Fujifilm FinePix 6800 Zoom Review
The FinePix 6800 Zoom is probably one of the best of the "pocket size" cameras as of
the time of this review. It uses Fujifilm's latest 3-megapixel SuperCCD imager and
produces some of the truest colors we've ever seen from any consumer digicam. The
folks at Fujifilm have been working very hard to make sure that their cameras capture
the widest dynamic range possible and this camera proves that they have succeeded in
their endeavours. Using the SuperCCD's image data and some sophisticated interpolation
routines the camera can produce six-megapixel images as well as three-megapixel and
several smaller sizes too. The six-megapixel images are better rendered with less
"noise" than we saw with the four-megapixel images from the
FinePix 4700 Zoom.
The highly-durable aluminum case of the FinePix 4700 Zoom has been further styled by F. A. Porsche into a digicam that even the most discerning yuppie will be proud to display. In fact everyone that I have shown this compact camera to has commented on how "cool" it looked and were even more impressed with the pictures that it captured. As with the 4700 Zoom, the 6800 Zoom is housed in an all-metal body with a built in lens protector and the overall build quality is nothing short of excellent. The control buttons are well laid out and clearly marked as to their functions, those around the circular (and illuminated) data LCD change depending on the mode that the camera is in and appropriate icons are displayed. You do need to read the user manual to familiarize yourself with the controls but after using the camera for a while they do become second nature. The menu system when in the manual mode is somewhat complex and consists of three pages of settable parameters.
The FinePix 6800 Zoom lacks exposure modes like shutter-speed priority and aperture priority mode, it's basically an automatic camera. The Manual mode does let you change a multitude of parameters: Seltimer, white balance, ISO, sharpening, flash output, EV compensation, manual focus, AE bracketing, multi exposure or metering mode. The Movie mode captures motion video with sound at 10fps for up to 160 seconds or you can select the audio recording mode and capture up to 60 minutes of sound alone. The SP mode lets you quickly select BW, Night, Scene (landscape) or Portrait capture modes. And the Continuous record mode lets you grab up to five shots in full resolution in about one second. In normal single shot mode with the LCD off you can fire off a shot about every second and a half at any resolution. Overall performance of the 6800 Zoom is quite impressive for a camera this compact.
The autofocus speed is average at around a second unless the light conditions get too dim and then it often fails altogether and you must resort to manual focus to get the shot. Let's hope the next model comes with a focus assist lamp like many of the other cameras have. The camera works the best in automatic white balance, I noticed some inconsistencies in mixed lighting conditions, most noticeably in fluorescent lighting. However fluorescent lighting is always difficult because there are so many different types of fluorescent lamps and the color temperature ranges from warm to cold. One thing that I did notice was almost a total lack of any type of chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) which has been common in a lot of other digicams lately.
The 6800 Zoom's lens is a marvel of miniaturized optics, it's the same lens that we first saw on the 4700 Zoom. All things considered the lens performs well but it does have problems with edge sharpness or a lack thereof. This is most noticeable when the lens is in the full wideangle focal length. It also exhibits more than the normal amount of barrel distortion when in full wideangle. Since the lens has to extend out from the camera body it accounts for about three of the four seconds required to start the camera up. When the camera is powered down the lens is fully retracted back into the body and is protected by a metal cover that automatically slides into place.
The 6800 Zoom like many other Fujifilm cameras is powered by a proprietary lithium rechargeable battery. Luckily it isn't a "one of a kind" battery, it's the same one used in the Kodak DC4800 and several other Fuji cameras. Kodak sells the battery and an external rapid charger for less than most dealers are selling the Fuji battery for alone, see my Kodak DC4800 review for more details. Fujifilm includes a docking cradle that both charges the battery and connects the camera to the computer via the USB cable. The transformer that powers the cradle can also be used to plug directly into the camera without the cradle if desired. The 6800 Zoom has good power saving features to stretch the battery power as far as possible. You have to turn on the color LCD when desired, by default it is always off unless you press the Menu button. When the camera is in the cradle it can also be used as a webcam. The software needed to use the 6800 Zoom as a webcam is provided on the included CD disc.
As with any camera the bottom line is image quality and the Fuji 6800 Zoom delivers beautifully saturated color images that are very true to the original colors. There is a little confusion with the image sizes because this camera uses a SuperCCD imager and as with the Fuji 4700 Zoom the largest size image is interpolated larger than the actual resolution of the imager. The Fuji 6800 Zoom uses a 3-megapixel imager but can deliver a 6-megapixel image in its highest resolution setting. The 4700 Zoom's highest resolution (interpolated) image was not what I would call "great" as it had a lot of noticeable "noise" in it, some people called it grainy looking. The 6800 Zoom does a much better job of creating its 6-megapixel image but I still think the most optimal image it creates are the 3-megapixel size. The 3-megapixel images can stand up against all the other current 3-megapixel cameras' images with no problem. I do believe that the 6800 Zoom is priced a little bit too high considering it lacks the shutter-speed priority, aperture priority and full manual exposure modes found in the other 3-megapixel cameras in its price range. It is a very sturdy and well designed camera that will serve you well, especially if what you want is an easy to use camera that delivers excellent images.
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