact among SLR-styled point0-and-shoot cameras. Though it won't fit in any typical pocket, it will be comfortable on a neck strap for a day of sight-seeing or taking snapshots at a wedding.
The camera lacks good protection against dust and moisture, however. The memory card door, the port covers, and the battery compartment door are barely sealed. FinePix S5200 users will have to protect the camera throughout use, storage, and transport.
The FinePix S5200's thick right hand grip and ridged texture surrounding the lens barrel make it a simple matter to hold on to the camera steadily. The resilient rubber surfaces and the comfortable contours should encourage users to shoot with both hands on the camera for improved stability.
Because the FinePix S5200 does not have image stabilization, users will have to hold the camera perfectly steady both in low light and when the zoom is set to telephoto. This presents a problem to many users, particularly the ranks of amateurs who shoot without using the left hand to steady the camera.
Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size*(7.0)*
The control buttons on the S5200 are large for such a small digital camera. The actuation on the four-way controller is mediocre – pressing the control doesn't give as much tactile feedback as it should, and it can be hard to tell if the control has been activated. That's too bad, because the FinePix S5200 relies on the four-way controller for many functions. The controller adjusts aperture and shutter speed in manual modes, focus mode, flash mode and, in playback mode, image deletion and scrolling, as well as menu navigation.
In full manual mode, the up and down segments of the controller set the shutter speed. To set the aperture, the user must press the exposure compensation button while pressing the up and down segments. Engaging button combinations like that is much slower and less convenient than single, dedicated controls. Further, the exposure scale is a horizontal line that does not indicate the Exposure Value or amount of over or under exposure. Users are instead guided by a highlight indication on either the "+" or "-" end of the scale. While this does clearly denote the suggested metered exposure, it does not provide enough information for users to manually manipulate exposure controls to their benefit. In this case, it might be better for users to switch to a priority mode and use the EV compensation to shape the exposure.
The buttons on the S5200 aren't crowded, in part because Fuji omitted buttons that are common on other similarly-styled cameras. This leaves the user to navigate the FinePix S5200's menu system to switch ISO and make other adjustments that advanced users access frequently.
*The FinePix S5200’s menus are extensive; many controls that could have had their own external buttons are in the menus instead. This design decision makes the menu organization more important than it might be otherwise: users who make lots of changes may get frustrated by the number of controls they have to scroll past to get to the one they want. For instance, the self-timer control is the first menu item. It is above white balance and ISO, which are controls that advanced users will access far more frequently.
Another menu of options comes up when the "F" button is pressed.
A separate menu comes up in Playback mode.
Ease of Use***(6.5)
*It's not uncommon for cameras like the FinePix S5200 to be easy to use in automatic modes, but awkward to handle in manual modes. That's the case here. Though the S5200 has all the manual features that would be on a serious user's checklist, many are inconvenient to use. Shutter and aperture controls, for instance, rely on the four-way controller rather than a dial for adjustment, and ISO and white balance are buried in menus.
It's easy to set the camera to Automatic mode, and it's likely that S5200 users will be happiest that way.
*The FinePix S5200 has a full Auto setting, which controls exposure, white balance, and autofocus area mode. Oddly, it does not set the ISO, and manual focus is available in Auto mode. Several flash modes are also available in Auto: Auto flash, no flash, always flash, and red-eye reduction. Flash with slow shutter speed and Red-eye reduction with slow sync are not available in Auto mode.
*The FinePix S5200 movie mode runs at 30 frames per second at 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 pixels, both in AVI (Motion JPEG) format. It records mono sound (WAV format). The image looks clear and clean. The microphone picks up the sound of the focusing motor, which is distracting and annoying. Neither optical nor digital zoom is available in movie mode. Though the FinePix S5200 is no replacement for a camcorder, its video will probably be an appealing add-on for some users.
The S5200 also lets users record a 30 second voice memo audio clip, separate from video and any still image taken.
Drive / Burst Mode*(6.5)
*The FinePix S5200 has three burst modes and a bracketing mode, which Fuji regards as a burst mode.
Top Three burst mode shoots three frames in about two seconds, and then stops to write them to the memory card. Final Three shoots as many as 40 frames at about two frames per second, and records the final three to memory. "Long-period" continuous shooting drops the frame rate to less than one frame per second (Fuji times it at 0.9 frames per second) but allows the capture of up to 40 images.
The bracketing mode takes three frames at three different exposure values, with a single press of the shutter release.
The FinePix S5200 does not refocus during bursts, but it does adjust exposure during Long-period bursts. The flash doesn't go off in any of the burst modes.
Bursts of three frames will help snapshooters get the definitive shot of birthday candles being blown out, but it's less likely to snag more challenging moments. Shooters who want to catch sports or wildlife will get better results with a DSLR. Any DSLR will be faster, handle focus better, and shoot more images in a burst.
*The FinePix S5200 has a flexible and convenient playback mode, with a number of options for slide shows and for reviewing images.
The Display/Back button cycles through four views: single image with data, single image plain, nine thumbnail images, and nine images in a sort-by-date layout. When a single image is up on the screen, pressing the exposure compensation button brings up a histogram and shooting data.
The slide show tool also offers a few cool options, but less flexibility than one might hope for. It's great that it offers a fade option between images, but it's too bad that it only offers a long or short interval for each image to show. A few other cameras will allow the user to set the length of time in seconds. The multiple image slide show option is interesting too, showing images four at a time, and mixing in full-frame images. Unfortunately, there aren't any controls for timing or which images are shown full-frame. For that matter, the slide show option shows all the images on the memory card; there isn't a way to select just the best shots for the show.
The FinePix S5200 playback mode allows the user to rotate and crop images. The crop tool uses the image magnifier and the navigation tools to choose the amount of cropping and the framing. The image is saved at one of the camera's standard file sizes. It's not possible to crop an image smaller than the standard 640 x 480 pixel size that the FinePix S5200 saves, so images originally shot that small cannot be cropped.
The FinePix S5200 is DPOF compatible, and print orders can be created in playback mode. The S5200 can imprint images with the capture date and specify the number of prints to make. More sophisticated settings, such as print size and border options, are not available of the S5200.
Custom Image Presets*(5.0)*The FinePix S5200 offers five preset modes. The presets play up the strengths of the S5200 and Fuji's digital line in general: low light performance and high ISO settings. However, unlike the S5100, the S5200 surprisingly does not offer a sports or action mode, but rather supplements it with an Anti-blur more. Sounds like a marketing decision to me.
**Manual Control Options **
The FinePix S5200 has a good selection of manual options – full manual exposure, custom white balance, manual focus, sharpening and saturation settings, and so on – but they're a mess. The controls to operate the camera manually aren't accessible or easy to use. Users who only occasionally want to make a manual adjustment might be satisfied with the controls, but others who use manual controls most of the time will be constantly frustrated.
***Auto Focus (8.0)
*The FinePix S5200 offers both continuous and single autofocus modes within its TTL contrast-type system. Both modes snap into focus quickly, compared to many other formidable ultra zoom models. The autofocus mechanism relies on a very bright, green AF illuminator beam. Unlike many other beams, the S5200's light is focused, and when it shines on something five or ten feet away, it's possible to make out the shape of the lighting element. The specs say it is effective up to eight feet.
The S5200 also offers AF frame selection choice of either center or multi, and a Macro mode that can focus as close as four inches, according to Fuji.
*Manual Focus (2.5)
*The manual focus mechanism on the FinePix S5200 is remarkably bad. The LCD and viewfinder displays don't have enough resolution to allow critical focus, and, unlike competing cameras, the S5200 doesn't magnify the center of the image to improve the user's view. The control scheme for operating manual focus is clumsy – the user must press the exposure compensation button while operating the zoom buttons. Worse, the focus mechanism is unaccountably slow in manual mode; it takes several seconds to rack from infinity to a few feet away. If it moved more quickly, it might be easier to see the image snap into focus.
*The FinePix S5200 offers three metering patterns within its 64-zone TTL metering system: a multi-zone pattern, which takes separate readings of points across the image and compares them to compute an exposure; spot mode, which measures only the center of the image, and is useful for manual exposure setting; and averaging mode, which measures the whole image at once. These three options are the common ones for digital cameras, and the S5200's multi-zone system gave good results in a variety of situations.
*The FinePix S5200 offers aperture priority, shutter priority, and program modes, along with full manual exposure control. The S5200 also provides an exposure compensation setting, accessible in aperture, shutter, and program modes. The user can shift the exposure up or down 2-stops in 1/3-stop increments. Unfortunately, exposure compensation is not available in Auto mode or the scene modes.
*The FinePix S5200 has six white balance presets: fine, shade, incandescent, and three fluorescent settings. White balance can also be set to Auto. The S5200 can also take custom white balance readings, and the system produces good results. Unfortunately, there isn't a dedicated button on the S5200 to get to the White Balance control, so the user has to navigate the menu system to get to it.
*The FinePix S5200 offers ISO settings of 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600. The S5200 is typical of Fuji cameras in offering a 1600 setting, though most competing inexpensive ultra zooms do not offer a manual ISO range that’s this extensive. The S5200 also offers an auto ISO setting.
*The FinePix S5200 offers shutter speeds from 15 seconds to 1/2000 of a second in manual mode. Other modes limit the range. In shutter priority mode, for instance, the longest exposure we could set was 3 seconds. In Natural Light mode, the longest exposure we could get was 1/4 of a second, and we got that in a scene that the camera severely underexposed.
*The maximum aperture of the lens ranges from f/3.2 at 6.3mm to f/3.5 at 63mm. The minimum aperture is f/8 throughout the range. The aperture is adjustable in 1/3-stop intervals.
Picture Quality / Size Options*(7.5)
*The FinePix S5200 offers six quality/size options for JPEGs, plus the option of shooting RAW files. The JPEG sizes are: 5M F and 5M N (5 megapixels each, at Fine or Normal compression, respectively), 3:2 (at roughly 5 MPs but at a 3:2 ratio for printing), 3M (3 megapixel images), 2M (2 megapixel images), and 0.3M (0.3 megapixel images, useful for email and web use).
RAW files are the unprocessed, uncompressed image data. They can be opened with Fuji's proprietary software on a PC or Macintosh. Using RAW files avoids data loss caused by JPEG compression, and theoretically yields better results. Photographers who plan to edit their images digitally will benefit from shooting RAW.
Picture Effects Mode* (6.5)
*The FinePix S5200 features a Fuji-standard FinePix setting to imitate highly saturated slide (chrome) film. It can also shoot in black and white, in addition to the camera's normal setting. Fortunately, the "chrome" option is not as gimmicky as the solarization and posterization settings on some other cameras and may be just right for some landscapes, high-tech equipment, and brightly-colored subjects.
Connectivity / Extras
*The FinePix S5200 is packaged with FinePix Viewer, for sorting, printing, and viewing images; RAW Converter LE, for converting RAW images to TIFF file format; and Image Mixer, for creating slide shows on CD and DVD. Image Mixer is more or less demonstration ware. To make DVDs, a S5200 owner will need to upgrade to the full version of the software.
The RAW converter does not offer options for tweaking images before they're converted, so some of the advantages that DSLR users expect out of RAW files are not present. Still, the converter produces a TIFF file, which is much more editable than an in-camera JPEG.
FinePix Viewer is a stable and attractive package. On Mac OSX, it does not offer image editing functionality like color correction, cropping, contrast, saturation and so on – it's just a sorting and presentation program. It can also create DPOF orders, and create small versions of images for email.
*Jacks, Ports, Plugs (6.0)
*The FinePix S5200 has a USB 2.0 connector for downloads to PCs and for connection with PictBridge-compatible printers. The S5200 can also accept an external power source, and produces an analog video feed for either PAL or NTSC video equipment.
The S5200 doesn't have a connection for external flashes or remote controls, a feature that some competing cameras offer.
*Direct Print Options (6.0) *
The FinePix S5200 is compatible with DPOF, EXIF 2.2, and PictBridge, writing its print orders to xD media. The FinePix S5200 can specify whether the capture date should be printed on the image, and how many prints should be made. It does not set print size, or specify whether the prints should have borders.
*The FinePix S5200 takes four AA batteries. We used it with both alkaline disposable, which ran down fairly quickly, and Nickel-Metal Hydride rechargeables, which lasted much longer. The S5200 appears to have pretty good battery life, by the measure of our hands-on inspection. Fuji’s spec sheet claims that it can last for 250 shots with AAs; 500 shots with NiMH
Apparently, Fuji expects FinePix S5200 users to go with NiMH cells, because the camera has a discharge setting to run down rechargeables. It’s not a feature that would make sense if it solely used disposable batteries.
In general, we have found that cameras that take AA batteries require more battery changes than ones that take a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery or NiMH batteries. Li-ions are generally much lighter and more compact than NiMHs. On the other hand, AA cells are the cheapest, and widely available.
The FinePix S5200 uses xD-Picture cards, a memory media format that Fuji helped create, and comes with one sized at 16 MB. The media is tiny, and priced comparably to SD media. Buyers who already own SD cards may be reluctant to buy a camera that doesn't accept that media.
Discharge Function –* This runs down rechargeable batteries, to prepare them for recharging. It's not often necessary, but when it is, the S5200 stands ready to help, just like a Boy Scout.
*Multiple Image Slideshow – *This option creates unusual montage effects.
Lens Thread – The lens barrel has a standard 55mm thread, making it possible to use a polarizer or other filter.
*At an online price under $320, perhaps as little as $300, the FinePix S5200 offers a significant value. Image stabilization would make it a much better value, since most of the competition has it. As it stands, the S5200's high ISO capability could be read as a way of compensating for not having stabilization. If the camera actually had stabilization, it would have a hands-down advantage over the rest of the field.
If one ignores the telephoto end of the zoom range, the S5200 looks pretty much like a strong entry in the compact market – good automation and plenty of manual control, if you can be bothered to dig through the menus to access it. Tipping the scales at a pound, it won't fit in a pocket, but it's no huge burden, either. It's a little more expensive and a little heavier than lots of compacts, but for the weight and the money, it delivers a heck of a lot of zoom. It's a reasonable option for users who are looking at point-and-shoot models with a little extra.
***Konica Minolta Z5 -* The Konica Minolta Z5 is a 5 megapixel super zoom, like the S5200, and is also available for under $350. Its zoom range is longer and comparable to a 380mm, rather than a 320mm. The Z5 has a form of image stabilization, tagged Anti-Shake by Konica Minolta, and it has a unique method of doing it. Its CCD moves, rather than its lens elements, to compensate for camera movement. The Z5 has a maximum ISO of only 320, more than two stops slower than the S5200's ISO 1600. If the image quality of the S5200 at 1600 is comparable to the Z5 at 320, the S5200 can solve the image stabilization problem simply by cranking up the shutter speed. Our experience with the Z5 indicated that the Z5 contains a good deal of noise when shooting at ISO 320, so comparable clarity from the S5200 seems to land between ISO 800 and ISO 1600.
Kodak EasyShare Z740 - The Kodak Z740 is yet another 5 megapixel ultra zoom, and sells for roughly the same amount as the S5200. Like the Z5, the Z740zoom reaches out about another 20 percent, to the equivalent of 380mm. Like the S5200, the Kodak Z740 also lacks image stabilization, but its ISO range stops at 800, a stop slower than the S5200's 1600. However, Kodak’s consumer cameras are very easy to use, and the Z740 can be docked into a printer for a very simple, well-integrated solution for printing snapshots. On the other hand, the Z740 has very limited options for white balance (only four presets, and no custom setting), so it is not as well-suited as the S5200 to a user looking for manual control options.
*Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 -*The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 is one more 5 megapixel super zoom in the mid $300's, but its lens reaches way out past 430mm. Panasonic has been a leader in image stabilization, including it in cameras and implementing it effectively. Again though, Fuji's high ISO may take the edge off the stabilization advantage. The FZ5's ISO reaches only to 400, two stops slower than the S5200. While many Panasonic ultra zoom models have had difficulty controlling noise, Fuji cameras seems to excel in this area. We also generally find Lithium-ion cells, like the one in the DMC-FZ5, more convenient and longer-lasting than the AA's that the S5200 uses. We also like the FZ5's fun features, like its flip-book builder.
Canon PowerShot S2 - The Canon PowerShot S2 is also a 5 megapixel 12x super zoom, but it runs over $400 online. It has a sophisticated optical image stabilization system, with other options that make the OIS an even more valuable feature. The S2 can’t compete in sensitivity with its maximum ISO at 400, and it produces noisy images at that rating. The S2 is a much glitzier camera than the S5200; its LCD swings and pivots, and it records stereo sound for its movies (including the sound of the camera zooming and focusing).
**Who It’s For
***Point-and-Shooters -* The FinePix S5200 can point and shoot with the best of them. It has fewer scene modes than some of the cameras in this range, but this also means that every scene mode is useful. It’s probably too large for those who want something pocket-portable.
Budget Consumers - The FinePix S5200 is an inexpensive means to get a long lens. Those who are scrimping could get the functionality of the S5200, without the telephoto capability, for less money.
Gadget Freaks - Isn't image stabilization required by gadget freaks? There isn't anything technical in the S5200 to make geeks slack-jawed and impressed.
Manual Control Freaks - Masochistic manual control freaks might enjoy rooting around in the S5200's menus and using three-finger combinations to control the S5200, but other than that small subgroup, manual control freaks can do far better than this.
Pros / Serious Hobbyists - The FinePix S5200 is a pumped-up compact, not a pared-down DSLR. Without image stabilization or convenient manual controls, or the option of using an external flash, the S5200 looks like a snapshot camera to pros. For that, why not get something smaller and easier to carry?
The FinePix S5200 will be a satisfying camera for certain types of snapshooters: it's the right camera for someone who wants something more versatile than a typical point-and-shoot, but whose primary uses are ones that a typical point-and-shoot could handle. With strong color reproduction and a sharp lens, the S5200 will do an excellent job taking that kind of picture. This camera is ideal for the user who won't use the maximum zoom too much – if that focal length is important, then image stabilization is too.
The S5200 will also exhibit difficulty shooting by candle light; even with a sensitivity range that extends to ISO 1600, a maximum aperture of f/3.2 can be limiting in low light. Furthermore, the FinePix S5200 isn't responsive enough to reliably catch fast action. However, the FinePix S5200 certainly delivers good performance for casual shooting, with some extras. But even though it has some of the specs of higher-end cameras – especially in zoom range and ISO – there's a reason so many cameras cost twice as much, or even ten times more. They work better.
Specs / Ratings