Fujifilm FinePix S1500 Review

June 1, 2009 | Gavin Stoker | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The Fujifilm FinePix S1500 is a new super-zoom digital compact camera that looks and feels like a DSLR. Featuring a 12x zoom lens and 33-396mm focal range, 10 megapixels and 2.7 inch LCD screen, the Fujifilm S1500 offers full manual photographic control for the more experienced user, and Automatic Scene Recognition mode for beginners which recognizes six types of scene automatically and sets the appropriate exposure, focus, white balance and ISO. Dual Image Stabilization, an electronic viewfinder, ISO up to ISO 1600 at full resolution, high-speed shooting of up to 15 frames at 7.5 fps (at 2 megapixels), Tracking Auto Focus and Panorama Shooting mode complete the S1500's main specifications. With a competitive price tag of £219 / $249.95, the Fujifilm FinePix S1500 is one of the cheapest super-zooms available - but is it the best? Carry on reading to find out...

Ease of Use

In the Fujifilm FinePix S1500 its manufacturer has a bridge camera or 'super zoom' that, despite resembling a digital SLR that's been shrunk, shouldn't scare off those more used to operating pocket-sized point and shoots, or even camera phones. The cost is likewise unthreatening, which at a suggested UK asking price of an affordable £219 is less than more fashion-orientated 10 or 12 megapixel snapshot models. And, in the S1500, users are in theory getting an all-in-one photographic 'solution'.

For, size and pricing aside, this 10-megapixel camera is as much about user friendliness as creative flexibility, suggesting the family market is Fujifilm's target this time around. For those with kids or subjects that don't stay put its auto focus tracking ability will doubtless come in handy as will its most prominent feature in a 12x optical zoom (33-396mm equivalent). Might this be then, the ultimate beginner-friendly bridge?

Given the lens reach, image stabilisation is included, here the 'belt and braces' arrangement of CCD shift anti shake plus high ISO speed (up to ISO 6400, albeit with a drop to 3 megapixels if straying above ISO 3200). A self-explanatory wavy hand icon atop the camera indicates which button to use to turn stabilisation on or off, whilst face detection and automatic red eye removal has its own (combined) button too.

In practice therefore with the Fujifilm FinePix S1500 it's mostly a case of a half press of the shutter release button and the camera does the rest, particularly with Fujifilm here including an 'auto everything' scene recognition (SR) auto mode. Although far from infallible – if you're not paying close attention and it's presented with a busy scene it'll call up landscape when macro is needed and vice versa – it adds to the beginner friendly feel. And, if there's not time to set the photograph up manually, with a single button press an instant zoom feature crops in closer, providing either a landscape or portrait format image.

Also worth a mention up front is the S1500's high speed-capture capability – up to 15 pictures sequentially at 7.5 frames per second – albeit with, as expected, resolution dropping to two megapixels to achieve its headline-grabbing numbers. A compromise would be six sequential photographs at 3.3fps at a reduced resolution of 5 megapixels. At least that way a quality might be achieved you actually want to produce a print from.

Given its beginner market the Fujifilm FinePix S1500's buttons and controls are for the most part large (particularly the familiar mode dial up top). They're also sufficiently clear that the manual – a full version here on CD only - doesn't need to be digested before you're up and shooting. As for the remainder of the box contents, you'll need to supply your own SD or SDHC card for image storage, though thankfully the four AA batteries required for power are included.

Fujifilm FinePix S1500 Fujifilm FinePix S1500
Front Rear

With the above in mind, let's take a virtual tour of the S1500, flagging up features and noting its performance as we go.

The front of the camera looks much the same as any bridge model; that's to say it's dominated by the lens barrel, the tip of which comes level with that of the grip when the S1500 is inactive, and extends by a further 2cm-3.5cm when active. Above the lens sits the forward sloping ridge housing the integral pop-up flash. A dedicated button for activating this spring-loaded mechanism sits to its right, a pin prick-sized hole for the built-in microphone just below.

Over at the other side of the lens is a portal housing the AF assist light, beneath which is the comfortably moulded grip, with some leather-effect padding to prevent fingers slipping. For anyone with average sized hands there's just enough room to squeeze three fingers around the grip, leaving your forefinger automatically hovering over the shutter release button situated at the front of its slope – your thumb pressed against the indented pad at the rear. That's to say that, whilst you certainly wouldn't want the grip to be any smaller, it feels about right.

The Fujifilm FinePix S1500's L-shaped top plate looks at once familiar and approachable, the largest control being a ridged mode wheel featuring 10 settings. Starting with full auto mode and moving clockwise we come to one of the camera's main selling points, the aforementioned SR (Scene Recognition) auto, and, continuing in the same direction next alight on SP (Scene Position). This mode features standard pre-optimised settings for 15 familiar scenes and subjects, accessed by pressing the 'menu' button at the camera's rear, and includes portraits, landscapes, sunsets, fireworks plus a natural light and museum mode amongst its selection.

Continuing clockwise around the dial we come to another of the Fujifilm's user-friendly features; namely its panorama mode, which allows the user to shoot a sequence of three images that the S1500 automatically stitches together in-camera – no additional software or technical skills required. A narrow portion of the previous frame is displayed as the user pans from left to right taking shots, so you can line up the joins with a reasonable level of accuracy. Though not essential, it's another fun extra that should appeal to the family target market, and will surely come into its own as an aide memoir for holiday vistas. After a little practice, surprisingly successful results can be achieved.

Next around the dial is a setting for video capture. Sadly here we don't get a High Definition option or any fancy extras, just the standard definition 640x480 pixels with sound. The extent of the optical zoom can be accessed in video mode, but unfortunately the microphone – located just above – picks up its operational noise. What's more of a surprise is that with a successive turn of the dial we come to a user-attributable custom setting, a feature more commonly found on a DSLR proper. Compounding this indication that the S1500 perhaps has something to offer the photo enthusiast after all, there follows the creative quartet of manual, amateur priority, shutter priority and program modes, allowing full access to manually selectable ISO speeds, quality settings and of course colour effects. And, with a further twist, we're back to full auto again.

Fujifilm FinePix S1500 Fujifilm FinePix S1500
Pop-up Flash Top

Alongside the mode dial is a larger than average on/off slider, partly recessed into the bodywork to prevent accidental activation. Slide this to the right and the S1500 powers up in just over a second – pretty quick for this class of camera – the rear LCD displaying a Fujifilm logo initially before blossoming into life. There's also the option of an electronic viewfinder for shot composition – more on which later.

Forward of this slider are a pair of raised, identically sized buttons. To the left is a dedicated control for activating face detection – biasing focus toward faces in the frame naturally. Press it once to couple this with automatic red eye removal (if using flash obviously), or again to shoot without the red eye removal option. The button to the right is for switching on image stabilization via the dual IS mode. Like every other such system in existence, the one employed by the Fujifilm FinePix S1500 isn't infallible – it's tricky, if not impossible, to get a perfectly sharp image when shooting handheld at maximum telephoto even in seemingly ideal light conditions. But, given the focal range, its inclusion here is a must.

Forward again of these buttons is the shutter release button, surrounded by a lever for operating the zoom. Happily the former has a definite halfway point so that a premature capture is avoided, the camera giving an affirmative 'beep' when focus and exposure have been determined and the AF point highlighted in green dancing around the screen if either your camera or subject is moving. With a nudge of the zoom leader, the camera takes just under three seconds to move through the range from maximum wideangle to telephoto – the image displayed at the latter setting a bit wobbly, again when shooting handheld. Full resolution JPEG images are saved almost instantaneously when shooting in single shot mode, so no complaints there.

While that's it for the unfussy top plate, at the back we find the rest of the operational controls. Like the top plate, these are well laid out and their functions ably illustrated. Starting top right of the 2.7-inch, 230k-dot LCD screen we have an EVF/LCD button for alternating between the two features, though, with the larger screen literally staring you in the face when you pick the camera up, it's hard to see the S1500's target audience bothering to squint to use the EVF situated above.

Directly below this button we have an identically sized one for playback, and, to its right, one for Fujifilm's 'F' (for 'Foto') mode. As with the rest of the manufacturer's compact range, one press of this provides access to an abbreviated menu containing just the essentials: resolution and compression level, ISO setting and, arguably less essential (though I do really enjoy the look of the 'chrome' setting) its colour effects.

Immediately below this again we have a four-way control pad/jog dial with a familiar menu/OK (set) button at its centre. Placed at the four points are icons for deleting images, selecting flash modes (auto/slow synchro/forced flash), the continuous shooting modes (options more extensive than usually found at this level, plus macro and super macro settings. It's worth pointing out that when in capture mode the delete key also doubles up as the aforementioned image-cropping 'instant zoom' feature, presenting a choice of two successive landscape ratio crops and two portrait ones.

Fujifilm FinePix S1500 Fujifilm FinePix S1500
Battery Compartment Memory Card Slot

Returning to the continuous shooting options, here as mentioned at the outset we have the ability to shoot 15 sequential images at two megapixels or less, six at five megapixels or less, blast away continuously while the shutter button remains depressed, store only the preceding three images before the shutter button was released (useful to pre-empt action), take three exposure bracketed shots or shoot continuously at full resolution. Though image quality isn't quite top notch, such settings do make up in part for the fact that when shooting in single capture mode, shutter delay is unfortunately quite pronounced.

Press the Fujifilm FinePix S1500's central 'menu' button in anything but auto mode and you're presented with two clearly read screens of shooting options when in capture mode or review mode (if shooting using one of the auto settings, options are abbreviated to turning self timer or high speed shooting on or off, plus access to the set up menu).

The set up menu itself is divided into three folders allowing the adjustment of operational volumes, screen brightness, ability to format optional SD/SDHC card or internal memory. Thankfully here Fujifilm has indeed gone with the more widely available SD than retaining historical loyalty to the now outgunned (in terms of available capacity) xD-Picture Card, a slot for which is provided at the base of the camera where it's shared with the four regular AAs required for power. Of course this means that if you're shooting with the camera on a tripod, you have to first remove the camera to remove the card, which is a bit of a pain but far from uncommon.

Located beneath this central four-way pad is a further (and final) pairing of buttons. On the left we have the self-explanatory 'display/back'. Pressing this turns off the visible icons on screen and/or calls up a nine zone compositional grid when in capture mode, or, as it sounds, jumps back a step if you are poised to delete an image in playback mode but think better of it. The final button to the right is for exposure compensation. Press this in any of the auto modes and a live histogram displaying the areas of brightness across the image is revealed. Press it again in any of the creative modes and the user not only gets a histogram but an adjustable exposure slider too.

While that concludes the controls at the rear, the right hand flank of the camera (when viewed from the back) features a unflash-y plastic flap covering a combined AV out and USB port, above which is an eyelet for attaching the provided shoulder strap. To the left hand flank and we find another eyelet at the top plus a built-in speaker near the base. The base of the Fujifilm FinePix S1500 meanwhile features – as expected – a screw thread for a tripod next to the large compartment housing the aforementioned media card and batteries.

For the most part then the Fujifilm FinePix S1500 is responsive to every button press and mode dial twist, our only grumble being the time that elapses between the user pressing the shutter button and the camera actually taking the shot when in regular single capture mode, though forewarned is forearmed and so it becomes less of an issue over time.

So what of the S1500's images? Do they live up to the camera's 'FinePix' moniker, or is the outlook less clear?

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 10 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4.5Mb.

With Fujifilm's populist intentions, you'd expect the images that the FinePix S1500 delivers to be nigh-on perfect straight out of the camera, and so, in terms of colour and detail they almost are, though we found ourselves on occasion playing with contrast to add some visual punch and depth to the shots - particularly when shooting in less than perfect light when results can appear a little flat.

There's no denying that like any camera with a broader than average focal range, the S1500 opens up a lot of creative framing possibilities and the option to attain some naturalistic candids, plus, moving from this camera back to a regular 3x optical zoom point and shoot you definitely appreciate the 12x range. That said inevitably there's a lack of crispness and bite to images shot handheld at maximum telephoto, despite the on-board image stabilization - and it's not always that easy to tell purely from the LCD screen at the time.

Perhaps inevitably there is some purple fringing visible between areas of high contrast, though it's well controlled and only really noticeable when enlarging an image to purposefully look for it. Lens flare is occasionally an issue in strong sunlight too - again this is nothing out of the ordinary - and Fujifim has a curious habit of rendering blue skies an unreal turquoise when there's a lot of green in the foreground. Highlights are also frequently blown - if you're not watching - when there's plenty of strong light around.

In terms of ISO performance, up to ISO 800 it's a clean bill of health - images noise free and sharp. From ISO 800 onwards there's some noticeable softening of detail, at ISO 1600 noise is readily visible, becoming more aggressive at ISO 3200 and rendering results at ISO 6400 akin to a poorly tuned TV signal. So, as we've found with previous Fujifilm bridge cameras such as the S8100fd, sticking to ISO 800 or below is the sensible option.


There are 8 ISO settings available on the Fujifilm FinePix S1500. Note that the image resolution is reduced to 3 megapixels for ISO 3200 and 6400. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

ISO 64 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)


ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Fujifilm FinePix S1500's 12x zoom lens provides a focal length of 33-396mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.




Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little bit soft at the default sharpening setting, and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


Chromatic Aberrations

The Fujifilm FinePix S1500 handled chromatic aberrations very well during the review. Just a little purple fringing was present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)


The Fujifilm FinePix S1500 offers a Super Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 2cms away from the camera. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject in Macro mode (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop


The flash settings on the Fujifilm FinePix S1500 are Auto, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro, and any of those modes combined with Red-eye Reduction. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (33mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (33mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (396mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (396mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. Neither the Auto or Red-eye reduction mode caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red Eye Reduction

Red Eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The Fujifilm FinePix S1500's maximum shutter speed is 8 seconds, which is fairly good news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1/12th second, aperture of f/2.8 at ISO 64. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Fujifilm FinePix S1500 camera, which were all taken using the 10 megapixel JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 640x480 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 14 second movie is 11Mb in size.

Product Images

Fujifilm FinePix S1500

Front of the Camera

Fujifilm FinePix S1500

Front of the Camera / Pop-up Flash

Fujifilm FinePix S1500

Isometric View

Fujifilm FinePix S1500

Isometric View / Pop-up Flash

Fujifilm FinePix S1500

Isometric View

Fujifilm FinePix S1500

Isometric View / Pop-up Flash

Fujifilm FinePix S1500

Rear of the Camera

Fujifilm FinePix S1500

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Fujifilm FinePix S1500

Top of the Camera


Fujifilm FinePix S1500

Bottom of the Camera

Fujifilm FinePix S1500

Side of the Camera

Fujifilm FinePix S1500

Side of the Camera

Fujifilm FinePix S1500

Battery Compartment

Fujifilm FinePix S1500

Memory Card Slot


Like all bridge cameras the Fujifilm FinePix S1500 sets itself up as a jack-of-all-trades device, and this time for a reasonable price indicative of its manufacturer's mass-market intentions. In fact, for just over £200, it feels like a lot of camera for the money.

Like most things in life it's not perfect however. White balance is variable, metering occasionally off, highlights blown, there's visible softness towards the edges at maximum wideangle and overall at maximum telephoto zoom settings – though neither is a deal breaker – and it's really not worth straying above ISO 800 despite the fact a maximum capability of ISO 6400 looks good on paper. Don't get too ambitious, shoot in sunny conditions and the Fujifilm FinePix S1500 won't disappoint however.

In conclusion, like its predecessors the S1500 does offer some interesting and useful hand holding features that make it easy enough – almost – for anyone to use, whilst throwing a few enthusiast pleasing/intriguing gimmicks into the mix. The panorama feature for example is both simple to use and fun, delivering better than expected results.

On that note the Fujifilm FinePix S1500 comes Recommended. There are better performing bridge models or super-zooms out there if a broader focal range is high up among your wishes, but for the price investment in an S1500 can't really be discouraged, and it does offer a friendly way for anyone trading up from a basic point and shoot to achieve a wider variety of image taking.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 4
Value for money 4.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Fujifilm FinePix S1500 from around the web.

trustedreviews.com »

The S1500 is an update of, and bears a very close resemblance to, the FinePix S1000fd, launched at around this time last year. The S1500 has the same extremely compact SLR-style body, the same 10.0-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor, the same 12x zoom f/2.8-5.0 lens (equivalent to 33-396mm) and the same 2.7-inch 230k monitor. The size and weight are identical and it still uses four AA batteries for power, housed inside a large and comfortable handgrip.
Read the full review »

steves-digicams.com »

Fujifilm has updated their S1000fd from last year (2008), with the release of the new S1500. This new camera is almost identical to the S1000, with a few minor changes, like the addition of SR Auto (Scene Recognition Auto), Dual IS (sensor-shift + high ISO), and a slightly broader ISO range (up to 6400 @ 3M). Shared features include a FUJINON 12x f2.8 optical zoom lens, 10-megapixel image sensor, 2.7-inch LCD, 8 - 1/2000 sec. shutter speed range, AA power source, USB 2.0 (high-speed) connectivity, etc. Fuji has also removed the xD-Picture card compatibility on this model, sticking with strictly SD and SDHC type memory cards; kudos to Fuji for finally ditching that out dated memory format, it's about time.
Read the full review »



FinePix S1500

Number of effective pixels*1

10.0 million pixels

CCD sensor

1/2.3-inch CCD

Storage media
  • Internal memory (Approx. 23MB)
  • SD memory card
  • SDHC memory card*2
File format
Still image:

JPEG (Exif Ver 2.2*3)


AVI (Motion JPEG) with sound


WAVE format, Monaural sound

(Design rule for Camera File system compliant / DPOF-compatible)

Number of recorded pixels
Still image:

3,648 x 2,736 (10M) / 3,648 x 2,432 (3:2 format) / 2,592 x 1,944 / 2,048 x 1,536 / 1,600 x 1,200 / 640 x 480 pixels


Fujinon 12x optical zoom lens, F2.8 (Wide) - F5.0 (Telephoto)

Lens focal length

f=5.9 - 70.8mm, equivalent to 33 - 396mm on a 35mm camera

Digital zoom

Approx. 5.7x


Wide: F2.8 - F6.4, Telephoto: F5.0 - F8.0, max 5 steps in 1/3 EV increment

Focus distance (from lens surface)
  • Wide: Approx. 40cm / 1.3ft. to infinity
  • Telephoto: Approx. 1.5m / 4.9ft. to infinity
  • Wide: Approx. 5cm - 3m / 2.0in. - 9.8ft.
  • Telephoto: Approx. 80cm - 3m / 2.6ft. - 9.8ft.
Super Macro:
  • Approx. 2cm - 1m / 0.8in. - 3.3ft.

Auto / Auto(800) / Auto(400) / Equivalent to ISO 64 / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200 / 6400 (Standard Output Sensitivity)

* ISO 3200 / 6400: 3M pixels or lower (Number of recorded pixels)

Exposure control

TTL 256-zones metering

Exposure mode

Programmed AE, Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Priority AE, Manual

Shooting modes
Mode dial:

Auto, SR Auto, SP, P, S, A, M, C, Panorama, Movie


Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (Tripod), Natural Light, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Museum, Party, Flower, Text

Image Stabilization

CCD-shift type

Shutter speed

(Auto mode) 1/4sec. to 1/2000sec., (All other modes) 8sec. to 1/2000sec.

Continuous shooting
  • Top-3 (max. 1.4 frames/sec.)
  • Last-3 (max. 1.4 frames/sec.)
  • Long-period (max. 1.4 frames/sec.)
  • Top-6, High speed (max. 3.3 frames/sec., 5M pixels or lower)
  • Top-15, Ultra high speed (max. 7.5 frames/sec., 2M pixels or lower)

Auto focus (Area, Multi, Center, Tracking) / Continuous AF

AF assist illuminator available

White balance

Automatic scene recognition

Preset: (Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm white), Fluorescent light (Cool white), Incandescent light), Custom


Approx. 10 sec. / 2 sec.delay


Auto flash

Effective range (ISO AUTO):

  • Wide: Approx. 40cm - 8.7m / 1.3ft. - 28.5ft.
  • Telephoto: Approx. 1.5m - 4.8m / 4.9ft. - 15.7ft.
  • Wide: Approx. 30cm - 3.0m / 1.0ft. - 9.8ft.
  • Telephoto: Approx. 80cm - 3.0m / 2.6ft. - 9.8ft.

Flash modes

  • Red-eye removal OFF: Auto, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro.
  • Red-eye removal ON: Red-eye Reduction Auto, Red-eye Reduction & Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Red-eye Reduction & Slow Synchro.
Electronic viewfinder

0.2-inch, Approx. 200,000 dots, FLCD monitor (R/G/B colors are displayed in a single dot), Approx. 97% coverage

LCD monitor

2.7-inch, Approx. 230,000 dots, TFT color LCD monitor, Approx. 97% coverage

Movie recording
  • 640 x 480 pixels, 30 frames/sec.
  • 320 x 240 pixels, 30 frames/sec.

With monaural sound

* Optical or digital zoom function can be selected during movie recording.

Photography functions

SR Auto (Scene Recognition Auto), Instant Zoom, Panorama shooting mode, Face Detection (with Auto red-eye removal), High speed shooting, Framing guideline, Post shot assist windows, Frame No. memory, Histograms, Silent mode

Playback functions

Slideshow, Face Detection (with Red-eye removal), Trimming, Single frame and Multi-frame playback (with Micro thumbnail), Sorting by date, Image rotate, Voice Memo, Histograms (Highlight warning)

Video output

NTSC / PAL selectable

Digital interface

USB 2.0 High-speed

Power supply*4

4x AA type alkaline batteries (included), Ni-MH rechargeable batteries (sold separately) or Lithium batteries (sold separately)

DC Coupler CP-04 with AC power adapter AC-5VX(sold separately)


102.5(W) x 73.0(H) x 67.8(D)mm / 4.1(W) x 2.9(H) x 2.7(D)in. (excluding accessories and attachments)


Approx. 324g / 11.4oz. (excluding accessories, batteries and memory card)

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