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Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd Digital Camera Review

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd Digital Camera Review - Matt Grayson takes a look at the Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd digital compact camera.

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Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd
Price : £139
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Fujifilm strengthen their FinePix range with an 8Mp compact boasting 5x optical zoom and infra-red transfer.

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Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd: Specification

  • Zoom: 5x optical (36-180mm)
  • Resolution: 8Mp
  • Sensor type: CCD
  • Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd Sensor size: 1/ 2.5
  • Aperture: f/3.8- 4.8
  • Viewfinder: No
  • Film mode: Yes
  • Screen size: 2.7in
  • Card format: xD, 54Mb internal memory
  • Battery model: Li-ion
  • Weight: 138g
  • Size: 92×55.7×19.8mm
  • Minimum focus distance: 9cm
  • Exposure modes: Program AE
  • File formats: JPEG
  • Connectivity: USB
  • Flash type: Built in
  • Image stabilisation: CCD-shift type
  • Sensitivity: ISO64-ISO1600
  • PictBridge: Yes

At £139 the Fuji offers a 5x optical zoom, 8Mp and an internal lens system to keep everything really compact.

The Panasonic DMC LZ8 is at £135 and offers the same zoom and resolution but is a bit bigger and has an external lens. It also takes AA batteries.

The Olympus Mju 840 at £137 also has the same zoom, resolution and, like the Panasonic, has an external lens system.

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd: Modes and features
When I first opened the box I thought it had to be the ugliest camera I think I'd seen in my time at ePHOTOzine. The modest black square front with a white rectangle as the lens cover did nothing for me in terms of design or fashion. A week later and I'm having second thoughts as small, trendy features begin to shine through. None more so than the highly attractive yet seemingly unnecessary illuminated Z on the front of the lens cover.

Powering on is a simple affair by snapping the cover diagonally across the camera face. This reveals the small round lens in the top cornerFujifilm FinePix Z100fd and slim flash sat next to it.

On top of the camera are two buttons which control face detection and the shutter release. The back houses the large 2.7in screen which is pushed over to the left of the camera with all controls sliding down the side.

The zoom is a small, horizontal rocker and can be operated using your thumb, but you'll probably feel more comfortable using your nail.

The navigation pad is a wheel that not only presses left, right, up and down but also rotates which is good for scrolling through the vast scene selection menu.

The pad also doubles up for use in other areas such as image stabilisation, macro, flash options and self timer. The icons in green will only work when in playback mode and when you're reviewing the images you've already taken.

Two final buttons sit discreetly at the bottom and they're for changing the screen display and will rotate through information on or off the screen and superimposing a rule of thirds grid.

The menu has been revamped and now has everything in one place. At least tapping the menu button takes you straight into the scene selection menu. Rotating through this will eventually bring you to the main and set up menus.

Selecting the main menu option will allow you to change the drive, resolution, ISO and FinePix colour. This final option is a function to add a Fuji film effect to your images and options usually consist of standard, sepia, black & white and chrome which gives an effect similar to slide film.

Sepia has been removed and when you're in auto mode, you'll see that chrome is also taken away. In manual mode, exposure compensation, white balance and manual ISO modes are available. One thing I noticed was that if I went into the wrong area such as set up instead of main menu, there's no way of going back one page. The back button returns you out of the menu and the menu/ok button takes you into the area you're hovered over.

Red-eye reduction is actually a removal tool which works in synchronisation with the face detection. This means that the program will only remove the red from the eye area identified by the face detection system.

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd An interesting feature is for when you're out and want to take a shot but unsure whether you want to use flash or not. The natural light plus flash mode will take two separate image with and without flash and allow you to compare.

The Z100fd has an auto shut off and this can't be reversed if you simply forget to switch it off. The camera has to be closed and reopened which is no mean feat, but more annoying than simply depressing the shutter release.

An interesting feature of the playback mode is the infra red communication tool and is similar to the bluetooth capabilities of some older Sony cameras and the WiFi feature of the more recent Nikon Coolpic S52c although that can transmit to units outside a direct line of sight.

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd: Build and handling
A metal body holds everything in place although the black front is plastic along with the white lens cover. The cover opens really easily sliding nicely from one corner to the other.

The buttons are all in a place where they're in easy reaching distance of a searching finger or thumb and the ergonomics have been arranged to suit the different way that a small compact with no viewfinder is held.

Looking under the camera, the battery bay also houses the xD memory card and the door to this is a slide open style which is quite flimsy if manipulated. I'm impressed to see a metal tripod bush though.

Moving back into the menus and I can see the concept behind the rearrangement. Fuji obviously wanted to get everything in one place and they've obviously managed it to a degree. The main concern is whether as a user you'll get used to it as there are some issues that need ironing out such as the aforementioned back step option not being available and if you go into the wrong place and come back out to go in again, the menu will start from the place you last made a selection, not from where you necessarily were. These are small and picky points, but worth a mention as they annoyed me throughout testing the camera.

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd: Performance
The shutter lag test provided a result of 0.08 seconds which is pretty standard for a compact. That was with pre-focus enabled. Without focusing first, the result was just under half a second.

The drive mode has three options to choose from. You can decide on continuous of what seems like three frames every ten seconds, which is ridiculous, top three or final three. These last two options will take the first or last three images from a continuous shooting burst. Luckily they do this much faster than the drive mode and can record the three images in around four seconds which is just over one frame per second (fps). So this begs the question: If the top three mode can achieve a speed of just under 2fps then why does the continuous mode run at around one frame every three seconds?

When I took the portrait test images, I took one in portrait mode which has warmed the skin up a bit too much for my liking and the shadows are a bit too strong considering it was a high contrast day.

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd
The landscape test.

Looking at the landscape image and fringing is still noticable on the white bars despite low contrast due to the gloomy day. The background is hazy which could be the weather but add that to the fact the foreground isn't sharp coupled with an aperture of f/3.8 and that's a landscape mode that isn't right.

While in London recently, I took the Fuji and tested the 5x zoom range on the camera and it brought out the face of the Clock Tower from the House of Parliament really well.

 

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd
The wide angle shot gets lots in.

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd
The telephoto shot taken at 5x optical.

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd
Primaries are boosted dominated by blue. Earth tones are a bit too rich but the skin tone is pale.

The colourchart image has boosted the primary blue to a rich colour with reds, greens and yellows trailling behind. The earthy colours look a bit overly rich while the skin tone is pallid. The mono tones are good, though.

Reviewing images already taken is an interesting feat as it takes ages but only from the memory card. Reviewing this way has the next image wipe over the previous one in a television style transition. However, if you review from internal memory, this doesn't happen and it's a lot faster. Personally, I'd rather look at my pictures faster and rougher. Having them flick one to the next isn't unpleasant at all, so seems pointless to have the wipe.

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd: Focusing and metering
Being a compact, metering is self sufficient as is focusing although the latter has an override feature in the menu. The camera has to be in manual mode and face detection turned off before it'll highlight in the menu system. The options of centre or multi focus are available to choose from so the system is still pretty basic.

The portrait with the flash has lit up the shadowed area of the previous shot and added some nice catchlights without ruining the skin tones.

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd
The Portrait test.
Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd
The portrait test with flash.

The face detection works on triangulating the eyes and mouth and locking on that area. The Z100fd can lock on 10 faces altogether and with multiple faces, the main one will focus in a green box with the secondary faces surrounded by white boxes.

This technology isn't new as it's been fitted to cameras for around five years now and originates from photo printing systems that use a similar system.

As I tried using the face detection while trying the portrait functions, I had some real trouble getting a lock. It would find the face then as soon as I went to take the shot, it lost it again. I tried other cameras at the same time and they all found the subject.

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd: Noise test
The results from the noise test are quite reasonable with no real detection of noise at ISO64 or ISO100. Unfortunately, ISO200 shows a lot of it coming through in the form of purple strips. However, detail in the petals is still good at this stage and the noise although noticable, is minor.

ISO400 shows the purple spots strong enough to show on the black area and green has joined purple on the grey square.

It looks like some kind of noise control has kicked in at ISO800 as the image shows definite softness around the detail of the petal and also on the squares. Very minor detail is evident in the ISO1600 image.

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd
The ISO64 test.
Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd
The ISO100 test.
Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd
The ISO200 test.
Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd
The ISO400 test.
Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd
The ISO800 test.
Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd
The ISO1600 test.

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd: Verdict
For the right person, this camera is a decent, well rounded and relatively high performance camera. I like the large zoom in the teeny body and I don't think that 8Mp is too high in resolution.

This camera has the 'fd' designation to signify the face detection capability and it's this what let the camera down. In some cases it had no problem but in the portrait test where it mattered, the camera failed.

If you're looking for a thin compact, with a decent zoom and some nice other features, then this is a decent camera to consider.

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd: Plus points
Ergonomic
Interesting design
Good zoom

Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd: Minus points
Face detection is erratic
Some colours are too strong on the colour chart
Noise in low ISO settings

FEATURES

HANDLING

PERFORMANCE

OVERALL

The Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd costs around £139 and is available from the ePHOTOzine shop here.

 

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