"Take time to learn all the features."4.5 starson by travisp11
Pros: Offers a ton of shooting options if you are willing to learn how to use them, good price, compact lens, 200 + shots on 4 alkaline batteries, nice "training camera" before stepping up to DSLR
Cons: "Auto" mode does not cover every shooting situation, not a true image stabilizer, indoor non flash lit shots can be disappointing, images can be "soft" at times
Summary: O.K., here is the deal. I haven't purchased a new digital camera in about 8 years and I have been doing quite a bit of reading on other models out there. I had thought about the S6000fd, then the S5600, just about every camera in the Nikon D series and the Canon Rebels and it seems like no matter where I looked, just about every digital camera has its flaws. This wasn't helping my decision making. Then I saw this camera on Amazon for a little over two hundred bucks. I like the long zoom, the variety of scene modes, the fact that I have full manual control (when I actually learn to use it) and the fact that you can use 4AA batteries which is nice if you need to get up and shooting again quickly without spending the money on an expensive camera-specific rechargeable battery.
I also saw this camera as a way to learn how to take full manual shots playing around with lens speed, aperture, ISO speed, etc, without throwing down $400 or more on a DSLR, which I may or may not like.
I know that many of the point and shoots out there also offer full manual control, too, but I wanted something somewhat with the feel and look of a DSLR.
I see myself as being in a position that lots of other people might also be in when they want something better. Do you throw down the cash on something that might be a bit overwhelming and expensive (i.e. DSLR) or do you go a step up from a basic point and shoot?
Out of the box, the camera takes decent indoor photos with the flash. Indoors, without a flash, without appropriate light, the camera images show some pretty noticeable noise. For portraits of people indoors however, auto mode with a flash is fine.
Outdoors, whether it is people, nature, buildings, houses, etc. is where this camera shines. Macro images look awesome! I am taking shots of plants and flowers, without a tripod, using the super macro mode that look like they came out of a nature magazine. O.k. so that might be over-doing it but they look pretty darn good considering my lack of shooting experience.
I like this camera because you can really learn to use the manual settings on it in yes, as cnet says, a somewhat clunky or slow way. But for a person just learning how to dabble with manual settings, would find themselves pretty comfortable. Yes, I have played around with several of the Nikon D series cameras and to an amateur such as myself, I find them a bit daunting and a bit much to heft around for simple family shots or the occasional landscape shot. Yeah, I know that the D40 and D50 are out there, and they are considerably smaller than the D70 and D80, but they are way out of my budget.
I don't mind the menus this camera has as I play around with each of the shooting modes and I guess that I would rather have a menu to read then a small button and symbol to decipher on the back of my camera for each setting on the camera I want to change, as you would see on a full-size DSLR
I see the S700 design as being an excellent model to train on before stepping up to the DSLR. Also, the price was pretty enticing although the S5600 and S6000fd will be dropping down to the price of the S700 as time goes on.
In terms of actual usage, if you are willing to learn to use the scene modes and pre-programmed modes, and not be afraid to venture away from the "auto" setting once in a while, this camera produces some pretty spectacular shots, not to mention the handiness of the zoom lens. I know that most DSLR's right out of the box will take great shots while using "auto" mode but the fact that the S700 offers full manual control, a pretty simple interface and a price around $300 to $400 less than a DSLR makes this camera an enticing option. I see this camera as one I can grow with as I learn to take better pictures as I eventually move on to a DSLR.