Fujifilm has got two players in the SLR-lookalike game. Leading the attack is the 9MP S9600, but sitting in its sidecar wearing goggles and a look of grim determination is the 6MP S6500fd.
There’s no need to fret about the megapixel deficit: it’s the physical sensor size and lens quality that counts these days, and the two models are almost identical in this respect.
Fujifilm’s forte is making cameras that feel good and handle well, and the S6500fd feels a real class act. It’s pretty cheap, too, but that’s reflected in the box contents – a set of four alkaline AAs and a 16MB xD card is barely even enough to get you started.
This camera’s strong point is handling. It’s chunky and satisfying to use, the controls don’t take long to learn and it’s just like using an SLR – but one with a massive 10.7x zoom.
Some neat touches also add extra value. The direct, mechanical zoom ring makes it feel like a ‘real’ SLR and the ‘fd’ in the model number stands for Face Detection, which sees the AF square hunt out faces to focus on. It won’t change your life, but it’s a neat trick.
Picture not perfect
Unfortunately, the picture quality reminds you that it’s not an SLR after all. At low-medium ISOs images look crisp and clean, but at higher ISOs the detail starts to crumble and smudge as the noise reduction cuts in. Worse, the lack of an image stabiliser makes long-range shots at maximum zoom a bit of a lottery.
Competitors like the Canon Powershot S3 IS may trump the Fujifilm for picture quality, but shoppers hunting for an SLR-alike shouldn’t rule it out. It’s a lovely camera to look at and use, and great value for money.