The looks of the Fuji S2500HD are somewhat dictated by the huge lens on the front, as well as a decent-sized grip to support it. This means the camera resembles a DSLR to some extent, albeit in a much smaller form. The grip on the right side of the camera is easily large enough for an adult hand to wrap round, and is covered in a rubber-like surface which makes it easy to grip onto regardless of how wet your hands might be.
The metallic black surface on the S2500HD almost appears to be covered in a liquid, with odd slightly raised sections giving the camera an almost rough feel. This, once again, makes it all the less likely to slip out of your hands when using it and doesn’t damage the aesthetic either. The fact that the S2500HD manages to be so compact-looking, as the buttons are cramped together at the rear, somewhat belies the relatively bulky size. It’s by no means the largest bridge camera around, which is somewhat faint praise, but compared to the average compact camera it’s fairly large. There’s plenty of weight to the frame as well, which comes from a combination of the lens and four AA batteries providing the power.
As mentioned before the body of the camera is packed with buttons, leaving very little space unoccupied. Critically there is a small area just above the D-pad to rest a thumb, otherwise controls would be accidentally activated whenever the camera is picked up. Each of the buttons on the rear are of a similar, small size, but sit far enough off the body to make them intuitive to use. The controls feel duly solid and react well when pressed, especially the heavy-duty mode dial which locates in each position in a satisfying manner.
Outside of the gigantic zoom the S2500HD has plenty more to offer, from a Panorama stitch mode through to HD video. At 720p the video mode matches the majority of compacts offering the feature, but offers the ability to utilise the optical zoom. Although the focus can be extremely sluggish when recording video and the image can be darkened very quickly, it would be useful on a bright day given the time to readjust to a new subject. Also included is manual control, which tempers the shutter speed and aperture dependent on the focal length of the lens.
The Panorama mode isn’t quite as successful as the likes of Sony’s, as it requires the user to match up the edges and tries to stitch them together. More often than not this was unsuccessful and lead to multiple attempts. The instant zoom feature simply crops a portion of the screen without the need to zoom in, and the continuous mode offers an impressive burst rate at a reduced resolution, albeit without a change in focal depth resulting in some blurry images. The most significant feature is, of course, the huge zoom and although it takes a second to react to the lever being used, reaching optimum magnification only takes seconds.