Having used SLRs for many years I was tired of having to change lenses when I wanted a wide angle, telephoto or macro, and decided to give this one a go.
A new entrant to the bridge camera market (March 2013), the S8200 boasts a 40x optical zoom, which is at the top end of the superzoom camera range (Fuji have also introduced the S8400 and S8500 which are I think identical but for even longer zooms). There is also a 2x digital zoom facility in the camera, which pushes the possible range to silly numbers! It's a good macro lens, too - all built in.
Bridge cameras, of course, look a bit like SLRs, but lack the interchangeable lenses of the SLR camera. Many bridge cameras do noy have a viewfinder, relying just on the LCD screen. This necessitates holding the camera away fron the body, risking (more) camera shake. I ruled out any camera without a viewfinder, which cut out the cheaper end of the market. Viewfinders on these cameras are electronic rather than optical, (known as EVFs)and some do not give a good image. Comparable Nikons, for example, have quite poor viewfinders, small and unsharp. The EVF on the S8200 is pretty good, giving an image which can be used to compose shots and which also can contain shooting information. It has a dioptre adjust wheel. You switch manually between the EVF or the LCD - the default is the LCD. The LCD screen is bright and sharp.
Image size is big - 16 megapixels produces a 6mb+ file. Shooting at that size means serious reducing to post on Facebook!
The S8200 is not a small camera - some bridge cameras are quite tiny - indeed, the S8200 is not much smaller than my Canon EOS 450D, but it is lighter. It is balanced, too - my EOS always hangs lens down with the standard 18-55mm lens. The Fuji isn't particularly distinctive or attractive looking - functional rather than jewellery.
You can read about the features of the camera on the net, so I won't go into them - it is, however, a smart camera in that the auto settings are very clever, and make my other cameras (I have two Canon digital compact cameras as well as the EOS), look very basic. I was always irritated by my EOS insisting on popping up the flash every time the light fell - the S8200 prefers to change the ISO and other settings before it suggests you use the flash. An automatic 'scene recognition' feature knows if you're shooting indoors with normal room lighting, and compensates for that really well, albeit with raised 'grain'. Low light exposures are really good. I haven't actually used the flash yet so I can't comment on that. It pops up form waht looks like an SLR pentaprism when you push a button.
It takes 4 AA cells; after 100 shots the batteries supplied (Chinese 'Pairdeer' brand!) are running out... I suspect they're not very good quality. I shall use rechargeables in future! claimed battery lfe for rechargeables is 5 times that.
I've only had the camera a couple of days, and so haven't experimented with many of the shooting modes. The zoom seems to work well; the anti-vibration system seems to do what it s supposed to do, although a tripod or other support would of course be good at high zooms.
The S8200 has two ways of zooming - a lever around the shutter release button and a control on the side of the lens. You can configure the speed of the zooming. I do wish you could zoom by cranking the lens barrel, but it's only an electrical zoom, like most cameras of this type.
Image quality so far looks good - 16 mp must be enough, surely? Automatic exposure seems right - there are also many manual modes (including aperture and shutter priority, etc.) The camera has many clever shooting features and built-in effects, like HDR, which takes multiple exposures and 'averages' the shadows and lighlights, burst shooting, smile recognition, various 'filters', scene setups etc etc etc - many cameras have these - I don't think the S8200 has anything revolutionary.
The camera also shoots HD movies - haven't really tried that yet, but the little I've tried looks good, but the camera is very susceptible to wind noise.
So - I'm pleased with the S8200, and looking forward to investigating what other clever tricks it can do!
Lastly, in this horribly wordy review, a couple of cautionary points-
Battery life: not convinced yet, although if you are caught out with sagging batteries you can always pop into a shop and buy some AAs - not an option with cameras that have their own batteries!
Size: I'd have liked it to have been a bit smaller - it was the viewfinder that precluded me from getting one of the tiny ones, even though they are very pretty...
Zoom: There are videos on YouTube demonstrating the enormous zoom range of cameras like the S8200 - remember that they show the whole zoom range from wide to super tele - so the remarkable 'magnification' effect - filling the screen with something which is so small in the first frame that you couldn't even see it - is not so pronounced in 'real life', as our viewpoint to start with is not at the wide angle end, if you see what I mean.
Flash: you're stuck with the built-in one... there's no 'hot shoe'
Filters: you can't use them - there's no filter thread. You can of course create many of those effects in the computer, and there are several built into the camera. No lens hood for glary days, either - and as the front of the lens retracts into the lens bit you'd have a job improvising one. Comes with a lens cap.
Menu system - pretty complicated to work through until you've played with the camera for a while - lots of 'toys' to get your head around; start with full auto and work up from there.
Memory - no built-in memory, and you'll need a fast card to cope with the huge images and HD movies - cat 10, with a 45x speed, I think.
From my initial few days with the S8200 I'd recommend the camera - now maybe I'll get back into photography instead of just snapping on my phone...Fujifilm FinePix S8200 Digital Camera - Black (16.2 MP, 40x Optical Zoom) 3.0 inch LCD