They like superzooms at Fujifilm. The Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD is at the top of the line, packing a 10-megapixel resolution screen and a 15x optical zoom. It's available now for around £220.
The S2000 handles the challenges of superzoom design well: it is relatively compact, yet has a satisfyingly chunky grip for the right hand. It also has a zoom rocker with a lovely action -- not too stiff, not too soft -- but tends to leap too fast, without much incremental control for subtle zooming.
We're perpetually puzzled by the controls on Fujifilm cameras. Certainly, they're laid out comfortably and it's not that hard to find everything. Our complaint is that the hierarchies and behaviour of the controls is too counter-intuitive. For example, we'd expect to press the playback button to view our pictures, then press it again to return to shooting mode. But that second press earns us an utterly pointless error message telling us to push the shutter.
The menu button is the same: once you've pressed it to enter the menus, you have to push a different button to exit. Once you get used to it this won't be an issue, but for us every Fuji review process begins with lots of frustrated pushing of the wrong buttons.
Also, the F button doesn't call up all the commonly used shooting functions as we'd expect, but instead sees many of these options buried under the menu button. We do like how the clickpad looks a bit like Mickey Mouse, however.
The screen is a roomy 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD with an electronic viewfinder above it. Motion blur is an issue when moving the camera around while looking through the EVF, but if you raise the frame rate to 60 frames per second it's much less harsh on the eyes. This will have some effect on battery life, however. The S2000 runs on four AA batteries, so you shouldn't have any problems replacing them when you run out of power.
Although there's no hotshoe, the lens has a thread that allows teleconverters and other accessories to be screwed on.
As well as the 15x optical zoom, the S2000 has a 27mm wideangle equivalent to a 35mm camera. This means you can fit more into your images.
Features include image stabilisation and face detection. ISO speeds go up to 1600 for low light shooting. You can boost the ISO speed even higher at the cost of a resolution drop to 5-megapixels. Flash modes include slow sync and red-eye reduction, and a natural and flash mode which takes two pictures, one with the flash and one without.
The S2000HD earns its name with 1280x720-pixel high-definition video, as well as VGA-resolution or smaller clips for web sharing on YouTube, Vimeo and the like. You do get electronic image stabilisation while shooting, but no stereo sound unfortunately. There's a television connection, but it's component, not HDMI, and you do have to buy the cable separately.
Settings include aperture and shutter priority, and manual control. Despite the S2000's counter-intuitive controls, it's reasonably easy to tweak exposure and other settings. You can adjust sharpness and colour, and tweak the flash and bracketing levels. You can change the shutter and aperture speeds or go into modes.
Even though we're not keen on the confusing button-pushing to get in and out of playback mode, there are a couple of neat touches we do like when viewing images. After taking a sequence of images in continuous mode, a small inset window on the screen continually cycles through the whole burst of photos, giving you a mini view of the whole sequence alongside the individual image. You are also presented with each burst as a single image until you choose to open the sequence, so you don't have to spend ages flicking through near-identical pictures to reach your other snaps.