Fujifilm FinePix F470 Review

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Steve's Conclusion

The Fujifilm F470 is yet another member of the growing 1-megapixel per ounce club, fitting a 6-megapixel imager, 2.5-inch LCD and 3x Fujinon optical zoom lens into an all-metal body weighing only 5.5 ounces - battery, xD memory card and wrist strap included. This stylish and very pocketable digicam is geared for the beginner, having a wealth of automatic and scene modes, but offering manual control of only exposure compensation and white balance.

The F470's most noticeable feature is its 2.5-inch LCD viewfinder, so large that it takes up much of the back of the camera and leaves no room for an optical viewfinder. The LCD is bright and resolute, a joy to use in most conditions. In dim lighting it automatically intensifies the live image, making shot composition a snap. And if that's not bright enough, the UP button of the 4-way controller doubles as a brightness control, further intensifying the viewfinder image. The LCD is bright enough to be usable in most outdoor conditions, although the absence of an anti-reflective coating can limit visibility when the sun is over your shoulder. While there were times that I missed having an optical viewfinder, I did enjoy using the F470's LCD.

The F470's 3x Fujinon lens has a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 35-105mm, typical of most cameras in its class. The lens produced good center sharpness throughout its zoom range, but the corners were quite soft. It exhibited a noticeable amount of barrel distortion at full wide angle, but little pin cushioning at telephoto. Chromatic aberrations were present in some shots, with purple fringing evident in high contrast areas. The lens zoomed smoothly and quietly through its range, but had only 6 steps between wide angle and telephoto - you'll sometimes need to zoom with your feet for precise composition.

Ergonomics were good considering the size of the LCD, with a well-placed depression at the top right corner for your thumb. The camera's controls were well-located and positive-feeling, with the zoom control a left/right rocker rather than the up/down device of several recent Fuji models. The uncomplicated menu system was very easy to navigate and see on the large LCD. I've always been a fan of Fuji's "F" menu, providing direct access to image size/quality, ISO and color mode settings. My only complaint with the camera body is its plastic tripod mount.

The F470's shooting performance is good. From power-on till the first image was captured measured under just over 2 seconds. Shutter lag, the delay between depressing the shutter and capturing the image, measured 1/10 second, most of that attributable to the delay in the live image on the LCD viewfinder. Autofocus shutter lag measured 6/10 second. Rapid shooting in single-shot mode yielded images at 1.5 second intervals without flash, and between 2 and 4.5 seconds with flash. Shutter lag with red eye reduction flash mode was a 7/10 second, shorter than most, during which the LCD viewfinder goes blank. The F470's continuous shooting mode captured 5 images at nearly 2fps, taking just under 7 seconds to write the buffer full of images to the xD memory card. The LCD viewfinder briefly displays the last captured image in continuous mode, making it difficult to follow a moving subject. The F470 drops out of continuous shooting mode when image review is activated, requiring you to re-enter the menu system to turn it back on. Our tests were done using an Olympus 512MB xD memory card, 6M/Fine size/quality, Manual mode, preview off, flash off, and all other settings at default unless otherwise noted. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera setting, media, etc.

I was happy with the quality of the F470's 6M Fine mode. Indoors it produced pleasing portrait shots, with good flash exposure and natural skin tones, but the flash red eye reduction mode was only marginally effective. The built in flash boasts an effective range of approx. 15 feet at wide angle and auto ISO, sufficient for most interior shooting in average sized rooms and portraits of small groups. Despite the absence of a focus-assist lamp, the AF system was very effective in dim lighting at wide angle; AF frequently fails, however, at moderate to telephoto focal lengths in the same conditions.

The F470's outdoor results were also good, with the lens and AF system combining to produce consistently good sharpness and the metering and white balance systems producing good exposures with pleasing colors. Noise is essentially absent at sensitivity settings of ISO 200 or lower; at ISO 400 noise becomes detectable when the image is magnified, but it is not an issue with the typical 4x6-inch print.

The F470's review mode is useful for field-checking your results, providing up to 4.4x magnification for critical examination. But be prepared to wait; with 6M/Fine images, it takes about 2 seconds to scroll from one image to another. Examining a series of magnified images becomes a frustrating experience, taking 6 seconds to magnify an image to its fullest extent, another 6 seconds to zoom out fully before you can scroll to the next image. This is one area of the F470 that needs improvement.

Movie mode allows you to record at resolutions of 640x480 or 320x240 with audio. The frame rate is fixed at 30fps. Because sound is recorded the zoom may be used before recording but not during. Overall it produced very good results, sharp and colorful with very little compression artifacts (noise). At 640x480, the F470's movies are fairly efficient at just under one megabyte per second of recording, but be sure to get a large xD memory card because you'll enjoy using this feature.

Power is provided by a proprietary NP-40N Li-Ion battery. I was able to capture only about 125 images before its capacity was exhausted; you'd be well-advised to acquire a spare and keep it fully charged to avoid the disappointment of a unique photo op meeting a dead battery.

Bottom line - With a 6-megapixel imager, good image quality and uncomplicated automatic and scene modes, the Fuji F470 meets the photographic needs of the beginner in a stylish and lightweight package. While it has no optical viewfinder, its LCD is well implemented, especially in conditions of low ambient lighting. With a street price of less than $250, it's a good value for those looking for a pocketable digicam that covers all the basics with style. Please examine our samples to see what this camera is capable of.




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