If this superb Fuji camera, sporting a 10x optical zoom complemented by anti-shake technology, was a fraction cheaper, it would have dropped into the budget price category. That might give the impression that the FinePix S5600 is a limited camera – but if you thought that, you'd be wrong.
This is the cheapest big-zoom model on the market, and it's packed to the rafters with impressive features. While you can get more megapixels for your money, when it comes to balanced specifications, you don't get much better value for money than this.
Fuji has managed to cut costs in a couple of places; there's no lithium battery, recharger or adapter in the bundle, for example. But at least Fuji has put in four AA alkalines rather than a paltry two – and you can stock up on replacements anywhere.
The rest of the feature set is excellent. The 5.1Mp CCD has a maximum resolution of 2,592x1,944 and images are stored on the supplied 16MB xD card. The lens itself is fixed, making the S5600 somewhat bulky, but it still feels nicely balanced in the hand. We had no problem getting a steady grip to eliminate camera shake.
The movie mode and 1.8in LCD are of a high quality, and it's easier to set up shots this way than with the electronic viewfinder. The jogdial that sits on the top right allows you to switch from full auto to preset shooting and aperture or shutter priority. The menu also gives you a wide array of shooting options if you want to dip in.
We found the FinePix S5600 Zoom extremely pleasurable to use. Startup and shot-to-shot time – even on high res – are very speedy, which is handy for capturing those action shots. Image detail lacks a bit of bite, but colours are vibrant without being overbearing and the anti-blur technology does the trick while focusing is pin-sharp.