The fuji zoom date 2.8 or Silvi or whatever you want to call it, has always seemed a bit of an enigma to me. They tend to go for close to £100, sometimes more, but really are just quite cheap feeling plastic zoom lenses compact cameras! A fact that is all the more apparent when you start using one!
Of course it does have the 2.8 at-the-wide-end lens, and that lens is a 24-50mm! And even at the long end it’s only 5.6, which is very respectable for a zoom! These are just specifications though, previous experience of cameras like this tells me that just because it can use that wide aperture, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will… And that unfortunately seems the case with this camera! I have made a little video to demonstrate my point.
As you can see, it is clearly using a slower shutter speed in favour of opening up the aperture to get the exposure right.
On a camera with such a highly specified lens, I would have expected it to be programmed to make use of the specifications. I should point out, that there are a lot of cameras that have similar programming, the Ricoh GR1 is an obvious example, but with the GR1 you can override it’s decision and select your own aperture. The fuji doesn’t have this option! It seems, as I have mentioned elsewhere, that this tendency to use smaller apertures is a choice commonly made by compact cameras of this era. It helps to ensure adequate depth of field in a bid overcome potential focusing errors. The cynic in me says that maybe it is easier to tell a customer “your aren’t holding it steady enough” or “you needed to use the flash in that level of light” rather than to try an explain why the camera missed it’s focus point.
Usually I can forgive a camera of this, as usually it would seem as though the decision has been made for the benefit of the photographer. But in this instance the camera is claiming something special, it’s claiming a 2.8 lens, in fact, it goes as far as to mention the spec in its name! It all just jars a little with me, it feels a bit of a deception … And it’s a deception that is arguably keeping the second hand value of this camera unreasonably high!
Little rant over…
So now I have pretty much debunked one of the cameras main selling points that just leaves us with the wide lens. It is hard to argue that a 24-50 lens is pretty useful! The large majority of my photography as a hobbyist is shot within that range… And actually, when I does choose an appropriately fast shutter speed the results are more than adequate! The wide and vignettes, but that’s fine, no one really minds a little bit of a vignette on a wide angle lens… do they?
The camera is also small, really small in fact and very easy to pocket. If you have ever held an Oly XA (without the flash), it’s about that sort of size. It’s also pretty nice to hold, your fingers sit nicely out of the way of the lens and you thumb and finger rest on the shutter and zoom buttons. The shutter buttons (both of them, one left, one right) both have a nice feel to them with a good solid half and full press. The zoom button is a little more spongy than I would have liked! (But then I don’t really like any type of zoom button).
Features wise, it’s also quite interesting! The mode button turns the garish green lit screen on the back to garish orange. There are the usual compliment of flash modes, a self timer, infinity focus lock and date modes! There are also a pair of other modes triggered by their own buttons. The first is a self shot button on the top which lights a pretty red light on the front of the camera … And not much else as far as I can tell! The second “quick shot” is a little like snap mode on a GR1, it lock the focus at a distance that should give hyper-focal focus. It only works at 24mm, but (and this is the good bit) it takes away almost all shutter lag!
The viewfinder is fine for its size, it gives you no information and blacks out fairly easily, but it does the job.
As you can probably tell, I have mixed feelings toward this camera! With it’s self shot mode it feels like it’s geared up for the happy snapper. And as long as you don’t turn the flash off in lower light I can see it working very well for that purpose. The wide angle and self-shot mode should make for fun selfies with drunken mates etc. and it’s nice and small so unobtrusive on a night out! But as a serious camera for day to day shooting, I’m not convinced… And I can’t quite get past the fact that I feel conned by the f/2.8 spec a little! But the biggest issue with this camera is the cost, I wouldn’t pay the £50 I paid for it knowing what I know now, And I certainly wouldn’t pay the £100 they sometimes god for! If you want a snappy snapper and you see one going for cheap, go for it! But my advice, don’t shell out too much, it’s not that good!
If you want a 24mm lens, the Ricoh R1 is an option, there is also the Pentax espio 24ew which goes for around £5 on eBay if you can find one!
Here are some photos
More here on flickr
This camera was also my first weeks roll for the 52 rolls project
Thanks for reading
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9 thoughts on “Fuji Zoom Date 2.8 “Silvi” Review- I think it might be a party animal!”
Pingback: Week 1 – Fuji Silvi & XP2 | 52 rolls
I picked up one of these last year and put a roll through to test it. I really like shooting with the thing and although it’s plastic, it feels really well put together despite being thinner and lighter than an Olympus XA. Deactivating the flash is a bit of a pain (requiring four button presses rather than two on the Mju II), but the Quick Shot and Landscape modes are actually quite useful, and I can see how the remote control would be, too.
I was in two minds about the zoom range of the lens. While I was shooting, I felt it was too mild a zoom to be that useful as the tourist walk-and-shoot camera it seemed like it was trying to be. But on reflection, having 24mm for proper wide angle shots and a 50mm for headshots and close group shots would actually make it a very versatile everyday camera.
In terms of image quality, I was quite impressed by how sharp the Silvi was at the wide end but less enamoured of the long end. It’s reasonably sharp in good light, but rather soft in gloomy conditions. There’s not a lot of good light to be found in Leeds in November, so my test shots rather highlight this.
On balance, I wonder whether this camera might actually work very well when paired with a fast B&W film like HP5. That would probably be enough to keep the 50mm stopped down far enough to remain sharp and I found the flash was rather nice for a camera from this era, too, so I think it would make a good ‘party shooter’ like you’ve suggested. Even without all that, you’ve got a very capable 24mm compact (of which there are not a great many) that might work quite nicely for street shooting if you’re prepared to get a bit closer to your subjects.
I’m actually selling mine at the moment. I have far too many compacts as it is and I want to focus on my favourites more. It’s a minter, still boxed with all the wrapping. I don’t know if it’s against site rules to plug the eBay link but if anyone is interested let me know!
Link away Ken! 🙂
Thanks! Well here it is, the auction runs until Sunday and there’s been a flurry of interest already:
hello Hamish, I found the aperture would be chosen as F2.8 as possible as it could when the quick shot mode was used. Shutter speed was around 1/15 sec. when I pointed the camera to the dark
I have switched to digital (only) five years ago, but this is one of two film cameras I still use. It’s a great little companion on holidays to keep shooting slide film besides digital (no vacation without slides!).
What is the flash like in very low lighting?
It’s a passive af camera – so it’s not great in very low light.
I can’t remember how good or bd the flash is?
I never used it in full dark, but I have a couple of indoor shots with flash on. It seems pretty good – just a touch brighter than I’d like, but pretty well measured for a compact.