Any time an electronics manufacturer creates a product targeted at teenagers, I start to worry. Too often, it means a poorly performing product with a slick design and an inflated price tag. Fujifilm's new FinePix Z10fd, which is intended for the midteen to mid-20s market, certainly has a nice look with its bright colors, silver accents, and horizontally sliding lens cover. The rest of the specs are run-of-the-mill. The Z10fd includes a 7.2-megapixel CCD sensor, a 3x optical 38mm-to-114mm equivalent f/3.7-to-f/4.2 zoom lens, and a 2.5-inch LCD screen. However, given the camera's sub-$200 price tag, these unremarkable features come as no surprise.
If you're worried about complicated controls, don't be. The FinePix Z10fd's hard-button controls consist of two four-way rocker rings, a Menu/OK button inside the bottom of the two rings, a display button, and the shutter button. The sliding lens cover turns the camera on and off. The top of the two rings offers zoom controls, as well as access to face detection and playback modes. The bottom ring lets you activate the camera's ISO-boosting Picture Stabilization mode (you won't find optical or sensor shift stabilization here), as well as macro, flash, and self-timer modes.
Like a lot of Fuji's cameras, the Z10fd includes IR Simple high-speed infrared transmission capability. This lets you transfer images from the Z10fd to another IR Simple device. The only problem is that there aren't very many IR Simple-equipped devices out there.
I was able to transfer an image from the Z10fd to the Fuji FinePix F50fd, and it was a very quick and painless experience, except for the fact that it took me a minute to realize that the self-timer spot on the bottom control ring also activates IR Simple when in playback mode. The only indication of this is the IR Simple logo, but since it's not a very common logo, I almost missed it. In a Fuji dream world, where high-schoolers all tote Z10fd's in their pockets, IR Simple would be a nifty way to transfer images among friends.
As you may have guessed from its price, the Z10fd is a very automatic camera. It doesn't offer manual exposure controls or a choice of metering modes. Instead, you have to rely on exposure compensation if you want to tweak the decisions of the 256-zone metering system. That said, the meter does a good job, even in some tricky situations. In my field tests, it tended to preserve shadow detail, occasionally at the expense of highlight detail.
You do get some choices, though. There are seven white-balance options, though in our tests, the Z10fd's automatic white balance did an excellent job of neutralizing colors in all the different lighting situations we tried, including our extremely yellow tungsten hot lights. Of course, there are also 14 scene presets to deal with unusual shooting situations.
The camera also includes the original version of Fuji's face detection. Unlike version 2 of the company's face detection, the original version included in the Z10fd can't identify faces unless it can see two eyes on a person's face. That means it won't find people standing in profile, but in the right situations, it does find faces quickly and uses them to set focus and exposure.
In our lab's performance tests, the FinePix Z10fd was slow, but for its price range, it's really somewhat average. The camera took 2.3 seconds to start up and capture its first JPEG. Subsequent JPEGs took 2.3 seconds between shots with the flash turned off and 2.6 seconds with it turned on. Shutter lag measured a not-too-bad 0.7 second in our high-contrast test, but a not nearly as impressive 2.2 seconds in our low-contrast test. Those tests mimic bright and dim shooting conditions, respectively.
In our continuous shooting test, we were able to capture an unimpressive 0.6 frame per second in the camera's "long period" mode. Though that's exactly what Fuji claims in that mode, it's slower than some of the competition (see chart below for more details).