Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd £99.88

14th Mar 2007 | 00:00

Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd

Another girlie camera or an innovation in picture-taking?

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

A great companion for a Friday night spent in dimly lit places! Don't expect much zooming

Like:

<p>Slim</p><p>Good picture quality</p><p>Simple controls</p><p>Great LCD Resolution</p>

Dislike:

<p>Slow to start up</p><p>Raised LCD coating can get scratched</p>

Another slim-line, handbag camera... this time in raspberry red? It may look like it, but let me tell you from the outset, this is no ordinary handbag camera.

This is a sophisticated bundle of technology that makes picture-taking fun and interesting. Hey, it even has Ir-simple infrared transfer so it can talk to other hi-tech printers and phones. Top of the Z5fd's feature list is its Face Detection technology.

Is it just another gimmick? Well, it sounds like it, but in practice 'fd' technology is astonishingly good. The Z5fd can lock on to a maximum of ten faces in a scene and will adjust settings for optimum results. It stumbles with cats and dogs, but it's sure-footed with humans.

The fun starts when you review your photographs. Press the display button and then the Face Detection button, and each face in the photo will appear 'on screen' in close-up so you can check for red-eye, sleepy eye or even shut-eye. It's fantastic.

This is a piece of technology that actually works and is genuinely useful. It's not often you see that in these days of over-the-top gadgetry. Another bouquet must go to Fujifilm for refusing to play the megapixel game. The Z5fd has a 1/2.5-inch sensor with a footling 6.3 megapixels instead of the more common 8 or 10 used by many other manufacturers.

Frankly, that's enough for anyone, especially with this sort of camera. Instead of pixel packing, Fuji has chosen to concentrate on coaxing better image quality by matching sensor, lens and image processor so that all three elements work in harmony. This Real Photo Technology truly pays dividends. Okay, so there's no chance of getting SLR-quality from this sort of sensor, but it's more than up to the job it's designed to do, and it can give many 10-megapixel compacts a serious beating.

Against the grain

Another point worth noting is that the Fujifilm Super CCD sixth-generation sensor can shoot at speeds of up to ISO 1600 without losing detail in a snowstorm of grain. It's something that Fuji always excels at and it's useful for freezing movement - something that anti-shake cameras can't do so easily.

As well as incorporating the usual scene modes, such as Beach, Fireworks and a Blog feature for taking web-ready shots, the Z5fd also has Intelligent Flash. This feature takes more natural-looking flash photos because the Z5fd controls the balance between flash and ambient light.

Intelligent Flash can also be combined with Natural Light mode by taking two photos of the same scene instantaneously - one with flash and one without. Both shots appear side by side on the Z5fd's 2.5-inch LCD screen and enable you to compare the two. It's a clever feature that gives you more picture- taking options. It's even intelligent enough to raise the ISO on the natural light shot so that it makes the most of ambient lighting conditions.

So, is it a 'Straight-A' review for the Z5fd? Well, not quite. There are one or two little gripes, such as the menu system. Fuji has always opted for a slightly eccentric interface that looks as though it might have been put together by a couple of designers after one bottle too many of Beaujolais Nouveau, but you soon get used to it even though it'll never be a model of clarity.

However, image quality is very good for a camera with such a small sensor and folded-lens system. And even when the going gets tough and the ISO is racked up a few notches, the results are still pleasing.

This is a camera that supplies polite images that still deliver enough crispness and bite. When you add sleek styling and an attractive but pointless illuminating logo (which make for interesting enough talking points) to the Fujifilm's picture-taking abilities, and what you've got is a stunning little compact that's sure to find space in many a girl's - and bloke's - handbag.

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