If you’re having trouble eyeballing that chart, you’re in luck. Imatest output another chart that shows exactly how far off each individual color is from the ideal. On the chart below, the squares represent the Fujifilm Z1’s produced colors and the circles represent the ideal colors from the original GretagMacbeth chart. The closer the two shapes, the better.
Unfortunately, the Z1 exaggerated many of the colors, creating a palate that is 15.8 percent over-saturated. Without multiple color modes or a manual white balance setting, the Z1 had trouble adapting to our studio setup. As you can see, the reds and blues are so far off, they’re hardly reds and blues at all. This extreme alteration of tones is poor in comparison to other similarly-styled digital cameras, even within the Fuji brand. The Z1’s 3.59 overall score is lower than Fujifilm’s former bottom-of-the-line model, the FinePix A330, which scored a 4.76. It should be noted that the Z1’s rendered colors were far more naturalistic when used outdoors (in both Auto and outdoor white balance settings), but for interior shots, users should prepare to do some work post-capture.
**Still Life Scene
**Below is an image file of our still life scene, recorded with the Fujifilm FinePix Z1.
Click on the image above to view a full-resolution picture, but beware of the large linked file.](https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/viewer.php?picture=FujiZ1-StillLifeLG.jpg )
Resolution / Sharpness*(3.42)
*Using Imatest Imaging Software, we tested the resolution of the FinePix Z1 by taking images of an ISO resolution chart at various apertures and focal length settings and uploading the files into Imatest to analyze the sharpness and definition. The software detects all the pixels used for taking pictures. We report the score as both a number of detected pixels and as a percentage of the camera’s advertised resolution. Don’t be alarmed if our count is not the same as what Fujifilm advertises. This rarely happens. In fact, we think it’s good if a camera comes within 70 percent of its advertised count. We give a camera with a "very good" title if it surpasses 80 percent and "excellent" if it surpasses 90 percent.
Click on the above image to view full res chart](https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/viewer.php?picture=FujiZ1-ResCH-LG.jpg)
Unfortunately, the Z1 didn’t even reach the good designation. Of the 5 effective megapixels that are advertised, files produced by the FinePix Z1 utilized 3.42 of them to form the composition. This works out to be 68 percent, which falls just short of the noteworthy "good" mark. This does not necessarily mean that images resulting from the camera will not look as sharp as those from competing models; it just means users should expect to see the quality loss apparent from a 3.42 megapixel imager when the photos are enlarged or cropped.
This is the approx. white balance error of the image above. This was extracted from a file recorded with the Z1 in the same lighting setup.
Noise – Auto ISO*(2.91)
*If you’ve ever looked very closely at a digital picture – especially one taken by a cheap camera – you’ve probably noticed small, random green and purple dots. This "noise" functions similarly to film grain, increasing with higher ISO sensitivity ratings and detracting from the overall clarity of the image. When the Z1 automatically controlled the ISO, there was quite a bit of noise. The camera worked adequately in dim situations, but when ample illumination was available, the camera did not always acknowledge it and set the ISO higher than it should have. This resulted in more visible noise than was necessary and contributed to the camera’s 2.91 overall auto ISO noise score.
Noise – Manual ISO*(8.67)
*The Fujifilm FinePix Z1 offers a wide range of ISO sensitivities to choose from, including 64, 100, 200, 400, and 800. We took exposures with the same lighting at different ISO ratings to compare picture quality. We obtain results from each rating and run a regression analysis to determine the overall score.
The Z1 performed much better when the sensitivity was manually set, as is evident by the camera’s 8.67 overall manual noise score. While there is a significant jump in noise when the ISO is pushed to the 800 rating, the extended range will be incredibly useful to users shooting at night or in limited light, particularly with the limited maximum aperture offered by Z1’s lens. The chart above shows how the Z1 performed at each setting, with the vertical side representing noise levels and the horizontal axis showing the respective ISO ratings.
Low Light Performance*(5.5)
*The Z1 is touted as digital camera that you can throw in your purse or pocket and take out into town at night, something you can whip out at the nightclub to snap a few shots. This FinePix model even has an 800 ISO rating to aid in those dimly lit spaces. We put the Z1 to the test by taking pictures at decreasing light levels of 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux. 60 lux is about equivalent to two table lamps or a dimly lit nightclub. 30 lux is equivalent to a single 40-watt lightbulb. 15 and 5 lux approach total darkness; when it’s this dark, you should just go for the flash, but we test at these levels nonetheless.
At 60 lux, the colors can be seen, but the overall image is a bit furry. The image loses even more definition at 30 lux. At 15 lux, the picture looks considerably darker and it becomes difficult to discern gray from black values. At 5 lux, many of the colors are indistinguishable, the image is extremely dark, and the picture is anything but sharp. All of the low light images were taken in the Natural Light mode, which defaults to 1600 ISO and turns the flash off. We tested the Z1 in its low light-oriented preset as well as its manual mode. Since the results were very similar, we reported the Natural Light results since it is what Fuji is marketing to consumers.
**Speed / Timing
***Start-up to First Shot (8.83)
*Armed with a sliding cover and non-extending lens, the Z1 is designed to boot up quickly. Capturing an image in just 1.17 seconds, the Z1 may not have the speed of an SLR, but it is far faster than most point-and-shoots and should help ensure those fleeting moments make it to print.
*Shot to Shot Time (8.8) *
Without a true burst mode, the Z1 is at a disadvantage when trying to capture an action sequence. The Z1 needs 1.2 seconds to capture subsequent images, so users will have to time their shots appropriately.
*Shutter to Shot Time (8.86)
*While the Z1 sacrifices a burst rate, Fujifilm compensated for it with minimal shutter lag of just 0.07 seconds. This is close to the S3 and other digital SLRs and should virtually erase the delay between the depression of the shutter and capturing of an image.
*The front of the Z1 has a black, satiny aluminum sliding cover that is also used to power on the camera. In the closed position, the slider covers and protect the lens and flash. The thin, rectangular body of the Z1 is smooth across the surface of the front and offers no bumps or grips to facilitate opening or closing the slider. When the slider is open it reveals the small Fujinon zoom lens in the upper right corner of the camera. Written in tiny, white letters below the lens is, "Fujinon Zoom Lens," with the lens’ capabilities printed below: "3x 6.1-18.3 mm 1:3.5-4.2." At the bottom right corner of the front "Super CCD" is embossed, with "5.1 MEGA" printed below. In the top left corner, Fujifilm’s logo is printed and to the right of the logo, in the top center of the camera, is the flash and self-timer light.
*The back of the Z1 is filled mostly by the camera’s 2.5-inch LCD screen. The screen has a glossy black frame, with "FinePix" printed in white at the bottom. The LCD sits to the left of the controls which are crammed into the right third of the back. In the upper right corner is the zoom toggle, an ovoid button with a "W" on the left separated from a "T" on the right by a divot in the middle that serves as a place to rest your thumb and as a tactile differentiation between the two sides. Below the toggle are three round, rubber circles that serve as a grip. The leftmost circle also doubles as the camera’s indicator lamp which blinks when the camera is busy reading or writing an image.
Below the indicator lamp/rubber grip are two buttons; the left button has a playback icon and the right button has the letter "F" printed on. The left button serves to toggle the camera between playback and shooting modes and the right button is Fuji’s photo mode button that lets you pick image quality, exposure, and image effects (refer to the Image Parameters section for further elaboration). Underneath the two buttons lies the navigational dial, consisting of a menu/OK button surrounded by a ring. The ring has arrows pointing in each direction and an icon to the side indicating which function can be activated by pressing in that direction. The top of the ring has a sun icon and a trashcan to indicate the LCD brightness function and the delete function in playback. The right side of the ring has a flash icon; the left side has a flower icon, for the macro mode; and the bottom has a self-timer icon. Below and slightly to the left of the navigational dial is a small, circular button labeled "DISP/BACK" which is used to switch through the various display and information overlay modes on the LCD screen.
*The left side of the Z1 is flat and smooth and free from any features except for a wrist strap eyelet and what appears to be an infrared sensor, although no mention of it is made in the camera’s instruction manual.
*The right side is flat and smooth except for four small slits over the camera’s speaker.
*In line with the cameras’ sleek design, the top of the Z1 is functionally and aesthetically simplified. The satiny metal top has "FinePix Z1" printed in the middle of it, in small white letters. The round, silver shutter button is on the left of the top and next to it sits a slider that switches between still and video capture modes, which are designated by still and movie camera icons. On the right side of the top are three round holes that cover the camera’s microphone.
*The bottom of the camera, like the top, is sleek and relatively free from any clutter. There is a port that connects the camera to its charging dock in the middle and on the left is the door that covers the battery and xD card slot. However, there is no tripod socket build into the camera body. Users looking to apply the camera to a tripod will have to use the accompanying dock, which includes the socket.
*The FinePix Z1 has no optical viewfinder; however, this doesn't feel like an omission, as Fuji has compensated by giving the user a 2.5" LCD display.
*The FinePix Z1 has a 2.5-inch, 115,000 pixel LCD. Though relatively few compact cameras had 2.5-inch screens a year ago, the size has become the standard for cameras in this class. Unfortunately, as the size went up, the resolution stagnated. 115,000 pixels was common on 1.8-inch screens. So, while the image is larger onscreen, it does not show any more detail.
The FinePix Z1's LCD displays pretty well off-axis – images remain visible even when the camera is tilted away from the viewer. That's an advantage for users who expect to use the LCD to share their pictures with friends.
*There are some major issues users will face with the Z’1 fixed flash unit, beginning with its size. The flash on the Z1 is very small. Light sources this small (you could hide it behind a jelly bean) tend to produce very harsh shadows. That's really bad for portraiture, because it accentuates wrinkles and facial blemishes. The Z1’s flash is also positioned close to and off-center from the lens. Red-eye, the peculiar glow that shows up in people's and animals' eyes in flash pictures, is caused primarily by having a light source too close to the lens.
The FinePix Z1 combats red-eye with a pre-flash that shrinks the subjects' pupils before the exposure and the main flash. It's a common solution on cameras as small as the FinePix Z1, but it causes the camera to take a full second after the shutter is pressed to take the picture.
The flash on the FinePix Z1 is directly to the side of the lens, which is a problem for taking horizontal shots: the flash will cast dark shadows to the left of the subjects. For vertical shots, however, things will work out better, if you turn the camera counter-clockwise to take verticals. That way, the flash will be situated directly above the lens, masking the shadows behind the subjects.
Furthermore, the Z1’s flash is not very powerful; in Auto mode, Fuji says the flash is only effective to 10 feet for wide angle shots, and 7.5 feet for telephoto. By comparison, many similarly-styled and priced models will reach 13-16 feet.
*The lens on the FinePix Z1 has been carefully crafted by Fujifilm to remain inside the slim body without protruding beyond the frame. This will help keep the camera compact as well as providing a bit of added speed when powering up.
The lens has a variable length of 6.1-18.3mm, which is equivalent to a 36-108mm zoom lens on a 35mm camera. The 36mm equivalent wide angle will be convenient for taking pictures of small groups of people, but it's not wide enough to capture whole rooms in most houses. Conversely, the 108mm equivalent telephoto is long enough for portraits, but not for most sports or wildlife.
The lens is a bit handicapped by its limited aperture range. The maximum aperture of f/3.5 is more than half a stop slower than many competing cameras, which open to f/2.6. This limits the FinePix Z1's advantage in low light shooting and offsets some of the added sensitivity range.
Model Design / Appearance* (8.0)
*Fujifilm touts the FinePix Z1's "monocoque" design, which is intended to make the camera both tough and stylish. The monocoque forms the back and sides of the camera with a single piece of metal. From above, it looks like a very broad, shallow letter "U," with the verticals of the letter forming the sides of the camera. The back's satiny aluminum finish plays nicely off the black paint on the front and top, and the dark gray paint used for some of the branding type is an appealing choice. Fuji echoes the rounded corners of the monocoque with rounded details throughout the camera, yielding a coherent, elegant design. The battery and memory card door is painted plastic, so it doesn't quite match the painted metal that surrounds it, which is too bad.
Our review sample shows excellent fit and finish – parts meet with tight, even seams, the screws show no signs being forced into place, and the large cover slides smoothly across the face of the camera, without wobbles or sticking. There is a bit of play in the buttons, but that's apparently a conscious design decision, not a problem in manufacturing.
The camera's finish, which is meant to be devastatingly handsome in a 1950s-Porsche way, hangs on to finger smudges. After a few hours of testing, the thing looks blotchy. A more serious vulnerability showed up even before any of us had tested it – there are scuff marks on the front of the camera that clearly come from putting the camera in its USB cradle. There is also a bit of dust built up in the slot where the front cover slides. It cleans up with a cotton swab and a bit of persistence, but the moral of the story is, the FinePix Z1 won't look brand-new for very long, unless you maintain considerable effort along the way.
Size / Portability*(8.0)
*At 3.5 x 2.2 x 0.7 inches, the FinePix Z1 is smaller than a deck of cards, and at 5.3 ounces with a battery and memory card, it doesn't weigh much more. It's definitely sized for a pocket or purse.
Its seals against dirt seem excellent – since the lens is entirely inside the chassis, even in operation, it lacks the telescoping lens mechanisms that seem likely to draw dust inside cameras like the Pentax Optio S55 or S5z. The sliding cover on the FinePix Z1 functions as both a very tough lens cap and a much more secure power switch than the push buttons on other small compacts, such as the Pentax Optio S line or the Casio EX-Z57. It's less likely that the FinePix Z1 will turn on accidentally than its competitors and when intended, it will power up much faster too.
The protections against dirt are likely to help keep the camera running properly. But, given the paint scuffs and finger marks we noted in the appearance section, the FinePix Z1 needs some fairly careful handling if its appearance is going to be preserved. The sliding cover is apparently not sealed at all – dust worked in behind it to become visible in the flash window. Although this dust is not inside the chassis and won't affect the images taken, it's noticeable when you look at the camera and detracts from the fashionable exterior Fuji worked so hard to create.
*Holding the FinePix Z1 steady while shooting requires two hands. Really, that's true of all handheld cameras, but the FinePix Z1 is bit slippery. There is a perfectly good grip for the user's right thumb, in the form of three silicone rubber dots just below the zoom rocker, but the front of the camera is more or less smooth. The best option for the right hand may be to squeeze the camera between the thumb and first two fingers, with the index finger on top to operate the shutter release, and the pinkie underneath the camera. The left hand could go with a modified binocular grip, with the index finger on top of the camera and the thumb underneath, but the index finger could interfere with the microphone. In the manual, Fuji’s charming and demure models seem to squeeze the bottom left corner of the camera between their thumb and index finger, while resting the camera on the side of their middle finger.
Regardless, use the wrist strap. The camera seems tougher than most, but it sure won't bounce if you drop it.
Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size*(5.5)
*People who want a camera as small as the FinePix Z1 will have to put up with small buttons. The Playback and Function buttons are too close to the four-way controller, making it hard to hit the top of the controller without fear of pressing one of the buttons.
The four-way controller allows the user to navigate menus and magnified images in playback mode. In shooting mode, the four points control the flash mode, the self-timer, autofocus mode, and brightness boost for the LCD. Flash mode and autofocus mode are sensible choices for dedicated controls, but the self-timer and LCD brightness is less useful. The self-timer is an odd choice because the only practical way to shoot with the FinePix Z1 is handheld. The camera does not have a tripod mount. The USB cradle has one, but the camera fits loosely in the cradle, and wobbles in it.
The LCD brightness boost is more logical – it's designed to show a brighter image in dark shooting conditions. It does that, but the display gets significantly noisier, becoming increasingly grainy, and the intended effect is not strong enough to make much of a difference in composing an image.
Fuji apparently paid close attention to the mechanical performance of the FinePix Z1's buttons. The shutter release is excellent. It has a very short travel, but it still offers resistance when you press it "halfway" to activate autofocus. The other control buttons (the four-way controller, the OK, display, playback, and function buttons) are equally positive in their action. The zoom control rocker is fine, but the zoom itself displays some lag and consistently overshoots or undershoots the desired setting.
The video/still switch next to the shutter release is a triumph of robust mechanics that accommodates the camera's style, but it's overkill – a great switch for a video mode that's really a marginal function of the camera.
The FinePix Z1 is similar to many of its competitors in that it lacks a Mode dial. Mode selection has become a menu item on most slim cameras designed for pocket portability.
*Both the Menu button and the Function ("F") buttons bring up menus on the FinePix Z1. In shooting mode, the menus are superimposed over the live view, and pressing the shutter release will close out the menu and take a picture. The menu font is blocky and unattractive, but readable.
The menu layout is generally well-considered. The opening menu screen shows controls for the shooting mode, which offers the inappropriately-named "Manual" mode, auto mode, and five custom image presets; EV control; White Balance; "Fast Shooting;" Autofocus zones; and "Set."
"Set" leads to three tabbed submenus for settings that many users won't bother with at all, and that most will change only rarely. Unfortunately, Fuji labeled the three tabbed menus "1," "2," and "3," offering absolutely no clue as to what the user might find in each tab. Companies like Canon and Nikon typically use icons to denote menu tabs, making the menus much more intuitive and easier to navigate.
The settings under "SET" control the noises the camera makes, frame numbering, LCD brightness, the digital zoom, power saving options, memory card formatting, time and date, language, USB mode, and video mode, as well as a general reset button.
Ease of Use*(7.0)
*The FinePix Z1 offers very usable automatic modes and makes them easy to access. The "Natural Light" mode takes good advantage of the camera's ISO 800 setting, an unusual feature. By using the four-way controller buttons, it's easy to access the frequently-used autofocus mode and flash mode without navigating menus. The menus allow easy access to other important adjustments, though they're not as helpful as they should be with set-up controls that are rarely used, such as setting the time or the playback volume.
The FinePix Z1 is an automatic camera. Photographers interested in manual control will be stymied; there are no manual exposure modes, no custom white balance setting, and no manual focus option included. The EV compensation adjustment, which is vital on such a completely automatic camera, is accessible only via the menu, not through the four-way controller. It would make much more sense to have the EV control, rather than the self-timer, accessible with a single button.
Even users who prefer automatic modes will wish the camera were easier to grip. Although getting a finger on the underside of the camera isn't hard, it shouldn't be so necessary.
The Fuji FinePix Viewer software is a well-integrated package for basic organizing of photos. Its editing tools don't match Photoshop, or even Photoshop Elements, but among OEM software packages, FinePix Viewer is a good option and should be easy enough for most basic or beginner users to instantly understand.
*The Z1's Auto mode will probably be its most popular setting, which specifies all the camera settings except for Quality, ISO, and the "Color" option, which can boost saturation. The camera determines aperture and shutter speeds in all modes and produces even exposures. With flash, ISO, and white balance set to auto as well, the camera can take over just about everything. The camera also offers five automated scene modes: Natural Light, Portrait, Landscape, Sport, and Night.
The Z1 turns out well exposed, sharply focused images in Auto mode, though we found that the automatic white balance settings couldn't match our tungsten testing lights. The camera is much better attuned to dim tungsten bulbs in homes.
Custom Image Presets*(4.5)
*The FinePix Z1 has five custom image presets. The are: Natural Light, which shuts off the flash, automatically selects a white balance, and raises the ISO in dark places; Portrait, which allows the user to set the flash mode; Landscape, which shuts off the flash and saturates colors; Sport, which biases exposure toward faster shutter speeds; and Night, which allows shutter speeds of as long as 4 seconds. Fuji recommends that you rest the camera on something stable when the camera is in Night mode.
Drive / Burst Mode*(0.0)
*The FinePix Z1 does not offer a separate burst or continuous shooting mode, making it far slower than most similarly-styled cameras. Even among cameras that don't offer a burst mode, it's far slower than most users would like. On the Z1, speed is provided in boot up time and shutter lag, but in terms of consecutive shots, the Z1 is way behind the competition.
*The playback mode is accessed from the Playback button located just to the right of the LCD screen. Once in playback mode, users can either watch movies or view images through a variety of methods in addition to manually scrolling through images on the 2.5-inch, 115,000 pixel screen. When viewing images by scrolling through, the camera displays the name, date, time, ISO setting, resolution, exposure compensation, and white balance mode for about two seconds; the option to view images without any information is also available. Users can zoom in on images up to 16x and scroll the zoom box around the image using the navigation dial.
A nine thumbnail view is available by pressing the DISP/BACK button. Similarly, a thumbnail view by date captured is available by pressing the button again. While playing back movies users can pause, stop, fast forward, and rewind clips using the navigation dial. The playback menu also includes these options: Trimming, Automatic Playback, Image Rotate, and Voice Memo, in addition to access to the Setup menu. The voice memo option lets users add up to 30 seconds of audio to each image file. Users can listen to their memos and even adjust the playback volume in the Setup menu. The slide show feature offers a number of controls over fade types and image display duration. Users can choose between long and short display along with long and short fade-ins. A slide show that displays four images on the screen simultaneously is available, as is a slide show that displays the current time, in the upper right corner, and a set of nine blinking squares, in the upper left corner, on top of the image. When the F button, to the right of the Playback button, is pressed in playback mode, it becomes the Print button.
*The Z1 has a fairly standard movie mode that records clips up to the capacity of the memory. It offers 30 frames per second recording in two sizes: 640 x 480 and 320 x 240. Zoom can be set before a movie is recorded, but no zoom controls are available during video capture. Color modes aren’t available in movie mode either. The camera focuses relatively well during video capture, as long as subjects are about five feet or more away. The camera records sound, but it picks up sound from nearby subjects much better than sound from those at a distance.
Video recorded with the Z1 can be of any length, up to the capacity of the memory card. While recording, the camera also displays the amount of time remaining that can be recorded onto the available memory. Movie files are saved in AVI file format.
**Manual Control Options
**The FinePix Z1 does not offer manual control of exposure. An EV adjustment menu allows exposure adjustments in 1/3-stop increments two stops above and below the meter reading, but users cannot control whether aperture or shutter speed is used to make the change. The EV control is unfortunately buried in the menu interface, when it would be far more accessible if it were placed on the four-way controller.
Users can manually select a white balance setting from among the five presets, but there is no custom white balance setting available. We ran into a problem with this, because the Tungsten setting does not match the tungsten lights we use in resolution and color testing.
The user can set the ISO on the FinePix Z1, with settings at 64, 100, 200, 400, and 800. It's common for compact cameras to limit ISO adjustments to full stops, as the FinePix Z1 does, but given that its ISO range is a major selling point for the camera, Fuji could have pressed its advantage by offering half-steps.
*Auto Focus (7.0) *
The FinePix Z1 offers three autofocus settings: normal, which allows focus from about 20 inches to infinity; macro for focus from about 3 to 31 inches; and Fast mode, which allows focus from 39 inches to infinity. Fast mode is supposed to make the camera quicker – there's no other advantage to limiting the close focus distance. The FinePix Z1 has a focus-assist light in the flash housing, and the Z1 focused as well as other compact cameras in low light.
*Manual Focus (0.0)
*The FinePix Z1 does not offer manual focus.
*White balance controls are only offered in the manual shooting mode; however, the Z1 offers several white balance modes in addition to the fully automatic function. Users can select Fine for shooting outdoors in bright daylight, Shade for outdoors in cloudy weather or shady pots, three different Fluorescent light modes, and an Incandescent mode for shooting indoors. While this is not an overly extensive list of presets, it includes all the necessary options other than a custom setting.
*Most compact digital cameras offer a limited ISO range of 50-400; however, Fujifilm has equipped the Z1 with an ISO range of 64-800. While not as expansive of a range as the FinePix F10, which extends to ISO 1600, the Z1 does offer manual control over ISO in every shooting mode except "Natural Light." The ISO settings on the Z1 are in full-stop increments and the high maximum sensitivity rating provides a bit of additional low light shooting potential beyond most compact cameras currently on the market. There are some other models that are also beginning to include 800 and 1600 ISO ratings, but only at reduced resolution.
*Shutter speeds cannot be manually controlled on the Z1, but they range from 4 seconds to 1/1000 of a second, depending on the exposure mode. The "Night" shooting mode allows long exposures of up to 4 seconds, and when shooting in it there is also a slow sync flash mode, where a flash can be used with long exposure times.
*Like shutter speed, users cannot manually control the aperture on the Z1. The maximum aperture when the lens is zoomed wide is f/3.5; f/4.2 with the lens zoomed to telephoto. While shooting with the lens zoomed out to wide angle, the camera automatically selected among three aperture stops: f/3.5, f/5, and f/8. The f/3.5 max aperture on the Z1 is about a 1/2-stop slower than most point-and-shoot models, which typically open up to f/2.6 or f/2.8. This will detract from the Z1’s low light capabilities and minimize the advantage of the ISO 800 setting.
*The Z1's Exposure Compensation mode ranges from +/- 2 in 1/3-stop increments. It's only available in the camera's so-called Manual Mode. The manual mode is simply an automatic mode with methods to override some settings. Two stops above and below the metered reading is a typical range, and 1/3-stop intervals are fine enough to hit the proper exposure pretty much exactly.
Accessing the EV control is more difficult than it should be. Users are forced to scroll through the menu system to locate the feature. Serious users would have been better served if it were directly accessible through the four-way controller.
Exposure modes include: Auto, which allows the user to set the ISO, but nothing else related to exposure; Manual, which gives the user access to ISO and the EV setting; and the scene modes (explained in detail in the "Custom Image Presets" subsection of the "Modes" section).
*The FinePix Z1 meters 64 zones across the image to determine exposure. It compares the zones and is usually able to figure out that a large, bright area in the top of the frame is the sky, and that it should expose for the subject below, which is darker.
The FinePix Z1 does not offer other metering modes, such as spot or averaging, which are useful in cameras with more manual control and will generally yield far more accurate and controlled exposures.
Picture Quality / Size Options*(5.0)
*Photographs can be captured in six size settings of JPEG image files. The image size can be changed in the Quality section of the Photo Mode, but there is no option to change compression settings. There are five 4:3 aspect ratio image sizes and one 3:2 aspect ratio image size; they are: 2592 x 1944 (5M), Fine and Normal modes, 2736 x 1824 (5M) 3:2 aspect ratio, 2048 x 1536 (3M), 1600 x 1200 (2M) and 640 x 480 (0.3M). As the user scrolls through the image quality settings, the camera displays the number of shots that can be taken in each setting with the currently loaded xD card. Users have the option of controlling whether images are continuously named or to reset the numbering to begin at one.
Picture Effects Mode*(5.5)
*The Z1 has three color modes, labeled FinePix Color in the Photo Mode; Standard, Chrome, and Black & White. Many other cameras in this segment offer a Sepia Tone mode, but the Z1 does not. The Chrome mode offers over-saturated colors for richer tones, a mode that is often called Vivid on other cameras. The manual notes that the Chrome mode may not have much effect on subjects with subtle colors, such as portraits.
*The FinePix Z1 ships with FinePix Viewer 5.0.01E software, a single program for downloading, sorting, editing, and printing images. The Windows software integrates with Internet Explorer to set up online print orders from Fujifilm.net and other services. The Internet connection also includes a directory of thousands of local photofinishers that accept digital files. The intent is to create a fairly direct means to upload images to your local photofinisher, so that you only have to visit the store when you have prints to pick up.
FinePix Viewer for Windows offers red-eye repair; auto-adjustment of color and exposure; manual adjustment of Brightness, Saturation, Hue, and Contrast; sharpening and softening; black-and-white and sepia conversion; resizing; emailing; rotation in 90-degree increments; cropping; text insertion; and file-format conversion.
The software can organize photos by the date they were taken, or it can simply show the folder where they're saved. This is a fairly extensive software package to accompany a point-and-shoot camera, enabling users to render the basic image adjustments necessary to get the images to print quality. With printing alternatives so heavily integrated, FinePix Viewer should be almost ideal for the Z1’s target user.
*Jacks, Ports, Plugs (5.0) *
The FinePix Z1 comes with a cradle, which recharges the battery in the camera, and provides a USB 2.0 connection to either a computer or a PictBridge-compatible printer. The cradle also has an analog A/V output for PAL or NTSC video.
*Direct Print Options (6.0)
*The FinePix Z1 is compatible with PictBridge and DPOF, and allows the user to select individual images to print, or print all the images on the memory card. The camera can be set to imprint the recorded date on the prints. While it is possible to crop images in the camera, the FinePix Z1 does not implement the DPOF crop function, which allows the user to print just part of an image without resaving the image. The FinePix Z1 also does not allow the user to choose the print size.
*The FinePix Z1 comes with a custom lithium-ion battery that charges in the camera. Fuji was perhaps too generous with components: setting up the camera to charge requires a power cable, a transformer, the dock, and the camera. Though it's easy to take the camera along for a day or an evening, carrying all that stuff along on a vacation isn't quite so convenient. The dock, charger, and cables combine to be much larger, heavier, and sloppier to pack than the camera.
Lithium-ion is the preferred battery technology for digital cameras, and should deliver far better performance than AA batteries, even rechargeable NiMH AA batteries. However, during our period of evaluation, the Z1 spent a significant amount of time in its cradle. For a lithium-ion battery, the Z1’s lifespan was a bit disappointing, particularly given the amount of gear users will have to bring along to recharge it.
*Fujifilm supplies a 16MB xD-Picture Card with the Z1, which is only capable of storing 6 images at the camera’s maximum resolution and quality settings. For a 5.1 megapixel imager, we suggest that most users buy a 256MB or 512MB card and factor an additional $50 to $75 into their camera budget for it.
Self-Timer –* The FinePix Z1 has a self-timer, offering both a long and short delay, but it's hard to know why, because the camera doesn't have a tripod socket built in. You could use the self-timer with the camera sitting on a table, but it's not likely that you'll frame the picture the way you'd like.
Voice Memo – The FinePix Z1 will record voice memos, associated with specific images or independently.
***Kodak EasyShare C360 –*The Kodak EasyShare C360, like the Z1, is also a 5 megapixel compact camera with a 3x zoom. The C360 is not nearly as elegant or attractive as the Z1. It offers 24 fps video, which is inferior to the Z1's 30 fps. The C360 also has a smaller 2-inch LCD, rather than the Z1's 2.5-inch display. The C360 has 32MB of internal memory built in, but does not ship with removable media. The C360's controls are easy to handle, and it sets a high standard for ease of use. Like the Z1, Kodak’s C360 doesn't include a manual white balance option, so users of both cameras will have to rely on camera presets and automatic color calibration. Since both cameras share similar feature sets and performance capabilities, the distinction invariably lies in the styling; those looking for an elegant and attractive camera body will likely gravitate to the Z1, while consumers more concerned with a straightforward, simplistic design with an intuitive interface should opt for the C360.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T5 - The DSC-T5 shares several basic specs with the Z1: it's also a 5 megapixel, 3x zoom available for something around $330. At 3.6 x 2.4 inches, its silhouette isn't much different from the Z1's, but it's twice as thick, at 1.4 inches deep. The DSC-T5 stresses capabilities as well as style – it may not look as distinctive as the Z1 or Cyber-shot T1, but it accepts four different auxiliary lenses: two wide angle adapters and two telephoto adapters, making it a far more versatile imager. The DSC-T5 takes AA batteries, which are available just about everywhere. Of course, they won't last as long as the Z1's lithium-ion battery, either, so users will have to decide between convenience and power conservation. While both cameras are grouped into the stylish digital camera segment, those shopping for fashion will likely go for the Z1, while point-and-shooters in search of a more capable camera should go for the T5.
Nikon Coolpix S2 - The S2 is Nikon's second take on the flat, stylized, camera-as-bauble concept, replacing last year's S1. At 0.9 inches, the Coolpix S2 is slightly thicker than the Z1. Like the Z1, the S2 has a 5.1 megapixel sensor, but it tops the Z1 with a 4x zoom lens. While the S2 will provide more telephoto capabilities than the Z1, the S2's video mode is notably inferior; recording at a choppy 15 fps frame rate, the S2 captures video at half the speed of the Z1. With online prices over $350, consumers will have to spend a bit more for the S2 than the Z1, perhaps riding on the Nikon name. The S2’s key advantage is its white balance system, which includes 7 presets and a custom measurement feature.
Canon PowerShot SD500 -*The SD500 is a 7.1 megapixel compact camera that's available online for $375 to $450. The megapixel count is its big advantage: its 2-inch LCD is smaller than the Z1's 2.5-inch display; its lens telescopes out, rather than staying protected inside the chassis, which is about an inch thick, while the Z1 is 0.7 inches thick. The telescopic lens makes the SD500 much slower in its initial start-up, but it will record consecutive shots far faster than the Z1. Canon went with a larger CCD to get higher resolution: the SD500's sensor is 1/1.8 inches, which is considerably larger than the Z1's 1/ 2.5-inch chip.
*The FinePix Z1 is a compact, durable camera with respectable image quality. With a 3x zoom and 5 megapixel sensor, the camera relies on its design and styling to set it apart from competitors. The $350 consumers will have to spend online to get a Z1 should warrant more in the way of performance – a longer zoom, a bump up to 6 or 7 megapixels, and more manual controls, but the Z1's premium price revolves around its styling. Consumers looking for a camera to double as a fashionable counterpart will see the Z1’s price tag as justifiable, while those looking for a more capable imager will be a bit shortchanged. Much in line with the iPod phenomenon, the Z1 will prove to be a useful fashion accessory, but will not provide the image quality of the FinePix F10 or some of Sony’s stylish Cyber-shot models.
**Who It’s For
***Point-and-Shooters –* This is a point-and-shoot camera with above-average image quality. It should be attractive to users who want a simple camera that looks good with a tuxedo.
*Budget Consumers – *Those willing to opt for a slightly larger and perhaps not as attractive package will be able to purchase comparable features for less money.
Gadget Freaks – Gadget freaks wowed by aesthetics may appreciate the Z1. The non-telescoping lens is another high-tech feature, but the exterior shell is really where all the glitz on this model resides.
Manual Control Freaks – The camera lacks manual controls for aperture, shutter speed, focus, and white balance. It doesn’t even have a tripod socket, so there really isn’t much room for experimentation and adjustments on this model.
Pros / Serious Hobbyists – We tend to think that this group looks for some manual control, even in a fun, pocket-portable camera. We anticipate more advanced users will be more drawn to the Canon PowerShot A510 or A520 or the Fuji FinePix F10, with very good image quality and a top ISO of 1600 as their portable counterpart.
The FinePix Z1, like the Nikon Coolpix S2 and Sony Cyber-shot T-series models, aspires to be jewelry or at least a fashion accessory in addition to a pocket-friendly imager. Unfortunately, some performance capabilities and operating conveniences have been sacrificed on the Z1 in creating the distinctive styling. The cramped buttons and limited maximum aperture will likely dissuade many potential consumers. A large segment of buyers might be better served with a more capable or less expensive alternative.
Performance-wise, the FinePix Z1 is impressive for this type of camera in terms of noise suppression and image definition. The sliding lens cover breeds quicker start-up speeds in addition to increased durability. For a sleek, aesthetically-driven camera, the Z1 is yards beyond many of its competitors; however, that’s unfortunately not saying much. Many of these models are essentially glamorized camera phones – providing far more in the way of portability and style than image quality.
At 3.5 x 2.2 x 0.7 inches and 5.3 ounces (including battery and media), the Z1’s monocoque construction is surprisingly durable without sacrificing its fashion sensibility. Unfortunately, without a manual white balance setting, tripod socket, wide maximum aperture, or strong flash unit, the Z1 will have a limited range of photographic applications. Resulting colors from the Z1 were heavily over-saturated and significantly inferior to Fuji’s FinePix F10, which is also designed for portability, but relies on performance rather than aesthetics for characterization.
Available online for roughly $100 less than its $450 list price, the Z1 will have a limited audience, but should serve those users well. Consumers in search of an elegant-looking camera, who are fastidious enough to keep it clean, will get aesthetic charm with respectable imaging quality from the Z1.
Meet the tester
Patrick Singleton is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.See all of Patrick Singleton's reviews
Checking our work.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.Shoot us an email