I've had a look at quite a few of the latest super-zoom cameras recently, including the 26x zoom Olympus SP-590UZ (£270), the 24x zoom Nikon Coolpix P90 (£330) and the remarkable 20x zoom, 40fps Casio Exilim EX-FH20 (£350). They're all very nice of course, but they are rather expensive. I've also looked at the easy-to-use 15x zoom Nikon Coolpix L100, a little more affordable at £230, but if even that is too expensive there's always today's review camera, the 12x zoom, 10-megapixel Fujifilm FinePix S1500.
Launched in February, the S1500 is currently selling for just under £200, but if Fuji follows its usual pattern the price will probably drop dramatically over the next few months. The excellent 15x zoom, 10MP FinePix S2000HD which was launched last August is now available for under £150.
The S1500 is an update of, and bears a very close resemblance to, the FinePix S1000fd, launched at around this time last year. The S1500 has the same extremely compact SLR-style body, the same 10.0-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor, the same 12x zoom f/2.8-5.0 lens (equivalent to 33-396mm) and the same 2.7-inch 230k monitor. The size and weight are identical and it still uses four AA batteries for power, housed inside a large and comfortable handgrip.
The S1500 isn't quite identical to last year's model though, because it has one very important feature that its predecessor lacked; the sensor-shift image stabilisation system previously seen on the FinePix S2000HD.