My Fuji Finepix S5600

My digital camera conked off. The cover that holds the battery fell off, and I can’t use it any more.

I went back to my buying principles, and prepared an Excel sheet to choose my next camera. Here’s what I was looking for:

  • Low-light photography. Flashes are lousy. This effectively means I need ISO control.
  • Shutter speed control. I sometimes take really long exposure (3-10s) snaps, and sometimes can’t afford the blur (1/250s).
  • Long battery life. My current camera consumed batteries like crazy.
  • Fast start-up. By the time I got my earlier camera out and it started, it was too late.
  • RAW mode. Gives me more control in Photoshop.

I didn’t care about:

  • megapixels. 2 megapixels (1600×1200) is more than enough, even for my printouts. Takes too much space besides.
  • zoom. I need wide-angle more than zoom, really.
  • removeable lens. I’m not going to carry around multiple lenses.

After scouting around on Amazon for many months, I found the Fuji Finepix S5600. Not an SLR, but had all the features that I wanted, and at a pretty reasonable price.

Fuji Finepix S5600

Here’s a shot I took from my drawing room. This is a 3-second exposure on ISO 100 at F 3.2. The streaks on the road are car headlights.

2006-11-28 01 Newbury Park

As a bonus, it had a pretty good (10X) zoom too. See the brightly lit buildings towards the top-left? That’s Canary Wharf. Below is a blow-up of those buildings from the same spot I took the above photo from.

2006-11-29 01 Canary Wharf

  1. siddharth says:

    hi, This is siddharth from india i have a finepix S5600 i would like to know what are the goodes u get

  2. Anand Srinivasan says:

    I recently bought a camera too in the DSLR category without as much analysis as you have done. That is attributable to my reliance on informed reviews at sites such as CNET and DP Review. I did pay for features that i don’t care about or do not know how to use or what they mean. With a view to learning photography i bought it. i have been using a digital camera for five years mostly using the preset modes which have served me well. I want to be able to take pictures in a natural setting. One setting in which i repeatedly fail is low light. The blur gets the better of me. I don’t want a tripod. How do you manage to be steady for about 10 seconds ? I am curious whether you have a preference for a brand. Having used a Fuji earlier did you have a bias ? I like Canon and Sony not because i can articulate their strengths over those of other brands. Any suggestions on where i could get material on digital photography for basic concepts like metering,ISO speed,aperture and so on ?

  3. S Anand says:

    Anand, I’d suggest Wikipedia. They have pretty good articles on each of these. The articles tend to get a bit technical after a while, but I think it’s worth going in to that depth — especially if you have a DSLR!

  4. S Anand says:

    PS: I did have a Fuji earlier, but I don’t have a bias there. If anything, I’d prefer a Canon — their lenses are supposed to be good. I keep picking Fuji simply because it’s the cheapest that meets all my criteria.

  5. Dhar says:

    I too have a FinePix S5600 and am very happy with it.

    Anand, you are gonna have a small problem if you try using RAF files (RAW mode files from FinePix) in Photoshop. Fuji’s format is proprietary and not supported by Photoshop. Instead try Adobe Lightroom or S7Raw. Both applications support RAF format.

    To answer Srinivasan’s question, it is impossible to hold the camera steady for a shutter speed more than 1/15th of a second. Ideally use a tripod or place it on some table with timer mechanism. Another thing you can do is increase the ISO (but that comes with a noise overhead)

    To deal with noise, try Neat Image or Noise Ninja.

  6. Dhar says:

    NeatImage in Action:
    Noisy Image Neat Image

  7. S Anand says:

    Thanks for the Neat Image tip! Regarding RAF, I managed to download the Adobe DNG converter which converts RAF to DNG that Photoshop reads. Worked OK, so I heaved a sigh of relief!

  8. Swapnaa says:

    Dhar – The noisy/neat images were awesome. I always thought one could never get “lost” data from blur, but maybe the data wasn’t lost afterall! Bal – Did your camera come with a power charger? Thats pretty much the best way to battle short battery lives. Nice pictures, BTW! 🙂

  9. S Anand says:

    No power charger I’m afraid 🙁 But rechargeable batteries are next on my purchase list.

  10. Dhar says:

    Oh, cool. Did not know about the DNG converter. Will check that out. Anand, if you have a decently powerful machine at home, do check out Adobe’s Lightroom. It is currently in Beta and available as a free download. Excellent workflow application for dealing with Raw images.

  11. Dhar says:

    Swapnaa / Anand, I have been using NiMH rechargeable batteries (Sony with power rating of 2300 mAh and Sanyo with power rating of 2100 mAh) and am pretty happy with them.

    If you want to get maximum bang for your battery life, avoid using the LCD screen as it drains power. Further in your Fuji FinePix settings ensure that it remembers last zoom position. Every time you switch it on and use the zoom motor, means you consume addition energy.

  12. Dhar says:

    DNG converter is not working for me. It tells me that the images are in a format that it is not supported. Looks like I am doing something wrong.

  13. S Anand says:

    I had the same problem initially. I have Photoshop CS, not CS2. I had to download the DNG converter for CS2 (latest version) but use the plugin from version 2.x — whatever the latest version for CS was.

  14. Dhar says:

    Three interesting links and writeups:
    Grey Cards
    Photographic Triangle
    Cheers, D.

  15. Dhar says:

    Another neat application: Cheers, D.

  16. Anant says:

    I was presented with a S5600 which I think conked off. The Cam is not turning on even with a power adapter & freshly charged NiMH batts. Can you suggest a remedy, please.

  17. S Anand says:

    Weirdly, mine conked off a few months ago as well. Looks like the same problem. I’ve just junked it and bought a Canon. Maybe it’s a problem with the model?

  18. Lecinza says:

    I have the same camera.

    It serves me just as well as a true professional camera.
    And I only brought it for NZ$400.00.

  19. Ricardo Verdi says:

    I have Fuji s5600 too, bought December 2006 for £120 (about). Has been excellent, but occasionally won’t switch on. Now more often won’t switch on, or switches on & then goes off. I hope there’s a simple solution. A professional repair would probably cost more than it’s worth.