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★★★★★

“I bought this superb camera as an upgrade from my Sony...”

Written on: 15/04/2005 by andymillikin (12 reviews written)

Good Points
Good zoom, well-built feel, ease of mode and setting selection, battery life, very fast shutter speed, excellent choice for the amateur who wants to get more professional.

Bad Points
No review button, no image stabiliser, manual focus can be fiddly.

General Comments
I bought this superb camera as an upgrade from my Sony DSC P10 because I wanted more control of my camera's settings and a greater zoom. The S5500 was a bargain - I simply looked up the cheapest prices online and took them into the leading UK chain of camera shops. They obligingly matched the prices so I picked the S5500 up for £216 and a 512mb XD Card for £39.

So far so good.



The Pros:



I have just returned from holiday in NZ and have taken about 4,000 pictures with it. Some of them are fantastic. The S5500 has a myriad of features and the important ones are easy to access by buttons on the camera rather than lengthy menu navigation. Just note that the sophistication of this camera means you will have to put a bit of work in to get the full value of its features. That said, if you left it in AUTO all of its life you'd still be a happy camper.



The feel of the camera is suitably solid and the ergonomics are very good. You can make any selection you need whilst looking through the electronic viewfinder although you'll need to spend a bit of time teaching your fingers where to go (not a criticism, just a fact of life).



The shutter speed is excellent - you can shoot up to 40 shots at 1.6 frames per second or even faster if you set it to only record the last 3 photos taken. In this mode you just hold down the shutter button and click away until you get the shot you want then release. I got a once in a lifetime shot of a sperm whale diving using this mode. It also came in handy for friends' bungee jump!



The battery life is good - I have not done any timing but estimate that I was taking 700-800 photos with the camera being on for a fair while during the shooting process. I use 2300nmh rechargeable batteries though which are about as powerful as you can get. Haven't tried it with normal batteries.



The Cons:



No image stabiliser, although I have not had any blurred photos at maximum zoom even from a passenger window of a car and a very rolling boat!



You cannot review the last picture that you took without switching to review - a few seconds later the lens stows so you have to wait for it to fire up again to reshoot. This takes ~5 secs which is irksome. Some people have complained that the the flash does not pop-up automatically but I don't see this as a problem - the photographer decides if and when he needs flash (and the camera tells you too!)



The manual shooting mode gives you complete control but in manual focus there is no indcator as to where the lens is going and hence whether you getting closer to being in focus or further away which is a pain.



Overall:



Having said that, these are all minor cons in the grand scheme of things - this camera is dirt cheap for the quality and control it affords the serious amateur. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in taking control of their photography and upgrading from simple 3xoptical point and shoot cameras.

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