Superzooms bridge the gap between the control and flexibility of dSLRs and the size and simplicity of a compact camera. But as enormous great 18x and 20x zoom lenses become more common, we're also seeing smaller superzooms, such as the 10-megapixel Fujifilm FinePix S1000fd. It packs a 12x optical zoom lens and costs around £170.
Small size is a big factor in the S1000fd's design. It's certainly petite for a superzoom. Despite this, the grip is a good size for the right hand, with plenty of room between the grip and the relatively small lens for your fingers. One-handed shooting is possible, although the AA batteries make it heavier than it looks. At least they're universally available. The S1000fd is also consumer-friendly in that it takes both proprietary xD cards and the more commonly used SD cards.
The screen is a decent-sized 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD. An electronic viewfinder sits above the screen. The 230,000-dot resolution isn't bad, but it looks rather gritty and renders diagonal lines very jaggedly.
The controls are straightforward, with a standard four-way clickpad, playback button, a button for toggling between the EVF and LCD, and an exposure-compensation button. A function menu gives access to some shooting options. We feel that the exposure compensation and F buttons duplicate each other: the F button only gives access to three rarely-used options -- ISO, quality and film effect -- which could easily have been put together with the exposure controls under one button.
We also couldn't get our heads around the dedicated burst mode button, which on our model just doesn't do anything: enabling burst mode involves pressing the menu button and selecting high-speed shooting.
One of the most important design elements of any superzoom is its zoom control. While the S1000fd's collar rocker switch is fast and pleasingly springy, it's not very sensitive. A smaller zoom such as this 12x lens would seem to be ideal for a more delicate zoom, but the control leaps in hamfisted increments.
The lens has an equivalent focal length to 33-396mm on a 35mm camera. That's not particularly wide, to go with the zoom being not particularly long.
The face-detection system can find up to six faces at a time. It will then stay locked on to track a face around the frame. Face detection is also used to spot eyes and correct red-eye from every face in the frame, if necessary. These options can be turned on by a dedicated button.
There are no surprises in the scene modes, comprising portrait, landscape, sport, night, fireworks, sunset, snow, beach, museum, party and flower. The mode wheel gives access to aperture and shutter priority, as well as full manual mode and two customisable user-defined modes.
As well as seeing things far away, a super macro mode allows you to capture an image as close as 20mm. Video is available at VGA resolution, while panorama mode stitches together three 3-megapixel images to create a wide shot.