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Fujifilm FinePix S3500 review

Verdict:

Review Date: 15 Nov 2004

Price when reviewed: inc VAT

Reviewed By: Julian Prokaza

Our Rating 4 stars out of 5

Fujifilm's new entry-level S3500 looks like an SLR camera but is really an automatic compact digital camera masquerading as one.

The extra bulk is more than just dressing, though. Inside, Fujifilm has crammed a whopping 6x optical zoom lens, which is twice the size of anything found on most digital compacts. Together with a 4-megapixel CCD (2,272x1,704), the result is a very powerful package.

The S3500 is excellent value at £183, but it's easy to see where corners have been cut. The silver plastic casing feels flimsy and the controls cheap. You get standard AA batteries rather than rechargeables in the box. The camera is otherwise well designed, though, and the controls fall within reach when the camera is held in the right hand

The S3500 is easy to use, too. One dial switches the camera between playback and record modes; another puts it in automatic, programmed, manual or movie mode; and just about everything else is accessed through the simple menu. There's a choice of two viewfinders, and the 1.5" LCD on the back of the camera is supplemented by an electronic viewfinder, instead of the usual optical one. A button switches between them, but only one can be active at a time. Electronic, rather than optical viewfinders, are a matter of taste but the S3500's refreshed too slowly for our liking. Both viewfinders also freeze for a short time while the autofocus gets a lock, which makes tracking a moving subject trickier than usual.

With its wide selection of pre-programmed modes, the S3500 is a flexible performer and is capable of some pleasing results. There's a fair degree of control in manual mode too, which means it caters for more creative photographers as well as the point-and-shoot type.

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