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Testing / Performance
To see how accurately the Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd can reproduce colors, we photograph an industry standard color chart manufactured by GretagMacbeth, the gurus of colors in imaging. The chart is shown below, with modifications made by Imatest Imaging Software. The program shows the original colors of the chart in the inner vertical rectangle, the F31*fd*’s color in the outer portion, and the luminance-corrected ideal in the inner portion of each tile.
The same color results are shown below in a chart that depicts the Fuji F31*fd*’s colors as circles and the ideal colors from the GretagMacbeth chart as squares. The farther the circles are to the edges of the picture, the more saturated those particular colors are.
We tested the camera using the custom white balance setting, and have reported those results. The white balance mechanism seems to work okay; it is almost spot-on. However, almost all of the colors on the spectrum are under-saturated. The image had 94.87 percent saturation and a mean color error of 8.59. The F31*fd* still managed to do a little better than its predecessor with a 6.98 overall color score (compared with the F30’s 6.72 color score). We also tested the FinePix F31*fd*’s colors using the incandescent white balance preset; the colors were more inaccurate, but the saturation jumped to 105 percent. **Still Life Scene**Below is a shot of our mesmerizing still life composite, captured with the Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd.*
**Resolution ***(5.96)*Like its F-series predecessors, the FinePix F31*fd* has 6.3 megapixels on a Super CCD. This image sensor is updated, though, from the one on the original F10. Using the Fujifilm F31*fd*, we took many pictures of an industry standard resolution chart. We loaded the images into Imatest software and analyzed them to find the sharpest one taken. We tried several focal lengths and apertures to eliminate bias from the lens and get the absolute sharpest shot possible, and found that the sharpest picture came from a shot taken with f/5.6 and 24mm. These are the same settings that garnered the sharpest shot from the F30 during its round of resolution testing.
Imatest output resolution results in terms of line widths per picture height (lw/ph). The Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd* resolved 2115 lw/ph horizontally with 8.7 percent over-sharpening, and 1905 lw/ph vertically with just under 1 percent over-sharpening. This digital camera produced sharp images from edge to edge with lots and lots of detail in between much like its F-series predecessors. The F10 received a 5.47 resolution score, and the F30 a 5.36 score. The F31*fd* tops them both with a 5.96 overall resolution score. This score is excellent; it is better than many other digital cameras that advertise more megapixels on their image sensors. With the Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd*, users can print large and not worry about "looking digital" – even with 6.3 megapixels. **Noise – Auto ****ISO*******(4.29)*****The F31*fd* has a second generation Real Photo Processor that Fujifilm promises will keep images clean. We put it to the test by photographing the color chart using the automatic ISO setting in our brightly lit studio. The camera produced about the amount of noise present at ISO 600, which is a high setting considering the conditions. The noise level at 600 wasn’t incredibly high, though, so this FinePix squeaked by with a 4.29 overall auto ISO noise score. This is a big step back from the F30’s 11.44 score, but still better than the F10’s 3.22 score. **Noise – Manual ****ISO***(9.69)
We tested the Fujifilm F31*fd using each of its many manual ISO settings from 100-1600. The results are shown on the chart below with the noise level on the vertical axis and the ISO settings on the horizontal axis.
The F31*fd* has low noise when compared with compact digital cameras from other manufacturers. When compared with its own over-achieving kin, though, the F31*fd* doesn’t fare as well. The F31*fd* has more noise at the ISO 1600 setting than the F30 does at the 3200 setting. Nevertheless, the Fuji F31*fd* received a very respectable 9.69 overall manual ISO noise score. **Low Light (7.0)**To see how well the F31*fd* holds up in low light, we photographed the color chart in less than ideal conditions. The first test was done at 60 lux, which is dim but still comfortable. The second 30 lux test makes reading a little difficult. The final tests were done at 15 and 5 lux, which make reading nearly impossible and seeing anything a task in itself. All of the images turned out decently; in fact, they look incredibly similar to those taken by the F30. Both cameras came out with a 7.0 low light score, which is great – especially for compact models. **Speed/Timing Start-up (8.23)*The Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd started up much faster than its predecessors in 1.75 seconds. That still isn’t blazing fast – it’s nowhere near what DSLRs can do – but it is better than most compact models. *Shot to shot (9.54)*The camera’s advertised burst mode clocks in just about right. The camera snaps a shot every 0.46 seconds – just over 2 frames per second. Unfortunately, that burst doesn’t last long. Users can choose to record the first three pictures in succession or the last three in a burst. * Shutter-to-Shot (8.54)*There was some shutter lag on the F31*fd*, due mainly to the auto focus system. It doesn’t take as long as other cameras, but still isn’t the same as a speedy SLR.
**Front (8.0)*The front face of the Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd has the same measurements and nearly the same look as the F30. The only physical difference between the two digital cameras is the finger grip that appears on the left side of the front of the F31fd. The F30’s is shaped like a pointed horizontal oval, while the F31*fd*’s is a chrome-colored squatty vertical rectangle with a trapezoidal black rubber piece in the center. On the right edge of the chrome rectangle, "6.3 MEGAPIXELS" is engraved. Above the finger grip is a FinePix logo made of metal lettering, different from the F30’s printed lettering. Below the finger grip is the Fujifilm brand name. On the right side of the front is the 3x optical zoom lens surrounded by a stepped chrome ring. Around the inner barrel of the lens are the words, "Fujinon Zoom Lens, 3x, f=8-24mm 1:2.8-5.0." In the center of the lens, two diagonally oriented doors snap close over the glass. To the bottom right of the lens are two holes that expose the built-in microphone. To the right of this feature is a Super CCD logo. To the top right of the lens is a rectangular built-in flash and a circular auto focus assist lamp. The flash is not as wide as competing models’ flashes, but it is definitely taller when compared to truly built-in units. The auto focus assist lamp is also quite large when compared with the competition. Back***(7.75)*The back of the F31*fd* has a 2.5-inch LCD screen on the left side, with the Fujifilm logo on the bottom of its frame. To the right of the monitor is a 1.5-inch space filled with buttons and controls. At the top is an inch-wide zoom lever that has a scooped out center and a "W" on the left and "T" on the right. There are seven rubber bumps below the lever to aid in gripping. There is a small LED indicator to the left of the grip that almost blends in because it's the same size. The bottom two-thirds of this side has a multi-selector with four buttons around it: two on top and two on bottom. The top left button enters the playback mode, the top right button calls up the FinePix menu that has ISO and other frequently used settings and is labeled with a capital "F." The bottom left button changes the display information and takes a step back in the menu system. The button on the bottom right activates the face detection feature or allows the exposure compensation to be adjusted. The multi-selector itself consists of a dime-sized ring with a central Menu/OK button. There are tiny arrows engraved into the ring to show the four cardinal directions, but there aren’t cutouts or any major handling features otherwise. There are icons surrounding the multi-selector to explain the many functions. From the top, clockwise: the top is a one-touch gain-up function for the LCD backlight and acts as the delete function in playback, the right side changes the flash modes, the bottom activates the self-timer, and the left side enables the macro mode. **Left Side ***(7.75)*This side houses the connective elements of the Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd*. Toward the bottom is a rubber flap with a small bulge for easier finger prying. Beneath this are two ports: AV/USB and DC-in. Directly above this is a dark window that serves as the infrared sensor for the built-in IrSimple technology that can transfer images wirelessly to other enabled devices and F31*fd* cameras. Near the top of this side is a bolt that looks a bit out of place.
**Right Side ***(8.0)*The right side of the camera bends and curves to the back side of the F31*fd*. There are two decorative bolts near the front of this side and two oval-shaped holes near the back side. The oval-shaped holes are shallow and connect beneath the outer housing which is for attaching the wrist strap.
**Top ***(7.75)*The top of the camera has a printed FinePix F31*fd* logo on the left side and three buttons on the right. The buttons are neatly aligned with the smaller power button almost in the center of the camera. The mode dial is directly to the right while the shutter release button on the far right. The mode dial has six positions on it: Movie, A/S (aperture priority and shutter speed priority), M ("manual," but it would more accurately titled "program"), Auto, N/SP (Natural Light/Scene Position), and Blur Reduction mode. There is a small nub above the movie mode that allows the user to turn the dial from the top.
**Bottom ***(4.5)*On the far right edge of the bottom is the tripod socket, which is made of plastic and surrounded by a few plastic nubs for gripping a tripod plate. A few bolts grace the bottom too, but these bolts look randomly placed. Directly below the lens is the built-in speaker, which consists of nine tiny holes in the camera’s housing. The left side of the bottom has a camera door that opens with its joint nearly in the center. The door slides inward and then opens, but it does not have a separate lock to keep it shut. Inside the door is the lithium-ion battery and the slot for the xD-Picture card.
Viewfinder ***(0.0)*As with other FinePix F-series digital cameras, there is no optical viewfinder. The manufacturer, like many of its competitors, opted for a nicely sized LCD screen instead of providing a live view. The display information on the screen can be changed with the Disp./Back button to the bottom left. Info can vanish, full file info can appear, and full info with grid lines can appear too. The screen resolution is great, so the live view looks good and is a hundred percent accurate – something that can’t be said of most optical viewfinders. LCD Screen (7.5)**The amorphous silicon TFT LCD screen measures 2.5 inches diagonally and has 230,000 pixels of resolution. This is twice the resolution of the F10’s same-sized LCD. The resolution is better, the refresh rate is better (it can be set to 30 or 60 fps in the setup menu), and the angle of view is improved. The latter aspect is perhaps the LCD’s weakest point when compared to other digital cameras. Many competitors now include LCD screens that have incredibly wide viewing angles. The Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd*’s LCD screen can be viewed straight on and at about 40 degrees tilted side to side. However, it can’t be viewed at all when held above or below eye-level. When users push the top of the multi-selector during live preview, the screen brightens considerably and an icon appears to remind users of the brightened state. The view remains bright until the exposure is locked and the picture is about to be taken. This is good for shooting outdoors under direct sunlight because it enhances the contrast as well as the brightness. For other lighting situations, the Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd has a +/- 5 brightness scale in the setup menu that adjusts the backlight on the LCD. *Flash (8.0)The Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd* has a built-in flash unit that is rectangular but squatty. It isn’t as thin as those on many competing models, which is good because it projects the light more evenly. The F31*fd*’s flash does have one downfall though. It is located in the top right corner of the front where the left fingers wrap around the camera. Because of this off-axis placement, the flash sometimes casts a brighter spot in the top left of pictures; it is only noticeable when shooting plain subjects – such as a wall. Since walls aren’t typical subjects, users shouldn’t notice this too much since the off-axis bright spot isn’t noticeable in portraits. Fujifilm calls its unit "i-Flash," with the "i" meaning "intelligent." The camera meters the lighting on the subject as well as the ambient light in the background, and then adjusts the flash output accordingly. This system works fairly well. It works best with portraits and pictures of people. It performs at its worst snapping still life pictures in the macro mode. The camera’s flash can be adjusted with the right portion of the multi-selector. The following modes are available: Forced flash, Suppressed flash, Red-eye reduction, Sow synchro, and Auto flash. The slow synchro and red-eye reduction modes fire a few pre-flashes but don’t fire so many that you’ll fall asleep or shut your eyes. These modes seemed to work; in all of our test shots, we couldn’t get eyes to turn red even once! The F31*fd*’s i-Flash reaches from 2-21.3 ft in wide and 2-11.5 ft in telephoto. In the macro mode, the flash reaches 1-2.6 ft. All of these figures are using the automatic ISO setting, so the flash could be considered even more sensitive if the ISO was raised manually. The flash has great output; 21.3 ft is much farther than the typical 13 ft flash range. Fujifilm’s i-Flash system casts natural lighting that is very flattering to subjects. The F31*fd* boasts many ways to retain natural lighting. There is even a dual shot mode called Natural Light & With Flash for users who can’t decide whether to activate the flash or not. The mode does both. It takes two pictures in a burst mode where the first picture is taken without the flash and with a high ISO setting. The other picture is taken with the i-Flash system. Once the pictures are taken, they are displayed next to each other for a moment before saving both to the memory card. Zoom Lens ***(7.0)*The F31*fd*’s 3x optical zoom lens is the same as the one that has been included on previous F-series digital cameras. It is a Fujinon model that measures 8-24mm, equivalent to 36-108mm in 35mm format. To control the lens, users must push the zoom lever on the back of the camera. When pushed gently, users can get 7 stops within the zoom range. This is just above average, as most cameras with 3x zoom lenses get about 6 actual focal lengths. It still doesn’t seem amazingly versatile since the lens seems to move in and out before it settles. When the zoom lever is pushed, a horizontal bar appears on the top left corner of the LCD screen. It shows a line within the bar to indicate approximately where the selected focal length is within the entire 3x range. There are no numerical indicators, however. When the zoom lens moves, it makes audible noise. It won’t disturb a third-grade music concert, but it could turn heads at a museum or cathedral. The F31*fd*'s f/2.8 max aperture at the widest focal length provides enough light for decent photos indoors and is about what the average 3x zoom lens offers. The f/5 aperture at the telephoto end is smaller than average. The aperture can be manually controlled in the aperture priority mode which is an advantage above most compact digital cameras’ lenses. The optical zoom lens works in every mode except the movie mode, when it locks while recording. Of note is the 6.2x digital zoom available on the camera, although it degrades picture quality quickly. Overall, the 3x optical zoom lens isn’t very impressive. It doesn’t provide a lot of control and the quality of its glass is questionable. There is significant barrel distortion that is especially noticeable in the macro mode.
Design / Layout
**Model Design / Appearance***(7.25)*The Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd* is thick and homely compared to other digital cameras. It is 1.1 inches thick, and it comes in the traditional silver color seen on almost every other digital camera. This model doesn’t distinguish itself in its looks. However, it is much cooler than it looks. It has IrSimple communication and face detection technologies. Fujifilm’s F-series is more about function than form anyway, much like Sony’s W-series or Canon’s A-series. The F31*fd* isn’t considered sexy by any means. Between the Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd* and the F30, there aren’t many physical differences. The only visible change is the finger grip on the cameras. The F30 has a oval-shaped chrome grip that was hardly functional and not very attractive either. The F31*fd* has a squatty rectangular-shaped chrome finger grip with a bump and a trapezoidal rubber grip in its middle. It provides much more substance and is placed much better than the F30’s "grip." Overall, the F31*fd is only slightly improved in terms of outward physical function, but its looks belies its more attractive features. * ****Size / Portability***(6.75)*The F31*fd* has a thick body with measurements of 3.6 x 2.2 x 1.1 inches. These dimensions used to be considered slim, but the average digital camera has slimmed down in width within the past few years. Many competing models measure around 0.8 inches thick. The Fujifilm F31*fd* fits into a pocket but not comfortably. The camera is also a bit heavy for its size. It weighs 5.5 oz without the card and battery, but the included battery adds a few ounces. The battery isn’t enormous, but it is larger than most which is a trade off well worth it because of its 580-shot lifetime. The camera has a wrist strap eyelet on the right side of the body, and it comes with a very thin strap to attach to it. The strap isn’t comfortable and dangling this model from a wrist seems a bit careless. Still, the F31*fd is plenty portable. *Handling Ability***(7.0)*In terms of handling, the FinePix F31*fd* is slightly improved. It has a better finger grip than the F30’s chrome oval-shaped finger grip. The F31*fd*’s grip is made of rubber material, which obviously provides a much more stable surface for fingers than a slippery chrome surface. The new grip is placed more comfortably too. On the back of the camera are seven rubber bumps below the zoom control where the thumb can rest and keep the camera from slipping. All of the buttons on the back are within easy reach of the thumb, and the buttons are properly sized and spaced so there shouldn’t be any accidental activations. There are only two potential handling problems. First, the left fingers curl around the camera and grip where the flash is placed which could block the flash and cast unwanted shadows on subjects. Second, the right side is considerably heavier than the left side because of the battery compartment. Unfortunately, the tripod socket is located on the lighter left edge, so it could be a problem trying to keep the camera level on a tripod plate. **Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size (6.75)The Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd* has three buttons atop the camera and a slew of them on the back. The three on top are the power, mode dial, and shutter release buttons. These are nicely sized, with the only concern being the undersized stub on the mode dial. It is there for rotation and isn’t the kind of mode dial that hangs over the edge and is turned from the side. Users have to jam their fingernails into the top of the mode dial to twist it into position. The buttons on the back of the digital camera are properly sized and spaced, and are all placed within reach of the thumb. The layout is the same as the F30, but the button to the bottom right of the multi-selector has several purposes. It activates exposure compensation in some modes and the face detection auto focus in others. The only issue with the buttons on the back of the camera is the abundance of icons: They are everywhere! At first glance, the buttons may look intimidating to beginners. There are icons surrounding the multi-selector with icons next to it as well as on every button. This might be a turnoff to some consumers. ** **Menu *(7.0)*Fujifilm breaks up its menu options with more frequently used settings located in a special menu accessed by the "F" button. This menu has only three options shown below. There are only three options, but one or two more could still fit comfortably – and then perhaps the manufacturer wouldn’t need so many icons surrounding the buttons on the camera body. All of the menus are typed in all capital letters and in a font reminiscent of old-school Atari games. There is a live view in the ISO and FinePix Color options in the first menu with more live views available in the shooting menu which is accessible from the OK/Menu button. There are live views in the photometry and white balance sub-menus which makes it easier for beginners to select the proper settings. The live view in the photometry sub-menu is behind the menu overlay, but the white balance sub-menu makes the main menu disappear entirely. Instead, the sub-menu appears on the far right edge of the LCD screen and leaves a nice and large area to preview the modes. The setup menu is divided into three tabs that are labeled numerically but not necessarily by function. The numbered pages keep all of the options within easy access. It’s much better than scrolling down a single page forever and ever for that one option at the bottom of the page that you want. The setup menu is a bit frustrating if you want to access more than one feature. For instance, if you would like to change the LCD brightness and the video system output, then you would need to change the brightness first. You would then be kicked out of the menu structure, have to re-enter it with the Menu/OK button, scroll to the setup menu within the main menu, scroll to the third page, and down a few clicks to the bottom. Whew. There is a Disp/Back button that works in the shooting menu, but it doesn’t provide any functionality in the setup menu. Overall, the menu system is just average. It is composed mainly of text, so it is easy to use. However, some users don’t like the split structure with the separate "F" menu and others don’t appreciate getting kicked out of a menu every time an option is selected. Ease of Use ***(6.75)*The Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd* is fairly easy to use, but it does have quirks like the aforementioned setup menu snafu and split menu system. The camera does have more positive aspects than negative ones. It includes live views in the menus to help photographers make proper selections. It also provides nearly all-text menus. It showcases a mode dial that allows users to select the auto mode for just pointing-and-shooting. In addition, Fujifilm has made its fancy technology surprisingly accessible by including a button on the camera that activates the face detection auto focus mode. Its IrSimple technology is also very easy to use within the playback menu. It is simpler than creating a print order.
Auto Mode ***(8.75)*The mode dial has black icons on it except for a red camera icon designating the Auto mode. This makes the point-and-shoot mode very easy to find. This mode is the simplest to use on the F31*fd*. The "F" menu is shortened to include image size options, color modes, and only the automatic setting of the ISO. The shooting menu is also shortened to include high-speed shooting, continuous, and setup. However, in auto mode, the on-camera buttons are still fully functional, so users can still activate the cool face detection mode. The flash, macro, and self-timer are still available too. The auto mode turns the camera into a true point-and-shoot and is very easy to use. Movie Mode***(7.0)*The movie mode freezes the optical zoom, but it allows recording of 640 x 480 and 320 x 240-pixel video, both at 30 fps. The movie size can be chosen in the "F" menu, but there are no other options available in that menu and the shooting menu (except the setup menu). Monaural audio can be recorded, but its quality isn’t spectacular. It can record voices within about ten feet of the camera, but it doesn’t do so well with faraway sounds. I recorded a concert where about fifty kids sang about a hundred feet in front of me. The F31*fd* recorded the audio, but it was garbled and hard to distinguish the words. Another drawback: there is no image stabilization to keep movies from looking like earthquakes. This is a feature that Fujifilm has neglected so far, but almost every other competitor has jumped on the bandwagon and started to include image stabilization. Users can’t change the white balance, metering, or auto focus settings – or anything, for that matter. Despite the lack of options, the movie mode produced decent videos even in low light. Users who want to be in the movie, though, are out of luck because the self-timer is disabled. The one-touch gain function at the top of the multi-selector is dysfunctional too, so it is difficult to shoot movies in strong lighting. When movies are played back, they cannot be fast-forwarded or rewound – only stopped and started. The camera’s volume can be changed in the setup menu but not mid-movie. The volume can be adjusted in ten levels, but it’s hard to tell just how loud the volume is until something is played in the playback mode. The Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd* isn’t meant to replace your camcorder, but is there for a few short and occasional clips. The movie mode doesn’t provide many options or flexibility, and the lack of image stabilization is discouraging. However, the quality of the video is decent. If the audio was as good, then the movie mode would fare much better in this review. **Drive / Burst Mode *(6.0)*The burst mode can be activated by selecting the Continuous option in the shooting menu. Top-3, Final-3, and Long Period burst modes are available but none of them are very impressive. The first two modes are advertised to shoot 2.2 frames per second, but they seemed slower than that. With a Fujifilm 64 MB xD-Picture card provided by the manufacturer, the camera snapped a picture about every 0.6 seconds. The 3-shot buffer doesn’t provide much of a window in which to capture action though. It certainly doesn’t measure up to competitors' burst modes, like those on the Canon PowerShot digital cameras, where the burst modes capture pictures until the memory card reaches capacity. The Long Period burst mode shoots much slower at 0.7 fps. There are two self-timer modes available from the bottom of the multi-selector that delay for 2 and 10 seconds. Another feature to mention in this section is the high-speed shooting mode available in the shooting menu. It can be turned on and off, but it really doesn’t make an enormous difference. This feature shortens the auto focus time. Overall, the burst mode isn’t impressive on this digital camera. Playback Mode (6.5)*The playback mode can be accessed by a button to the top left of the multi-selector. The F31*fd can display pictures individually, in a multi-up mode of 9 thumbnails which is organized by date. When viewed individually, the pictures can be magnified up to 8x with the wide end of the zoom lever. The multi-up mode and the date views can be seen by pushing the Disp./Back button. The playback menu describes many of the features in this mode. The voice memo function can record up to 30 seconds of audio with each picture. The audio quality is good if the photographer is speaking or if the subject is within just a few feet. Faraway subjects sound garbled. The face detection feature can be seen in the playback mode by pushing the designated button. When pushed once, boxes appear around the faces in the picture. When pushed again and again, the screen shows the contents of those boxes zoomed in so users can see if the faces are focused. From the "F" menu in the playback mode, users can transfer and receive images with the IrSimple infrared communicator, create print orders, and play slide shows. Several transitions are available for the slide show (Normal Face Detection, Normal, Fade In Face Detection, Fade In, Multiple, Clock), but the interval time can’t be changed from the three-second-per-picture show. Users enter the playback mode by pushing the designated button but cannot exit that way. The following message appears if pushed: "Press the shutter button to go back to shooting mode, Press the power button to turn off the camera." This is different than most digital cameras, but it makes switching from playback to shooting mode a quick process. Custom Image Presets ***(7.75)*The Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd* has a small series of scene modes, many of which are located in a menu in the N/SP position. The "N" stands for the Natural Light mode, which is one of the more standout preset modes on the camera. The following modes are also listed within the shooting menu: Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Night, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Underwater, Museum, Party, Flower Close-up, Text, and Natural Light & With Flash. The last mode listed snaps two pictures one after another similar to a burst mode; the first picture uses the Natural Light mode and the second fires the i-Flash. After the pictures are taken, they are displayed next to each other and are both saved. Another scene mode is directly on the mode dial. It is called Picture Stabilization and is marketed as being better than it actually is. This mode sounds like image stabilization, but there are no optical elements that shift in the lens to stabilize or even digital algorithms to compensate for natural hand shake. Instead, this mode hikes up the ISO sensitivity and quickens the shutter speed. Sometimes the flash is fired too. When the scene modes are used, the following options are in the shooting menu: high-speed shooting and continuous. The "F" menu also gives the option to change the color mode to black & white from standard.
Manual Control Options **The F31*fd* has some manual control, and although it does have an "M" position on its mode dial, it does not have a truly manual mode. With aperture and shutter speed priority modes, users can make some manual adjustments but cannot adjust both exposure parameters at the same time. The "M" on the mode dial would be more accurately titled a Program mode because that is about the level of manual control it allows. The shooting menu and "F" menu allow some manual controls to be changed. Focus***Auto Focus (8.0)
The Fujifilm F31*fd normally focuses from 2 ft to infinity, but it can focus as close as 2 inches in the macro mode. The auto focus can be controlled singly or continuously and with center and multi modes. These are standard auto focus settings on compact digital cameras. The F31*fd*’s LCD screen shows yellow brackets to indicate where it is focused, but the brackets don’t change color when the focus is locked or anything. The older F10 made quite a bit of noise in the continuous auto focus mode. This issue has not been fixed on the F31*fd*. It still sounds like a trapped bug in an aluminum can. In the continuous auto focus mode, the LCD screen’s refresh rate slows down considerably too, which is disappointing. Of note is the white auto focus assist lamp located on the front of the camera; this helps the camera find subjects in low light. The F31*fd* distinguishes itself by including face detection auto focus, although some other compact digital cameras are beginning to include this as well. Fujifilm claims that its face detection technology can recognize up to 10 faces at a time. In testing, it got up to 9 faces. The face detection auto focus is available via its own button on the bottom right side of the back of the camera. This is nicely accessible, and it makes it very easy to use. When the F31*fd* finds a face, it tracks and focuses on it – and it does so quite effectively. It didn’t do quite as well with quickly moving subjects and with turned faces not looking straight-on. That is one of the caveats of the technology – and not just in Fujifilm’s system – because the algorithm uses distances between the eyes and mouth to recognize faces. The face detection auto focus system is fast – much faster than the older Nikon face priority auto focus system. Nikon’s system is software-based while Fujifilm's technology is built into the hardware of the camera. In the playback mode, users can view the faces detected by the auto focus system by pushing the designated button. The faces are framed in green boxes, then zoomed in upon with each press of the button so users can check the focus. Overall, the Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd*’s auto focus system is fast and effective both in and out of the new face detection mode. *Manual Focus (0.0)
This FinePix does not include a manual focus mode. *ISO***(9.5)*The F31*fd* boasts a variety of ways to snap good photos in low light with high ISO offerings that are widely used. Fujifilm uses the high ISOs in the Natural Light, Natural Light & With Flash, and Picture Stabilization scene modes. This digital camera allows for a lot of manual control too. It has 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, and 3200 manual ISO settings – the most offered in full-resolution on a compact digital camera. The camera has a fully automatic ISO setting, but in the "M" (program) and priority modes, it provides ISO ranges that users can manually choose so the camera can automatically choose from within them. Auto 400, Auto 800, and Auto 1600 settings are available. It seems like if users take the trouble to select those, they might as well manually choose what they need. All of the ISO settings are located in the "F" menu, where a live view is provided. The F-lineup of Fujifilm digital cameras has done well in the past suppressing noise even with high ISO settings; to see how well the F31*fd* did, check out the testing portion of this review. **White Balance ***(8.0)*** The white balance settings can be found in the shooting menu. Its live view was refreshingly large and unobstructed because the menu overlay disappeared and the white balance sub-menu moved to the far right of the screen. Icons appear in the sub-menu, but the text title appears next to them when scrolled upon. The following modes are available: Fine, Shade, Fluorescent Light Daylight, Fluorescent Light Warm White, Fluorescent Light Cool White, Incandescent, Custom, and Auto. The fluorescent modes aren’t very nicely labeled in the menu: they are only labeled 1, 2, and 3. The live view probably helps more than the text title though. Setting the custom white balance is fairly easy, although it isn’t entirely intuitive. There are on-screen directions, which is good. The entire frame must be filled with something white though as there isn’t a smaller box to frame the white card in. Overall, the selection of white balance modes is broad for a compact model and leaves the choice in the user's hand. Exposure (8.5)*There are lots of exposure modes that range from the simple auto mode to the more advanced aperture and shutter priority modes. There isn’t a fully manual mode where those parameters can be set simultaneously though. The Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd also has exposure compensation, but it isn’t as accessible as it should be. It uses the same button as the face detection auto focus, and it seems to be trumped by the face detection auto focus in most of the modes. The only modes that can use the exposure compensation scale of +/- 2 in 1/3 steps are program, shutter speed priority, and aperture priority. Pushing the button in the other modes activates the face detection. There are no histograms for monitoring the exposure in real-time on the F31*fd* but point-and-shooters probably won’t mind. ** **Metering *(8.75)*Fujifilm uses a through-the-lens metering system that gauges from 256 zones throughout the frame. The typical selection is available: Multi, Spot, and Average (center-weighted). However, the camera's face detection system also plays into exposure, exposing for the detected faces, even when the subject is off center. There is a live view when scrolling through these options in the shooting menu, so users can see that the metering modes work properly. Shutter Speed *(6.25)*The shutter speed is automatically chosen from a range of 15-1/2000th of a second in many of the F31fd’s exposure modes. The shutter speed priority mode is the exception, of course. It allows users to manually adjust the shutter speed, although within a shorter 3-1/1000th of a second range. To attain longer exposures, this FinePix has a long exposure setting in the shooting menu that can be turned on and off. Aperture ***(6.75)*The Fujinon 3x lens on this digital camera isn’t very impressive, but it does have a decent f/2.8 aperture. This is wide enough to allow a lot of light in for naturally lit photography, something this camera does much better than its peers. The maximum aperture in telephoto is f/5, which is smaller than typical. The minimum aperture on the F31*fd* is f/8. In the aperture priority mode, photographers can choose among 10 options (in 1/3 increments between the maximum and minimum apertures with f/2.8-8 in wide). The aperture and shutter speed priority modes share the same position on the mode dial ("A/S"), so users have to select the proper mode within the shooting menu the same way they would switch scene modes.
**Picture Quality****/ Size Options *(7.0)*While other manufacturers seem to be constantly vying for more and more megapixels on smaller and smaller cameras, the FinePix F31*fd, *like its predecessors, has 6.3 megapixels on its Super CCD. It offers the following image sizes: 2848 x 2136 (offered in fine and normal compression), 3024 x 2016 (3:2 format), 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, and 640 x 480. The JPEG image sizes can be chosen in the "F" menu. When users scroll through these options, they can see exactly how many pictures can be taken with the inserted card or internal memory. This is very helpful. Picture Effects Mode (7.0)*This Fujifilm doesn’t have many picture effects, especially when compared to such cameras as the Canon PowerShots with their My Colors modes. The F31*fd has standard, chrome, and black & white color modes in the "F" menu. The standard mode is the default, and it is the only mode available in the movie mode. The chrome mode messes up with the saturation and isn’t available in the scene modes. These color modes are no replacement for good editing software. Color modes are only available while shooting and not in the playback mode. **
Connectivity / Extras
**Connectivity***Software (6.75)*The Fujifilm F31*fd* comes with FinePix Viewer version 5.3 for Windows and version 3.4 for Macintosh. This is a basic viewing and editing program that has typical options of a free software package. It lets users browse photos in three different modes, and then perform simple editing tasks like removing red-eye, rotating, and adjusting saturation and such. There are also color modes, but nothing more than what is offered on the camera. Also included on the CD-ROM is the ImageMixer VCD2 LE for FinePix program; this burns CDs and DVDs for users who want to backup files or send the photos to grandparents. *Jacks, ports, plugs (6.0)*All of this camera’s connective elements are located on the left side. There is a rubber flap that can be pried open to reveal two jacks: one for USB/AV and the other for DC-in. All of the cables are included, and the power adaptor is made up of two separate cables. The video out function can be set to NTSC or PAL standards within the playback mode. Above the rubber flap is a dark window that covers the infrared sensor. The sensor blinks when attempting to connect to other devices. With the sensor, the camera can connect to IrSimple enabled devices and other Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd* digital cameras. This technology can be accessed through the "F" menu in the playback mode. Users can choose to transmit or receive communications through this simple menu. *Direct Print Options (6.0)*The Fujifilm F31*fd* is PictBridge compatible and print orders can be made within the playback mode. Pictures can be chosen and tagged to create 0-99 copies of each picture. The date can be stamped on the pictures or left off. The IrSimple technology can wirelessly transfer the print orders to enabled printers, or users can connect to printers with the included USB cable. *Battery (8.25)***The F31*fd*’s NP-95 rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasts an incredible 580 shots. This is the same battery that is in the F30. There is a battery indicator that appears on the LCD screen, but there are only three bars in it which doesn’t really seem enough for the amount of life. The battery can be charged within the camera with the included power adaptor which consists of two cables. An optional battery charger can be purchased, but isn’t necessary for everyone. Although, it would be convenient for frequent travelers. The battery loads into the bottom of the camera on the right side, and it weighs down that side considerably.
Memory (4.0)*The Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd has 26 MB of internal memory, and it accepts up to 2 GB xD-Picture cards. The card is loaded into the same compartment as the battery on the bottom. In the playback mode, users can copy pictures from the internal memory to the memory card and vice versa. In the "F" menu where the image sizes are listed, users can view just how many pictures are left on the memory with the selected image size. The included 26 MB is about average for included memory, but users will need to purchase more. **Other features **(8.0)*IR Communication* – An infrared sensor on the left side of the camera wirelessly connects to enabled devices like Kodak Picture Kiosks, Sony Ericsson Mova SO506i mobile phones, and a few HP printers. It can even connect to other F31*fd* digital cameras and other IrSimple devices. The camera searches for other devices in range within the "F" menu and connects, transfers, and receives there too. The technology is very accessible and easy to use. *Optional Waterproof Housing* – The F31*fd* has an underwater scene mode that can be used with the optional WP-FXF30 underwater housing. It costs about $150 and can take the camera to depths of 130 ft/40 meters.
Value ***(7.75)*The Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd* has a lot of interesting technology – and this is reflected in the price. The retail tag of $399 is quite pricey especially when compared to Fujifilm’s other relatively affordable and reasonably priced cameras. Still, this model has really cool features and takes great pictures and is priced competitively within the market for its capabilities. It has face detection technology that works quickly and effectively, and IrSimple communication technology to wirelessly transfer images to enabled printers and devices. Those looking for a straight point-and-shoot digital camera can find one for much cheaper; however, for consumers looking for some trendy (and useful) technology, the F31*fd* has it, but they will have to pay for it. While this camera is a solid performer with a hefty feature set, at the listed price, it's really only a strong value if consumers take advantage of the face detection technology (i.e. shoot lots of portraits) and already have IrSimple enabled devices that will be able to communicate with the camera. For instance, the FinePix F30, with the same general design (internal and external) is currently selling for under $300 online. Comparisons**Fujifilm FinePix F30 – This digital camera was announced in February and released over the summer. This 6.3-megapixel model is extremely similar to the F31*fd*. In terms of its physical design, the cameras are nearly the same. They have the same 3x optical zoom lenses, 2.5-inch LCD screens, and 1.1-inch thick frames. Then only body difference is the slightly less functional finger grip on the F30. It is a slippery chrome material and oddly shaped. The other physical difference is the dark window on the F31*fd* for the infrared sensor. The F30 does not have IrSimple technology to wirelessly transfer photos. The Fujifilm FinePix F30 has many of the same inner workings though. It has the same scene modes, aperture and shutter speed priority, and movie modes. It has an ISO range that extends up to 3200 too. The F30 has 16 MB of internal memory, which is less than the F31*fd*’s 26 MB – but that seems fairly minor. The biggest difference between the two cameras is the lack of face detection technology on the older F30 model. The F30 originally retailed for $399, but since the introduction of the F31*fd* the price has been cut to $329. The F30 is still a great digital camera, just with less frills and trendy technology than the newer F31*fd*. *Canon PowerShot SD800 IS –*This digital camera comes at the same $399 retail price, and it has a little more resolution at 7.1 megapixels. Canon paired its image sensor with a Digic III image processor that recognizes, tracks, and focuses on faces much like Fujifilm’s technology. Canon’s technology is fast and it has the same limitations as Fuji’s (neither can recognize faces in a straight profile). However, the Canon can recognize 9 faces at a time instead of Fujifilm’s advertised 10 (who's gonna be the first to 11?). Canon has a better 3.8x optical zoom lens, and a similarly sized 2.5-inch LCD screen. The screen doesn’t have as good resolution though, with only 207,000 pixels. However, perhaps the biggest distinction is the Canon PowerShot SD800 IS's optical image stabilization. This uses an optical element within the lens to compensate for normal hand shake, and it works very well. This makes for smooth video and blur-free pictures, along with more opportunity to shoot in low light at lower shutter speeds. The SD800 doesn’t have priority modes, but it still offers some manual control. It tops off the feature set with the My Colors picture effects, which outdo Fujifilm’s FinePix color modes by a long shot. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W100 – This digital camera has a similarly plain styling. It isn’t super-trendy and isn’t homely either. The W100 has 8 megapixels, a Carl Zeiss 3x optical zoom lens, and a 2.5-inch LCD screen that has half the resolution of the F31*fd*’s monitor. The Sony W100 doesn’t have priority modes, but it does have a few scene modes and a fully manual mode are available. The manual controls aren’t as intuitive, but the rest of the camera is easy to use. The ISO extends up to 1250 for decent low light photography. Pictures taken by the W100 look good, but there isn’t any cool technology to show off either. The no-frills Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W100 retails for $349, but it can be found online for nearly a hundred dollars less. It might be a good value for consumers on a budget or point-and-shooters who don’t need all the bells and whistles of the F31*fd*. **Who It’s For***Point-and-Shooters* – These consumers will appreciate the simple auto mode and the good selection of scene modes. There are plenty of exposure modes that will allow point-and-shooters to gradually do more with the camera. In addition, with the easy and accessible face detection technology, point-and-shooters can take great portraits without hassle. *Budget Consumers* – With all this cool technology, the retail price of the F31*fd* is slated for a pricey $399. Budget consumers may have to forego the face detection and wireless connectivity and opt for a more modest model. *Gadget Freaks* – This is a dream come true for these consumers with its face detection and IrSimple™ technology. The clean pictures and high sensitivity help too. *Manual Control Freaks* – A fully manual mode isn’t available, although there are aperture and shutter speed priority modes. This won’t be enough to satiate the true manual control freak but does enable users to shape their images and control exposure. *Pros/Serious Hobbyists* – This camera won’t be considered for professional work, but it takes clean enough pictures to be considered for more on-the-go photography by this demographic.
**Conclusion**The Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd* comes with the 6.3-megapixel Super CCD that has made the F-series known for its clean pictures. The sensor allows for pictures to be taken in just about any lighting with its wide ISO range up to 3200. The natural-looking i-Flash helps illuminate subjects too. The F31*fd* has trendy new technology that recognizes up to ten faces at a time and while tracking and focusing on them. This is great for portraits, and it keeps faces properly exposed. The new camera also has IrSimple technology for wirelessly communicating with other enabled devices. The techy digital camera comes as a jazzed up version of the F30. Fujifilm’s F30 was a good thing, and it is made better in the F31*fd*. The combination of cool technology, manual control, and all-around easy functionality makes the Fujifilm FinePix F31*fd* a standout digital camera.
Specs / Ratings
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