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Fujifilm FinePix F100fd - Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 16/12/2008
Rating: Recommended
Author: Matthew Waller
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Introduction: Announced on the 24th of January 2008, the Fujifilm FinePix F100fd is Fuji's top of the range advanced compact camera and features a 12 megapixel sensor, a wide angle 5x optical zoom lens, a 2.7" screen, wide dynamic range, and a VGA video mode. It also features Dual Image Stabilisation (anti-shake sensor), Face Detection 3.0 Technology, and ISO upto 12800(at 3mp). The Fujifilm FinePix F100fd is available from around £160 which makes it great value for money. The camera is enclosed in a metal body and is available in black, or silver. The camera measures approx. 98 x 59 x 24mm (excluding protrusions), and weighs approx. 153g. excluding battery and memory card.

Fujifilm have this to say about the camera:

"Combining a 12 Megapixel 8th Generation Super CCD with a powerful Fujinon 5x wide angle optical zoom lens, a 2.7" high-resolution 230,000 pixel wide angle view LCD, the FinePix F100fd is one of the most sophisticated compact digital cameras Fujifilm has ever produced. It offers the most advanced technologies available, including Wide Dynamic Range, Dual Image Stabilisation, Face Detection 3.0 Technology with automatic red-eye removal and ISO settings of up to an unprecedented ISO 12800 - so missing great shots is not an option."

You can find more information on their website.

The Camera: a visual tour: (Photos of the camera taken with the Canon Powershot SX100 IS)


Front view - camera off.


Front view - camera on, flash, LED illuminator, lens.


Top: infra-red, power, shutter release, zoom, side, AV / USB, strap loop.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.


Size comparison.


Size comparison.

Specifications / Features:

  • 12 million pixel 1/ 1.6-inch Super CCD HR VIII Sensor
  • Wide angle 5x Fujinon zoom lens, Equivalent to 28 - 140mm
  • World's most advanced Face Detection 3.0 technology
  • Portrait Enhancer
  • Dual Image Stabilisation (anti-shake sensor, high ISO)
  • Wide view 2.7-inch LCD screen, 230,000 pixels
  • ISO : Auto / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200 (6400, 12800 at 3mp)
  • VGA, 30fps Video
  • HD Output : No
  • Red-Eye Reduction: Yes (Automatic)
  • 5cm Macro mode
  • 57mb internal memory
  • Scenes: Mode dial: Auto, Natural Light, Natural Light with Flash, SP1, SP2, M (Manual), Movie SP1 / SP2: Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Underwater, Museum, Party, Flower, Text
  • Histogram available: No
  • Exposure bracketing: No
  • Optical viewfinder: No
  • Manual WB: Yes

Box Contents:

  • Digital Camera
  • Li-ion battery NP-50
  • Battery charger BC-50
  • Strap
  • A/V cable
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM: FinePix Viewer
  • Owner's manual

Average box contents - The camera has a fairly large built in memory however this will only let you take about 14 pictures at highest quality so the first thing you'll want to buy is a large memory card. Getting a case is also highly recommended.

Menu system: The menu system is fairly straightforward, and simple things like changing iso settings, quality or scene position can be achieved easily. Changing any settings that aren't on the F('film') button however is much more difficult. Each change requires you to navigate from the scene position you were in, through to the menu screen then eventually through the menu tree to the setting you want to change. Once you've made the change, you then have to go though the whole process again if you want to change it back. Some 'remember presets' system might help avoid this hassle. Playback functions:- Red eye removal, Image rotate, Slide show, Trimming, IR transmit, Trim for blog, copy protect, voice memo, view by date- 11 to a screen, also display upto 100 thumbnails at a time.

Picture Size / Quality: The camera lets you choose the image size (4,000x3,000 / 4,224x2,816 (3:2 format) / 2,848x2,136 / 2,048x1,536 / 1,600x1,200 / 640x480 pixels), aspect ratio (4:3, 3:2), and compression (JPEG Fine or Normal). Higher quality images take more memory and more time to store, so this affects how long between shots. Although there are a good range of image sizes and compression options, not all of the advertised features can be used in the 12 megapixel mode, and I think it would benefit from a 'superfine' 12 megapixel mode to get the best image quality possible.


Bottom - Battery (NP-50, 3.7v, 1000mAh) and SD memory card, speaker, metal tripod mount.

Battery usage: Battery life is rated at approx 230 shots with supplied NP-50 batteries, however in my testing I didn't manage this, probably because I was doing a lot of reviewing each photo, using the flash and movie mode a lot. Battery life will depend on the kind of use you make of the camera. The camera uses a proprietary battery type which is unlikely to be stocked in most shops so it may be worth buying a spare.

Memory cards: A large memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 1gb memory card, if you intend to take fine JPEG images, and preferably a 2gb memory card, or larger. The larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. You can use SD or SDHC memory cards - I tend to use Sandisk Ultra II Plus USB SD memory cards as these let you plug the memory card straight into a USB socket making it easy to transfer images onto any computer, they are available as 1GB SD, or 2GB SD cards and 4GB SDHC cards. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Fujifilm FinePix F100fd - Using SD or SDHC memory may help produce the best shot to shot times with this camera:

Find the latest prices for XD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 1gb (1000mb): £6, 2gb (2000mb): £8.
Find the latest prices for SD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk:
1gb (1000mb): £2, 2gb (2000mb): £2, 4gb (4000mb SDHC): £6, 8gb (8000mb SDHC): £10, 16gb (16000mb SDHC): £32
Need more help deciding what memory card to buy? Have a look at our guide to digital camera memory cards or our article what size memory card should I buy?

Speed: The camera switches on and is ready to take a photo in just over 3 seconds, which is mainly due to the zoom lens. Focusing normally takes about half a second (except in quick auto-focus mode) and in reduced light, focusing was successful. The camera shutter response when pre-focused was less than a tenth of a second and shot to shot time was under 2 seconds. In continuous (top 3) mode I measured a delay of around 2 seconds between shots using internal memory. The manual also mentions top 12 mode but this is only available when shooting at 3 mega-pixel resolution, so is of limited usefulness. The cameras menus and zooming seem responsive and reviewing photos is quick. Moving around the different menu options is ok if you're used to fuji menu layouts, however the lack of a dedicated 'menu' button makes setup slow and clumsy in manual mode.


Back - 2.7" screen, FinePix menu, Face detection, 4-way controller / scroll wheel, with middle Menu / OK button, display and play buttons.

Ease of use: In auto mode the camera is very easy to use and the scene modes are also very useful. The camera detects faces and focuses quickly and gives good positive feedback so making taking photos easy. Changing more obscure menu options is much more difficult and overall it may take a long time to master this camera. Image stabilisation will help more photos stay sharp, however I wonder if there's a faster way to review photos, to ensure there is no camera shake.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The camera handles well, though may be a bit tricky for anyone with long nails or large hands. The buttons are labelled well (with symbols and occasionally text). The compartments and covers seem well positioned and are easy to open. It would not be possible to operate the camera whilst wearing gloves.

Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Outside, Macro, to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Fujifilm FinePix F100fd Sample Photo Gallery!

Inside:

Heather and Flower (ISO400) Flash photo (ISO800)

Inside: The camera has good colour - It took a good "Heather and Flower" photo - there is almost no red-eye in the photo. It has a fairly good flash, and copes fairly well with group photos, and there is little red-eye in group photos. On AUTO ISO, the ISO setting was quite high, however noise was acceptable, and better results may be possible by using the lowest ISO setting, especially if the subject is close to the camera. The camera did a good job at focusing most of the time in low-light, although struggled in very dark situations. There is an LED illuminator that helps focus in low light.

ISO Noise Test: Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels (ranging from ISO 100 - ISO3200), and manual ISO settings (ISO: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, ISO3200).

Below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops, viewable at 100%, from the image taken at different ISO settings, compared with the 14.7 megapixel Canon Digital IXUS 980 IS and Panasonic Lumix FX150.

Canon Digital IXUS 980 IS (14.7mp) Panasonic Lumix FX150 (14.5mp) Fujifilm FinePix F100fd (12mp)

ISO Noise Test Photos - Flash is off. Canon Digital IXUS 980 IS on the left, Panasonic Lumix FX150 in the middle, Fujifilm FinePix F100fd on the right. Any tonal difference is due to white balance or lighting / metering differences.

Canon Digital IXUS 980 IS (14.7mp) Panasonic Lumix FX150 (14.5mp) Fujifilm FinePix F100fd (12mp)
ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels (1s, Nightmode)
ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels
ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels
ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels
ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - Actual Pixels
ISO3200 - Actual Pixels (2mp) ISO3200 - High sensitivity mode. (3mp) ISO3200 - Actual Pixels

Noise results: The Fujifilm FinePix F100fd shows low noise levels, especially when compared to other high end compact cameras, with very low noise at ISO100 and 200, some noise at ISO400, and shows the most usuable high ISO results at ISO800. The ISO1600 results are better from the F100fd than the others, and the Fuji also provides an ISO3200 mode at full resolution.

Image Stabilisation: The camera features real image stabilisation, in the form of an anti-shake sensor in the Fuji F100fd. This feature helps reduce image blur due to low light or long zoom photography. Examples showing this feature switched on and off can be seen below.

Sony Cybershot W130 (8mp)
ISO400, 1/10
Canon Powershot A590 IS (8mp)
ISO400, 1/8
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd (12mp)
ISO800, 1/6.5
Image stabilisation off Image stabilisation off Image stabilisation off
Image stabilisation on Image stabilisation on Image stabilisation on

With image stabilisation switched on the images are much sharper and clearer, and is much more likely to come out blur free, especially in low light, when using the zoom or when using slow shutter speeds. All camera's systems appear to work well, and it's good to see that this feature is becoming the norm with digital cameras.

Fuji Wide Dynamic Range: The camera features "wide dynamic range" - this provides an enhanced dynamic range which is either 100%, 200%, 400% or switched off. Alternatively Auto 'automatically varies the dynamic range' according to the scene being shot. This feature uses ISO 200 and higher. Changing to use these modes manually can be fiddly however in auto mode the camera can use the extra range to good effect. The advantages are really useful for taking pictures where normally shadow would remove all detail and anywhere where there is high contrast. I expect this will come in useful for taking photos in snowy conditions, for sunsets and potentially in situations where there is a lot of glare. It also seems likely that you'll notice fewer washed out skies.

WDR Off (ISO100) WDR 200% (ISO200) WDR 400% (ISO400)

Actual Pixels Actual Pixels Actual Pixels

It's quite difficult to spot the effects of the Fuji WDR, as it's effects, at first glance, appear very subtle. In the example photos, I've taken the same photo with WDR set to Off, 200% and 400%. Using the Fuji Wide Dynamic Range feature increases the ISO setting so that the camera can capture more light in darker areas, however noise becomes much more noticable. In these examples, the first photo has an overexposed sky, whereas in the photos with WDR at 200 or 400%, the clouds are not overexposed.

Outside:

Liverpool shops (ISO100) Bold Street (ISO100)

Outside: The camera has quite rich, saturated colours. There was good detail, and the camera took a number of very pleasing images outside, with good contrast, with very little or no chromatic aberations and purple fringing. In general 'normal' quality jpeg artefacts are not easily seen, however areas with strong contrasts benefit from use of the highest quality setting. Images are slightly soft, but nothing too worrying.

Zoom: This lens provides a wide angle 5x optical zoom starting at 28 zooming 140mm (35mm equivalent) allowing photos of distant objects. I've included examples below to show what the zoom is capable of. An example of digital zoom can be seen below, digital zoom basically takes a crop of the centre of the frame and enlarges the image, degrading image quality, and is therefore best avoided.

Wide-angle 5x Optical Zoom Full Optical and Digital zoom

Exposure: The photos of the clock tower are exposed well with detail in the dark areas as well as the lighter areas - exposure in other photos was generally very good. Vignetting was not noticed in these photos. It can be useful to under expose images with bright backgrounds (eg; sky) with use of exposure compensation, or alternatively the Wide Dynamic Range feature can help preserve detail in bright skies.

Lens noise and zoom: The zoom is fairly quiet in operation and provides zoom from 28 – 140mm in 15 steps.

Other Image Quality issues: Purple fringing was visible in the usual high contrast areas (but this was lessened with higher dynamic range) / Chromatic aberration was not noticed.

Macro Lens Performance:

Timex Watch Macro Actual Pixels (ISO200)

The closest the camera lens can get to the subject when taking macro photos is 5cm (30cm with flash). Colour and detail are excellent.

Video mode: The camera has two video modes 640x480, 30fps and 320x240, 30fps. The videos are recorded with sound as AVI files. It's not obvious whether image stabilisation is in effect when using the video mode and the manual is no help in this area. The zoom can be used before recording but not during.

Conclusion

Image Quality: Image quality is very good with good colour, good skin tones, good detail and generally low noise. Red eye in photos was well detected and removed and focussing in low light was not a problem. It has a good success rate at taking shake free photos due to the built in image stabilisation. There are a wide range of picture resolutions available and a few compression options, although there is no 16:9 mode. Auto white-balance and manual white balance are excellent. The camera gives good control over image quality, and allows some changes to the image afterwards, including cropping and preparing for website use. Purple fringing was also very low. (8.5/10)

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is available in black and silver and has a strong body. The screen is large (2.7") and easy to read, and has additional options to help in bright sunlight and difficult angles. The camera feels well built and is reasonably comfortable to hold. It is simple to us and quick to access the most commonly used options. The layout of buttons and controls is good but could do with a scene position dial. The camera speed is good, with good switch on time, quick focusing, excellent shutter response, quick play back mode, quick menus, reasonable continuous shoot and good flash recharge. The camera has plenty of features to suit most people such as face detection focus, anti-shake, many scene modes, wide dynamic range, reasonable video mode, and good macro mode. It would be great if this camera had the option to select aperture or shutter speed manually – but other Fuji cameras with these options are available like the F60fd. (8.5/10)

Value for Money: The Fujifilm Finepix F100fd from around £160 is very good value for money. This is one of the cheapest cameras available with 12 megapixels and a wide angle 5x optical zoom lens. The closest competitors are the Canon A2000 IS (6x zoom) or the Ricoh R10 (7.1x wide angle zoom). (8.5/10) See more digital camera reviews sorted by megapixels here.

Summary: The Fujifim F100fd is a compact camera with a high quality LCD screen, 12 megapixel sensor, a wide angle 5x optical zoom and image stabilisation. Image quality is good, with low noise, when compared to other digital cameras and the option to capture a wide dynamic range is a welcome feature. Battery life was lower than I had hoped for but is a useful amount.

Overall this is an interesting and potentially impressive 12 megapixel compact digital camera that has great features that work well and gives good results. Although there are one or two manual options missing from the camera, there are plenty remaining to suit nearly all situations. If you're looking for a camera that takes excellent 6 - 12 megapixel photos, has a wide angle 5x zoom and image stabilisation, this is recommended.

Fujifilm FinePix F100fd Rating: Recommended (8.5/10)
Available for £160 - or Get the best price below!

What I like:

  • Good image quality
  • Wide angle 5x optical zoom lens
  • Rapid focus in low light
  • Large high quality 2.7 inch screen.
  • 12 megapixels at ISO 100 shows potential
  • Includes face detection and anti-shake technologies
  • Low noise compared to the competition
  • Compact metal body
  • Good value for money

What I don't like:

  • High ISO modes of limited usefulness
  • Small inadequate buttons
  • Average battery life
  • Lacks manual aperture / shutter settings
  • Separate battery charger
  • Menu system could be simpler to use

Additional Test Images are viewable in the Fujifilm FinePix F100fd Sample Photo Gallery.

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