Fuji Z5fd

Before I begin this review, I want to damn the person who decided to steal this camera when it was sent back to Fuji, they should be shot somewhere that would lead them to a slow and painful death.Following on from the previous Fuji camera that featured here on the TechCast Network a few months ago, I’m back again with the Z5fd, a compact camera with the clever face detection that worked so well last time as well as the usual assortment of picture optimising features that make Fuji cameras so good at taking shots.

At the heart of this camera is a 6.3 million-pixel 1/2.5-inch Super CCD HR sensor capable of capturing 1600 x 1200 resolution images and 640 x 480 video clips at 30 frames per second.No surprises here when it comes to zoom focal length with 3x optical and although there’s the optional digital zoom, we won’t talk about that since it’s a big no no when it comes to taking shots.The shutter speed is dependant on what shooting mode you’re in so you can range it from 4 seconds for those night scene shots (allows more light in to the lens but you must not move the camera or the image will blur) to 1/1000 second for when you need to shoot something moving at speed.ISO ratings are automatic and range from 100 to a noisy 1600, lower the ISO the less sensitive the lens will be to light which is deal for sunny Summer holiday snaps, you’ll want a higher ISO for dark shots so that the lens is more sensitive to light, but what you sacrifice there is picture quality because the CCD chip will try to compensate some colours and often ‘guess’ them wrongly.

A 2.5-inch screen at the rear with a scratch resistant coating provides good clear colour reproduction that does a good job at representing the shot you take. Fuji have also included a ‘brighten up’ option that when activated gives the screen backlight a bit more oomph for when the sun is shining on. This was useful when I visited Chester Zoo with this camera and having that feature really did make a difference because without it on, I could barely see a thing.Included is a rechargeable battery of course with any slim digital camera this is obligatory. Rated at taking over 300 shots, the Z5fd boasts decent battery life that will easy last a days worth of intense shooting even with video recording.Available in three colours, I received the Mocha Brown model which I have to say really does look the part, and I say that brown is the new black these days for a lot of gadgets but don’t expect Apple to release a brown iPod anytime soon though. I’ve seen the silver model in the shops and it doesn’t quite have that same quality look and the raspberry red, well I guess that’s reserved for those from Venus.

The tiny front print that the Z5fd is both stunning to look at and hold, perfect for slipping in to your shirt or trouser pocket and with the sliding lens cover that doubles as the power switch as well as the scratch resistant screen, you can be reassured that this camera won’t get damaged in your pockets. Who wants to fiddle around getting a camera in and out of a case anyway?One wonders what sort of market that Fuji are aiming for with this camera because from a retail perspective, this camera is perfectly positioned to be the ‘it’ camera for the outgoing snapper taking it to clubs and events.

One of the best-loved features on this camera is the Face Detection feature, which is typically reserved for higher end models. Turning this feature on will allow the camera to recognise up to 10 faces and continuously keep them in focus should they move about in the shot. By ensuring the face is in focus, this intelligent sensor ensures that the camera won’t focus on background objects and blurring the faces in the shot.Alongside focusing the face, the sensor will also decide whether it needs to activate the flash and if it does it takes in to account the face detection and ensure that the flash doesn’t drown out the entire shot making the shot look more natural and correctly lit.Blogging mode is a feature that further reinforces the ‘MySpace’ and ‘Facebook’ generation with the ability to resize and crop the image directly on the camera and then upload straight on to a social-networking site.

Intelligent Flash I’ve touched on already but one feature that I’ve not come across on other cameras is the Natural Light and Flash mode which essentially takes two shots continuously, one with and one without the flash on so you can decide on that very same shot whether you prefer to have it on or off. For myself this feature would be a godsend since I often find it difficult to decide whether the shot would look better with or without the flash, well with this mode you won’t have to regret it later.Image stabilisation for a small compact camera is almost a must these days since the size largely determines how well you can handle the camera without camera shake, however the stabilisation in this camera is achieved digitally rather than optically, so expect some image quality to be sacrificed with this feature turned on.You can see for yourself from my sample shots on my trip out to the zoo just how good the quality of the shots were from the Z5fd. My Canon PowerShot S3 IS was perhaps a little more suited for this kind of scenery since a longer optical zoom would have been more preferable in some shots, however the Z5fd’s 3x optical zoom managed to take crisp clear shots of distant subjects and when used up close was able to achieve natural colour reproduction and capturing the important details in the shot.

Click the image to see a 1600 x 1200 resolution version of the images

Nearly everything about the Z5fd marks it down as a good all rounder that has up to date features that are not only useful but also enhance the quality of your shots by a large margin. Its compact design with a choice of three colours available from around £130 (from Google Products search) makes this a fantastically well-priced camera for what the amount of ‘camera’ that you’re getting.

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Fuji continues to live up to its name and impress me with the sophisticated styling and advanced ‘Fuji advantage’ camera technology. To top it of, it’s available in ‘Mocha Brown’ – my favourite colour for gadgets this season.

2007-06-20 Onwah Tsang

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