Fujifilm FinePix F480 Review
By Movable Type Admin
FujiFilm's F480 is the third "F" series Finepix model we have seen this year (2007). This is an entry-level digicam, with simple features. It offers an 8-megapixel image sensor, Fujinon 4x "wide" optical zoom lens, a 2.7-inch LCD screen, and QVGA (320x240) movie mode, all packed in a very compact and durable shell. Unlike most of Fuji's new cameras, the F480 does not include features like Intelligent Face Detection technology, an AF-assit lamp or their IR communication tool. However, don't let that turn you away. The F480 is very easy to use, with a total of 19 exposure modes, including Picture Stabilization mode. This allows the camera to be used by anyone in your household or office.
At about the size of a deck of playing cards, the F480 can be tucked away in a small pocket or handbag. The body offers a nice well built feel, and thanks to the metal exterior, is sure to stand up to day to day life. The controls on the back are minimal, but positioned in a comfortable manor. The F480 features a 2.7-inch LCD with plenty of resolution at 230K pixels. This display worked very well both indoors and out. When you are in marginal lighting, the display does gain up, which is helpful for framing in these conditions. One feature this LCD would benefit from is a non-reflective coating.
Our performance test showed the F480 is below average for a compact camera. Power up to first image captured measured 3 seconds. Shutter lag averaged 1/10 of a second when pre-focused and 3/10 of a second including autofocus. When it comes to rapid shooting, the camera was disappointing. Shooting in single drive mode, the shot to shot delay averaged about 3.8 seconds between frames. One factor that contributes to this below average speed is the Image preview option. You can not disable it, and the lowest (default) setting is 1.5 seconds. If you were to subtract that from our numbers, you can see the F480 has the ability to be a speedy model, but because you can't turn off image review, and it doesn't cancel when you hit the shutter release, shooting times are much more sluggish.
There's also a continuous shooting mode available. Top 3 mode allowed me to capture 3 images in 3.7 seconds. This was also disappointing. The LCD goes completely blank while recording, so using the LCD to follow a moving subject is out of the question. All tests where done using a Sandisk Extreme 512MB SD card, 8M fine mode, Auto mode, flash off, and all other settings at default, unless noted. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
When using the 8M Fine (best) quality setting, the F480's image quality results were good for an entry-level consumer digicam. Our outdoor images look very nice with pleasing colors, good exposure, and very little edge softness. Noise levels were average, detectable in open blue skies, even at ISO 100. But, you have to view an image at 100% to see this, and it's very unlikely you'll see anything in your typical 4x6 and 8x10-inch prints. Our samples are also nice and sharp, thanks in part to the F480's Fujinon 4x optical zoom lens. While it offers typical magnification at 112mm (equivalent), the 28mm wide angle extreme offers a much wider field of view than almost any model in this class. This will afford beautiful landscapes and large group portraits. While using this model, I did see moderate barrel distortion present at wide angle as well as noticeable traces of chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) around subjects with extreme contrast.
Indoors, you'll have to work with the limited flash range of approx. 13 feet at wide angle. Unlike most consumer models these days, the F480 does not feature any kind of Face Detection technology. Using portrait mode, the F480 can capture nice people shots. The only issue I had was the camera seems to select a higher ISO setting (400) than I would prefer. Noise levels are not terrible, but you might see some traces in your prints. I was able to produce the best portrait results using Manual mode with the ISO set to 100. When doing so, this will shorten the effective flash range, so be sure there's plenty of ambient lighting, or you are with in 5 feet or so from the subject. Be sure to check out the difference between these two modes by looking at the portrait examples on our Sample Photos page.
One feature on the F480 that is a bit behind the rest of the market, is its Movie mode. This camera only has the option of recording video with audio at 320x240 at a rate of 30 frames per second. You can preset the desired focal length before recording starts, however, you can not use the 4x zoom while shooting video. Video quality is good, showing typical amounts of compression artifacts. One plus to the F480 only recording 320x240, is the file size. These movies consume much less space than the VGA size modes on other cameras, making them ideal for sharing online and via email.
Powering the F480 is Fuji's NP-40 Rechargeable Battery, that is charged in the included AC charger. This battery boasts the claim of being able to take approx. 150 pictures on a fully charged pack, in normal conditions. I found battery life was average for a consumer model, allowing me to capture 65 still images and several short (10 second) movie clips as well as conclude many of our other test on a single charge. If you're one who snaps a lot of pictures or are planning a vacation soon, we recommend you pick up a second pack and keep it charged and ready.
Bottom Line - With a street price of US$159 or less, the FujiFilm Finepix F480 is an appealing entry-level, 8-megapixel model. This is a simple camera, that doesn't offer all of the fancy features found on other, more expensive digicams. If you're one who is just getting into the digital market, and want a compact point-n-shoot model, the F480 will please. It can capture nice photos, has a versatile "Wide" zoom range and includes a very nice LCD. The only downfalls of this model are, the shooting performance isn't quite up to par, and you can only record QVGA (320x240) video. Be sure to check out our reviews of other "F" series models for 2007, like the FinePix F40fd and F50fd.
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