Fuji SL1000 £334.99

6th Aug 2013 | 13:30

Fuji SL1000

50x zoom, raw capture and advanced features

TechRadar rating:

3 stars

Like:

50x zoom; Fast aperture; JPEG + raw shooting; Great image quality;

Dislike:

Tricky on/off slider; EVF eye sensor is too sensitive; JPEG + raw mode processing is a little slow;

Introduction

The Fujifilm FinePix SL1000 grabbed headlines earlier this year when it was unveiled at the top of the company's new range of bridge cameras, joining the Sony HX300 and Canon PowerShot SX50 in boasting the largest focal range on the planet.

Indeed, the Fuji SL1000's 50x zoom is quite spectacular, and is a clear competitor to its Sony and Canon rivals. But while on one hand this camera will make fans of superzooms drool with anticipation, it should also appeal to more advanced photographers looking for something lighter than their DSLR - or possibly even to back it up.

Looking beyond the Fuji SL1000's benchmark-setting (or, rather, benchmark-joining) headline spec you'll notice an impressive array of supporting features, such as its Fujinon lens's maximum aperture of f/2.9, rising to f/6.5 at the telephoto end of its 24-1200mm equivalent focal length. Not too shabby.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

You might also like...
What is a bridge camera? What is a bridge camera?

Add to that a 16 million pixel 1/2.3-inch BSI-CMOS sensor, which boasts the capability of shooting up to sensitivities as high as ISO 12,800, a 920k dot electronic viewfinder, along with a 920k dot, 3-inch tilting LCD screen (directly up or 45-degrees down) and, crucially, the ability to shoot in raw format.

Suddenly the Fuji FinePix SL1000 begins sounding less like a typical bridge camera and more like a serious contender to back up your DSLR (albeit with a physically smaller sensor) or even be your primary camera for travel and street photography.

And the eye-popping specs don't stop there. If the 50x zoom isn't enough for you, Fuji's Intelligent Digital Zoom feature enables you to effectively double the Fuji SL1000's zoom range to 2400mm, or 100x.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

The camera also includes a 1cm Super Macro mode for shooting close-up subjects, along with a hotshoe (and a built-in flash), customisable Function button, a mode dial for switching between manual, automatic and semi-automatic modes and a second zoom lever on the side of the lens barrel, enabling you to adjust the zoom with your left hand.

On the back of the camera, an eye sensor detects when you've lifted the camera to your eye, enabling photographers to quickly switch between composing via the LCD screen and the EVF.

Budding videographers will find Full HD video recording at 60p, along with stereo sound and a host of video editing features, such as Movie Trimming.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

So the Fuji FinePix SL1000 seems to offer something for everyone - on paper, at least. And all of these specs aimed at advanced users are available for a fairly reasonable price.

With a full retail price of £334.99 / $399.95 / AU$499, the Fuji SL1000 is around the same price as the Nikon Coolpix P520 and Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, but more expensive than the budget bridge Pentax X-5.

But with so much on its spec sheet, is the Fuji SL1000 in danger of being a jack of all trades, master of none?

Build quality and handling

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

The Fuji FinePix SL1000 fits snugly into your hand, thanks to its contoured design and ribbed rubber grip. An indentation at the top of the extended grip houses your middle finger, while your index finger rests naturally on top of the shutter button. The Fuji SL1000 felt so secure in our hands, thanks to this grip, that we never bothered to attach the camera strap.

Fuji has also given the SL1000 a robust feel. Its doors, buttons and switches are all firm and feel secure in their place - yet not so much so that you need to force them into position.

While we, of course, didn't try this, the Fuji SL1000 feels like one of those sturdily built cameras you can drop once and not have to worry about.

That said, the Fuji SL1000 isn't light. If a carry-anywhere superzoom is what you're after, then there are more portable options out there for you. However, you'll have to sacrifice on focal range - and that, really, is what gives the Fuji SL1000 its heft.

In descending order down the back of the camera are a one-touch movie record button, the playback mode button, four-way control wheel and the display button. On the four-way control wheel there is (clockwise) a customisable Function button, flash mode selection, self-timer and macro mode option.

Situated at 10 o'clock on the wheel is a delete button for when you're in playback mode. In the centre of the wheel is a standard Menu button. All of the Fuji SL1000's buttons are sensibly placed and, crucially, none sits under any part of your hand when holding the camera, eliminating any potential for accidentally changing the settings.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Fuji claims the FinePix SL1000 starts up in 0.9 seconds, but we found that while the camera makes noises in that time, it's closer to two seconds before it's fully operational and ready to take a picture.

What's more, the on/off slider, which you drag to the left, and then springs back to the right, is a little temperamental.

Not every time, but about a quarter of the time, we had to drag the slider twice, sometimes three times, to get the camera to turn off or on. Possibly we simply hadn't slid it far enough, but if you're shooting street photography and repeatedly starting and stopping, is this something you really want to be preoccupied with? The slider seems an odd choice.

But this is a small issue. Once you're up and running, the Fuji SL1000 is quite simple to use. The menus are straightforward, and quick and easy to navigate.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

When you're shooting in manual exposure mode or one of the priority modes, you can easily switch between aperture and shutter speed settings by pressing the x/- exposure compensation button on the camera's top plate. Scrolling clockwise and anti-clockwise on the four-way control wheel adjusts these settings.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Composing via the LCD screen is simple and easy, even in bright sunlight. Dual zoom toggles on the camera's top plate and on the lens barrel allow for enable you to make adjustments to your composition in any orientation of the camera.

The electronic viewfinder is also bright and clear, and a joy to use. We particularly like that you can use the camera's menu system while looking through the viewfinder, but again this is a feature of bridge cameras as a whole.

It's the eye sensor, however, that caused us hassle. The sensor, situated directly to the right of the viewfinder screen, detects when your eye is on the viewfinder (or moving away from it) and thus switches automatically between the LCD and EVF. However, in our test it proved extremely sensitive.

The camera, for instance, switches from LCD to the viewfinder when brought to a space of 4 inches from your eye. This may sound close, but it's not unheard of to compose on your LCD screen from that close a distance.

What's more, quite frustratingly, the camera switches from LCD to EVF when you extend the tiltable screen - presumably because the extended screen sets off the eye sensor - effectively rendering this feature pointless.

The only way around this that we found was to press the EVF/LCD button when we wanted to compose via the LCD screen or viewfinder.

Performance

The 50x optical zoom range was the first thing we wanted to test, and the focal reach of the Fuji SL1000 offers a staggering number of picture possibilities. This type of reach takes street photography to an entirely new level.

Of course, there is a catch to shooting at such a long focal length. The slightest hand movement vastly alters a composition, subjects can be difficult to find again once zooming in and they can be very shaky within the frame once you do, making composition difficult. To get sharp, well-composed images at this focal length you really need to support the camera and keep still. But this isn't entirely unexpected.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

If the 50x zoom isn't enough for you, the Fuji SL1000 offers two macro modes: a Super Macro mode enables you to focus as close as 1cm (though without zoom capability), while the standard macro mode enables you to focus at 7cm at the wide end of the focal range, and 3.5m at the telephoto end.

You might also like...
What is a bridge camera? What is a bridge camera?

Image-wise, the Fuji SL1000 doesn't miss a beat. Colours are clear and natural-looking using the camera's standard colour mode, if ever so slightly on the cool side, and the sensor does a nice job of resolving detail in scenes with strong light, and even in scenes that lack contrast. Images from the Fuji SL1000 appear natural-looking across a range of light conditions.

On the whole, when reviewing our pictures from this camera on the computer there were few, if any, edits required to bring out the colours in our subjects. Only in a few instances under mixed lighting did skin tones require a slight Levels adjustment to tone down the yellow.

The Fuji SL1000 is also quite capable of capturing detail across a range of tones, even in strong light. Taking advantage of a string of nice days, we framed some landmarks against the bright blue sky and were able to capture the rich blue of the sunny day, while registering detail in the brick work of the buildings' facades.

Images are crisp and clear at the lower end of the ISO range, as you would expect. However, smudging and softening of detail starts to become noticeable from ISO 400 - which was a little too low on the scale for our liking, considering that ISO 400 is often a default setting for many people shooting at weddings and other indoor events.

This can probably be attributed to the Fuji SL1000's smaller sensor. That said, smudging at this level was evident only when viewed at actual pixels, and again at just below 100%, so for the average person taking pictures at a wedding reception, this won't be a problem.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Noise is generally well contained in images from the Fuji SL1000. Shooting indoors we could comfortably push the sensitivity up to the higher reaches of the scale and come away with usable images. ISO 1250 appears to be the threshold at which the first hints of noise show up.

Thankfully, it doesn't get too much worse, as the Fuji SL1000 adjusts to a smaller pixel count at its top settings of ISO 6400 and 12,800. But this comes at the expense of image clarity and definition.

While chromatic aberrations are present at the telephoto end of the FinePix SL1000's focal range - particularly at the edges of the frame - distortion is largely kept under control.

We found the Fuji SL1000's autofocus system was as fast as advertised (0.2 secs), and very rarely did it pick out the wrong target. In every instance, even in dull lighting, we were able to pick out the key elements within the frame and keep them sharp - although images appear a little less sharp when shot from a distance at the telephoto end of the zoom. But they're well within reason.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

The Fuji SL1000's HDR mode does a great job at extending the camera's dynamic range and enabling you to capture more detail, particularly in shadow areas.

However, we found its slow processing time meant having to hold the camera perfectly still. In fact, the camera warns you to keep it still and maintain the framed composition. It's really a job for shooting with the camera on a tripod. On several occasions we found HDR images that looked like 3D images, as the elements didn't quite match in the three exposures. With clouds or people, this should be expected. But not with stationary objects.

There are a number of other creative modes on the Fuji SL1000, designed to help you capture more detail. For instance, a writing mode for shooting signs detects writing within your frame and gives images more contrast to make the letters crisp and identifiable. However, the difference is fairly slight, in our opinion.

The Fuji SL1000 offers a range of creative art filters to apply to your images, most of which are standard fare on cameras of this type. However, the Fuji SL1000 renders a nice effect, even if some of them - namely the new Cross Screen effect, which creates starbursts around bright objects - are a little cheesy. Others such as the High Key and Toy Camera effects are quite nice, offering a subtle rendition.

Video

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

The Fuji FinePix SL1000 is a great tool for budding videographers. The sensibly placed one-touch video record button on the back of the camera - at the top-right of the LCD screen - is easy to use, and video quality is crystal clear when recorded in Full HD at 60fps

You can also record at 1280 x 720 (60fps), 640 x 480 (120fps) and high speed modes (320 x 240 at 240fps), which enable you to produce slow-motion videos.

Fuji has given photographers use of the optical zoom when shooting videos (we found this is where the zoom toggle on the lens barrel really comes into its own), which is a nice touch. However, be warned that noise from the zoom motor is evident when playing back your videos, although it's not too bad. What's more, you can film using the camera's colour modes, such as sepia or black & white.

Finally, there are a number of great in-camera features to use post-capture, such as Movie Trimming, which enable you to prime your videos for YouTube or however you plan to use them.

Image quality and resolution

As part of our image quality testing for the Fuji FinePix SL1000, we've shot our resolution chart.

If you view our crops of the resolution chart's central section at 100% (or Actual Pixels) you will see that, for example, at ISO 100 the Fuji FinePix SL1000 is capable of resolving up to around 14 (line widths per picture height x100) in its highest quality JPEG files.

For a full explanation of what our resolution charts mean, and how to read them, check out our full explanation of our camera testing resolution charts.

Examining images of the chart taken at each sensitivity setting reveals the following resolution scores in line widths per picture height x100:

JPEG

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Full ISO 100 image, see the cropped (100%) versions below.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 100, score: 14 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 200, score: 18 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 400, score: 16 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 800, score: 14 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 1600, score: 12 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 3200, score: n/a (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 6400, score: n/a (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 12800, score: n/a (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Raw

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 100, score: 12 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 200, score: 18 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 400, score: 16 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 800, score: 16 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 1600, score: 14 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 3200, score: 10 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 6400, score: n/a (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 12800, score: n/a (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Sample images

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

We were genuinely impressed with the level of detail the Fuji SL1000 could resolve in the real world. However, softening of this detail starts to occur from around ISO 400.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Colours are strong and vibrant using the Fuji SL1000's standard colour setting, and we didn't have to make any edits post-capture to bring them out.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

This street singer was unfortunately standing in front of a busy background, but shooting at a distance from the telephoto end of the 50x zoom provides nice compression, softening it nicely to help the subject to stand out.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Shooting inside under tungsten light, with strong natural light coming in from a window on the side, the Fuji SL1000's auto white balance does a pretty good job at keeping colours and tones natural. The off-white wall in the background of this shot is a little on the orange side, but this is nothing that couldn't be fixed in your raw editor.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

The tiltable LCD screen is easy to view in bright overhead sun, which we experienced when shooting this image. It's also perfect for street photographers who want to be a little more discreet.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Not one of our best shots, but this image illustrates how well the Fuji SL1000's metering system handles difficult lighting conditions. The dark foreground subjects fill 40% of the frame, with bright sky across the rest. Yet the camera has managed to achieve a strong, natural-looking blue, as well as detail in the brick-work of the old church.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

For stationary subjects such as this statue of a Roman soldier, composing from the telephoto end of your 50x zoom isn't too bad. Stabilise the camera and you'll eventually get there. Moving subjects, however, are considerably more difficult.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

To give you a better idea of the zoom reach available, here you can see a view of a popular town centre square shot at the wide-angle end of the focal range.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Zooming in to the telephoto end of the range we were able to pick out this man in the far distance having an animated conversation with someone over the phone. The picture is crisp, clear and noise-free, even when viewed at actual pixels.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

HDR mode worked well in shadowy areas such as this tunnel.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Writing mode makes text stand out more clearly against backgrounds, although we think the improvement is fairly slight.

Sensitivity and noise images

JPEG

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

Full ISO 100 image, see the cropped (100%) versions below.

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 100 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 200 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 400 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 800 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 1600 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 3200 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 6400 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 12800 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Raw

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 100 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 200 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 400 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 800 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 1600 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 3200 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 6400 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Fuji FinePix SL1000 review

ISO 12800 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Verdict

You might also like...
What is a bridge camera? What is a bridge camera?

The Fuji FinePix SL1000 was one of the more difficult cameras this year to rate. In many ways it's a tale of two cameras.

On one hand it offers a lot of advanced features and sophisticated options for ambitious beginner photographers who want to get out of their comfort zones, or advanced enthusiasts who need a backup or quality alternative to their DSLR for those times when a DSLR isn't practical.

On the other hand, the Fuji SL1000 presents a number of small niggles often found on inferior cameras that are sure to annoy these people.

Take, for instance, the on/off slider as a starting point. This, such a small, non-important feature in a camera that we all take for granted, was one of our biggest pet peeves in the Fuji SL1000. Too often we had to slide it two or three times to get the camera to power on or off - which isn't very conducive to capturing fleeting moments.

The hyper-sensitive eye sensor next to the viewfinder was another annoyance. Befuddled by how to hold the camera without switching off the LCD, we finally opted just to switch off the viewfinder entirely, which is a shame, because the EVF is rather good.

That said, for the things those photographers above will be buying this camera for, it works very well. Image quality is excellent, the focal range is astounding, and the lens performs admirably. Raw capture is a definite plus.

There's a lot to like here. You just have to see its potential sometimes and work with it.

We liked

The 50x zoom, are you kidding? We loved the zoom and the lens's fast aperture. Actually, we loved the zoom and the lens's fast aperture, and raw capture. No wait, we loved the zoom and the lens's fast aperture, raw capture and the viewfinder. The AF is fast, image quality is great - all your core needs are met.

We disliked

The on/off slider is temperamental and the EVF's eye sensor is too sensitive, jumping between LCD and EVF view both when the tiltable LCD is fully extended and when the camera is brought within 4 inches of your eye. Processing times were a little slow shooting JPEG + raw, too.

Final verdict

Detail is the sword by which this camera lives and dies. On paper the Fuji SL1000 is brilliant - so much so you might even question why you'd need an DSLR, if you're considering this as a backup. Both still image and video quality are fantastic. The 50x zoom is supreme. And the ability to shoot in raw format gives you more control over your images. This is a camera with a lot of manual controls that a beginner can grow with as you gain confidence.

But it feels like while Fuji poured so much money and energy into getting the camera's advanced features up to speed, it overlooked some of the elements that make a good user experience.

Fuji Fujifilm Fuji cameras camerascarousel-en-gb camerascarousel-en-us camerascarousel-en-au
Share this Article
Google+

Most Popular

Edition: UK
TopView classic version