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Front

The Fujifilm FinePix F100fd looks similar to previous F-series models with its non-glamorous silver-colored body. It has a slightly different shape that almost looks pinched in the middle instead of the wedge-shape of earlier models. The lens protrudes in three segments on the right side with the lens specs running across the top and bottom arcs of the barrel. "Fujinon Zoom Lens" graces the top and "5x, f=6.4-32mm 1:3.3-5.1" is on the bottom.

There is all manner of branding on the front of the F100fd. An embossed Fujifilm logo sits in the center of the left side where the fingers grip the camera. In the lower left corner of the camera is a printed FinePix logo. In the lower right corner is a Super CCD logo. In the upper right corner, the camera flaunts "5x optical zoom."

The built-in flash unit and autofocus assist lamp sit northwest of the lens, which is surrounded by a chrome silver frame that adds only a little interest to the otherwise dull design.

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Back

The 2.7-inch LCD screen takes up much of the backside of the FinePix F100fd. There is a small Fujifilm logo to the upper left corner of the LCD – in case you forget what kind of camera it is. In the upper right corner of the camera’s back are two buttons that are so close they could be one. The FinePix button on the left is hardly differentiated from the face detection/red-eye reduction button on the right. In the center of the right side is a traditional multi-selector that is composed of a central selection button and a thick ring around it that moves in four directions. Each direction has a separate purpose when not navigating through a menu. The top deletes images in the Playback mode and activates image stabilization in the Recording mode. The right side changes the flash mode, the bottom turns on the self-timer, and the left side accesses the Macro focus mode. In the lower right corner of the camera’s back is another set of buttons at the bottom: display/info on the left and Playback mode on the right.

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Left Side

The left side of the F100fd is featureless.

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Right Side

The right side of this digital camera has two holes in the body that connect under the surface to create a tiny tunnel for a wrist strap eyelet. The eyelet is in the center of the camera. At the bottom of the right side is a small rubber cover that pops out to let you thread the power adaptor into the battery compartment on the bottom of the camera. At the top of the right side is a small cover for the one port on the camera that connects to the included USB and AV cables.

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Top

The Fujifilm FinePix F100fd’s model name sits on the left side of the top. The shutter release button and surrounding zoom ring sit on the right side. Directly left is the tiny trapezoidal power button with its LED next to it. The top isn’t anything glamorous.

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Bottom

Like most cameras, the bottom isn’t anything much. The left side is a battery and memory card compartment covered by a plastic door. To its right is a built-in speaker and tripod socket.

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Viewfinder

The Fujifilm F100fd does not have an optical viewfinder, but uses the LCD screen instead. The 2.7-inch LCD has 100 percent coverage of the recorded image, making it a much better choice than most optical viewfinders, anyway.

The refresh rate on the LCD can be changed through the power management portion of the FinePix menu. The default power saving view looks a little choppy and easily blurs moving subjects. The "clear display" option is just what it says it is; the refresh rate speeds up to 60 fps instead of 30 fps, which provides a smoother view of action. In this mode, the display even brightens a little more.

The display info on the screen can be changed with the left half of the button in the bottom right corner of the back. It can leave a blank screen or show file info or file info with a framing assist grid.

Overall, the LCD as a viewfinder looks great as long as the clear display feature is chosen in the F-menu.

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LCD Screen

The Fuji F100fd has the same 2.7-inch LCD as its predecessor. They both have 230,000 pixels. The amorphous silicon TFT LCD has an anti-glare coating, but seems to attract exorbitant amounts of grease. Since the coating doesn’t work on grease, fingerprints reflected the lights from above and made it harder to see the image on the screen.

The LCD can be viewed at wide angles when held below and to the sides of the head. When it is held above, though, you can’t see anything. Forget about seeing the image when you hold the camera above the crowd to snap a picture of the president walking by. As one Fujifilm booth rep put it, "It’s not perfect, but it’s very usable."

There is an 11-level brightness adjustment in the setup menu that makes the F100fd’s LCD more versatile. Overall, the LCD is nicely sized and has great resolution.

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Flash

The flash on the Fujifilm F100fd is positioned to the left of the lens, when viewing from the front. It is small but not thin. From casual shooting on the show floor, this didn’t lead to any noticeable unevenness in the flash range, but we'll wait until we get it back into the lab to draw any real conclusions on this.

The flash modes are fairly simple: Auto, On, Off, and Slow Sync. All of the modes have red-eye reduction. It seemed to work, as none of the portraits I took had red eyes in them, but again we'll have to wait and see how well it does in our test lab before drawing any firm conclusions.

Like previous F-series cameras, there is a dual flash mode called Natural Light & With Flash. The first picture it takes is done with a higher ISO sensitivity and no flash. The latter image is taken using the flash.

The F100fd’s flash doesn’t recover quickly. After taking a picture with the flash forced on, the camera took about five seconds to take its next flashed shot. This isn’t impressive but this could change by the time the production model comes out in March. Overall, this flash produced nice even lighting and didn’t overexpose any portraits.

Zoom Lens

This is the biggest change on the F100fd from its predecessor. The older model has only a 3x optical zoom lens, but the new model shows off a Fujinon 5x optical zoom lens. The longer lens is a welcome change. A 3x lens doesn’t feel like much zoom at all when in a back row at a concert. The 5x lens has a nice 6.4-32mm zoom range that is equivalent to 28-140mm in the traditional 35mm format. This provides a wide enough view to capture group portraits and architectural shots, but is long enough to get properly cropped action shots, too.

The lens is controlled by a zoom ring that surrounds the shutter release button. It stops at about 14 focal lengths throughout the zoom range and moves smoothly when zooming in but backfires when zooming out. The backfiring looks like the camera can’t decide where to settle down at, so it zooms out and in and out again before becoming motionless.

The zoom lens is complemented nicely by a dual image stabilization system that combines the conventional digital image stabilization technology (which boosts the ISO and shutter speed) with Fujifilm’s newer sensor-shift stabilization system, which moves the sensor in response to camera shake. This is especially nice to have because bumps are otherwise accentuated in images and videos taken with the long 5x lens. The system can be activated with a push to the top of the multi-selector.

Of note is the 8.2x digital zoom, but it should be avoided to preserve image quality.

Model Design / Appearance

The Fujifilm FinePix F-series has never been the company’s glamour line of cameras. Leave that to the Z-series with their slimmer bodies that come in bold colors. The F-series is marketed as the company’s smartest compact cameras: they are all about function. The functional and performance-oriented F100fd comes in a silver-colored aluminum housing. It has a few chrome highlights such as the rim around the lens barrel and the shutter release and power buttons, but the housing is otherwise quite plain.

Size / Portability

The Fujifilm F100fd has a flat body with soft, rounded edges. The camera measures 3.85 x 2.31 x 0.92 inches (97.7 x 58.9 x 23.4 mm), making it thin and flat enough to fit into a back pocket. This is a go-anywhere digital camera because of its measurements and unobtrusive weight of slightly more than 6 ounces (170 grams). It has a wrist strap eyelet on its right side.

Handling Ability

The size of the camera is very convenient, but the handling isn’t comfortable. Fujifilm made an attempt to address handling with the wrinkle on the back of the camera that provides a little bump to keep the thumb from slipping off. There isn’t a hand grip or anything substantial on the front to even call a finger grip. The flash can also be easily obstructed by the fingers of the right hand.

Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size

The new F100fd makes many changes in its control setup from the F50fd. The biggest change is that the mode dial disappeared on the new camera; it has moved to the virtual world. The exposure modes can now be found by pushing the menu button in the center of the rotary dial and then rotating the dial itself. This scrolls quickly through every exposure mode on the camera. This dial also has a position on it to access the Recording menu, which isn’t very intuitive. It isn’t very easy to get used to scrolling down on the rotary dial to access an option that is above where you are. The rotary dial is nice for scrolling through images in the Playback mode, though.

The other buttons on the camera are quite small and odd. There is a single button on the upper right corner of the back that rocks left for the FinePix menu and right to access the face detection and red-eye fix. This same rocker setup is used for the buttons on the bottom. The single-panel button is skinny, but seems to always choose the right option at the right time. It performs its function, but isn’t very comfortable.

Menu

The menu system looks the same as other FinePix models before it with its layout and archaic font. The easiest menu to find is the "F" menu with its designated left side of the top rocker button.

The other menus are more difficult to find. You have to push the menu button and then the virtual mode dial appears. All of the icons on the menu are shown in gray except for the menu position, which appears in light turquoise. It is always located just above the mode you are currently in. You have to scroll downward on the dial to move up; this isn’t very intuitive. This is what you’ll find once you’re there.

 

This menu shows a live view for the exposure compensation and white balance. The Setup menu shows up with four numbered tabs. It’s hard to remember the differences between the options on page one and page four, so the tabs aren’t very useful unless you have an excellent memory.

 

The Setup menu is especially annoying because you can easily "fall out" of it. Once you go into a sub-menu, sometimes you can go back and sometimes you just get kicked out of the menu system completely. If you want to toy with more than one feature in the menu, you have to re-enter the Recording menu and then the Setup menu – and that’s time-consuming. However, bear in mind that the model we looked at was a pre-production unit: the menu and control structure may change in the final version.

Ease of Use

The Fujifilm FinePix F100fd isn’t as easy to use as its predecessor. The lack of a physical mode dial is confusing. When people pick up this camera, they wonder where the exposure modes are. The virtual mode dial is a cool idea, but takes some getting used to. For taking one picture, the F100fd is easy to use (it turns on in the Auto mode). For doing anything else, it will require venturing into the virtual world of dials and menus.

Auto Mode

The camera starts up in the Auto mode, so it isn’t hard to find. The Auto mode is also located on the virtual dial, where it isn’t as easy to find. The Recording menu is truncated to offer only the burst and setup options. The functions on the multi-selector are available: Self-Timer, Macro, Exposure Compensation, and Flash. The image size can be changed in the "F" menu along with the automated ISO modes, power management, and color mode choices.

Movie Mode

Don’t chuck your camcorder thinking the F100fd’s Movie mode will replace it. The Fujifilm F100fd may have the typical resolution available on other digital cameras and many camcorders, but it lacks the perks that can be had on many other models: the audio isn’t very good and the optical zoom cannot be used. The white balance, ISO, and other settings can’t be changed. This FinePix records 640 x 480 and 320 x 240-pixel resolution at 30 or 15 fps and records monaural audio. The videos are stored in Motion JPEG files, which take up more space on memory cards and require more attention to upload to online sharing sites than other more modern formats like H.264. To its credit, the Fujifilm FinePix F100fd kept crisp focus throughout the video in our limited testing at the PMA show.

Videos can be played back with sound but cannot be edited at all. You can stop and start them, but that’s it.

Drive / Burst Mode

The Fujifilm FinePix F100fd has an unimpressive Burst mode that remains unchanged from its predecessor. It can shoot 1.7 fps for only three frames at full resolution. When the resolution is reduced to 3 megapixels or less, the camera can shoot 5 fps for 12 consecutive shots. There are Top and Final burst modes for each that allow you to save the photographs at either the beginning or end of the burst. There is also a Long Period burst that can hardly be called a burst.

The Long Period mode continually wrote images to the internal memory but the other modes took a whopping 16 seconds to write the images. Granted, a memory card would have been faster and this is a pre-production model. Let’s hope this is fixed by March.

The Burst mode is slower than the F50fd. They both have the same resolution but the older camera shoots 2 fps at full resolution.

Of note are the 2- and 10-second Self-Timer modes available by pushing the bottom of the multi-selector.

Playback Mode

The Playback mode is accessible by pushing the button in the lower right corner of the camera’s back. The Playback mode opens and shows the last picture taken. The best part of the Playback mode is scrolling through 10 pictures a second with the nicely gliding rotary dial.

You can view images one by one or as index screens of nine at a time or 100 tiny thumbnails at a time. You can also view four thumbnails on an interesting screen that shows two large and two small images. A calendar of images can be seen when the display button is pushed. The Playback menu describes most of the features available.

  

I didn’t get any red eyes in my pictures, so I can’t tell you much about the red-eye removal feature. The voice memo records up to 30 seconds, but you can’t re-record the clip or erase it, so get it right the first time.

Other features are available by pushing the "F" button. 

 

This is where Fujifilm’s infrared wireless transfer technology is hidden. You can transmit images as they are or have them resized in the Blog mode. The IrSimple wireless technology has some limitations. It can only work with compatible products, and there aren’t many in the United States. Fujifilm booth reps said the IrSimple technology is bigger in Japan and Europe. Compatibility is one problem, but other problems include the physical proximity (devices have to be within three feet with the sensors facing each other) and the fact that you can only transfer one image at a time. The IrSS function in the slide show option can transfer images wirelessly to compatible televisions.

Overall, the Playback mode has cool wireless features, but they only work when you have compatible products. There are hardly any editing features, but the rotary dial for navigation and the high-resolution LCD screen are perks.

Custom Image Presets

This point-and-shoot digital camera has 16 Scene modes that don’t go too far beyond the basics: Natural Light, Natural Light & With Flash, Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Underwater, Museum, Party, Flower, and Text. The Scene modes are placed all around the rotary dial’s virtual mode dial. When you scroll over one of them, a large icon appears along with text explaining the mode. This is a nice touch.

Most of the Scene modes are standard fare, although the Natural Light & With Flash mode – also called the Dual Flash mode – is still only offered on a small handful of digital cameras. This allows you to push the shutter release button once and the camera automatically takes one picture using high ISO sensitivity and natural light and the other using the flash to illuminate subjects. The two images are then displayed side by side, although they are separate image files. The Portrait Enhancer mode is also unique. It combines the newly updated face detection system with an in-camera editing system that minimizes lines and blemishes in skin. There is also an Underwater scene mode, but this can only be used properly with the optional underwater housing. Overall, the Scene mode selection is good. It has all the basics and a few interesting items, but doesn’t go overboard with so many modes that it’s a pain to scroll through them.

Manual Control Options       

This digital camera is not made for those who really care about manual controls. There just aren’t that many. The ones that are on the camera are generally hard to find.

Focus

Auto Focus – The F100fd’s autofocus system is updated thanks to Fujifilm’s third-generation RP image processor. It is nice and snappy and keeps subjects crisp.

The new image processor allows the face detection system to focus on up to 10 faces, like the old camera, but does it faster and more accurately. In the press release announcing the product, Fujifilm claims it can detect 10 faces in "as little as 0.036 seconds." And it can do so even when subjects’ faces are looking to the side, up, down, left, right, upside down, or just about everywhere.

The "face detection 3.0" delivers as promised, even on the preproduction model. It detects and follows faces very well, except when faces are in the outer edge of the frame; the face detection system favors the center of the image.

The camera focuses from 1.5 feet when zoomed wide and 2.4 feet in telephoto. There is also a Macro focus mode that can capture subjects in a 5 to 80 centimeter (3.9 inches to 2.6 feet)range zoomed wide and 50 to 80 centimeter (1.6 to 3.6 feet) range when zoomed in telephoto.

The autofocus area can be changed from Multi to Center. There is also a Continuous autofocus mode that can be turned on.

In dark places, the contrast detection system may have trouble spotting its subject, so there is an autofocus assist lamp to help light the way.

Manual Focus – There is no manual focus on the F100fd.

ISO

The Fujifilm FinePix F100fd expands ISO sensitivity even farther than its predecessor. The F50fd topped off at ISO 6400, but the F100fd adds an ISO 12800 setting. That isn’t a typo: there are two zeros there. Granted, the top two ISO settings are only functional when the image size is set to 3 megapixels or less. But still, they are there. Few digital cameras rival this range, but we'll have to wait until we get the F100fd into the lab before we can judge how much of a problem noise becomes at the higher settings.

The F100fd offers more automatic modes than most (and perhaps more than is neccesary for most users). There is a standard auto ISO setting, an auto setting that maxes out at 400, and settings that max out at 800, 1600, and 3200. This will be one of the less frequently used settings. If you’re going to adjust the ISO, you might as well do it manually rather than select which "auto" mode should be in place.

The manual ISO range is sensational with its ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, and 3200 available in full resolution and its ISO 6400 and 12800 available at reduced resolution.

White Balance    

The white balance options can be found in the Recording menu, complete with a live view: Auto, Fine, Shade, Fluorescent Daylight, Fluorescent Warm White, Fluorescent Cool White, Incandescent, and Custom. The latter mode lets you frame something white in the box that appears on the screen and then push the shutter to finish setting the white balance.

Exposure

The exposure compensation is available in almost every mode. It has the same +/- 2 EV range that comes in steps of a third that just about every digital camera has.

Metering

The Fujifilm FinePix F100fd has a through-the-lens metering system that uses 256 zones to figure out what kind of lighting is in the image and how the camera should compensate. There are Multi, Spot, and Average modes in the menu under the photometry heading.

Shutter Speed

This digital camera has an automated range of shutter speeds from 4 to 1/1500 of a second. Many digital cameras go slightly faster at 1/2000 of a second, but most users won’t notice this little change.

Aperture

The Fujifilm FinePix F100fd has a 5x optical zoom lens with a maximum aperture of f/3.3 when zoomed out. This is smaller than the typical, bright f/2.8 on most models. The aperture can shrink to f/9 when zoomed out, but this cannot be controlled manually. When the lens is zoomed in, the aperture changes within a f/5.1-f/14 range.

Picture Quality / Size Options

Perhaps the megapixel race is stalled for now: the Fujifilm FinePix F100fd comes with the same 12-megapixel resolution as its predecessor. We’re not complaining. Who needs this much resolution? Certainly not the average digital camera user who prints a handful of 4 x 6-inch prints every few months. Twelve megapixels can print posters and approach billboards.

The F100fd puts its resolution on an upgraded sensor, though. It has a 1/1.6-inch eighth-generation Super CCD HR and pairs it with a Real Photo processor III. With the newer sensor, Fujifilm claims it is able to produce wider dynamic range.

JPEG image sizes include 4000 x 3000, 4224 x 2816 (3:2), 2848 x 2136, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, and 640 x 480. Only the top resolution has compression options of "fine" and "normal." The rest of the image sizes use normal compression.

Picture Effects Mode

There aren’t many effects on this digital camera. There are really only two in the "F" menu when shooting images: black-and-white and chrome. You can preview the colors before you take pictures. You can’t add any colors or cool effects in the Playback mode, though.

Connectivity

Software

The Fujifilm FinePix digital cameras come with FinePix Viewer for Windows and Macintosh on CD-ROM.

Jacks, ports, plugs

On the right side of the camera is one small cover that must be pried upward to access the single jack on the camera body. The jack accepts cables for USB and AV functions. An optional power adaptor fits into the battery compartment and threads through a little rubber flap near the bottom of the right side.

Direct Print Options

You can create print orders through the Playback menu. You can select images and then select how many prints to make of each from 0-99. You can also decide whether or not to print the date on the picture. A running total of images on the print order appears at the top of the screen.

Battery

The Fujifilm FinePix F100fd has a NP-50 lithium-ion battery included and a charger that comes in the box. Battery life specs aren’t available just yet. There is a battery indicator and it gives about five minutes warning before dying.

Memory

The newer F100fd has a healthy amount of internal memory along with a card slot that accepts xD, SD, and SDHC media. Fujifilm digital cameras originally accepted only xD cards, but as SD and SDHC became less expensive and more popular the FinePix models adopted this additional format. You can only use one card at a time, though.

The F100fd has 57 MB of internal memory, which is enough to hold 11 full-resolution images. This is an upgrade from the F50fd, which has only 25 MB of internal memory.

Value

The Fujifilm FinePix F100fd was announced on Jan. 24 to sell for $379, a price that seems high compared to other cameras put out by Fujifilm. It seems they have a whole army of cameras that sell for less than $200. The 12-megapixel Fuji F50fd has many of the same features, but comes with a shorter 3x lens and an older version of face detection. It has a big price cut, though, retailing at $299. To its credit, the F100fd crams a lot of newer pricier technology such as face detection, image stabilization, and red-eye removal.

Comparison to the Fujifilm FinePix F50fd

The Fujifilm FinePix F50fd has the same 12 megapixels as the newer model, but has the older version of face detection. It still recognizes up to 10 faces, but doesn’t do it as quickly as the F100fd and can’t recognize profiles and the full 360-degree range of a face like the new model. The F50fd has the same IrSimple wireless transfer technology and many of the same exposure modes, and even has dual image stabilization. They have the same 2.7-inch LCD screen, but the older camera has a shorter 3x optical zoom lens. Surprisingly, the F50fd has a faster 2 fps Burst mode. It sells for much less at $299, and there are trade-offs going both ways.

Who It’s For

Point-and-Shooters – The Fujifilm FinePix F100fd is small enough to fit in a pocket and has way more performance features than the average compact digital camera. Perk: it’s easy to use, too.

Budget Consumers – The $379 price tag makes this camera one of the most expensive Fujifilm FinePix digital cameras on the market.

Gadget Freaks – These consumers will be pleased to hear that face detection can now track faces at a full 360 degrees: something new to show off to fellow geeks.

Manual Control Freaks – Manual controls are included, but they aren’t as easy to access as on a DSLR. But it's still a plus that they are there when needed.

Pros/ Serious Hobbyists – Compact digital cameras are unlikely to attract pros or hobbyists, but if they are searching for a small vacation companion the F100fd might be the one they’re looking for. Previous F-series cameras have tested well in our image quality tests, so we expect good things from the F100fd.

Conclusion

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The Fujifilm FinePix F100fd comes with a larger image sensor than its predecessor but the same 12 megapixels. It also improves upon the F50fd with a longer 5x optical zoom lens and a new version of face detection. Even on the pre-production model we looked at on the floor, these features were impressive. The 5x lens is a welcome change from the short 3x, and the dual image stabilization complements the lens nicely. The F100fd’s face detection quickly finds faces and tracks them accurately, even when they turn, look up, or lean forward.

The features on the F100fd are really cool, but the design feels all wrong. The mode dial on the F50fd turns into a virtual mode dial on the F100fd. It also places the menus on a position of the virtual mode dial, adding yet another step to access them. Scrolling down with your thumb to access something that is visually placed above where you are is not very intuitive, either. The graphic user interface is a step down, and the boring body design doesn’t help this FinePix’s case. In the end, the Fujifilm FinePix F100fd’s interface makes it too difficult to access all of its cool features. Perhaps Fujifilm will do some things to make the F100fd's features easier to use in the final version of the camera, but as it stands now, if you can’t access them easily, what use are these features?

Meet the tester

Emily Raymond

Emily Raymond

Editor

Emily Raymond is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.

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