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Customer Review

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bridge camera which does the job......, 31 Mar. 2011
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This review is from: Fujifilm FinePix S1800 Digital Camera (12MP,18x Wide Optical Zoom) 3 inch LCD (Camera)
I decided to upgrade from a point and shoot Sony Cybershot which has been a valued reliable friend for over five years. I'm not sufficiently experienced nor time-managed to get a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) but I did want something halfway between the two. This Fuji S1800 fits the bill. Hence the reason it is called a "bridge camera".

I researched and read the reviews for it, not only here on Amazon but on many dedicated photographic sites, and I concluded that I would take my chance with it.

My old Sony has a viewfinder which is rare on the new generation of digital cameras, so that was a major consideration when I was looking to upgrade. This Fuji camera has an electronic one, which by the touch of a button activates it. There is nothing worse than trying to take a shot when the screen is invisible in very sunny conditions, so having a viewfinder restores control. Indeed, I use the viewfinder often, regardless of the conditions.

"Which" - the reputable Consumer Association - has embarked on a campaign to influence manufacturers to bring back the viewfinder, and they have been overwhelmed with support. It's heartening to know. I certainly wasn't going to upgrade my "old trusty", or favour the new kids on the block, without one. I strongly suggest that anyone thinking of buying a new camera should ensure it has a view-finder, and if you can't find one, or not fancy the Fuji range of bridge cameras, then just wait - because I suspect they will be making a comeback.

The S1800 has a solid build, and looks like a professional camera which amateurs can comfortably handle. I use the term "amateur" loosely, it implies skills without professional bent, so maybe I should just say its good for the adventurous layman.

You won't be embarrassed by hanging this around your neck, but at the same time you'll appear quite the photo buff when you grasp it by its comforting secure grip and begin shooting. It's full of bells and whistles which I am still coming to terms with, and whilst the auto-mode will behave like a point and shoot, the manual settings will let you experiment and hone your skills without lashing out on a DSLR four or five times the price.

The image quality is superb, the macro even better, and for all my ignorance about ISO, back light modes, focus settings etc, I am learning fast.

A factor before I purchased this camera was battery life. I have been used to a rechargeable lithium battery with the Sony, and it could last for ages.

However, the problem with it was that if it ran out at key moments you would need a spare one at the ready. The four AA batteries which the Fuji S1800 requires initially put me off, but then I realised that it will take rechargeable batteries, which last just as long, and the advantage is that should they become exhausted, you can always stick some regular alkaline bog standard batteries in it to see you through. Also they are universally available, whereas the Sony Lithium battery is not - plus I would need to carry the charger around and have access to a power point. Not very practical. These are things to consider. Also with the Sony they use dedicated pro-duo memory cards, whereas the Fuji will accept just about any. I bought a regular 2GB SD card for a couple of quid and it serves my purpose adequately.

Whilst the S1800 can record exceptionally well, it is not a camcorder, so if you want to record at length then a 16GB card will be more practical, but even then it is time limited. I've never replaced my 1GB Sony card in my Cybershot, and it can comfortably take hundreds of pictures at 3M and thousands at 2M or VGA. The Fuji can do likewise. The idea is to transfer them to a digital medium regularly. So why would you want to buy a higher GB-SD card and pay extra, when you can buy 2GB for pennies?

Anyway, I'm just a chap who takes typical snap happy holiday shots of places, friends and family. But I clearly wanted more, and this Fuji S1800 has given me the opportunity to develop my photography without taking it too seriously, but with a little extra flair.

When I carry it I want to use it, and it has made me much more observant. It doesn't fit in my pocket, but likewise people react differently to it and take me more seriously than if they were just having a pocket digital camera pointed at them.
I'm never going to be a professional photographer, and nor do I pretend to be anything more than a simple casual user, but if there's a bridge between the two, then I am halfway across it thanks to this little gem.

Pros: Handsome, solid and easy to use. Takes excellent quality pics. 12 mega-pixels with 18 x optical and digital zoom. Two macro settings. Voice Recording facility for each picture. On auto it's a point and shoot, on custom or manual setting its adventurous, educational and performs remarkable tasks. Great price, and bridges the gap between point and shoot and DSLR cameras. Buy rechargeable AA batteries, and keep some regular ones spare just in case. Not power hungry so won't eat the batteries. Accepts standard SD cards, buy a card reader for easy transfer of images to computer. Comes with regular usb/tv/computer leads.

Cons: No intensive hard copy instruction manual. PDF only. Get used to using the lens cap and remember to remove it before switching on. Flimsy strap provided. No case. When recording the motor noise is audible. Significant instability at high zoom or macro, but that's what tripods are for. No interchangeable lens facility.

Overall: If you want a professional camera then splash out £500 and more. If you want a slimline pocket digital camera then buy one. If you want to bridge the gap then buy this and keep your pocket camera/smart-phone as a useful companion. But if you want to take serious pictures and experiment with photography without all the pain and dedication, then get this Fuji S1800. It's a bargain.

Tips: Buy four AA rechargeable batteries and simple socket recharger. I paid £9.99 for a respected brand here on Amazon. Buy a 2GB SD card - again just a couple of quid here. Buy a USB card reader to transfer your photos simply without wires. £2.50 here on Amazon. These don't come with the Fuji S1800, so if you buy it here, then get them all together and the postage is free - although they they may arrive at different times.

And very finally, there are two upgrades on this camera which provide HD output and 14MP. Experts say that the extra 2MP is neither here nor there, and Fuji provides an add on for HD images anyway. If you really require these two assets then by all means spend the extra. My advice is just go for this S1800.

That's quite enough to be going on with. Other manufacturers are offering 20 x zoom. That's great, but without a tripod you will struggle. Think about that, and consider how often you will be carrying a tripod. Indeed, if you are going to buy a tripod it means you are a very serious photographer, and you will be looking for an expensive DSLR and have several lenses.

This is a review for a bridge camera - but it's horses for courses at the end of the day. You can plod with a donkey or ride a thoroughbred stallion. But for me, the Fuji S1800 is an exciting and elegant pony.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 May 2011 14:18:11 BDT
Paul1971 says:
Thanks Paul. Great review, constructive and very helpful.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jul 2011 12:44:19 BDT
I have always used Lithium batteries in my cameras. The cost about £7 uk x 4 - dearer then Alkaline - but last a hell of a long time even when using the zoom and flash! I go through about 2 packs a year and take lots of pix. Bare in mind rechargeables can take up to 10 hours to charge!!

ps, don't forget to go to battery settings and select the type of battery you are going to use!!
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