[Review part two] FujiFilm FinePix S2980 – it’s a bridge, Jim, but not as we know it

An untouched panorama, taken in automatic mode, of Cardiff Bay. This shows the image quality and contrast in typical sunlight. I forget if I had the camera colour mode set to Chrome (which boosts the colours) but this is as it was taken.

Having had some better weather and time to try out more of the cameras features more extensively the time has come to update my experiences with the low price S2980 bridge camera and I have to say my impression has only grown more favourable. If you just want to know about the basics please check out my first impressions review as this article is more of an update rather than being a completely self contained review.

Panorama mode is even better than I first thought. In my review I found it was excellent for beginners but that it lacked the ability to zoom in. Having braved manual mode I can now confirm that if you switch from automatic panorama mode (the default) to manual the camera can be zoomed in prior to taking the first of the three panorama shots which allows for some nice zoomed in panoramic shots.

A night time test shot, one of my first night time ones but thanks to the camera it still came out pretty well.

In manual panorama mode you are shown the right hand edge of the picture you just took so that you can line the next shot up accurately. Despite being less automated the resulting views are just as impressively combined as in automatic mode and I have noticed at least once that a shot I had slightly misaligned miraculously lined up flawlessly, leading me to the conclusion that Fuji are using some clever logic to compensate for such eventualities (which of course is a good thing).

Despite it’s entry point price the cameras night time performance is surprisingly impressive. Having messed with the manual settings for aperture and shutter speed I found that it could take very low light (think midnight with a single street light some distance away) and still easily pick out details and colours but it has been the cameras automated modes that have impressed me the most.

The best night time mode, if you have a tripod or something to stop the camera moving, is undoubtedly the “night time (tripod)” mode. It automatically figures out the best settings based on available light and focus distance and, as long as that camera is not moved at all, you are guaranteed to get good clear night time shots. If the camera moves at all you will get a ruined shot but if you have a tripod, or somewhere flat you can stand your camera on for the duration of the shot (trust me, you will not manage good pictures in low light if you choose this particular mode and allow the camera to move even briefly while taking a shot).

Shot of Cardiff Castle, I have used the GIMP editing software to sharpen the image very slightly and adjusted the colour saturation.

This mode is best for night time photographs, in the examples you can see here this is the mode that was used. There were some annoying amber street lights not to far away when taking them but even so the night shots (taken at between 15 to 18 times optical zoom) came out quite well and in some cases picked out detail I was unable to notice at the time but if you have no tripod the alternative night time mode is good (though in that mode you will find noise on your images as the shutter speed is much quicker so that movement will not cause the blurring it would if in tripod mode).

All the automated modes produce very impressive results and I’m pleased to say that contrast is good and sharp, the colours are good and the preset modes are so good that you can choose to skip manual settings entirely and focus on the more important aspects of your photographs such as the content and framing, freeing you to concentrate on the aesthetics of a shot rather than the cameras mechanics.

A boat called the White Knight seen in Cardiff Bay. The image has been filtered in the GIMP editing software but the picture quality itself is untouched.

Is the Fuji a good camera? Yes, absolutely. For the price it is a definite bargain, it’s a great easy to use camera that lets you concentrate on taking the pictures without needing to know the ins and outs of manual settings, but lets you brave more advanced features should you feel ready.

It doesn’t support changing lenses but to be fair this isn’t a bad thing, if you’re on a budget you probably can’t afford to spend a lot on advanced lenses and filters or you likely wouldn’t be buying a bridge camera but rather a full blown dslr. This is the camera to consider if you are on a budget and want something easy to use but that will allow you to try out more advanced features as you get used to it.

Battery life on a set of 2300mah Energizer NiMH rechargeables is pretty good, around three or four days of shooting at about an hour a day. On Alkalines battery life is not so good, about half the duration of nimh batteries so if you’re going to be taking a lot of pictures check out the Energizer rechargeable nimh batteries which you can buy in supermarkets such as Asda for around ten pound (for a pack of four AA’s) as they come pre charged and don’t run down very quickly unlike the Duracell Alkalines I used before.

Lack of reviews and sample images may put people off buying this camera but hopefully these reviews will help some decide for or against, and you can also see other peoples photo’s taken with an S2980 in the S2980 area of the myfinepix website by clicking here.

Basically, in a nutshell, it’s an impressive bridge camera for the price and sports some features you might not expect while still managing not to feel like a budget camera.

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46 thoughts on “[Review part two] FujiFilm FinePix S2980 – it’s a bridge, Jim, but not as we know it

  1. Nuno Lima says:

    Great review 🙂 I just bought this camera 😀
    You should make a guide covering the essentials of photo adjustments in editing softwares 🙂


    • Yan Piazon says:

      Hi Nuno Lima, I just want to buy one, and I want to know whether you had encountered problems with the S2980 sa far? Do you recommend me?

  2. Scigirl says:

    What about action shots? How well does this do with children or animals? (Things that never stay still)

    • I’ve only tried with birds in flight, doesn’t do bad in burst mode but most of my pictures are boats and wildlife so can’t give a definitive answer on that. It does have an auto tracking feature specifically for things that move but I have not used that aspect, burst mode was quick enough to capture some good images of birds in flight.

      I captured this image of a fast moving powerboat which you can see by clicking here(it was going flat out as you can see by the position of the hull in the water) and this one here of a boat where it captured a bird that flew into frame as picture was taken and hopefully these can give you an idea of how it captures moving objects.

  3. TR says:

    How is the shutter speed on the camera please? I had a Fuji camera about 7 years ago, and while I was pleased with every thing else, it used to take a bit longer than with other cameras. Hence, I would end up missing the moment, so to speak! I am hoping that has been corrected now.

    • The official shutter speed figures are as follows…

      (Auto mode) 1/4 sec. to 1/2000 sec. , (All other modes) 8 sec. to 1/2000 sec. with mechanical shutter

      • PJ says:

        I’m wondering if the above question related to shutter lag rather than shutter speeds.

      • Good point, it’s been fine for me and I haven’t encountered a noticeable delay but if you keep default settings on you will have to wait a few seconds between shots (except in continuous mode) as it displays the image you just took. But no problems in every day use.

  4. PJ says:

    One more comment/question: Would this be a good camera to learn on for kids/teens?

    • It should be as it has a great set of automatic modes (especially SR mode) but also allows you to mess with some manual settings as you get more skilled so would be a nice easy point and shoot camera for kids with the added bonus of allowing them to experiment with more control should they want to when they are used to it.

      • PJ says:

        Thanks for the reply. Reason I asked about it for kids is because I’m helping out on a nonprofit project to teach photography to youngsters at a Cambodian orphanage and we’re looking at various camera options (including trying to get 25-30 cameras donated).

      • Hope you get the cameras you’re looking for, the S2980 should be perfect for anyone wanting to learn photography as it does offer some manual adjustments (not focus though) and you can easily reset the manual modes if the settings tried don’t produce decent images (for example if trying out night shots and images come out too grainy).

  5. Gill says:

    I have been thinking of buying this camera. Reading the above has now helped me make the desion to buy one. Thanks

  6. Louise says:

    Very helpful, thanks. Just bought this camera and your experiences make me optimistic that I will get some good pictures out of it!

    • You can definitely get good pictures out of it, but with a little photo editing you can make them even better. I’ve recently been experimenting with macro shots (such as the fly on a flower picture in my flickr feed) and have been surprised how good it can be for close up shots as well as normal distance photographs.

  7. Becky says:

    Hello! I’ve really enjoyed all the photos you’ve posted on your O3D photostream. I’m awaiting delivery of the Finepix s2980, and I noticed that the Exif info on most of your photos lists the GIMP 2.6.11 software. I know the S2980 comes with the Fuji Software, and I’m wondering to what extend your images were edited using GIMP, or if this camera really is capable of this quality with the Fuji software. Any info would be greatly appreciated. I’m really looking forward to receiving my camera. Thank you!

    • The Fuji software is very basic and allows only simple photo editing, I’m used to using the Gimp to work on 3D pictures and so I prefer using this as it has a lot of useful features whereas the Fuji software does not. Flickr’s editing software is pretty good though, and it is more advanced than the software Fuji include with the S2980.

      I find the cameras images to be generally a little dull, by that I mean I prefer to slightly sharpen them usually and sometimes increase saturation but I have put some untouched examples in my review for demonstration purposes. Having said that I do not use the Fuji’s chrome mode which brightens the colours, because I prefer to do that manually if needed, so that would make a difference in those modes that support it.

  8. Laura says:

    Would you suggest this camera for a first time buyer of the ‘professional cameras’ ? I’ve only ever had regular digital camera’s but I’m very interested in buying a dslr. I just want something that’s easy to use, takes nice pictures & at an affordable price.

    • If you can afford a more expensive camera then that will always be a better option, it is a very easy to use camera and with a little tweaking of settings or post processing can produce some very good photographs but it won’t compete with a dslr and for a hundred pound more you can get similar cameras that also allow lens changing for example which would be closer to using a full blown dslr than this.

      It is a good bridge camera but not up there with professional digital slr models.

  9. SID says:

    Its a good bridge camera and is quite an amazing value for money proposition considering the features it offers. However, the picture quality is not anywhere close to even an entry level SLR or some high end bridges (which could cost similar to or slightly more than an entry level SLR). However considering the price factor it is the cheapest camera to offer manual controls and view finder.

    • An SLR should of course be better, they are a lot more expensive, but I agree that for the price the Fuji is very good. I find that with a few minutes in editing software though you can improve picture should it need it. I think it is the best for the price, and I really enjoy using it. Sometimes the photographer makes the difference whether with a budget camera or more expensive model, take the image at http://www.letsgodigital.org/images/producten/2164/testrapport/pentax-k7-test-photo.jpg which although shot with a Pentax K7 (which can produce superior images to the S2980) doesn’t really look like it was taken on a better more expensive camera.

      I think you’re right though I do think the camera can take very good images, it is at least a great way to affordably get into photography 🙂

      • Eloisa Yvonne Oruga says:

        how about it’s battery life? i mean…. i’m having a hard time understanding what kind of battery it has. kindly help me. thank you.

      • Battery life is good, it takes four AA size batteries and with 2300 rechargeable mAh NimH batteries you can easily take 250 + photos without needing recharging.

  10. Vishnu says:

    hi..Cam u point out any cons of this camera?is there any complaint u have come across with lens or anything

    • The shutter delay is noticeable if you want to take lots of quick shots one after another, it will capture speeding objects well but I think the burst mode is something like one shot every couple of seconds which is fine for most uses but it may be annoying to some. And on full zoom I sometimes notice a small black blur in the top right corner of the shot but that is unique to my camera as have seen other peoples work with same model and they don’t have that problem.

      That’s really the only bad points I can comment on, I use it a lot and it’s a very good camera but I can’t say it is perfect. But as regards problems the only one that bugs me as such is the slight blur in the right hand corner at full zoom and usually I crop fully zoomed images anyway.

  11. Vishnu says:

    so it is worth every penny….thank you..i am gonna buy it….

  12. Vishnu says:

    Sir, I have one more doubt..is there any specification for batteries is Fuji 2900mah baterries…are compatible

    • As far as I know there is no limit to the battery capacity, the higher the better however you don’t want to use low capacity under 2000 MaH batteries as higher rated batteries last much longer and ideally you would be best using 2300 MaH batteries (or higher) if possible.

      You can use lower ones perfectly safely but they will run out sooner.

  13. Vishnu says:

    Sir one more thing what in your opinion mkaes S2950 different from S2980 thank u

    • The S2950 is almost identical but the autofocus time in the S2980 is better, the S2980 is a refinement of the S2950 made to tweak it a little and so if you have a choice between the two the S2980 is better but there is no major difference between the two.

  14. […] reviews: Buy-N-Shoot – Gold Award. There is also a two part review at Big Fat Universe, with Part II here, where they […]

  15. Phil says:

    I have upgraded from a Kodak ZD710 10x zoom which is basically a point and shoot and has some good manual setting like Apt ,ISO And shutter speed. I bought the S2980 after reading some reviews and a little research it Cost £99 as where as my Kodak Cost £149 a couple of years ago so far in auto mode with the Fuji i see a slight improvement over pictures in certain light conditions and upto now very happy with my purchase even though the 1st one was faulty and had to be sent back. what i want to know or if you can is what are the best settings for taking pitures of the moon and sunsets i just love taking pictures of strange things like that ;). with my Kodak after playing with shutter, ISO and Apture setting all trail and error i got some very good pitures but with the Fuji for some reason i can’t better the quality the reason why i wanted to upgrade was so i could get better pictures. I am no pro at photography but a little better than a novice. for my photo editing software i favor Photoshop only because i am used to using it and find it produces some good resizing croping and effects along with very good prints. also in settings Image Quality am i better using Fine or Normal setting as i can’t realy see that much of a difference between the two.

    • I find the sunset setting built into the camera is good for sunset scenes and for shots of the moon I find that playing with the iso level and aperture settings works well although if you mean just close up shots of the moon you won’t need to use anything but normal modes as when zoomed in on the moon it is usually very bright and won’t need manual changes to photograph in close up.

      • Phil says:

        I found with my Kodak i had to play with settings to get real good pictures of the moon, if i used the built in settings from the Koadak the moon would just look like a bright light bulb in the sky. Playing with the ISO and aperter setting on the Kodak gave me real clear, detailed pictures which i’m hoping to reproduce with my s2980, i gather what you are saying that the built in setting for night shot on the fuji would produce the same or simular pictures and then i could fine tweak it with manual settings. here is a picture i uploaded to my facebook account showing what i could get with my Kodak playing with settings http://i1006.photobucket.com/albums/af186/RealNoob/201784_1903967153348_6645965_o_zps3ab186f5.jpg so i’m hoping i can produce better pitcures than that. thanks for your speedy reply.

      • Nice pic, and yes you’re right that changing the settings will help. I took a photograph of the moon not long after I first got the camera, it’s at http://www.flickr.com/photos/71363363@N06/7133634957/in/photostream and shows the level of detail you can capture.

      • Phil says:

        Great pic of the moon but how did you change all these settings ?
        F-Stop: f/5.6, exposure time: 1/220 sec, ISO speed: ISO-200, Exposure bias: 0 step, Max aperture: 3.26, Metering mode: Pattern, Camera model: FinePix S2980, Brightness: 6.75, White balance: Auto.

        I find that i can’t change the F-stop that changes when i play with iso settings i have read the pdf manual and googled looking for ways to manually change F-stop but can’t find it any where can you give me details on how to change all my setting manually i tried M mode and F-stop changes when i change ISO settings.

      • The f-stop number is controlled by the aperture setting which you can change in P mode using the left and right controls on the silver “pad” on rear of the camera, or of course in A mode.

        If you use M mode you can alter both the shutter and aperture settings.

      • phil says:

        thank you that clears that up for me 🙂 sorry to be a pain but in photoshop i noticed my pictures was 151.27 cm x 113.45 cm 72 dpi ( pixels per inch ) insn’t 72 dpi a bit low to todays standards ? i have my image size L 4:3and Quality to normal am i better setting it to fine in quality or is the no difference ? thanks again

      • No, dpi has nothing to do with the photo quality only printer quality. There’s a better explanation at http://www.rideau-info.com/photos/mythdpi.html

      • phil says:

        i had a good read on the link you provided and that cleared up the DPI/PPI also did a test from one of my pictures from my Kodak which had a resolution 3072 x 2304 pixels and dpi of 480 versus my finepix picture which has a resolution of 4288 x 3216 and a dpi of 72. the way i test was looking for breakdown/pixelization when zooming into the picture which i believe is a good way for telling you how good the picture is and how much you can enlarge it before any breakdown occurs. my test backed up what the link says because even though my Kodak’s DPI was way higher than my finepx i was only able to zoom in to the factor of 3 before i started seeing the 1st signs of pixelization but on my finepix even though the DPI was only 72 i was able to zoom in to the factor of 6 which is double of that from the Kodak, which backs up 100% from what the link says as my Kodak was only a 7.1 megapixel camera and my finepix is a 14 megapixel camera. So the fact that i can zoom in double the amount on my finepix is 100% correct to what the link says as 2 x 7 we all know = 14, which after reading that link i was expecting to be able to zoom in twice as much as my Kodak was able of producing. its not that i disbeleived the link its a thing that i normaly do when i read or told something new i didn’t know i will put it to the test so i understand it even more than just reading. thank you for all your help i have found it has helped me heaps in my quest for better pictures 🙂

      • phil says:

        here are some pictures i taken 1 with night shot tripod and the rest with ISO 200


  16. phil says:

    here are some other pictures i taken to try out my S2980 in manual mode.
    There is a picture of the Moon here too taken with my Kodak and also some animals taken with the Kodak i just hope my S2980 can produce better quality than the Kodak


  17. Amanda says:

    I just bought this camera and recieved it today via mail carrier. It’s my 1st “bridge” camera. I have been trying to research and see what is the best settings to use for this type of camera. Could anyone help me I want to get the best qualitiy picture as possible

    • Phil says:

      I find to produce the best pictures you have to play around with the settings in manual mode. but the auto scene settings will produce some good pictures. read back on all the comments i made along with the links that mybigfatuniverse has posted that should help you out.

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