Fuji F470 Overview
by Dan Havlik
Review posted: 07/22/2006
Along with being about as slim as you want a digital camera, the Fuji F470 is extremely light at just five ounces with the battery and memory card. Though the camera's polycarbonate body has a plastic feel in spots, the generous metal accents give it solid durability. This really is a "take anywhere" camera, and under normal daylight conditions the F470 can capture some great pictures, with the rich color you'd expect from Fujifilm. Though the camera struggled in low-light situations when shooting without a flash, and offers barely any manual control, if you're using the Fuji F470 just for on-the-go snapshots, it's a steal at just $279.
Fujifilm F470 User Report
Slim Is In
The Fujifilm FinePix F470 is certainly not the slimmest camera on the market nor is it the slimmest in Fuji's line -- that would go to the soon-to-be released Z3. But the Fuji F470 is really about as slim as you want a digital camera, and other than being slightly longer than some competing slim models, it can fit easily into a pocket, though I don't recommend squeezing any digital camera into your jeans because it can become damaged. Instead, stow the Fuji F470 safely in a case in a backpack or hand bag and you're good to go.
Though from a distance the Fuji F470 looks like a basic silver rectangle, up close you'll notice some nice curves with stainless steel outlining the chassis. A slight swell on the right side (from the user's perspective) provides a decent hand-grip. On the back of the camera, as inelegant as it may seem, is a circular indenture that looks like someone pushed their thumb into a piece of clay. Turns out it's a perfect spot for your thumb and gives you easy access to the zoom rocker. Consequently, the Fuji F470 is one of the easiest models to "one-hand" I've tried. Thanks to this ability, I was able to get some unobstructed shots of Grammercy Park in New York City by doing a one-handed "Hail Mary" over the park's imposing locked gates.
The few controls there are on this very automatic camera are well placed. The one minor gripe I have about them -- aside from my usual rant about how insanely small the buttons are -- is that it's easy to accidentally turn the Mode Dial out of the Auto setting into the Scene or Movie modes. The Mode Dial surrounds the shutter button. Make sure you're in the mode you want or you might mistakenly be taking a slow-sync flash shot in Night Mode when you're standing outside in bright sun.
The 2.5-inch viewfinder on the Fuji F470 tracks very well in live view mode so it won't seem like you're lagging behind the shot when you're framing pictures with the screen. Resolution is decent too at 115,000 pixels and playback rendered fairly accurate images. The one area where image playback faltered was in some shots I took of brick buildings which had a terrible case of the "jaggies," aka aliasing, on the camera's screen, but looked fine later on my computer monitor. The LCD has a gain-up control that senses low-light situations and automatically brightens the display to compensate. The user can also brighten the screen manually by using the top arrow of the four-way nav ring in shooting mode. There is no optical viewfinder on the Fuji F470.
Moving Right Along
The Fujifilm F470 powers on to first shot in 2.7 seconds which while it's certainly not the fastest camera on the market, is very good for this price range. Though it's a little slow (and not particularly smooth) when zooming all the way out to the full 3x optical, shutter lag at the end of the telephoto registers an average 0.61 seconds. On the wide angle, lag is shorter at 0.56 seconds. When you pre-focus things improve quite a bit, as expected, with shutter lag dropping down to 0.103 seconds. Again, we're not talking about a speed demon of a camera, but perfectly adequate for family outings or group photos.
Shot to shot, the camera fared well. In Single Shot mode with image quality set to Large Fine JPEGs, the Fuji F470 averages 1.87 second per shot. In Continuous mode at the largest file size, the camera averaged 0.61 seconds per shot. If I paid under $300 for a camera like this, these are definitely figures I would not be complaining about. In some of Fuji's press materials, they discuss the F470's "new digital signal processor" which as of yet I don't believe they've named, a la Canon's "DIGIC II" or Casio's "EXILIM Engine." In the past, Fuji's called it the RP (Real Photo) Processor. Marketing jargon aside, the camera moves along briskly with few stumbles.
In the film world (remember those days?) there were Fuji people (those who liked supersaturated color images from their roll film) and Kodak people (those who liked slightly more subdued color with more realistic skin tones). While those allegiances haven't carried over so much to the digital realm (these days, the most you'll get are "Canon people" versus "Nikon people"), Fuji's digital cameras, to my eye, continue with the tradition of producing very rich colors. This is certainly evident in images shot with the special F-Chrome Finepix Color setting which is supposed to mimic the look of Fujifilm by boosting (I would say "overboosting") the color and pumping up the contrast. Though I don't recommend that setting on the Fuji F470 unless you want a real "painterly" effect from your images, the saturation levels in the F-Standard setting can offer very dramatic color results.
The 3x Fujinon lens (equivalent 35mm to 105mm in 35mm format) produced good sharpness all the way to the corners when pulled back to its widest angle. Sharpness degraded a bit when zoomed out to 3x which is typical for cameras in this class. Because the Fuji F470 has neither image stabilization nor a real usable ISO setting above 200 (the camera's ISO400 produced poor results), fully zoomed shots should only be attempted in good lighting conditions when you can hold the camera steady. The lens automatically selects apertures from f/2.8-f/4.9 depending on where it's zoomed to.
All the Basics
Though it doesn't abound with special features, the Fuji F470 has most of the familiar scene modes including Portrait, Sports, Landscape, and Night and a few less typical, but not uncommon, modes including Beach and Snow, Sunset, Museum, Party, Flower Close-up and Text. Though it took me a while to find it, there is a "Manual" setting all the way at the bottom of the list of scene modes. In Manual, you can adjust the exposure up or down to +2 EV or -2EV by 1/3 step increments, and choose among seven White Balance pre-sets. Definitely not the camera for anyone who likes to get creative with the settings, which is probably why Fuji buried the limited manual control the F470 has. In movie mode, the camera can capture video clips of up to 640x480 pixels at 30 frames per second with monoaural sound.
Navigation on the Fuji F470 is very simple and generally "idiot proof." While I've long been a fan of Fujifilm's menu system, I think it might be time to refresh the graphics slightly. They are starting to look a little dated. Simply increasing the size and design of the icons so they're easier to read might be a good starting point. Buttons were also fairly easy to use, if a bit small for my fingers. The Fuji F470's rechargeable battery can capture a slightly below-average 200 images per charge, according to CIPA standards. The camera also comes with 16MB of internal memory.
Though it doesn't have lots of bells and whistles, the very slim and light 6 megapixel Fuji F470 is a great snapshooter that truly is a "take anywhere" camera. Though its low-light capabilities are lackluster, in regular daylight shooting conditions, or when shooting with flash, this little camera can capture some bright and boldly colorful images.
- 6-megapixel CCD delivering image resolution as high as 2816 x 2112 pixels
- 2.5-inch color, amorphous silicon TFT LCD monitor with 115,000 pixels of resolution.
- 3x Fujinon 35-105mm zoom lens, with f/2.8 to f/4.9maximum aperture.
- Digital zoom of up to 4.4x.
- Auto and Ten Scene Mode settings including Manual, which lets you adjust exposure and seven White Balance presets but does not allow user control of shutter speed or aperture.
- Adjustable ISO setting with Auto, 64, 100, 200, and 400 equivalents.
- Non-adjustable shutter speeds of 2 seconds to 1/500 of second, depending on Exposure mode
- Built-in flash with seven modes.
- xD-Picture Card storage with 16MB of internal storage
- JPEG image format.
- Power supplied by proprietary rechargeable NiMH battery.
- Interface software and USB drivers included for Windows and Macintosh computers.
- Movie (with sound) and Voice recording modes.
- High-speed shooting mode for increased focusing speed.
- 10- and two-second Self-Timer modes for delayed shutter release.
- DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
- USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included).
- Video cable for image playback on a television set
In the Box
In the box with the Fuji F470 digital camera are the following items:
- Proprietary NP-40N Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery.
- Battery charger
- Wrist strap
- A/V cable
- USB cable
- Software CD-ROM
- Instruction manual, Quick Start guide, and registration card.
- Larger capacity xD-Picture Card. (I'd recommend 256MB as a minimum.)
- Additional Lithium Ion rechargeable battery.
- Soft camera case.
If you're looking for a slim, reliable camera that won't cost you an arm and a leg, the 6 megapixel Fuji F470 might be just right. Though it doesn't come with a lot of bells and whistles (and precious little manual control), the five-ounce F470 is a great "take anywhere" camera. In full Auto mode in daylight shooting situations, the Fujifilm F470 is a beginning photographer's dream with a responsive image processor for good shot-to-shot performance. Though it doesn't use one of Fuji's much ballyhooed Super CCD HR sensors, the F470 employs a more than adequate 6 megapixel CCD image sensor that can capture the sort of rich, dramatic color Fuji has been known for since its roll film days. And you can view your shots on the big 2.5 inch LCD.
On the downside, the camera's lowlight performance when shooting without a flash is lackluster, with the camera offering a disappointing and noisy ISO 400 at its highest light sensitivity setting. Though I prefer shooting in low light without a flash, the Fuji F470 I tested took some pretty decent photos with its flash engaged, avoiding overexposing the whites.
If you like any sort of manual control other than the most rudimentary exposure and white balance control, the Fuji F470 will leave you wanting. But if you like a small camera you can easily slip into a bag while driving around town or travelling and forget about until it's time to shoot, the F470 is designed for you. While I was most impressed with its portability, the Fuji F470 can take some dynamite pictures in the right lighting.