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Fujifilm FinePix F100fd review: Fujifilm FinePix F100fd

Even as the company's top-end snapper, the Fujifilm FinePix F100fd has much to live up to. With previous F series incarnations yielding amazing results, this 12-megapixel snapper rises to the challenge by taking a firm hand to noise and producing fresh, natural colours

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Richard Trenholm
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Richard Trenholm

Movie and TV Senior Editor

Richard Trenholm is CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture over the past 15 years from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.

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4 min read

The Fujifilm FinePix F100fd is the top-end, 12-megapixel snapper in the FinePix range. Previous cameras in the F series leave the F100 with a lot to live up to. It's available now for an online price of around £160.

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6.5

Fujifilm FinePix F100fd

The Good

Respectable images; nippy scroll wheel.

The Bad

Controls in the wrong place; no manual control or even aperture or shutter priority.

The Bottom Line

We want to like the Fujifilm FinePix F100fd and we certainly like its scroll wheel, big screen and 5x zoom. But even respectable image quality isn't enough to overcome the undistinguished feature set and inexplicably fiddly controls

Design
The F100 feels slimmer than its F series predecessors due to the subtly curved styling. It actually feels quite heavy, though. It comes in black or silver versions with silver accents.

The decent-sized 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD screen somehow doesn't feel that big, probably because of the sparse layout of the buttons next to it. There are only four buttons -- an F menu button, face detection and red-eye toggle, display options and a playback button.

In the middle of this sublimely uncluttered space sits a zippy scroll wheel, which doubles as a clickpad. The wheel is a pleasure to use -- if only there were more features to use it with.

Features
We've seen some misleadingly-named manual modes in the compact camera market, but this one takes the cake. The only shooting options you can manually alter are the ISO speed, exposure compensation and the dynamic range setting. There isn't even aperture or shutter priority.

Even worse, exposure compensation is buried in the menu rather than being easily accessible with the F button. For us, manual control means the ability to control exposure quickly and simply, but altering exposure involves a rigmarole of extra wheel spinning and button pushing.

Using the playful wheel to sift through menus and adding extra button pushing is a wasted opportunity. This is frustrating because the wheel would be an intuitive and enjoyable way of altering exposure, say, using onscreen sliders for aperture and shutter speeds. Selecting modes involves spinning the wheel and is complemented well by a clever onscreen wheel interface, and this just shows how much fun the wheel could have been.

The frustration isn't over yet. The macro option simply doesn't work in certain scene modes. Meanwhile, the camera doesn't stay in burst mode after you've taken one set of photos, so you have to endure another button-pressing, wheel-spinning bout of tedious menu wrestling to take another burst. Not ideal considering continuous mode is often used for capturing blink-and-you-miss-it action.

We're more impressed with the lens. It's a well- balanced, 5x optical zoom with a 35mm camera- equivalent focal length of 28mm. Other features include optical image stabilisation and face detection 3.0. The F100 also supports both xD and SD format memory cards.


Performance
Corking image quality is the only thing that would pull it out of the bag after the interface frustrations. Colours are fresh and natural and noise performance was a pleasant surprise.

Although you can go up to ISO 12,800, the combination of 3-megapixel resolution and intrusive noise reduction makes the results look like they've been daubed in crayon. But apart from the predictably overambitious higher ISO speeds, noise control is actually pretty good. Even at ISO 800, well beyond the reach of most compacts, speckly noise doesn't overwhelm the image. Noise reduction isn't too overzealous, with only the finest detail smudged.

Low light performance is good, as you'd expect from an F series camera, but we have to add the caveat that without quick access to exposure compensation, the results can be hit and miss, especially when different light sources are involved. The F100 wouldn't know where to start with, say, a concert.

We were able to take a picture in 1 second from start up. Meanwhile, the burst mode -- if you can find it buried in the menu -- clocks in at a rather shoddy 0.5 frames per second.

There are other faster burst modes: top three and final three modes, which save the first or last three images from when you hold down the shutter. Final three saves three images in 2 seconds. Top three is even faster, saving three frames in 1 second. But it then takes another 10 seconds to process them and besides, we can't for the life of us think of a situation that would require you to use top three.

Conclusion
We really want to like the Fujifilm FinePix F100fd and as an uncomplicated point-and-shoot with a fun control wheel, we do. But the weight of expectation from its illustrious forebears, such as the Fujifilm FinePix F50fd, leaves us disappointed. Its feature set is too dumbed down and what manual controls you do get are inexplicably and annoyingly in the wrong place.

Decent image quality means we could recommend this to the everyday snapper, but anyone who wants decent results even in harder lighting environments would be better off with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS5.

Edited by Shannon Doubleday

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