Fujfilm FinePix S5000 Zoom
Review Date: 16th June 2004
Ease of Use
The Fujfilm FinePix S5000 Zoom looks like a more traditional version of the FinePix S3000 Zoom that I reviewed a few weeks ago. The hi-tech silver styling of the S3000 is replaced by a more reserved all-black appearance, with the S5000 feeling very much like a minature-SLR camera. If you are accustomed to using a small film or digital SLR camera that you will be instantly at home with the S5000 - it's definitely a refreshing change to the many box-like digital cameras on the market. However, the SLR-styling does come at a price, as the S5000 isn't a pocketable camera, despite being quite compact and not weighing too much. It falls between a compact digicam like the Olympus µ[mju:] 410 Digital and a bigger SLR-type camera like the FinePix S7000 Zoom. On the other hand, the chunky hand-grip ensures that the camera can be held comfortably with either one hand or two. Personally I found the Fujfilm FinePix S5000 Zoom a joy to use due to its combination of weight, size and SLR styling.
As with the FinePix S3000 Zoom, Fujfilm have ensured that the build quality of the Fujfilm FinePix S5000 Zoom is up-to-scratch. Despite that competitive price tag, Fujfilm haven't cut any corners, with all of the various buttons and switches being well-fitted, and even the battery compartment and memory card door, both typically weak parts of a digital camera, work well despite their plastic construction. A large part of the camera is covered in a rubbery compound which again makes it feel more expensive than it actually is, as well as improving the handling and grip. Due to its diminutive stature, the buttons on the rear of the camera are a little on the small size, especially the button for switching between the EVF and LCD displays and the "F" button, but Fujfilm have cleverly raised them slightly so that they are still easy to operate. The Fujfilm FinePix S5000 Zoom has a few more options, switches and buttons than the FinePix S3000 Zoom, but it still has an easy to understand layout, both in terms of its menu system and the external controls on the body of the camera.
There's a fairly traditional dial on the top of the camera that lets you select the different exposure modes; Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and Manual. This dial is a typical feature of SLR cameras, and enables you to quickly change between the various modes. Fujfilm have wisely integrated all of the scene modes (Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night Scene) into one option on the dial, called SP. Choosing this brings up an on-screen menu, from which you can select a particular scene mode. The last option is Movie. As with a number of Fujfilm's other digital cameras, the Fujfilm FinePix S5000 Zoom has a Menu button on the rear of the camera which, as you would expect, gives you access to the software menu system. This lets you set various parameters including focusing, sharpness and white balance. There is also a small silver button with an F on it, which opens the Photo Mode menu and allows you to control the file quality setting, ISO speed and colour settings (B&W, Chrome or Standard). I'm not really sure why these 3 settings alone should fall under the heading of Photo Mode, and things like white balance and sharpening are just part of the standard menu. And I'm undecided about whether it is a good idea or not. The F button does give quick access to certain features, but you do have to memorise what another button does.
Thankfully Fujfilm have solved one of the major problems that I found with the FinePix S7000 Zoom that I reviewed a few weeks ago. On that camera, when you wanted to switch from Camera mode to Play mode, or vice versa, you had to press the EVF/LCD button on the back of the camera to switch between the EVF and LCD displays. This problem didn't arise if you exclusively used the LCD, but if like me you use the EVF and hold the camera up to your eye to take a photo, and then switch to the LCD to review what you have just taken, you had to press the EVF/LCD button EVERY time to switch between the two displays. On the S5000 Zoom, the display automatically changes from EVF to LCD when you switch from Camera mode to Play mode, and vice-versa. I'm not sure why this wasn't implemented on the much more expensive FinePix S7000 Zoom, but I'm glad that it has been corrected on the Fujfilm FinePix S5000 Zoom.
So overall the Fujfilm FinePix S5000 Zoom is an extremely well-built digital camera that is very easy to operate, well-designed ergonomically, and doesn't just feel like a box with a lens, a few buttons and a menu system. Whether the Fujfilm FinePix S5000 Zoom is too much of a compromise between a more compact, pocketable digital camera and a larger, more advanced digicam is something that you will have to decide for yourselves.