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).
Image quality is good, but the noise reduction algorithm that Fuji uses to keep ISO noise under control takes a lot of sharpness away from the Z10fd's images. If you're not going to print your images larger than 4x6 inches, this shouldn't be a problem, but if you plan to print large, crop, or view images on your computer at full magnification, you'll notice that the Z10fd's images can be quite soft, especially at high ISOs.
I didn't notice much noise at the camera's lowest sensitivity of ISO 64, though even then, images aren't as sharp as I'd like to see from a 7.2-megapixel camera. By ISO 200, noise began to become apparent when viewing on screen, though it won't likely mar prints much.
By ISO 400, you'll probably notice some grain in prints, along with some drop in sharpness. When you get to ISO 800, sharpness basically goes out the window, though noise doesn't get completely out of hand. And at ISO 1,600, it gets even worse. I suggest staying with ISO 400 and below when shooting with the FinePix Z10fd and keeping the ISO as low as possible.
While the Fujifilm FinePix Z10fd is aggressively priced, there are other cameras out there that can deliver better image quality for about the same amount of money. Canon's Powershot SD1000, for example, has come down in price since it was introduced and now hovers around the same price as the Z10fd while delivering faster overall performance and better overall image quality.
The same can be said for Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-W55, or for a little more money, its bigger brother, the DSC-W80. Of course, none of these sport the Z10fd's cute design or dazzling array of colors, but I'd rather be dazzled by images I shoot with my camera instead of images of my camera.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Typical shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)