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Fuji Z20fd Overview

by Stephanie Boozer
Review date: 07/31/2008

As a colorful update to the Fujifilm FinePix F10fd digital camera, the FinePix Z20fd comes in one of five vibrant colors: red, pink, light green, blue, and black. The camera features a 10-megapixel sensor with a standard 3x optical zoom lens (covering a 35mm-equivalent range of 35-105mm).

Designed as a pocketable point-and-shoot, the Fujifilm Z20fd is extremely compact, and its rainbow of body colors will get you noticed in a crowd. In addition to the 3x optical zoom, there's another 5.6x of digital zoom (though remember that also means losses in resolution and overall quality).

Exposure control remains automatic, though a range of preset shooting modes aims to accommodate many commonly tricky situations, such as beach scenes and fast action. Additionally, there's Face Detection for better portraits, Picture Stabilization for reducing blur at higher sensitivity settings, and high-tech improvements such as IrSimple compatibility for wireless communication and even a Blog mode.

The FinePix Z20fd is suitable for a range of experience levels, from novices to more advanced users, and retails at an MSRP of about $200.

 

Fuji Z20fd User Report

by Stephanie Boozer

Though it does come in diminutive black, the Fujifilm FinePix Z20fd can also be had in an eye-catching array of colors, including light green, blue, pink and red. If you're looking for a digital camera with personality, this is the one. Measuring 3.6 x 2.2 x 0.8 inches (91 x 56 x 19 millimeters) and weighing a trifling 4.4 ounces (126 grams) with a battery and card, the Fujifilm Z20fd is pocketable and an easy travel companion. Its low-profile front panel slips in and out of pockets easily, and its minimal controls mean few protrusions will hang up in tight spaces.

With a 10-megapixel CCD in its tiny body, the Fujifilm Z20fd captures image resolutions as high as 3,648 x 2,736 pixels. The camera's 3x optical zoom lens covers a 35mm-equivalent range of 35-105mm, with an additional 5.6x digital zoom available. Exposure remains under automatic control, though the user does have access to a selection of white balance and ISO settings, among a handful of other useful tools. A healthy range of preset Scene modes help out in more complicated shooting situations, and the camera's Face Detection and Picture Stabilization modes are useful for getting the best out of sometimes difficult conditions. The Z20fd is a capable camera in a tiny body, and should appeal to a wide range of users.

Look and feel. The Fujifilm Z20fd's trim, compact body is sleek with very few protrusions. In my medium-sized hands, camera controls were manageable with a one-handed grip, though I definitely wanted the security of the accompanying wrist strap. Larger hands may want to resort to a two-handed grip, especially when making menu selections or accessing any of the controls. The sliding lens cover also acts as a power switch and is easy to operate. However, I noticed that it didn't set firmly into place once fully opened, so I found myself often trying to force it further, waiting for that reassuring "click." The cleverly designed lens cover features a small opening that reveals the flash when fully opened, making full use of the camera's real estate.

The large, bright, 2.5-inch color LCD monitor covers practically all of the camera's rear panel, leaving just enough room for the three controls lining the right side. The reflective surface of the LCD display means that smudges and scratches will show more readily, and also causes some glare when shooting outdoors in bright light. However, through the camera's Setup menu, you can adjust the LCD brightness to help compensate.

The Fujifilm FinePix Z20fd offers a standard 3x optical zoom lens, equivalent to a 35-105mm zoom on a 35mm camera. In addition to its optical zoom range, the Fujifilm Z20fd offers an additional 5.6x digital zoom. As always, we remind readers that digital zoom often results in lower resolution and detail, because the camera is simply cropping the center of the frame and enlarging it. The FinePix Z20fd is equipped for normal shooting conditions, featuring a selection of preset Scene modes, Face Detection technology, and tools like ISO, white balance, and color mode adjustments. The Fujifilm Z20fd is a point-and-shoot camera ready for most common conditions.

Interface. The Fujifilm FinePix Z20fd's interface is fairly simple, as the camera has very few external controls. Most options are accessed through the LCD menu system, which is set up as a tabbed interface that's easy to navigate. You can literally just point and shoot the majority of the time without needing the LCD menu system; though it's easily accessed when you do need it. The sliding lens cover powers the camera on, automatically putting it into Record mode. Two rocker buttons on the rear panel access multiple camera features, with the top controlling optical and digital zoom, as well as Playback mode and Face Detection. The lower rocker button is the camera's main navigational tool in the menu system, but also accesses Macro, Self-timer, flash, and Picture Stabilization modes. In Playback mode, it also accesses the IrSimple menu (for Blog mode) and the erase option. At the center of this control is the Menu/OK button, which enables the menu screen. There's also a Display/Back button on the rear panel.

On top of the camera are the Shutter button and One-touch Movie button, which instantly puts you into Movie record mode.

The main menu layout is logical and straightforward, showing a list of available options. From the main menu, you can access Setup mode, which offers a series of tabs across the top of the screen, including one to return to the main Shooting menu. The arrow keys of the lower Multi-controller navigate menu options, while the center button confirms selections.

Click to view movie. AVI player required.

Available modes. Since the Fujifilm Z20fd is mostly automatic, you can take advantage of the many Scene modes to bias the camera to your needs.

Modes. The camera's available exposure modes are accessed through the Shooting Mode option of the Shooting menu. Choices here include Manual (really Program AE), Auto, Natural Light & Flash, Natural Light, Auction, Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Night, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Museum, Party, Flower, Text, Anti-Blur, Stamp, and Successive Movie modes. The Auto option is like a traditional fully automatic exposure mode, keeping most exposure variables under automatic control, while Manual mode expands user control to include white balance, ISO, and color options. Most of the preset scene options are fairly self-explanatory, and a short descriptive paragraph appears on-screen as you scroll through the list. A few modes do deserve special mention though, such as the Natural Light modes. In Natural Light mode, the camera optimizes sensitivity to preserve the mood indoors, without using the flash. Natural Light & Flash mode actually snaps two images, one with and one without the flash, so you can choose which is best. Auction mode snaps as many as four frames in VGA size (640 x 480), which are better suited for online auctions. Stamp mode adds a stamp such as a dialogue bubble or bunny ears, or any of a range of preset stamps. A little hokey perhaps, but some users might find it amusing. Finally, Successive Movie mode lets you add additional footage to an already-captured movie, in essence letting you create "scenes" in a longer video clip.

Manual shooting mode is where users have the most flexibility. Here, you can control white balance (Auto, Fine, Shade, 3 Fluorescent settings, and a Tungsten setting), ISO (64 to 1,600), Color (Standard, Chrome and Black & White), Continuous Shooting, and High Speed Shooting modes. Continuous Shooting modes include Final 3, Top 3 and Long Period, and Fujifilm claims the camera can shoot as fast as 0.6 frames per second in Top 3 and Final 3 modes, and 0.3 frames per second in Long Period mode. (Frame rates will vary with image size and data to be processed.) The High Speed Shooting mode simply optimizes the AF mechanism to cut down on shutter lag before snapping images.

Special Features. The Fujifilm FinePix Z20fd also offers Anti-Blur/Picture Stabilization to reduce blurring as a result of slower shutter speeds. This mode can be enabled through the Shooting Menu or via the Anti-Blur button on the rear panel, and simply raises the ISO allow faster shutter speeds.

Face detection. Face detection mode finds faces in the scene and selects the one it will use for exposure.

For better portraits, the Fujifilm FinePix Z20fd also employs Intelligent Face Detection and Red-eye Removal, which automatically detects faces in the frame and removes red-eye if necessary. You can choose to enable Face Detection with or without Red-eye Removal, via a button on the rear panel.

Also unique on the Fujifilm Z20fd is its Blog mode, which is accessed through the IrSimple menu (press the IR button while in Playback mode). Here, you can downsize captured images to either 320 x 240 or 640 x 480 pixels, which is better suited to blog posting. The camera saves images as separate files, with "BLOG" at the front of the filename. You can then use the Fujifilm Z20fd's IrSimple technology to wirelessly transfer your pictures to other compatible devices and post to your blog.

Finally, the Fujifilm Z20fd also has a range of useful movie tools, from Successive Movie mode (mentioned above) to its editing capabilities. As I mentioned earlier, Successive Movie mode lets you add on additional footage to existing movie files, so that you can create individual scenes in a mini-movie. But the camera also features a One-Touch Movie button right next to the Shutter button, which instantly puts you into Movie record mode. No sifting through menus or turning dials, just one press of a button and you can record video clips with sound. In Playback mode, the camera's editing capabilities let you set in and out crop points for removing sections of video, frame by frame.

Storage and battery. The Fujifilm FinePix Z20fd accepts xD-Picture Cards, as well as SD and SDHC memory cards in a slot next to the battery. No card comes with the camera, though the Fujifilm Z20fd does have about 45MB of internal memory. The internal memory will hold about 12 large/fine JPEG files, or about 2 minutes of VGA video. Alternatively, a 2GB xD-Picture Card should hold about 428 large/fine JPEGs or record about 73.5 minutes of VGA video. Even better, an 8GB SDHC card should hold about 1,715 large/fine JPEGs or about 295 minutes of VGA video. Of course, we always recommend picking up a large capacity xD-Picture card or large capacity SD/MMC memory card. (These days, 1GB is a good tradeoff between cost and capacity, but if you plan to capture many movie clips, 4GB should be a minimum)

For power, the Fujifilm FinePix Z20fd uses a single, custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and ships with both the battery and charger. You can purchase an AC adaptor as a separate accessory, and we recommend picking up a spare battery and keeping it freshly charged and on-hand for extended outings.

Shooting. The Fujifilm FinePix Z20fd is fairly straightforward to operate. Most functions are easy to find, either via the LCD menu or the external controls. The sliding lens cover is a quick power switch, and the dual rocker buttons are easy to actuate and sensibly laid out.

Default Exposure, ISO 64

Image quality. The Fujifilm FinePix Z20fd captured generally good-looking images, with good color and image quality in most cases. Overall color was bright and vibrant, though the strong reds and blues do practically jump off of the page. Still, most consumers like their color a little brighter than life, so the Fujifilm Z20fd will likely please here.

Very good detail in the mosaic pattern,
with good definition.
Evidence of strong blurring on the left
side that extends quite far into
the frame.

The Fujifilm FinePix Z20fd captures a lot of fine detail, as you can see in the crop of the mosaic pattern above left. Many cameras lose detail in the mosaic pattern here, but the Fujifilm Z20fd actually holds onto a fair amount, and with pretty good definition thanks to its 10-megapixel CCD. In the crop above right, you can see the blurring that extends from the left side of the frame.

ISO 64
ISO 400
ISO 1,600

The abbreviated noise series above shows the camera's noise levels at ISOs 64, 400, and 1,600, and the gray squares of the color chart are where noise pattern is easiest to distinguish. As you can see, noise is low at ISO 64, and only moderately high at ISO 200. By ISO 400, the noise pattern is quite distinct, and fine detail loses definition. The camera's efforts to suppress noise here seem minimal. The noise pattern is quite strong at ISO 1,600, and the increased noise level also affects color balance and saturation, for a cooler, flatter image. Fine detail is all but lost as well.

Appraisal. The Fujifilm FinePix Z20fd is small and fun, and offers good capability for its tiny size. The 10-megapixel CCD picks up a lot of fine detail, and both color and exposure performance are generally good. Noise handling isn't great at the highest sensitivity settings, but results are fine at the normal ISOs. Blurring in the corners of the frame will definitely detract from compositions with a lot of fine detail in these areas, but for average day-to-day snapshots, the Z20fd's performance should be just fine.

 

Fuji Z20fd Basic Features

 

Fuji Z20fd Special Features

 

Recommended Accessories

 

Fuji Z20fd Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Tiny, compact size
  • Excellent feel and quality
  • Face Detection Technology
  • Good selection of useful preset shooting modes
  • Large 2.5-inch LCD is usable in very bright light
  • ISO up to 1,600
  • Generally good color and exposure
  • 10-megapixel CCD picks up a lot of fine detail
  • Camera shows chosen shutter speed and aperture
  • Strong blurring on the left side of the frame at wide angle and telephoto
  • Image noise high at ISO 400 and up, with altered color balance and strong noise grain at ISO 1,600
  • Some oversaturation of strong reds and blues
  • Slightly soft definition of fine detail
  • No true manual control

 

Pocketable, compact, and available in a rainbow of fun colors, the Fujifilm FinePix Z20fd practically begs to be taken along for the ride. Its tiny body holds a 10-megapixel CCD, 3x optical zoom lens and a host of fun preset shooting modes and creative tools for shooting and editing files post-capture. Despite some issues with image noise at higher sensitivity settings and some strong blurring in the corners of the frame from the lens, the Fujifilm Z20fd's overall performance is pretty good. The FinePix Z20fd isn't our top choice in terms of image quality, as was the FinePix Z5fd, but it's a fun camera that's quick to learn and suitable for any experience level, with a reasonable price of under $200.