Unfortunately the camera’s performance is also rather lacklustre. It starts up quickly enough in a little under two seconds, but it’s all downhill from there. In single-shot mode it can only manage a shot every three seconds, which is very slow by recent standards. In long-period continuous mode it can shoot at well over a frame a second, but it doesn’t focus or change exposure between shots, making it useless for moving subjects or changeable light conditions. The various extra continuous modes are faster but limit picture size, 5MP for top 6 and a puny 2MP for top 15. It’s hard to say why it should be so slow, because the autofocus system is actually very quick, even at long telephoto settings. It does hunt around a bit in low light, but not as much as some competitors.
In fact its low-light ability is one of the S1000fd’s few real strengths. The fast f/2.8 maximum aperture gives it a significant advantage over many other long-zoom cameras, and it does have surprisingly good high-ISO performance, producing good quality images at 800 ISO. I say surprising, because the S1000fd uses a conventional CCD sensor rather than Fuji’s more advanced SuperCCD technology. Unfortunately other aspects of image quality are not so good. Dynamic range is distinctly limited, and colours are massively over-saturated even in standard colour mode, particularly reds. The lens also has its good and bad points. While it has very good corner-to-corner sharpness, it does produce quite noticeable barrel distortion at wide angle and some pincushion distortion at the telephoto end. At least Fuji’s traditional enemy, the dreaded purple fringes, and mercifully absent.
While the Fujifilm FinePix S1000fd is an appealingly cute little camera with a huge zoom range for its size, and is relatively simple to use, it lacks a number of important features, most notably image stabilisation. Performance is mediocre at best, and while it performs well in low light it is lacking in final image quality. Whether you’re looking for a small cheap zoom camera or a well-specified super-zoom there are better alternatives on the market, several of them other Fujifilm models.