The Fujifilm Finepix F100fd may be small but it’s full of cool features that makes it suitable for all occasions.
By CHONG JINN XIUNG
WHEN it comes to compact cameras there’s no shortage of choice in the market.
Fujifilm’s venerable F-series of cameras are well known for their performances in low light conditions and continuing the trend is Fujifilm’s latest 12-megapixel Finepix F100fd.
On the outside, the F100fd looks just like any other standard compact camera with a rather modest design. Small and compact, the F100fd is an easy-to-carry camera that can fit into your shirt or jeans pocket.
Getting to the feel of the camera, the F100fd feels good to hold in your hands.
Despite it missing any sort of handgrip, the camera feels firm and is really easy to use. All the buttons are within easy reach so it is easy to make adjustments on the fly.
One of the main highlights of the F100fd is its 5x optical zoom lens, prominently featured on the front panel.
This bad boy has a 28mm-140mm focal length, which means it can cover both the wide angle and telephoto zooming ends of the spectrum.
On the back of the F100fd is a large 2.7in LCD display, that provides a nice 230,000-dot resolution, for examining pictures taken.
While this is no way the ideal method of checking to see if your pictures are in focus, the screen offers great resolution that’s perfect for checking your photos.
Handling the controls
The controls on the F100fd should come naturally to anyone who has used a Fujifilm camera before.
The standard four directional button pad is present though it now comes in the form of a radial dial which can be rotated to cycle through menus and pictures.
Interestingly, this odd combination allows you to both use the buttons and dial to scroll through pictures in Playback mode and camera settings at will, making for a good interface.
By pressing-and-releasing the menu button you’ll bring up the virtual dial mode which contains the camera’s numerous preset scene modes as well as switch between automatic and manual mode.
The downside to this, however, is that the virtual mode dial feels a little clunky as it lists out nearly every available scene mode, making it difficult to locate the desired mode.
One issue I’ve had in using Fujifilm cameras in the past is that they exclusively supported xD cards in place of the more popular SD card format.
Fortunately, the F100fd solves this problem by supporting both SD and xD memory cards.
Generous with features
In terms of features, the F100fd has a large number of features that make it a worthwhile camera to check out. For one, it’s got a CCD-shift image stabilisation system to help counter the effects of camera shake.
Overall, the image stabilisation works well and greatly assists when you are taking handheld shots. However, it still doesn’t beat using a tripod if you are taking pictures in low light.
Face-detection is a fairly common feature in most modern compact cameras so it comes to no surprise to find it here. Using Fuji’s Face Detection 3.0 technology, the F100fd features lightning fast face detection and is claimed to be able to detect up to 10 faces, focusing and adjusting exposure on the face for a better picture.
In actual practice, we only managed to get at most three or four faces detected at once.
Still, I was quite impressed with the feature as it manages to track faces relatively well, even if a person is showing his side profile or is moving.
One nifty feature is that the camera automatically picks up faces and allows you to zoom in on individual faces in playback mode.
Another new feature present the Dynamic Range setting. For those unfamiliar with the concept, Dynamic Range mainly deals in the handling of how well your camera can capture the darkest and brightest parts of a picture without underexposing or overexposing it.
In many ways, the F100fd’s Dynamic Range feature helps it to some degree give an even exposure to pictures taken in very difficult situations like a shot with both an indoor and outdoor area side by side.
The camera takes just two seconds to power up before being able to take the first shot.
This may not be ideal for fast subjects or events but it is a reasonable amount of time if you are just taking casual shots.
It is worth noting that the F100fd’s autofocus (AF) speed is very quick — locking focus in just a second when shooting out in broad daylight.
Amazingly even in dark conditions, the F100fd doesn’t have much trouble focusing on subjects thanks to its AF assist light, able to achieve a focus lock within a second no less.
As mentioned earlier, the lens has a great diverse focal length that comes in handy in most situations. Having used the camera for a few days, I appreciated the great flexibility it gave me for everyday shooting.
Shooting at 28mm made it easier to take pictures in enclosed spaces while indoors and for taking more scenery in outdoor shots.
This also comes in handy when you’ve got to take big group shots without needing to step too far back.
One downside to the otherwise great wide angle performance of the camera is some instances of barrel distortion in pictures when shooting at the widest focal length.
Taking a look at the telephoto end, the F100fd has a decent zoom range that is good enough for capturing shots of far away subjects.
While you won’t be able to take pictures of birds perched up in a tree with this camera, you can at the very least take a shot of a person standing across the street.
The camera performs its best when shooting out in broad daylight capturing a great amount of detail.
The F100fd also handles chromatic aberration relatively well, so there were little to no instances of purple fringing in most pictures.
Fujifilm cameras generally boast great ISO performance and are very good at handling noise in pictures. So it comes as no surprise that the F100fd serves up terrific looking pictures with noise-free pictures taken at ISO 100 to 200.
Noise begins to creep up at ISO 400 particularly in dark areas of pictures, though they still look usable.
It is at ISO 800 when things start to look grainy and there’s a noticeable dip in sharpness and quality in pictures but honestly, the picture still looks remarkably better when compared against other compact cameras.
I wouldn’t recommend bumping the ISO up beyond 1600 as the image quality drastically deteriorates. Having said that, even though the camera has the option to capture a ISO 12,800 image, you shouldn’t really bother as the image quality drops down to three megapixels and the images look absolutely horrible.
The camera operates on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which is good for around 200 shots in a single charge or about half a day of normal shooting. Still, I found the camera’s battery life too short for shooting long events.
As a point-and-shoot camera, the F100fd has a bevy of additional features and functionalities that add to the camera’s overall value.
Features like face detection are a welcome addition and will come in handy for those family photos while image stabilisation really helps you to get a clear shot if a subject is too far away.
When it comes down to ISO performance, there’s no doubt that the F100fd stands as one of the best amongst compact cameras.
The great ISO performance helps in a variety of situations that work great regardless if you are shooting outdoors or in low light conditions.
On the downside, the camera’s battery life could’ve been improved. Also, the virtual dial mode doesn’t serve much purpose other than look pretty.
All in all, however, you’re definitely getting more than you bargained with the Fujifilm Finepix F100fd — it’s a terrific little camera that’s great for all occasions.
Pros: Great ISO performance; lots of features; Dynamic Range brings out more detail in pictures.
Cons: Virtual dial mode is clunky to use; weak battery life.
Compact digital camera
Viewfinder: 2.7in TFT LCD
Lens: 28-140mm f/3.5- f/5.1 (35mm equivalent)
Shutter speed: 8sec - 1/1,500sec ISO Range: 64 to 1600
Exposure modes: 16 Scene modes, Movie mode, Battery: Lithium-ion
Storage: xD-Picture Card and SD memory card Internal memory: 57MB
Interface: USB 2.0, AV output, DC input
Other features: Image stabilisation, face detection, Dynamic Range
Dimensions (w x h x d9.77 x 5.89 x 2.34cm
Review unit courtesy of Fujifilm (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (03)5569-8388