Though the 2.5-inch LCD tends to blow out in bright sunlight, it otherwise works very well. Plus, the Z5fd offers the option of driving the display at 30fps, 60fps, or in a standard power save mode. Though denoted by frame rates, the 60fps does make the screen look slightly higher resolution than the other modes. As you'd guess, it draws more power, as well.
The Z5fd's performance falls on the high side of average for its class; in other words, it doesn't set any records, but it's got little to be ashamed about. It's up and shooting within 1.6 seconds, and imposes a reasonable 0.5-second shutter delay under typical bright shooting conditions. In less-than-optimal light, that increases to about 1.1 seconds, good for its type. Unsurprisingly, it follows that it has a very good typical shot-to-shot time of 1.7 seconds. With flash enabled, that time rises to about 2.6 seconds.
Burst shooting represents the Z5fd's weakest performance aspect; maxing out at 0.7fps, it's not very useful. Fujifilm supplies 2.2fps Top 3 and Final 3 burst modes to help compensate: Top 3 simply bursts for three shots while Final 3 shoots up to 40 frames, saving only the last three.
Though its photos can be pretty good, the Z5fd performs inconsistently. On one hand, I see no lens distortion or focus problems, nary a compression artifact and only the occasional case of purple fringing. Photos look relatively sharp and white balance reasonably neutral. If you want that typical vivid snapshot appearance, you'll have to switch into Chrome (as in slide film) color mode, because the standard mode looks a little flat relative to most point-and-shoot models.
Producing consistently correct exposures is the Z5fd's biggest issue. Though not uncommon among budget cameras, poor exposure of backlit subjects is unnecessary; all the manufacturer has to do is link spot metering to the center-point focus setting, an option which many of them, including the Z5fd, provide. It doesn't need to be user selectable. Using fill flash is a poor substitute, especially given the Z5fd's limited range of up to 11.5 feet (wide angle, auto ISO). The Z5fd also has problems with any unevenly lit scene, something that can't be solved by increasing the ISO sensitivity setting.
Furthermore, the Z5fd doesn't fare very well shooting movies. They look okay played at actual size (640x480); they should, given the M-JPEG AVI file's somewhat piggy megabyte per minute of storage. But the camera can't optically zoom during capture, and doesn't even refocus if you pan across a scene.
All of which adds up to a pretty typical, not particularly notable addition to the budget-camera pantheon. The Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd probably ranks as one of the smaller, cuter budget models, but it's ultimately your call as to whether the marginally slimmer build makes up for the missing features and inconsistent photo quality. I don't think it does.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Typical shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)