We take a look at Fujifilms's tween-friendly Finepix z10fd, designed to blog your 13-year-old's bar mitzvah photos, or beam shots at a high school dance with its IR sensor. Was it as easy as Fujifilm makes it sound?
Design & Interface – Very Good
We can definitely see the Finepix z10fd fitting right in with the MySpace set; the variety of colors (7 to choose from), metallic finish and smooth lines make it appealing to the eye. The "Twin Ring" button structure on the back panel of the camera is both attractive and convenient, its simplistic design making the interface easy to navigate. Our favorite design choice, however, is probably the decision to include compatibility with both SD and SDHC memory cars in addition to the Fujifilm xD standard.
The 2.5-inch display is average, providing representations of our images but failing to blow us away. We suspect this may have something to do with the thick acrylic layer protecting the screen; for us, the tradeoff is worth it. The 150,000-pixel is pretty sub-standard, but Fujifilm is going for low-cost, and the LCD is the easiest place to start.
The interface hasn't changed much from the standard Finepix menus, but the slideshow, scrapbook and micro thumbnail view options are probably the most interesting of the camera's features. The slideshow could be played with music, and both the scrap book and thumbnail views allowed us to view a lot more images than we'd ever imagined looking at on a camera's LCD screen.
We love the slide-open front panel that doubles as a lens cover and on/off switch, but we imagine that sliding it in and out of pockets may lead to some unwanted powering-on, especially for the skinny jeans set. The aforementioned "Twin Ring" button design on the back worked great, and the zoom buttons on the top ring, while not our favorite setup for zooming, worked well too. The design makes it possible for the z10fd to be one of the few cameras without a selector wheel or switch of some sort, which keeps in line with the simplicity theme of the camera. We wish the tripod mount would have been centered with the lens, something we’re not seeing often enough.
Shooting Features – Good
From the get-go, we expected the shooting features on the Finepix z10fd to be limited. We were only half wrong. Traditional specs, like 20+ scene modes, a multitude of aspect ratios and manual aperture and shutter speed settings are missing, but included are unique features like the IR beam and settings that ideally pre-formatted images for blogs and auction sites. The "Blog mode" crops and resizes photos in-camera for instant uploading from a computer, and "Auction mode" allows users to combine multiple images into one to quickly post to an auction site like eBay.
In addition to the 14 presets, there was also an Auto and a Manual setting. The manual mode allows for adjustment of white balance, exposure compensation and ISO levels. There is only one widescreen (3:2) setting, but you can choose from 6 different quality settings, and next to each one was a number representing how many pictures you can take at that quality. The VGA video offered by the z10fd is standard, but we were very disappointed that we couldn't zoom during video recording, something we've come to expect.
Spec-wise, the Z10fd is incredibly average; the 7.2 megapixel sensor, 3x optical zoom lens, VGA video and face detection can be found on countless other cameras. We liked that it has 54MB of internal memory, but the low ISO setting (max of ISO 1600) and the 2.5-inch LCD with only 150,000 pixels are disappointing.
That being said, we found that the lack of shooting features kept the menus a bit streamlined, and much less confusing than many cameras we’ve seen. Keeping in mind the audience, we thought the shooting features are appropriate, even if the images did suffer a bit from the lack of options.
Image Quality - Good
Generally, when a camera has an internal zoom lens that does not protrude from the body, the convenience gained in the form factor is usually taken out on the quality of the images. We can’t say we’re impressed with the z10d’s lens; many of the shots we took were subpar and not suitable for distribution. We were however, pleasantly surprised occasionally, and frequently, only a little tinkering was required to get a decent image (it goes without saying that the “little tinkering” is all the tinkering possible.)
Indoor shot taken in 'Text' SCN modeWe took this shot in this mode simply to try to figure out where this mode would actually be useful; other than taking spy shots of some ultra-classified document like in some spy movie, we had trouble finding one. It seemed to capture the text well enough, and all the letters were clearly legible, but why the massive .tiff default format? Our sample shot is 18MB, we don’t recommend clicking on it from a dial-up connection.
Indoor shot taken in 'Museum' SCN modeWe’re not sure this mode does anything other than disable any visible lights or sounds from the camera for incognito shooting in quiet locales like a museum, but it handled this shot fairly well. Taken with less than ideal natural light and no flash, the image escaped any serious shadows (the shading is part of the mural) but still could benefit from proper lighting, like in a museum, as supposed to our Brooklyn apartment.
Indoor shot taken in 'Flowers' SCN modeWith no “Food” setting for our obligatory fruit/vegetable cart shot, we selected the next most logical settting, “Flowers.” Our flash is slightly noticeable in the forefront of the frame, but the colors are represented richly, with the bright colors (red peppers) looking best, but the variations of green remaining completely discernable.
Indoor shot taken with 'Macro' setting in Auto modeThe “Macro” setting on point-and-shoot cameras is one of the toughest to do well, because the tiny sensors and lenses usually fail when you get too close. Without enough light, the flash was necessary and noticeable, but the details and color in the shot were still impressive. The little brown spots in the center of the pear remained individual spots, only smudging together in places where they actually blended together. If it weren’t for the unavoidable spot of glare, this image would be pretty respectable.
Overall, the video experience on the z10fd was average. We were troubled by the lack of a zoom capability while recording, and the maximum resolution of 640x480 (VGA) bored us. In-camera editing was almost non-existent; the only changes to be made to photos on the z10fd were cropping.
Image Transfer - Good
Fujifilm kept it simple with their software installation, packaging everything into a single install. The FinePix viewer is fairly basic, and seems to be focused around getting the user to send their pictures over the internet to be printed and mailed back to them. The viewer’s minimal editing options include cropping, text addition and rotation, but that’s about it. A click of the “Improve Image” button opens the FinePix Studio software, but it’s only for RAW files, which the z10fd does not support. We can’t see ourselves using the software frequently, unless we’re ordering prints. It’s OK as an ablum viewer, but beyond that, the software is pretty “blah.” Transfer speeds were decent though, and we saw no noticeable lag when uploading photos with the included USB 2.0 cable.
Accessories – Good
Accessories bundled with the z10fd are pretty standard, including a USB 2.0 cable, an A/V cable, a wrist strap, battery, battery charger and a software CD-ROM. Quite possibly the most annoying and inconvenient way to charge a battery, the external battery charger bothers us. We prefer a dock that charges as well as syncs our camera, but at the very least, we’ll settle for a charging USB cable.