Fujifilm FinePix JX420 Overview
Virtually identical to the JX370 with the exception of sensor resolution and a slightly more powerful digital zoom, the Fuji FinePix JX420 digital camera is an entry-level model, aimed at new users and family photographers. Like its lower-resolution sibling, ease of use is the JX420's core design principle.
That's not to say that the Fuji JX420 isn't capable, however. With a 5x optical zoom lens, the JX420 provides adequate zoom range for most shooters. The JX420's 28mm-equivalent wide angle should be enough even for indoor shooting, when you often can't simply take a few more steps back from your subject to fit everything within the frame. On the other end of the range, the 140mm-equivalent telephoto lets you more tightly frame your subject, helping make them the center of attention. A standard CCD image sensor with a resolution of 16 megapixels should provide plenty of resolution for typical home print sizes, even after some cropping to achieve a more pleasingly-framed scene.
Sadly--but not surprisingly, given its affordable pricetag--the Fuji JX420 lacks any form of mechanical image stabilization. Instead, it provides only what Fuji refers to as "digital image stabilization", which simply raises ISO sensitivity to avoid use of slower shutter speeds that might prove susceptible to camera shake. That might help reduce the prevalance of blurry images, if you don't mind images with higher levels of either digital noise, or the artifacts of processing to remove this, but it's no substitute for true image stabilization. Another concession to the entry-level pricetag is the lack of an optical or electronic viewfinder. Instead, you'll frame images at arm's length, as is the norm with most entry-level cameras. While neither as high-resolution or as large as those in pricier models, the JX420's 2.7-inch, 77,000 pixel LCD screen is typical of cameras in this category.
Among its ease-of-use features, the FinePix JX420 includes an "SR Auto" mode (that's 'Scene Recognition' Auto), which can recognize one of six common scene types: Portrait, Landscape, Night, Macro, Night Portrait, and Backlit Portrait. With an understandable focus on taking pictures of people, the JX420's SR Auto mode will configure the camera appropriately for whichever scene type it identifies, saving the photographer even having to manually choose a scene mode. Of course, you can also select a scene mode manually if you prefer, with a generous selection of seventeen scene modes to choose from, including common modes such as Fireworks or Baby, as well as less common choices like Natural Light. Finally, there's a fully automatic mode that doesn't attempt to perform scene recognition, and a Program auto mode that allows the photographer to tweak certain settings to their own tastes.
Like most fixed-lens digital cameras, the FinePix JX420 relies on a contrast detection autofocus system, and as is the norm these days, this includes a face detection feature that can automatically located human subjects, then ensure that the dominant subject is correctly focused. The JX420 can identify ten faces simultaneously, and can warn you if anyone blinks at the moment of capture. There's also a Smile and Shoot function, which automatically triggers the shutter when your subject is smiling. Perhaps a little rarer at this price point is the fact that the autofocus system can recognize a moving subject, and track it as it progresses across the image frame.
The JX420 include some other features that aren't especially common at the entry level, such as its Motion Panorama mode. This allows you to capture three sequential frames, with the camera providing marks on the LCD to help you correctly align each subsequent shot. The results are then stitched together automatically in-camera to yield the final panoramic image. There's also a Natural Light + Flash mode, which captures the same scene twice--once with high sensitivity to capture your subject with ambient light (and potentially higher noise), and the second shot with flash (ensuring there's no blur, but with the less natural feel that's typical of flash shots.) You can then select the image you want to keep and discard the other, or perhaps you'll decide you want to keep both!
As well as still images, the Fuji FinePix JX420 can capture high definition video clips, with a maximum resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels, commonly known as 720p. Movies are recorded using Motion JPEG compression, a format that's fairly friendly in terms of its hardware requirements for playback and editing, not to mention widely compatible, but which can require a lot of storage space, since it isn't terribly efficient.
Recognizing that not every photographer has a computer at home, or wants to spend time sitting in front of one when they could be out shooting more photos, the Fuji JX420 includes some fun features for viewing, sharing, and retouching images post-capture. These include the ability to rate images (from one thru five stars), or to organize images into "photo books" in-camera. The latter function further allows you to order a printed copy of a photo book, either in certain stores, or on the internet. You can also search for a specific image by rating, scene mode type, date, or in a couple of more unusual ways. One of these lets you search for only solo portraits, pictures of couples, or group shots. The other allows you to search only for unedited still images, edited still images, or movies. Finally, you can edit photos to remove red-eye post capture, without a computer. If you have a PC, you can also tag images and movies to be uploaded to either Facebook or YouTube, automatically, when the camera is next connected to your computer. And if you just want to get an overall view of your images, you can view up to 100 thumbnails on-screen at once, if you don't mind squinting.
The Fuji JX420 stores images and movies on Secure Digital cards, including the higher capacity SDHC types. Note, though, that it isn't compatible with the latest generation of SDXC cards. Power comes courtesy of a proprietary NP-45A lithium ion rechargeable battery, with BC-45W charger included in the product bundle. Two connectivity options are provided--USB 2.0 High-Speed data for getting images and movies onto your computer, and standard-definition composite video output. Note that there's no high-definition video output connectivity, though, so if you've upgraded to a high-def display, you'll not get the benefit of its resolution unless it can accept SD cards directly, or you have a compatible viewer. Fuji offers its own HDP-L1 HD player separately, for this purpose.
Pricing and availability for the Fuji JX420 have not been announced at this time. We don't currently know if this model will be offered in the US market.