Rugged and Tough
When you're chasing the wildlife you need a tough camera. I've been a Fuji fan since early in the digital age. But when I found my camera functioning perfectly after watching it bounce down a thirty foot bank and land on a pile of gravel, I was astounded, relieved and a very loyal customer.
Since then, that camera has swung on my arm like a ladies handbag. It goes everywhere I do and I don't worry about it taking a knock or two.
That camera is the 7mg., 10XOptical Zoom version of the camera that Fuji is offering in 2010 with 12 mgs and 18X Optical Zoom. It's not on the level of National Geographic photography. But I think most people would be very impressed with the quality of the pictures that can be taken with this camera.
I recently wrote some advice on locating and photographing owls in daylight. Intending to recommend a camera with a good level of zoom, I checked on the current prices and specifications and was somewhat amazed to discover that Fuji had progressed to the 18X Zoom level and at the same time had reduced their price by around a hundred bucks! I bought my 10X Zoom for $250 and change two years ago. Now in 2010 the 18X Zoom is being offered new and warranted at just over $150.
I almost think that Fuji may have shot themselves in the foot with this price. It's nudging into the "too good to be true" category. I hope they have enough loyal enthusiasts, who, like me, will not hesitate to put this less expensive upgrade on their must buy list.
Lots of Zoom
Zoom is essential in photographing birds and other wildlife that doesn't like you getting too close. But zoom isn't only about getting close to the birds at the top of the tree. You can use it to peer into the deep shadows where owls and many other birds like to hide. If you zoom into the shadowed areas until the whole frame is dark and then focus, the light sensor will adjust and you will be able to see the shadowed area clearly through the viewfinder and take the shot if needed.
Many people don't realize that you can also use the zoom to enhance the already remarkable super-macro mode. You can put the lens an inch away from an insect or flower and use the zoom to produce extraordinary close ups. In the super-macro mode the lens will focus to give you virtually microscopic detail. It's a fantastic way to bring nature to life for youngsters and there is always a subject at hand in the micro world.
As I said, this $150 camera should not really be expected to match all the features of one in the thousands range. (It does have some cost saving factors like the manual lens cap and the use of generic AA batteries instead of its own unique battery with a specialized charger. (Both additional assets in my book).
I have seen criticism that the camera burns batteries. That has not been my experience. I get a good while out of a freshly charged set of rechargable 2500mah ni-mh batteries.
Standard alkaline batteries are not powerful enough for any digital camera and will quickly die especially if you keep the screen blazing. Turn off the screen and use the electronic optical viewfinder to set up your shots and focus. It's a lot better for seeing the detail you need in wildlife photography anyway.
As a camera to initiate a family interest in photography and wildlife, it's perfect. It works well and at this price your children can take it into the bush leaving you with just your heart in your mouth, not the rest of your entrails too!
All the pictures in this article were taken by myself using my Finipix S700 10X optical zoom camera from Fuji.
Can't wait for my 18 X Zoom.