The Fuji FinePix SL1000 was one of the more difficult cameras this year to rate. In many ways it's a tale of two cameras.
On one hand it offers a lot of advanced features and sophisticated options for ambitious beginner photographers who want to get out of their comfort zones, or advanced enthusiasts who need a backup or quality alternative to their DSLR for those times when a DSLR isn't practical.
On the other hand, the Fuji SL1000 presents a number of small niggles often found on inferior cameras that are sure to annoy these people.
Take, for instance, the on/off slider as a starting point. This, such a small, non-important feature in a camera that we all take for granted, was one of our biggest pet peeves in the Fuji SL1000. Too often we had to slide it two or three times to get the camera to power on or off - which isn't very conducive to capturing fleeting moments.
The hyper-sensitive eye sensor next to the viewfinder was another annoyance. Befuddled by how to hold the camera without switching off the LCD, we finally opted just to switch off the viewfinder entirely, which is a shame, because the EVF is rather good.
That said, for the things those photographers above will be buying this camera for, it works very well. Image quality is excellent, the focal range is astounding, and the lens performs admirably. Raw capture is a definite plus.
There's a lot to like here. You just have to see its potential sometimes and work with it.
The 50x zoom, are you kidding? We loved the zoom and the lens's fast aperture. Actually, we loved the zoom and the lens's fast aperture, and raw capture. No wait, we loved the zoom and the lens's fast aperture, raw capture and the viewfinder. The AF is fast, image quality is great - all your core needs are met.
The on/off slider is temperamental and the EVF's eye sensor is too sensitive, jumping between LCD and EVF view both when the tiltable LCD is fully extended and when the camera is brought within 4 inches of your eye. Processing times were a little slow shooting JPEG + raw, too.
Detail is the sword by which this camera lives and dies. On paper the Fuji SL1000 is brilliant - so much so you might even question why you'd need an DSLR, if you're considering this as a backup. Both still image and video quality are fantastic. The 50x zoom is supreme. And the ability to shoot in raw format gives you more control over your images. This is a camera with a lot of manual controls that a beginner can grow with as you gain confidence.
But it feels like while Fuji poured so much money and energy into getting the camera's advanced features up to speed, it overlooked some of the elements that make a good user experience.