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Fujifilm FinePix S1500 - Fujifilm FinePix S1500
The image stabilisation system, welcome though it is, is far from being the S1500's only new feature. It has a new shooting mode, SR Auto, a scene recognition mode which selects the best choice of six different scene modes depending on the situation. Many other manufacturers, notably Pentax and Panasonic, have had a similar feature for some time, and Fuji's version works about as well as any of them. It copes well with backlighting, low light portraits and other tricky subjects.
Also new is the tracking autofocus system, which attempts to keep a moving subject in focus as long as it stays in the frame. It's something usually only found on more expensive cameras, but nonetheless it works extremely well, keeping track of even quite fast-moving subjects as long as they remain in plain view.
Other advanced features include face detection, automatic in-camera red-eye correction, and a panorama mode which can take three 3MP images and then stitch them together in-camera to make one long panoramic image, but these have all been seen before on the S1000fd. It's interesting that face detection was enough of a selling point last year to merit it's own suffix (the "fd" on the S1000fd), but this year it's just another feature.
The S1500 also inherits a range of manual exposure options including aperture and shutter priority as well as full manual exposure, which will be welcomed by hobby photographers. The range of aperture settings is a little limited, since the minimum aperture at the wide-angle end of the zoom is only f/6.4, but shutter speeds from 8 seconds to 1/2000th of a second are available. The S1500 has a higher maximum ISO setting than the S1000fd, reaching 6400 ISO although only in 3MP mode.
Since the S2000HD was one of the first long-zoom cameras to feature HD video recording I'm slightly surprised that the S1500 hasn't been equipped with this new must-have feature as well, but I guess some money had to be saved somewhere. Instead it has to make do with a 640 x 480 30fps video mode and mono audio, but at least the optical zoom can be used while shooting, and video clip length is limited only by memory card capacity.
Speaking of memory cards, the S1500 is yet another Fujifilm camera that can only use SD/SDHC cards, further auguring the demise of the xD-Picture memory card format, now only used by Olympus. It looks like the xD-Picture format is rapidly going the way of the SmartMedia card format that it was designed to replace.
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