Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd Review
A step up from the Fuji FinePix Z10fd we reviewed earlier this year, is the FinePix Z100fd. As with all of the past "Z" models, this is a very stylish "ultra-compact" that is packed full of features. It sports an 8-megapixel imaging sensor, internal folding Fujinon 5x optical zoom lens, IR communication, Dual Image Stabilization and a xD/SD compatible media slot. The ease of use has not changed either. With fully automatic, several pre-programmed scene modes and a manual mode that gives you control over some of the camera settings, it is easy to find a shooting mode for anyone in the house or office.
The sleek, ultra-compact body of the Z100fd is available is in 4 very stylish colors; Silver, Pink, Brown and Black & White. The look and layout of the camera is simple, making the operation very easy. The top of the camera features the shutter release and a button to turn the Face Detection features on or off. On the back, You have the zoom controls, play and DISP buttons, and replacing the 4-way controller is a new dial control wheel. It still operates the same as the 4-controller, but gives you the option to spin the dial to navigate the menu and make your selections. The menus have also been re-designed to make them more user friendly for the dial. This has taken away some of the shortcuts to some of the more frequently used features, making it take a little longer to sort through the menu.
Two other nice new features are the 2.7" LCD screen and the Dual Image Stabilization. Taking up the rest of the back is the 2.7" LCD screen, which is great for framing your images. It is easy to see in all lighting conditions and "gains up" nicely to assist you in framing your shots in low-light situations. Fuji also added a reinforced glass cover to help protect the LCD further. This is the first consumer model to feature Fuji's "Dual image stabilization", which combines mechanical image stabilization (the imager moves to adjust for camera shake) and Fuji's "high sensitivity" (high ISO) technology to help produce clear images, even in low light or motion situations.
Performance from the Z100fd produced some mixed results. Power up till it could capture the first image was 2.4 seconds. The shutter delay (time it takes for the camera to capture the image after you press the shutter release) was almost instantaneous when the camera was pre-focused, and 5/10 of a second when allowing the camera to use the AF system. When shooting in single shot mode, the camera was able to capture 3 images in 5.8 seconds without the flash and 6.5 seconds with the flash. The camera also has 3 burst modes. The camera can quickly take and save the first or last 3 shots of a sequence. In either of these modes the camera will capture the 3 images in 1.6 - 1.8 seconds, respectively. Long continuous burst mode, however, was very disappointing. It captured 6 images in 12.7 seconds, which is only slightly faster than shooting in single shot mode. There's also a High-speed Shooting option in the menu, which only allowed the camera to perform a few tenths of a second faster. All our tests were done using an Olympus H (High-speed) 1GB xD card, Manual mode, ISO Auto, High-speed shooting Off (default) flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
Just as the Z10fd, the Z100fd also has built in IR communication and Blog Trimming. The IR communication allows you transfer images via infrared technology to other IR communication enabled devices. This is a great feature for people who like to share photos, allowing them to do so without a computer. Blog trimming is another great feature for anyone who shares on the web. It will automatically save a new copy of your photos down to either 640x480 or 320x240 for easy sharing and emailing.
Image quality from the Z100fd was very good. The outdoor exposures were good, with images being sharp and pleasing color saturation. The 5x Fujinon optical zoom lens has a 35mm equivalent range of 36-180mm. This gives it a moderate wide end for shooting landscapes and small group portraits, while the telephoto end is great for individual and close-up photography. You will find some barrel distortion as well as slight edge softness at the wide end of the zoom and slight purple fringing (chromatic aberrations) throughout in areas of high contrast.
Our indoor portrait shots were also very good. When shooting in portrait mode, the face detection makes focusing on your subject or subjects a breeze, while all of the other features are controlled automatically to ensure your picture comes out as good as possible. In our sample, the flash provided an excellent amount of light and the colors and skin tones look very natural. The flash has a range of up to 11.8' when shooting in ISO Auto, depending on the zoom setting. Another thing to remember is, when manually setting the ISO to one of the lover values (like 100 or 64), the flash range drops off dramatically; causing your subjects to be a bit under exposed. When shooting our samples from about 5' at mid-telephoto (ISO Auto), there were no problems and the Z100fd produced pleasing portraits.
Movie mode allows you to record video with sound at either 640x480 or 320x240 at 30fps. The 5x optical zoom is not functional while the camera is recording but it can be pre-set before hand. The recorded video runs smoothly with good sound, however, there are a lot of compression artifacts making the movies look very grainy. The size of the video files is very small, just under 1-megabyte per second. This allows for more videos and pictures to be recorded on a memory card, however it is the cause of the less than great quality of the video.
Drawing its power from a 3.7v 740mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery, the Z100fd's battery life was descent. Fuji claims you can capture 200 images on a single charge. Keep in mind that using the flash, shooting movies and viewing your pics will greatly reduce this number. I was able to capture around 80 images, several videos and complete all of my tests just as the battery ran out. There was not much of a warning, as the low battery icon flashed, the camera turned off right away. As always we recommend getting a second battery to keep handy.
Bottom Line - The Fuji FinePix is a slim and stylish, 8-megapixel, "ultra-compact" digital camera. The fully automatic Auto and multiple scene modes make it a snap for anyone to use, and manual mode gives more control to the experienced user. Combine that with the good quality images and you have a very attractive little package. The only real problem we had with this model was the slower shooting performance. With an MSRP of US$250, this is a camera that you will be paying a little extra for the size and looks, as their are other cameras that perform just as well, if not better, for a little less money.
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