While looking for an entry level (read: cheap) camera to take better pictures than my phone, I came across a category of cameras call bridge cameras. They fill the niche between DSLR and regular point-and-shoot camera. They have a fixed but long zoom lenses, usually with super wide-angle focal length. These bridge cameras price range from just as cheap as a point-and-shoot camera to as expensive as a mid-range DSLR.
One model of bridge camera that caught my eyes was the Fujifilm FinePix S4600 that I found on Lazada. At only RM500, it is a really affordable camera with features that are comparable to DSLR camera. Without much thought, I placed my order on the S4600 and within days got my hand on my first bridge camera. The camera comes with a strap, lense cap and 4 pieces of AA batteries. Yes you heard that right, AA batteries instead of rechargeable li-on batteries normally found on most modern digital cameras. On one hand AA batteries are easy to find and rechargeable AA batteries comes with a variety of capacity and can last quite long. However, having 4 AA batteries in your camera does add some to its weight. Personally, I’d prefer the regular rechargeable li-ion batteries but this model doesn't have that.
Specification-wise, the S4600 features 16 megapixels and 28x zoom lens. Its range of aperture is from F3.1 to F20 and shutter speed from 1/4 to 1/2000 sec. The LCD monitor is 3" TFT and among the storage media supported are SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards, the usual stuff. After using the camera for a while, I learned to accept that F3.1 is not enough to achieve that pretty depth of field effect let alone bokeh. Well not so easily with every shot that is. You can get the depth of field effect if the distance of the object is right and the exposure and lighting is bright enough. But that almost always require a tripod and some rigorous and time-consuming setup .
What I like best about the S4600 is the 28x optical zoom. It comes really handy when shooting far away objects like animals or people. It also provides you the ability to get a rudimentary depth of field effect if the object is perfectly located between the camera and the horizon. The wide lens also comes pretty handy in capturing landscape pictures and macro photography works perfectly. The camera is also able adjust the shutter speed so I can take that dreamy waterfall effect.
|photo with zoom in|
What I dislike about the S4600 which you will discovery pretty quickly is shooting in low lights. While the camera takes decent pictures in broad daylight, shooting at night or in low lights produces noticeably grainy pictures with lots of noise. I mean you would get better pictures in low lights with a decent smartphone. This is really a deal breaker really because I want to be able to take good pictures all day, no matter where I am. And I sure am not going to use the flash for my pictures.
|noticeable grain and noise|
|low-light capture with very visible noise|
Overall I am somewhat satisfied with my first bridge type camera. It has some pretty decent specs but the lens and cmos sensor are rather below par. Well you can’t expect top notch DSLR quality from a sub 500 ringgit camera. You get what you pay. For my next camera I’ll definitely be getting one with interchangeable lens and better aperture. I guess there should be a good bridge type camera out there but they would cost as much as a full-featured DSLR camera. If you wanna get a bridge camera, get a good one with fast lens and good sensor so that you could take good pictures in low light. Or you can get a good mirror-less camera right away which are lightweight, comes with interchangeable lens and doesn’t cost too much. Whatever it is. just don’t buy any of those cheap entry level bridge cameras (like the S4600). Is it any wonder that I sold the camera after 3 months.