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Fujifilm FinePix F480 - Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 10/12/2007
Rating: Average
Author: Stephen Waller
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Introduction: Announced in July, 2007 the Fujifilm FinePix F480 is an ultra compact, wide angle 8.2 megapixel digital camera with a 4x optical zoom lens and a 2.7" (230,000 pixel) LCD screen. The camera has an ISO range from 100 to 800. The 4x optical zoom lens is equivalent to 28-112mm on a 35mm camera. The Fujifilm FinePix is available from around £100, ($135 USA) which makes it good value for a wide angle digital camera. The camera is enclosed in a sturdy metal body and available in black or silver. The F480 can record video in 320 x 480 resolution at 30fps with sound. The body measures approx. 95.6 x 55.4 x 23 mm (3.8 x 2.2 x 0.9 in) , and weighs approx. 140 g (4.9 oz) excluding battery and memory card.

Fujifilm have this to say about the F480:-

"Fujifilm is pleased to announce the launch of the 8 megapixel FinePix F480 compact digital camera. With the same metal body as its pricier F series range-mates and versatile 4x wide-angle zoom, the FinePix F480 is perfect for those people looking for an easy-to-use all-rounder that offers a quality feature set at an affordable price. Available in two colours, silver or black, and no bigger than a deck of playing cards (just 23mm thick), the FinePix F480 boasts good looks and compact proportions to match its superb performance."

You can find more information on their website.

The camera: a visual tour (pictures from Fujifilm UK)


Front: Flash, Microphone hole, Focus LED, Lens.


Back: Screen, mode dial, LED, 4 way controller with middle Menu / OK button, Display / Back button and Play button.


Bottom: Tripod socket.


Side: SD/XD memory card slot, Battery compartment, USB connection. There is nothing to see on the other side.


Top: Speaker, Power, Zoom control, Shutter release (black model).

Scene modes: Mode dial : Auto, Baby mode, Anti-blur, Red-eye Reduction, Digital Zoom. Portrait, SP(Scene Position), Movie.

SP : Landscape, Sport, Night, Natural light, Beach, Snow, Fireworks, Sunset, Flower.

Playback functions:- Slide show, Trimming, Single frame, Multi-frame playback, Sorting by date, Image rotate

Storage media:-

Internal memory (Approx. 12MB)
xD-Picture Card™ (16MB - 2GB)
SD memory card
SDHC memory card

Only a small amount of internal memory. Using SDHC memory will help produce the best shot to shot times with this camera.

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 can take its first photo in less than 4 seconds, which is fairly slow. Focusing is fast at under half a second and in subdued light focusing was successful most of the time. The camera shutter response when pre-focused was around 0.2 seconds but shot to shot time was slow, as review can not be turned off. In continuous (top 3) mode I measured delay of around 2.4 seconds between shots using an SD card (this is going to vary dependant on exposure settings and memory card, SDHC being quickest) the manual claims 1.66 seconds capability. The cameras menus and zooming in seemed responsive but reviewing photos starts off a bit slowly. Moving around the different menu options is rapid.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The camera handles well, though may be a bit small for some hands. The buttons are labeled well (with symbols and / or text).  The compartments and covers seem well positioned and are easy to open.

Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Outside, and Macro to demonstrate the picture quality and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Fujifilm Finepix F480 Sample Photo Gallery!

Inside:

Close-up flash (ISO 400, F5.3 1/64 S) Group flash (ISO 400 F2.7 1/60 S)

Inside: This is where the 28mm wide angle lens comes into its own, enabling group pictures impossible with a 35mm lens. Barrel distortion is not noticed. The camera has quite natural colour though unsaturated, and will sometimes use incorrect white balance. Red-eye is low unless subjects have their eyes averted from the camera. The camera did a good job at focusing most of the time even in low-light. Although the camera has a continuous shooting mode, it is not supported by flash.

ISO Noise Test: 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 it 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 as well as manual mode for ISO levels being ISO:  100, 200, 400, 800.

Below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the images taken at different ISO settings.

Fujifilm FinePix F480 ISO 100 W/B Fluorescent 2, +0.3 EV Fujifilm FinePix F480 ISO 800 W/B Fluorescent 2, +0.3 EV

ISO Noise Test Photos - Flash is off.

ISO100 - Actual Pixels (1/25s, F3.8) ISO200 - Actual Pixels (1/50s F3.8)
ISO400 - Actual Pixels (1/100s F3.8) ISO800 - Actual Pixels (1/200 F3.8)

I was pleasantly surprised by these results. As you will see, as the ISO goes up, detail is gradually lost, but grainy noise is still very low even at ISO 800. I have produced satisfactory prints at A4 size (with no tweaking) from shots taken at ISO 400, and have no doubt ISO 800 at A5 size would work fine too. Nb. The picture stabilisation mode simply uses a higher ISO setting to avoid image blur, and is not a true image stabilisation system such as an anti-shake sensor, or optical image stabilisation.

Outside: The camera has neutral, lifelike colours, with soft contrast. There is good detail, but when using wide angle, areas with sharp contrast towards the corners of the image will have purple fringes.  Purple fringing (chromatic aberrations) is a condition most cameras display to varying extents and there is software available which can rectify this problem. In general 'normal' quality jpeg artifacts are not easily seen, however areas with strong contrasts benefit from use of the highest quality setting (less than 4mb images).

Zoom: This camera has a wide angle 4x optical zoom lens and a built in 6.9x digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software, blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below to show what the optical zoom is capable of.

Wide-angle (ISO100 F5.4 1/300sec)* 4x Optical Telephoto (ISO100 F5.4 1/300sec)* 4x Optical + 3X? Digital (ISO100 F5.4 1/70sec EV -0.7)

Exposure: The photos of the clock tower have some detail in the dark areas - other photos without EV adjustments tended to be overexposed. Days with more light do make for more colourful pictures, but getting the best exposure setting is not straight-forward. Purple fringing is noticeable in the wide angle but very little is seen in the 4x optical zoom photo. Vignetting was not noticed in any of the photographs.  It can be useful to under expose images with bright backgrounds (eg; sky) with use of exposure compensation. It is also useful to select a white balance preset, as the auto setting is easily misled (as you will see on the full zoom). * Re-shot on a sunny day.

Lens noise and zoom: The lens is relatively quiet in operation. The digital zoom has a dedicated symbol on the mode dial, which if selected changes to maximum optical allowing further zooming with the control ring. Digital zoom can also be enabled from the setup menu, and will then operate when the optical zoom limit is reached.

Image Quality issues: Purple fringing was pronounced at wide angle in areas of high contrast. Barreling is slight on the wide angle setting.

Macro: the macro mode allows you to be roughly 5cm from from the subject at wide angle.

Pulsar Watch Macro (ISO100 F2.7 1/12 S)

Actual Pixels

There is no custom white balance but selecting one of the presets in manual mode will give consistent results. Noise seems low in this photo and detail and colour is very good and compares well with other cameras reviewed.

Video mode: The camera features a low resolution AVI - 320 x 240 video mode at 30 fps with sound. Video quality is reasonable and this will not use much memory - 1Gb SD card will record nearly 28 minutes, and is ideal for email. Zoom may be preset, but is not functional while recording.

Conclusion:

Image Quality: This camera will take some nice pictures. Getting the best results is not as straightforward as it should be. The preset scene modes have for me produced overexposed images. Purple fringing at wide angle is worse than with other cameras I have reviewed, though will go unnoticed except on enlargements greater than A4. When on auto W/B, some indoor and also a few outdoor shots would cause the camera to use an inappropriate setting. Otherwise colours appear to be reasonably life like, allowing for overexposure and the grey weather we have had while preparing this review. In a very wide range of situations the camera will take sharp pictures detailed enough for A4+ prints. It was generally competent and fast at focusing, even in low light. ISO 400 and 800 are better than expected, but should be used with caution, as noise in dark areas can be unacceptable. (6.5/10)

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is sturdy and compact, suitable to keep in pocket or handbag. There is a good choice of presets, though whether preferable to the manual settings is debatable.  The screen size and resolution is good at 2.7" with 230,000 pixels, and the build quality appears excellent. The flash did a good job of providing extra light to give indoor shots the correct exposure. There's also the leather like pouch / purse to keep your camera protected when not in use. Battery life was disappointing compared to other compacts, at less than 100 shots per charge. The video mode is reasonable at 320 x 240 at 30fps with sound and will not eat up the memory to the same extent other formats do.  (6/10)

Value for Money: The Fujifilm F480 is the only camera I have found with a 28mm wide angle lens at this price. Others with wide angle capabilities are the Vivitar Vivicam 7410 (£139), the Samsung L74W (£150), the Olympus FE-290 (£149), the Ricoh Caplio R7 (£155), the Canon Powershot S60 (still available £160) or the Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ3 (£175). These cameras are all more expensive and have fewer megapixels (except the Ricoh @ 8.15Mpx, and DMC TZ3 @ 10Mpx), but would be adequate for the majority of users (8/10) See more digital camera reviews sorted by megapixels here.

Summary: The Fujifim F480 is an interesting though not impressive 8.2 megapixel wide angle digital camera. It is certainly a capable little camera but requires some patience to achieve the best results. This can happen when you have control through the limited manual options, as the auto settings will sometimes be unpredictable. If you have a need for a wide angle compact the F480 cannot be beaten at this price.

Fujifilm FinePix F480 Rating: Average (6.8/10)
Available for £99 - or Get the best price below!

What I like:

- Excellent value for money
- Large 2.7 inch screen shows the resulting photos with good clarity.
- 28mm wide angle, ideal for indoor photography
- Stylish compact metal body

What I don't like:

- Poor battery life
- Slow shot to shot times
- Unreliable exposure using scene modes
- Poor white balance and skin tones
- Low resolution video mode

Additional Test Images are viewable in the Fujifilm Finepix F480 Sample Photo Gallery.

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