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.
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).
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.
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.