Butterfly Camera Extraordinaire: The Fuji S602Zoom
By David F. Henderson

When and Why we bought it: 2003 was going to be a banner year for travel for my wife and I. With a week in Hawaii and a 3 week safari in South Africa, we knew that this one year would have more than the usual number of once-in-a-lifetime moments in nature that we would want to capture. We had handled Fujis before, and we both liked the feel of them. The S602Zoom was the best available at the time.

How we feel about it now: With my wife opting for a smaller camera (i.e., Fuji’s S5000) in ’04, I inherited the S602Z de facto. Tucked in its Kata bag, it has literally been at my side on a near daily basis. I have slammed it down on concrete. I have dunked it underwater. It continues to take great lep pics without any additional lenses, flash units, or other paraphernalia. In this age of rapid obsolescence in the digital world, the S602Z has managed to hold its own, thanks to its super-CCD chip and triple-format design. After 2 years of shooting at 3 megs with a 286mb SmartMedia card, I upgraded to a super-fast (80x) CompactFlash card that now allows me to take multiple exposures at 6 megs!

How to take great butterfly shots with the S602Z:
Nectaring/puddling/basking shots: Click into auto mode. Get close*. Press the macro button. Aim, then zoom in. Press shutter. Enjoy.
On the wing shots: Click into Shutter-priority (S) mode. Pop flash. Press macro button. Aim, then zoom in. Press shutter. Enjoy.
Caterpillar/Chrysalis shots: Set on tripod. Click into auto mode. Get very close**. Press macro button twice for super-macro. Aim, then zoom in. Press shutter. Enjoy.
Gotta get this one identified but the dang bug just won’t sit still on the flower shots: Click into auto mode. Press and hold the multiple exposure button. On the screen, select the first option to the right of OFF. Release. Get close*. Press the macro button. Aim, then zoom in. Press shutter as long as desired. Enjoy. With the 80x card, the S602Z will fire off at least 6 6meg exposures before it needs to store, then it’s ready for more. Or, if you desire, while on the multi-exposure menu you may select the option on the far right and fire off up to 40 1meg shots!

On the S602Z, everything is ergonomically placed, and buttons can be found and pressed without looking!

What’s close?
    close (Macro range) ~ 10-80 cm (without flash)
    ~ 30-80 cm (with flash) ?
    very close (superMacro) ~ 1-20 cm (flash cannot be used)

What’s the down side? It’s a power hog. On a trip, a set of rechargeable AA’s lasts about a day and a half, sometimes less. (However, AA’s are available worldwide, which cannot be said about some of the proprietary batteries of the competition.) A flip screen would be nice for some situations.

Overall Rating: 5 stars