Fujifilm FinePix S4200 Review
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The Fujifilm FinePix S4200 is an affordable 24x optical zoom bridge camera. It also offers a modest 14 megapixel resolution, 3 inch LCD screen, direct web upload facility and HD video capability. Couple that with the 2cm macro and manual controls and the result is a highly flexible camera for all situations. But does the image quality match the impressive technical specification? In our expert review, we intend to find out. Priced at £109, the Fujifilm FinePix S4200 is available in red, black and white.
Ease of Use
It's nice to get a camera with some meat on it every once in a while. If there's one thing Fujifilm have always been able to do, it's make a chunky bridge camera and the Fujifilm FinePix S4200 certainly continues that trend. The exterior of the camera is littered with buttons, switches and dials. On the top is a mix of what you'd normally find on top of a bridge camera - such as the shutter release with zoom rocker surround, power switch and command dial – and some other bits that aren't such as the face detection button and continuous shooting modes.
The command dial is a large affair with lots of modes on it, so you'll find plenty to do. As well as the manual PASM modes, there's also a Custom button and a few Auto features such as Scene modes, Panorama and video. Next to this is a button with an F on it. The F stands for FinePix and is the S4200's quick menu area.
On the back, the Fujifilm FinePix S4200 is dominated by the large LCD screen. These days, it's easy to stick the camera out at arms length and start shooting. The S4200 has an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF), so if you want to, you can switch to shooting like you're using a DSLR. It will help secure the heavy front end as it frees the left hand to place under the lens and offer support. To use the EVF, press the EVF/LCD button that is sat next to the viewfinder. A small collection of buttons sits to the right of the screen. They access a variety of functions from exposure compensation to playback and screen display options.
The S4200 has a built-in flash for those hard-to-light places. It flops over the lens barrel when not in use and can be flipped up by pressing the flash button on the left side of the camera. The right button of the nav pad on the back will open up flash options for you, but only when the flash is activated.
The lens is a Fujinon Super EBC lens with a 24x optical zoom range. That's 4.3-103.2mm or 24-576mm in 35mm terms. The zoom is operated by the aforementioned zoom rocker that's wrapped around the shutter release. This is arguably the most convenient way to use the zoom if it's not manually operated by turning the lens barrel. In fact, if it wasn't for the price point being so low, the S4200 would have really benefited from a manual zoom ring simply because it gives much more precision handling over the zoom.
Despite the plastic casing, the Fujifilm FinePix S4200's body certainly feels well made. From the smooth top plate to the faux leather effect on the grip, back and sides. There are a number of areas that give the camera an indication of its build quality. Namely, the HDMI socket cover on the side of the camera is a flimsy rubber, the tripod bush is plastic and while we wouldn't mark the camera down for using AA batteries, the door has to be more resilient and we worry about the longevity on the S4200. It has a lot of pressure on it while the camera has batteries loaded.
The S4200 has two menus. The smallest is the FinePix menu which is accessed by pressing the “F” button on the top of the camera. It gives access to the ISO, resolution and FinePix colour (standard, chrome or black & white). Pressing the Menu button on the back can also open up the same features along with a lot more such as Image quality, white-balance, sharpness, photometry (metering), AF modes and face recognition. Pressing left in this menu, will allow you to skip to the Set-up menu as they're laid out like tabs. This menu holds access to more core features of the camera such as date & time, language, volume, LCD settings, red-eye removal, blink detection and loads of other features. In fact, there's five pages of modes to search through, so if you have a slow day, you can occupy a while having a look at them.
From cold, the Fujifilm FinePix S4200 can start up, focus and take a picture in a little over three seconds. This is slightly slower than other digital compact cameras which offer an average speed of around 2.5 seconds. However, the power switch tends to slow things down and the camera takes a moment to recover from the effort of switching on before it will focus and take a picture. While half a second isn't really a time frame that you should shake a stick at, in photography terms, it can be make or break.
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There are a number of continuous shooting modes on the S4200 which are accessed by pressing the burst mode button on the grip just behind the shutter release. The Long Period mode in the middle of the ticker style menu is the continuous but after a relatively speedy start, it kind of plods along slowing to a shot every three seconds. In a ten second period, we took eight shots in total. It takes three images in the first second or so, before it slows down as the buffer fills up. There's Top6 which will take six continuous, evenly spread images before stopping. You can't take more and it takes an age to download them onto the card. Final6 will constantly take pictures as long as you hold the button down but only records the last six taken after you remove your finger from the shutter release. Shutter lag is around the standard time of 0.08sec.
When reviewing your pictures, the Fujifilm FinePix S4200 will show the images full screen by default. You can view more of them by using the zoom switch and “zooming out”. There are a number of different ways of looking at the pictures. Zooming out once brings up a scrolling style reminiscent of Windows' Aero feature on Vista. Zoom out again and there's a cascade style to use. From there, you get thumbnails. Press the Menu button and the Playback menu pops up. It has a tabbed style and has a white background and black lettering style (the same as the main menu) but with a blue highlight to distinguish a different menu. There's lots of things to do in here such as create a Photobook, search for images, erase or mark them for upload to YouTube or Facebook. You can also create a slide-show if you wish. There's very basic editing features such as crop, resize or rotate. Interestingly, you can also erase any face recognition information. Although, we can't think of a reason why you'd need to.
In the box, the Fujifilm FinePix S4200 comes with 4x AA batteries, a neck strap and cables to link to the computer or television. Be aware that the cable for tv viewing is only an analogue cable at the television end and so you won't benefit from HD video recording. It's also mono sound. The paperwork consists of a Quick Start Guide and warranty information. The CD holds the full manual and FinePix Studio version 3.1.