"Great feature-laden DSLR-like step-up for point-and-shooters at a good price"3.5 starson by lbkamg
Pros: Fast; wide-angle & superzoom; auto face detect; manual controls galore + full auto; great low-light shooting; true smart flash; big-bright LCD, excellent color; easy to learn/use; a good buy
Cons: Yes, Fuji missed the boat by not offering true image stabilization.
Summary: As a former Sony, then Canon loyalist, I had done much research over several months before finally purchasing this camera just over a month ago. Honestly, I can't remember having more fun taking photos. When comparing this camera to others, make sure you are likening apples to apples. This has BOTH a solid wide angle and a super zoom (make sure the cameras you compare it to offer the same 28mm-to-300mm equiv., crucial if you do close group shots and don’t want to cut off Uncle Ed). It's not a DSLR so pros may be disappointed (but the semi-pro has plenty to love, and having to deal with only one installed lens adds to adventurous amateur's enjoyment). It's not the simplified one-click wonder techno-phobes need. It's a perfect primo next step for the part-time digital camera buff that wants to dabble in advanced shooting.
It feels nice to hold and the manual zoom (versus those motorized zooms) works nicely. As for carting around, we adjusted for size by buying a compact camcorder case that holds everything, including battery charger. The most glaring Fuji omission is lack of image stabilization. I.S. is especially crucial for long zooms, but Fuji tries to compensate with a Steady Mode that automatically boosts ISO and does a fairly good job of it. I took 200 rapid shot, low light action photos during a recent musical stage performance from the back of the auditorium, and only had to trash a few. A dozen other pics required some quick software image edits, but nearly all the shots were not only good, but better than anything we've staged.
Face Detection feature is incredible: It automatically senses the two eyes and mouth of a face (or multiple faces in groups) and adjusts (if you wish) all the details and settings for perfection. It literally knows when you’re taking a photo with people as the central subject! Much more than a gimmick, I tried it on full zoom in very low light, on a computer and TV screen, even on the dogs...Worked like a charm every time! And like all the other great scene modes and automatic features, you can turn it on/off as you wish.
If you don’t shoot in “Natural Light” mode (although this camera is a low-light expert), the Intelligent Flash is another feather in Fuji’s cap. It automatically senses the correct light needed for the shot (again, only if you want it to) and pops up the well-positioned flash to provide just the amount of light boost needed, with virtually no red eye and no washed out foreground, dark background. Other cameras have had this flash fill feature, but none do it as well as I’ve seen in this model. Not sure whether to take the same shot in Natural or Flash mode? Choose the feature that lets you automatically take double shots of every shot with one click, letting you choose the best result without extra effort.
Then there’s the very good burst mode, well-designed menus, and many (but not too many) handy instant access buttons. Add the slick zoomable movie mode (sans zoom motor noise) that many expensive cameras can’t touch and some folks just have to have. And let’s not forget ease of use for those “chubby” fingers. This Fuji is a great all-around, feature-laden camera. I highly recommend it in my humble opinion. And the price continues to drop, now available below $400. It’s new enough that many stores still haven’t gotten it yet, so you’ll definitely be on the cutting edge. Say, “Cheese!”