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Fujifilm FinePix F10 Digital Camera

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Review Date
6/15/2005
User Level
Novice to experienced amateur
Product Uses
Family / Travel / Special Events
Digicam Design
Point and Shoot, Full Manual Control
Picture Quality
High, 6.3-megapixel Super CCD HR
Print Sizes
Very Good, 11x17s, or 8x10s with heavy cropping
Availability
April, 2005
Suggested Retail Price
(At introduction)
$ 499.95


Introduction

Review Links
Overview
Picky
Details
Design
Operation
Recommended Accessories
Sample Pictures
Specifications
Conclusion
The Fujifilm FinePix F10 is among Fujifilm's latest compact digital cameras, and offers a great combination of ease of use, style, and image quality (particularly at higher ISO sensitivities). Based on a fifth-generation Super CCD HR chip design, the Fuji F10 offers great resolution at a good price point, with a resolution of 6.3 megapixels. With a sharp 3x zoom lens, compact size, and straightforward user interface, the Fuji F10 is an excellent all-around point & shoot model that should appeal to novice users and more experienced shooters alike. The Fuji F10's most impressive feature though is its ability to produce very "clean" (low noise) images at ISO light sensitivity settings far above those most consumer-level digital cameras can manage. Read on for all the details.

 

Camera Overview

The Fujifilm FinePix F10 is aimed at consumers who want quick and easy photos, shielding them from the complexities of shutter speeds and aperture settings (although the camera does let you know what values it has selected for you). Automatic and "Scene" modes simplify operation for point-and-shoot users, while a "manual" mode provides slightly more control for creative types, including control of metering and AF modes, white balance, and exposure compensation - but not direct control over the shutter speed or aperture. Small, compact, and light weight, the F10 offers Fujifilm's fifth generation 6.3-megapixel Super CCD HR, which produces file sizes as large as 2848 x 2136 pixels. With mostly smooth body panels (only a very gently curved handgrip and the shutter button / mode dial protrude noticeably from the body), the Fuji F10 is an easy fit for coat or pants pockets, and may fit larger shirt pockets as well (but probably weighs a little too much for a shirt pocket to be comfortable). The camera is fairly compact at 3.6 x 2.3 x 1.1 inches (92.0 x 58.2 x 27.3 millimeters). The mostly metal body (only the battery door is plastic) is quite light at 7.1 ounces (200 grams, with the batteries and memory card loaded. The 3x telescoping lens and built-in lens cover keep the Fuji F10's front panel fairly smooth when not in use, allowing the camera to slip into a pocket or purse without a hang-up.

The Fujifilm F10 features a 3x Fujinon lens, equivalent to a 36-108mm lens on a 35mm camera, a range from a reasonable wide-angle to a useful telephoto. Aperture can be automatically adjusted from f/2.8 to f/8, with the maximum aperture gradually reduced to f/5.0 as it zooms to the full telephoto zoom setting. Focus is automatically adjusted, and ranges from 2.0 feet (60 centimeters) to infinity in normal mode, or from 3.1 inches to 2.8 feet (7.9 to 83.9 centimeters) using the camera's Macro setting. The Fuji F10 employs a TTL (Through The Lens) contrast-detection autofocus mechanism, and offers a choice of center or area AF modes, as well as a continuous mode. When in area AF mode, the camera indicates the AF point that was used on the LCD display. The FinePix F10's autofocus system is faster that those of most cameras on the market, with shutter delays in full autofocus mode of only 0.55 second or so, and the optional "High Speed Shooting" mode reduces shutter lag to only 0.29 second at wide angle. The camera can also focus in fairly dim lighting, down to about one-quarter the brightness of typical city night scenes with its AF-assist light turned off, and in complete darkness (on nearby objects) with the AF light enabled.

In addition to the 3x optical zoom, the F10 offers as much as 6.2x digital zoom, depending on the image quality setting, but keep in mind that digital zoom decreases the overall image quality, since it just crops out the center pixels of the CCD's image. For framing shots, the F10 offers no true optical viewfinder, only a color LCD monitor - although at 2.5-inches it is fairly generous in size. The LCD is not only larger than average, but quite accurate, showing almost exactly 100% of the final image area. An information overlay reports camera settings (including aperture and shutter speed) on the LCD monitor. There are also two less common record-mode displays. In the first, a framing guideline option displays an alignment grid which divides the image area into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, making it easier to line up tricky subjects. Even more unusual, the post-shot assist display mode shows the last three images captured since switching the camera to record mode alongside a live view, to assist in framing shots with similar composition.

The F10 offers a choice of Auto, Manual, Movie, and Scene Program modes, although only limited control over exposure variables is available in the Manual mode - and aperture or shutter speed are not among the variables under your control. In straight Auto mode, the camera controls everything about the exposure, except for options like zoom, macro, and some flash settings. Manual mode keeps the camera in charge of aperture and shutter speed, while the user retains control over certain other variables, including exposure compensation, metering mode, white balance, and AF mode, as well as all flash modes. Scene Program options include Night, Sports, Landscape, Portrait, and Natural Light, with each scene mode offering a limited subset of the camera's manual controls. Automatically selected shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to three seconds, depending on exposure mode - although in Night scene mode you can manually select a shutter speed from three to 15 seconds if the long exposure mode option is enabled in the camera's menu system. Metering options on the F10 include the default 64-zone Multi mode, which bases exposure on contrast and brightness values read from the entire scene, as well as Spot and Average options. The camera's Exposure Compensation setting lets you increase or decrease the automatically-determined exposure from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments. White balance options include an Auto setting, as well as Fine, Shade, Fluorescent Light-1, Fluorescent Light-2, Fluorescent Light-3, Incandescent, or Custom settings. (The latter lets you set the color balance based on a white card held in front of the lens.) The F10 also features an unusually wide-ranging adjustable light sensitivity setting, with Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600 ISO values available. The Auto option actually ranges from 80 to 800 equivalents. Top-3 and Final-3 Continuous shooting modes include Top 3 (shoots and saves 3 frames), Final 3 (shoot up to 40 frames, camera saves last 3), or Long-period continuous (the camera shoots and saves up to 40 frames).

The F10's built-in flash operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, Slow-Synchro, and Slow-Synchro with Red-Eye Reduction modes. The Red-Eye Reduction mode fires a pre-flash a fraction of a second before the exposure itself, to make the irises of your subjects' eyes contract, avoiding the red-eye effect. Slow-Synchro combines the flash with slower shutter speeds, to allow more of the ambient lighting into your exposure. (Slow-Synchro is handy for getting more natural-looking flash photos at night, with more of the background visible.) Flash range is rated as 30 centimeters (1 foot) to 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) at wide-angle, or to 4 meters (13.1 feet) at telephoto. In our own tests though, the flash underexposed slightly even at 8 feet with the lens in its telephoto position and the ISO set to 80, and brightness decreased with each foot of increasing subject distance. A Self-Timer mode provides either a two- or 10-second delay between a full press of the Shutter button and the time that the shutter actually opens, helpful in self-portraits or group photos. (The shorter delay is handy for times when you want to use a tripod or prop the camera on something when shooting under dim conditions, to avoid blurred photos caused by camera shake.) The F10 also features a Movie mode, which captures movies with sound at either 640 x 480- or 320 x 240-pixel resolutions, both at 30 frames per second. Maximum recording times vary, depending on the resolution and amount of available memory space. A Voice option in Playback mode lets you record short audio clips to accompany captured images.

The F10 stores image files on xD-Picture Cards, and comes with a 16MB starter card. I have to say, I would much prefer for Fujifilm to reduce the cost of the camera by $10 and include no card at all rather than cripple the user with such a tiny card. At the full six megapixel file size of this camera, you can get a grand total of 2 images on this card; the manual claims 3, but that depends on how easily compressed the image is; I only saw 2 fit in the shots I took. So it goes without saying that before you leave the camera store or click on the checkout button, you'll want to add at least a 256MB xD card to the mix. For power, the F10 uses a proprietary NP-120 Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, one of which is included with the camera, along with a "terminal adapter" that allows the battery to be charged in the camera body. Battery life was a very pleasant surprise, with a worst-case run time (capture mode with the LCD turned on) of four and a half hours with the included battery. Very impressive, so much so that it's safe to say that most users won't find any need for the second battery that I usually recommend. Also included with the camera is a USB cable for direct connection to a PC or Macintosh computer, and an A/V cable to connect the camera to a television set for reviewing images in Playback mode - both of which also must be connected through the bundled "terminal adapter". A software CD loaded with Fujifilm's FinePix software is also included. Installation of software is not required on most Macs or PCs, however, because the camera supports PTP mode, which allows the camera to appear on the computer as a hard drive.

Basic Features

  • 6.3-megapixel Super CCD HR delivering image resolutions as high as 2848 x 2136 pixels (Slightly (but not dramatically) more detail than from a conventional 6.3 megapixel chip).
  • 2.5-inch color, low temperature polysilicon TFT LCD monitor.
  • 3x Fujinon 36-108mm zoom lens, with f/2.8 to f/5.0 maximum aperture.
  • Autofocus with adjustable AF area.
  • Digital zoom of up to 6.2x.
  • Auto, Manual, and five Scene Program exposure modes (Manual mode does not allow user control of shutter speed or aperture).
  • Adjustable white balance with eight settings, including a manual option.
  • Adjustable ISO setting with Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600 equivalents.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to three seconds. (Long exposure mode permits exposures as long as 15 seconds.)
  • Multi, Spot, and Average metering modes.
  • Built-in flash with six modes.
  • xD-Picture Card storage (16MB card included).
  • JPEG image format.
  • Power supplied by proprietary rechargeable NiMH battery.
  • Interface software and USB drivers included for Windows and Macintosh computers.
  • Picture Cradle adapter included for optional cradle for connecting to a computer and for in-camera battery charging.

Special Features

  • Movie (with sound) and Voice recording modes.
  • High-speed shooting mode for increased focusing speed.
  • Top 3 Frame, Final 3 Frame, and Long-period continuous shooting modes.
  • 10- and two-second Self-Timer modes for delayed shutter release.
  • Long exposure mode allows manual selection of shutter speeds from three to 15 seconds in Night scene mode.
  • 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.

Recommendation
Light weight, compact, and easy to use, Fujifilm's FinePix F10 is an excellent point-and-shoot digicam for novices just getting their feet wet in digital photography, as well as a useful second camera for more experienced users who don't want to carry their larger feature-rich cameras all the time. With fully automatic control over shutter and aperture (except in long exposure mode), the Fuji F10 proves very approachable for beginners. Five preset Scene modes simplify common shooting situations, and a handful of image adjustment options provide some creativity. The camera's relatively straightforward user interface means little time is spent learning how to operate the camera, making the Fuji F10 good for shooting on the fly. Thanks to surprisingly good high ISO performance for a compact camera, the F10 should prove useful in the poor lighting conditions many users will encounter (birthday parties, evening shots, etc.) Its very fast shutter response combined with good high-ISO performance also make it particularly well-suited for shooting sports and other fast-paced action. With pricing about average for a quality 6.3 megapixel digicam, the Fujifilm FinePix F10 offers good value in an "all around" digital camera.

 

Design

Measuring 3.6 x 2.3 x 1.1 inches (92.0 x 58.2 x 27.3 millimeters), the F10's body is small enough for a coat or pants pocket or and the camera should fit easily into most purses. The smooth front and rear panels, and the rounded hand grip make pocket retrieval hassle-free, and the sleek, silver metal and plastic body is attractive, fashionable, and rugged. Though compact, the F10 fits the hand well, and the smoothly curved handgrip on the right side provides some grip. The included wrist strap provides some extra security. The Fujifilm F10 weighs in at 7.1 ounces (200 grams), with the batteries and memory card loaded.

The F10's metal front panel is nearly flat with the lens retracted, except for the rounded handgrip, which extends about a quarter of an inch. Turning the camera on extends the lens about an inch and a quarter from the camera body. A shutter-like lens cover protects the front of the lens when closed, and quickly retracts when the camera is powered on. Near the top of the front panel are the flash, self-timer lamp, and AF assist lamp. Two small holes below the lens barrel mark the location of the camera's microphone.

The right side of the camera (as viewed from the rear) holds only the eyelet for the wrist strap.

The opposite side of the camera is smooth and featureless, except for a small rubber flap attached to the camera body, covering what Fujifilm calls the terminal adapter connection socket. Bundled with the camera is the terminal adapter, a small device measuring approximately 1.75 x 1.5 x 0.5 inches (45 x 38 x 13 millimeters), with a five inch (127 millimeter) cord attached to it. The terminal adapter plugs into the camera and acts as a splitter, allowing a single port on the camera body to offer three connections on the terminal adapter: 5V DC input, USB 1.1 connection to a computer or PictBridge-compatible printer, and A/V output connection for a TV or VCR. This doubtless helps reduce the size of the camera, but requires you to carry an extra piece of hardware with you when travelling.

Unfortunately, the power adapter doesn't use the same type of connector as the terminal adapter. It would seem more sensible to design the two devices so that they use the same connector (with the power supply simply ignoring pins unrelated to power), so that the power cable could plug either into the terminal adapter, or directly into the camera body. This would have allowed users to charge the camera without needing the terminal adapter (although the adapter could still be used in the event that you wanted to use the USB or A/V cables simultaneously). As is, if you bring your power supply but forget to bring the terminal adapter with you, you will not be able to charge the camera's proprietary battery pack.

On the F10's top panel are the Power button and Mode dial, as well as the Shutter button (located in the center of the Mode dial).

The remaining camera controls are on the rear panel, sharing space with the LCD monitor. Note that the Fuji F10 forgoes any form of optical viewfinder, in favor of a larger 2.5" LCD display, which dominates the left side of the camera's rear. The LCD does seem fairly easy to view in most lighting conditions (it's even surprisingly usable in full sunlight), so many users likely won't even miss the optical viewfinder. The zoom rocker is at the top right of the rear panel, and a small indentation in the center of the rocker (as well as the panel below it) provides a fairly secure thumb rest to counter the front handgrip. The Playback and Photo Mode buttons (the latter marked with a stylized 'F' character in Fujifilm's FinePix logo font) are side by side, centered vertically on the camera's right rear. The Playback button doubles as a second power switch, allowing you to turn the camera on directly in Playback mode (without the lens extending) if you hold the Playback button in briefly.

A Four-way arrow pad next to the lower right corner controls macro and flash modes, the self-timer, and the LCD brightness, and also provides navigation controls for the LCD menu system. In record mode, the left arrow doubles as a Macro button, and the right arrow cycles through Flash settings, while the up arrow boosts the LCD's backlight for better visibility, and the down arrow cycles through the camera's self-timer modes. Located in the center of the Four-way arrow pad, a Menu/OK button calls up the camera's Record or Playback-mode menu system, and acknowledges changes to menu items. Directly to the lower left of the Arrow pad is the Back/Display button, for backing out of menu screens, or cycling through the available LCD display modes. In Record mode, the display modes options are text overlay, image only, framing guidelines with text, or post-shot assist (which shows the last three images captured since switching the camera to record mode alongside a live view, to assist in framing shots with similar composition).

The Fujifilm F10's bottom panel is flat, with the threaded plastic tripod socket located almost dead-center below the lens. The shared xD-Picture Card and battery compartment is to the right of the tripod mount (as viewed from the rear), with a hinged door that slides out before opening. The door doesn't lock, but latches closed fairly firmly. Note that there is no latch to hold the battery in place, so once the door is opened you should take care not to drop the battery accidentally. The distance between the battery compartment and tripod mount is too short to allow quick battery or card changes while shooting with a tripod.

At the left end of the camera's bottom panel, nine holes in a three by three grid indicate the location of the speaker. I initially found myself wondering why the camera's sound seemed to randomly get louder or quieter, until I realized that the speaker is in exactly the wrong location: When holding the camera with both hands, the only logical position places your thumb directly over the speaker holes, muffling the camera's sounds.

 

Camera Operation

Given that the Fujifilm F10 offers a fair range of control over functions like ISO sensitivity, white balance, metering and autofocus area, and more, its user interface is pretty straightforward. The Power button simply cycles the camera on or off, and the Mode dial sets it to one of four exposure modes - Scene Program, Auto, Manual (which allows more control, but doesn't give full control over either shutter speed or aperture), and Movie mode. As well as the camera's optical zoom, the flash, macro mode, self-timer, and LCD backlight strength can all be adjusted in Record mode without entering the menu system. The Photo Mode button accesses a simplified menu for quickly adjusting Quality (image size), ISO equivalent, and Color (choices are Standard, B&W, and a Chrome setting for vivid color and contrast). Menus are accessed through the Menu/OK button. When you need to access these menus, screens are short and sweet, and require little navigation. Users familiar with typical digicam features and nomenclature should be able to operate the camera straight out of the box, referring to the manual only for more specific details. Even novice users should need less than an hour of studying the manual and playing with the camera to become familiar with its main features.

Record Mode LCD Screens
In Record mode, the F10's LCD monitor reports the basic exposure settings, as well as other exposure settings such as flash mode, focus mode, etc. The number of images available and resolution also appear. Pressing the Display button enables an alignment grid with the information overlay, turns the information overlay off, or enables the post-shot assist (which shows the last three images captured since switching the camera to record mode alongside a live view, to assist in framing shots with similar composition - a cool feature unique to the F10). The LCD display cannot be switched off without powering the camera off altogether. Although the user has no control over either variable (except in long exposure mode), the camera does report the shutter speed and aperture that will be used when the shutter button is half-pressed.


Playback Mode LCD Screens
In Playback mode, the information display includes the image number and date of capture, but this information disappears after a few seconds. The Display button cycles through several other options, where you can turn the information overlay off, enable a nine-image index display for seeing quickly what images are on the memory card, or sort images by date. This last is really a rather unusual feature, and could be quite useful if you have a large flash card and tend to keep images on it for weeks at a time. Up to 11 thumbnails are shown at once, alongside a bar which allows you to see the dates of all images on the flash card; you can then use the Four-way controller to select which day you want to see images from. When in playback mode, the zoom toggle lets you zoom in on the image to check small details, and the Four-way controller lets you pan around the image when zoomed in.


External Controls


Mode Dial: At the right hand side of the camera's top panel, this dial controls the camera's exposure modes, offering the following options:

  • Auto: Places the camera in control of all basic exposure settings. The user has control over zoom, ISO sensitivity, macro mode, high-speed shooting, continuous shooting, color mode, and some flash settings.
  • Manual: This mode provides the user with increased control, including exposure compensation, metering mode, white balance, and AF mode, as well as all flash modes, but does not allow the user to directly set the shutter speed or aperture.
  • Movie: Records moving images with sound, at either 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels, both at 30fps.
  • Scene Program: This mode gives the user some degree of control over the camera's setup, without the need to understand what the settings mean. Each scene mode biases the camera for a particular common photographic situation, and different scene modes allow a different subset of the camera's total manual controls to be accessed. The five available scene modes, selected through the menu system, are as follows:
    • Night: Locks ISO sensitivity to Auto, metering to Multi, white balance to Auto, and AF mode to Center. Exposure compensation is not available, and shutter speeds as long as three seconds are favored (so a tripod is recommended). If the long exposure mode setting is enabled in the Setup menu, the aperture is locked at wide open, and shutter speeds range from three to 15 seconds, which must be set manually using the four-way controller. Only the slow sync and red-eye reduction slow-sync flash modes are available, unless the camera is in long exposure mode, in which case only the forced and red-eye reduction flash modes are available.
    • Sports: Locks metering to Multi, white balance to Auto, and AF mode to Center. Exposure compensation is not available. Only the Auto and Forced flash modes are available. The camera gives priority to faster shutter speeds to freeze the action.
    • Landscape: Locks metering to Multi, white balance to Auto, and AF mode to Center. Exposure compensation is not available. The flash is disabled, as is Continuous mode.
    • Portrait: Locks metering to Multi, white balance to Auto, and AF mode to Center. Exposure compensation is not available, and nor is Continuous mode.
    • Natural Light: Locks ISO sensitivity to Auto, metering to Multi, white balance to Auto, and AF mode to Center. Exposure compensation is not available. The flash is disabled, as is Continuous mode.
Shutter Button: Located in the center of the Mode dial, this button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed, and fires the shutter when fully pressed. When in Playback mode, half-pressing this button quickly returns the camera to Record mode.


Power Button
: Located to the left of the Mode dial, this button turns the camera on and off.


Zoom Rocker
: In the top right corner of the rear panel, this rocker controls the 3x optical and the up-to-6.2x digital zoom. In Playback mode, these buttons let you zoom in on captured images, for closer viewing.

Playback Button: Below the zoom rocker and immediately to the right of the LCD display, this button that toggles the camera between Record and Playback mode. If the camera is powered off, holding this button in briefly will power the camera on in Playback mode, so the lens doesn't extend.

Photo Mode Button: Located to the right of the Playback button, this button displays the Function menu when pressed in Record or Playback modes. The following options are available:

Record Mode

  • Quality: Sets the image resolution to 6M F(fine) (2,848 x 2,136 pixels), 6M N(normal) (2,848 x 2,136 pixels), 3:2 (3,024 x 2,016 pixels), 3M (2,048 x 1,536 pixels), 2M (1,600 x 1,200 pixels), or 0.3M (640 x 480 pixels) for still images. In Movie mode, resolution options are 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels.
  • ISO: Adjusts the camera's sensitivity to Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, or 1600 equivalents.
  • Color: Adjusts the color to Black and White, Chrome (high saturation and contrast), or Standard.

Playback Mode

  • DPOF: Accesses the camera's DPOF menu, where you can browse images and set the number of copies of each image to be printed.


Four-way Arrow Pad and Menu/OK Button
: Directly below the Playback and Photo Mode buttons, this large rocker button features four arrows for navigating through menu screens and captured images. The central Menu / OK button activates the menu system in any camera mode, and subsequently confirms menu selections. In playback mode, if a movie is playing the Menu button calls up the Playback volume menu. In Record mode, the left arrow turns Macro mode on or off, while the right arrow controls the flash mode. The up arrow brightens the LCD display's backlight, and the down arrow cycles through the self-timer options. In Playback mode, the right and left arrow keys scroll through captured images. All four arrow keys pan the view of an enlarged image.


Display/Back Button
: Directly below the Four-way controller near the lower right corner of the LCD monitor, this button controls the LCD display in Record mode. Pressing the button cycles through the available display modes. In Record mode, these are text overlay, image only, framing guidelines with text, or post-shot assist (which shows the last three images captured since switching the camera to record mode alongside a live view, to assist in framing shots with similar composition). In Playback mode, they are text overlay, image only, nine-image index, or 11-image index by date. When menus are activated, the Display / Back button backs out of menu screens without making any changes.

 

Camera Modes and Menus

Record Mode: Indicated by an icon on a red background at the top left of the LCD display (unless the display is in image only mode), this mode allows the camera to capture images. Exposure modes include Scene Program, Auto, Manual, and Movie (Manual mode does not allow user control of shutter speed or aperture). Pressing the Menu button displays the following options (not all options are available in all modes):

  • Scene Position: Selects from the available Scene modes: Night, Sports, Landscape, Portrait, or Natural Light.
  • Exposure Compensation: Allows for +/- 2.0EV of exposure compensation from the metered exposure, in steps of 1/3EV.
  • Photometry: Metering can be set to Average, Spot, or Multi (Pattern).
  • White Balance: Sets the white balance to Auto, Custom (manual setting), Fine, Shade, Fluorescent Light-1, Fluorescent Light-2, Fluorescent Light-3, or Incandescent.
  • High-Speed Shooting: Increases autofocus speed (cuts full-autofocus shutter lag to about 0.3 second.) Battery life will be reduced when this is set to On.
  • Set-Up: Allows user to activate Setup Menu (see below).
  • Continuous Shooting: Modes include Off, Top 3 (shoots and saves 3 frames), Final 3 (shoot up to 40 frames, camera saves last 3), or Long-period continuous (the camera shoots and saves up to 40 frames).
  • AF Mode: Sets the autofocus mode to Center, Multi, or Continuous. Continuous mode increases battery drain, since the camera is focusing all the time between exposures, not just when the shutter button is half-pressed.

  • Setup Menu: Accessed from the Set-Up option in all Record or Playback menus (but not the Photo Mode or DPOF menus), the Setup menu offers the following options:
    • Image Display: Turns the post-capture image review screen off, or sets it to a duration of 1.5 or 3 seconds.
    • Shutter Volume: Adjusts the volume of the shutter noise in three steps, or disables it altogether.
    • Beep Volume: Adjusts the volume of the camera's operating sounds in three steps, or disables it altogether.
    • Playback Volume: Calls up the Playback volume menu, where you can disable playback sound altogether, or set the volume in ten arbitrary steps from 1 to 10.
    • Frame Number: Renews frame numbering with each new memory card, or continues numbering from card to card.
    • LCD Brightness: Calls up the LCD Brightness menu, where you can set LCD brightness to the default, or adjust it in arbitrary steps from -5 to +5. This adjustment is separate from the Record-mode LCD brightness adjustment option, so the effect of the two is added together.

    • Digital Zoom: Enables or disables the camera's 6.2x digital zoom. If enabled, the camera will pause when crossing the boundary at which the optical zoom is at full telephoto and the digital zoom is enabled. You must let go of the zoom rocker briefly and then press it again to continue from the optical to digital zoom, or vice versa.
    • AF Illuminator: Enables or disables the camera's (extremely bright green) autofocus illuminator lamp.
    • Long Exposure: Enables or disables the long exposure mode, which allows exposures from three to 15 seconds in length to be manually selected when in the Night scene mode.
    • Auto Power Off: Turns the power save option off, or sets it to shut down the camera after two or five minutes of inactivity.
    • LCD Power Save: When enabled, dims the camera's backlights after ten seconds of inactivity, to save power. (A nice feature.)
    • Format: Formats the xD-Picture Card, which erases all files, regardless of whether they've been "protected" via the Playback menu.

    • Date/Time: Sets the camera's internal clock and calendar.
    • Time Difference: Allows a second date/time setting for another time zone.
    • Language: Sets the menu language to English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, or Japanese.
    • Background Color: Lets you select the color scheme for the camera's menus, with options being light / dark blue, light / dark purple, light / dark pink, light / dark orange, light / dark green, and grey / black.
    • USB Mode: Sets the USB mode to PictBridge (Direct Printing) or DSC (Storage device).
    • Video System: Sets the video output signal timing to match either the NTSC or PAL standard. (NTSC for the US and Japan, PAL for Europe.)

    • Reset: Resets all camera settings to their defaults.

Playback Mode: Indicated by an icon on a blue/green background at the top left of the LCD display (unless the display is in image only or thumbnail mode). Here, you can review captured images and movies, as well as manage files and set up images for printing. Pressing the Menu button displays the following options:

  • Erase: Deletes the current frame or all frames.
  • Image Rotate: Calls up the Image Rotate menu, where you can rotate the image clockwise (Down arrow) or anti-clockwise (Up arrow) in 90-degree increments. The OK button saves the change, or the Back button cancels.
  • Print Order (DPOF): Sets the current DPOF order for printing, with or without dates, or resets the current DPOF order.
  • Protect: Write-protects the displayed image, preventing it from being accidentally erased or manipulated (except via card formatting). Also removes protection, and offers options to protect or unprotect all images on the card.
  • Playback: Enables an automated slideshow of captured images on the memory card, with options for different image durations and transitions.
  • Set-Up: Allows you to access the Setup Menu.

  • Voice Memo: Allows you to record a 30 second audio clip to accompany the current image. The OK button starts and stops recording; the Back button restarts recording when it is under way, and cancels recording if you have not yet started it.
  • Trimming: Allows you to crop a portion from the current image using the same controls as the Playback zoom function, and save it as a new file.

In the Box

In the box with the F10 digital camera are the following items:

  • 16 MB xD-Picture Card.
  • Proprietary NP-120 Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery.
  • Wrist strap.
  • Terminal adapter
  • AC power adapter
  • USB cable.
  • A/V cable.
  • Software CD-ROM.
  • Instruction manual, Quick Start guide, and registration card.

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Larger capacity xD-Picture Card. (I'd recommend 128MB as a minimum.)
  • Additional Lithium Ion rechargeable battery. (Perhaps not really necessary, given the excellent battery life, though.)
  • Soft camera case.



Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. I get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A surprising number of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digicam reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

 

Test Images

See my standardized test photos and detailed analysis here. The thumbnails below show a subset of our test images. Click on a thumbnail to see the full-size photo.

"Sunlit"
Indoor Flash
Indoor
 

 

 

House
Musicians
Macro
 

 

 

Davebox
Resolution
Viewfinder Accuracy


Specifications

See the specifications sheet here.

 

Picky Details

Information on shooting speed, battery life, etc. can be found here.

 

"Gallery" Photos

For those readers interested in a set of less "standardized" photos from the Fujifilm E550, we've put together a "photo gallery" of more pictorial shots captured with the F10.

 

Test Results

In keeping with my standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only my key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the FinePix F10's "pictures" page.

For a look at some more pictorial photos from this camera, check out our Fujifilm FinePix F10 Photo Gallery.

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Fuji FinePix F10 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

  • Color: Good overall color and saturation, with good results under incandescent lighting as well as in the studio. The F10 generally produced good-looking color throughout my testing, with only faint color casts from its white balance system. Its color rendering was generally more hue-accurate than average. Strong reds were rather over-saturated (not uncommon among the cameras I test), magentas were shifted towards red a bit, cyan was shifted slightly towards blue (a common trick to get better-looking sky colors), yellow is a bit undersaturated. Taken as a whole though, the F10's color was better than average. My one complaint with typical subjects is that Caucasian skin tones are rendered rather pink. Indoors, it does better than some recent Fujifilm cameras with incandescent light sources, although there's still a bit more color left in its images shot in Auto mode than I'd personally like to see. The manual white balance option delivered excellent color balance under this difficult light source though. All in all, a very good performance.

  • Exposure: Overall exposure pretty good, though slightly high contrast in "Sunlit" portrait and outdoors. The F10 handled my test lighting well, though the cameras higher than average contrast led to some loss of highlight detail under the deliberately harsh lighting of the "Sunlit" Portrait and in the outdoor house shot. Despite the loss of highlight detail, dynamic range was pretty good, thanks to better than average detail in the shadows. Indoors, the camera required slightly more positive exposure compensation boost than average, and my flash test shots were rather underexposed. (My biggest complaint about the F10's exposure system is that the exposure compensation adjustment has no effect on flash exposures.)

  • Resolution/Sharpness: High resolution, 1,400-1,450 lines of "strong detail." The F10 performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It didn't start showing artifacts in the test patterns until resolutions as low as 1,000, maybe 800, lines per picture height vertically and horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,400 lines vertically, 1,450 lines horizontally. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until beyond 2,000 lines.

  • Image Noise: Very low noise, though strong blurring and loss of detail at the highest ISO settings. Images from the Fuji F10 were just remarkably "clean," with image noise levels far below what I'm accustomed to seeing from consumer-level digital cameras. Noise was pretty much non-existent at low ISO settings, and with very little loss of subject to the anti-noise processing. At ISO 400, the anti-noise processing just began to blur the finer details, but the results were far better than any other consumer-grade camera I've tested in recent memory. At ISOs 800 and 1600, the images blurred quite a bit more, but the noise levels remained surprisingly low. ISO 800 shots were a little marginal for 8x10 inch prints, but looked great at 5x7, and even ISO 1600 ones looked OK at that size. Shots at ISO 400 looked just great when printed as large as 8x10 inches. All in all, a very impressive performance!

  • Closeups: A small macro area with great detail, though the flash has some trouble. The F10 captured a tiny macro area, measuring 1.43 x 1.08 inches (36 x 27 millimeters). Resolution is high, with a lot of fine detail in the dollar bill. The F10's flash had just a little trouble throttling down for the macro area and overexposed the top left of the frame, while the camera's lens created a shadow in the lower right corner. This was at the minimum shooting distance, much closer than most users will need to go, so the flash should work fairly well for average closeup shots. Plan on using external lighting for your very closest photos though.

  • Night Shots: Very good low-light performance, with good color. Fairly bright exposures at the lowest light levels of this test, with low noise at the lower sensitivities. Good low-light autofocus performance. Thanks to its remarkable high-ISO performance, the Fuji F10 does a superb job at low-light shooting. Its autofocus works down to a bit less than 1/4 the brightness of typical city street lighting even when its autofocus-assist light is turned off, and in total darkness (on nearby objects) with the AF-assist enabled. In terms of image quality, its images are exceptionally clean and crisp-looking: Its ISO 800 shot at the darkest level I test at looked better than the vast majority of cameras' ISO 400 shots in broad daylight. An excellent job overall.

  • Viewfinder Accuracy: An accurate LCD monitor. The F10's LCD monitor viewfinder was just about 100 percent accurate at both wide angle and telephoto lens settings, though it was actually very slightly loose, showing just a bit less than the final image area. Still, very good results.

  • Optical Distortion: Low barrel distortion at wide angle, virtually no distortion at telephoto. Low chromatic aberration, particularly at telephoto, better than average sharpness in the corners. Some "purple fringing" in the corners though. I measured approximately 0.4 percent barrel distortion at wide angle, and less than one pixel at telephoto, but numbers a good bit lower than average. Chromatic aberration was quite low at both wide angle and telephoto. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) There was a little softening in the corners at wide angle, but good results at telephoto. The biggest optical defect didn't appear in my laboratory test shots, but only outdoors, where I saw some "purple fringing" in shots where bright sky showed through tree leaves. Overall though, better than average optical performance.

  • Shutter Lag and Cycle Times: Faster than average shutter response, average cycle times. With full-autofocus shutter lag of 0.54-0.55 second, the Fuji F10 is more responsive than most cameras on the market, and its 0.011 second shutter delay when "prefocused" (by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button prior to the shot itself) is absolutely blazing. A special "High Speed Shooting" mode further increases focusing speed at the cost of shorter battery life, producing full-autofocus delays of only 0.29 second at wide angle, making the Fuji F10 easily one of the fastest focusing consumer cameras on the market. Shot to shot cycle times are good but not spectacular, at 1.68 second/frame for large/fine images. Continuous shooting speed ranges from a leisurely 1.65 second/frame in the "40-shot" mode, to a very respectable 2.3 frames/second in the "3-shot" mode. All in all, a solid performer with better than average shutter response.
  • Battery Life: Really excellent battery life. The Fuji FinePix F10 is powered by a proprietary LiIon battery pack, and showed really excellent battery life in my tests. Its worst-case run time in capture mode (without the shutter half-pressed though) was an impressive 276 minutes, and run time in playback mode was a full 400 minutes. Very few cameras on the market can equal it in this respect. I usually recommend buying a second battery right along with the camera, but the F10's battery life is good enough that most average users would probably never need it.

  • Print Quality: Good prints to 13x19 inches. High-ISO shots look amazingly good, 11x14 inches fine at ISO 400, 8x10 OK at ISO 800, 5x7 fine at ISO 1600. Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon i9900 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5000 here in the office. (See our Canon i9900 review for details on that model.) Prints from the Fuji FinePix F10 looked very good when printed as large as 13x19 inches, and were tack-sharp at 11x14. The real challenge for digital cameras is always high-ISO performance though, and it's here that the F10 really shines. - Its images are just a lot "cleaner" and less noisy than I'm accustomed to seeing from consumer-grade digital cameras. The F10's photos shot at ISO 400 looked just great when printed as large as 8x10 inches. While soft, even its ISO 800 shots were acceptable-looking when printed at that size. At ISO 1600 (amazing to even be talking about that ISO level for a consumer point & shoot camera), its images were quite soft, but nonetheless looked quite nice printed as large as 5x7 inches. Bottom line, big, sharp photos at low ISOs, and truly amazing high-ISO performance.

 

Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Amazing high-ISO performance, far better than any other consumer-level digital camera
  • Excellent detail, very little subject detail lost to anti-noise processing
  • Manual white balance option handles incandescent lighting very well
  • Better than average shutter response (Much faster than average in "High Speed Shooting" mode.)
  • Extremely bright AF-assist light, helps autofocus in the dark at greater than average range
  • Really excellent battery life
  • Skin tones a bit oversaturated, tend to come out a bit too pink
  • Exposure adjustment doesn't affect flash exposures at all, tendency to underexpose flash shots
  • Auto and Incandescent white balance settings handle incandescent lighting better than in the past, still too much warm tone left for my tastes though
  • Lens has good sharpness, but lots of flare and "purple fringing" in the corners
  • Mediocre flash range: Spec is a range of 13.1 feet at telephoto, but we found a range of less than 8 feet at ISO 80.

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When I reviewed the Fujifilm FinePix E550 in September of 2004, I called it one of their best digital cameras to date. With the release of the FinePix F10 though, Fujifilm has clearly outdone all their earlier efforts, the E550 included. Much of the improvement in the F10 has to do with how it handles light: It's much more sensitive and has much lower image noise than previous FinePix models, has good color and white balance performance, and focuses amazingly quickly, particularly in its optional "High Speed Shooting" mode. The F10's autofocus system also works well under dim lighting, something earlier Fujifilm cameras tended to struggle with. (Not only can the F10 focus down to about 1/4 the light level of typical city street lighting at night, but it has one of the brightest AF-assist illuminators I've seen to date.) While the rest of the camera performs well, I think the combination of incredibly good high-ISO capability and very fast autofocus performance is the big news with this new model. Fast autofocus (i.e., a quick shutter response) is key to capturing fast-moving subjects such as sports action or active children. Fast action also implies a need for fast shutter speeds, and that's where the F10's excellent high-ISO capability really comes into play: High ISO is useful not only for after-dark shooting, but for capturing fast action in anything less than bright daylight. Being able to shoot very clean images at ISO 400 rather than ISO 100 means being able to use shutter speeds four times faster. That could be the difference between a blurred mess and a crisp image of your subject. Bottom line, the Fujifilm FinePix F10 is not only a fine all-around digital camera, it's a great choice for sports shooters and harried Moms looking for a camera fast enough to keep up with their children. Definitely a Dave's Pick, and clearly one of Fujifilm's best efforts to date.


 

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