Fujifilm Z5fd Review
Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd Exposure
Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Very good overall color and hue accuracy, with minor oversaturation of some colors.
Saturation. The Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd does push the strong red and blue tones a little, but undersaturates bright yellows. This is quite typical among many consumer models, but overall color was quite pleasing across the board. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.
Skin tones. Skin tones were typically pretty good and believable, if a bit warm in some cases. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.
Hue. The Z5fd showed a few color shifts relative to the correct
mathematical translation of colors in its subjects, most notably pushing
cyan toward blue and red toward orange. Still, overall hue accuracy was
good. Hue is "what color" the color is.
| See full set of test images
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images
Exposure and White Balance
Indoors, incandescent lighting
Slight color casts with both Auto and Incandescent white balance settings. Higher than average positive exposure compensation required.
|Auto White Balance
|Incandescent White Balance
Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was slightly reddish in Auto white balance mode, while the Incandescent setting had a very warm cast. Of the two, the Auto setting appeared the most pleasing, despite the reddish cast. The Z5fd required a +1.3 EV exposure compensation boost to get a good exposure, higher than average for this shot. The reddish cast warms skin tones a little, and also creates a purplish tint in the dark blue flowers. (Many digital cameras reproduce these flowers with a dark, purplish tint, so the Z5fd performs.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.
Good overall exposure outdoors, slightly dark color.
|Auto White Balance,
|Auto White Balance,
Outdoors, the Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd did reasonably well, with good exposure in the outdoor far shot, except that highlights are a little too bright. The shirt is quite blown out on the portrait shot at +0.7 EV, but the overall exposure looked better here. Though the Z5fd's contrast is high, detail is still pretty good in the shadows, despite some high noise that obscures the finer details.
High resolution, 1,300 lines of strong detail.
|Strong detail to
1,300 lines horizontal
|Strong detail to
1,300 lines vertical
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,300 lines per picture height horizontally and vertically. Extinction occurred around 1,800-1,900 lines. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.
Sharpness & Detail
Fairly sharp images overall, though noticeable edge-enhancement on high-contrast subjects and visible noise suppression in the shadows.
|Definition of high-contrast
elements is pretty good, though some noise suppression is visible as well as edge enhancement.
|Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression blurs
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
as in the darker parts of
Marti's hair here.
Sharpness. The Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd captures pretty good detail, though image noise and noise suppression obscure definition in the shadows, and edge enhancement is visible along high contrast areas such as the crop above left. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.
Detail. The crop above right shows a fair amount of noise suppression, with darker areas of Marti's hair showing limited detail. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.
ISO & Noise Performance
Moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings, though a big jump in noise with strong blurring at the higher settings.
|ISO 100||ISO 200||ISO 400|
|ISO 800||ISO 1,600|
Noise levels are moderate to moderately high at the Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd's lower sensitivity settings, with much higher noise at ISO 400 and up. At ISO 400, fine detail is fairly blurry. At ISO 800, the grain pattern sharpens somewhat, with more noticeable noise pixels that give the image a stippled look. This effect is intensified at ISO 1,600, so that the entire image looks more like an illustration.
Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with strong overall detail, but high contrast and limited shadow detail. Limited low-light performance, not capable of capturing bright images even under normal city street lighting at night unassisted.
|+0.3 EV||+0.7 EV||+1.0 EV|
The Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd produced high contrast under the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above, producing washed-out highlights and deep shadows. Shadow detail is limited, with visible noise suppression. The exposure at +0.7 EV results in very strong highlights, but I preferred it to the darker shot at +0.3 EV. In real life, a fill flash will help balance the exposure in situations like the one shown above; but it's better to shoot in bright shade when possible.
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)
The Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd was not capable of capturing bright images under the equivalent of normal city street lighting at night (about one foot-candle) unless the ISO was boosted to 800. The Z5fd features a Night mode, which boosts ISO to 200, but images on this test are still a bit dim without flash. Because noise increases greatly with the higher ISO settings, non-flash exposures at the 800 and 1,600 settings aren't optimal, and a flash is recommended for night photography. The camera's autofocus system worked well, better than its exposure system, as it was able to focus on the subject down to the 1/8 foot-candle light level unassisted.
How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.
NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.
Coverage and Range
A fairly powerful flash up close, though limited range. Our standard shots required much higher than average exposure compensation.
|36mm equivalent||108mm equivalent|
Flash coverage was slightly uneven at wide angle and telephoto, with falloff at the edges and in the corners of the frame. In the Indoor test, the Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd's flash underexposed our subject at its default setting, but even a boost to +1.7 EV didn't make a huge difference in the exposure. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode also produced dim results at the default setting. Here, though the +1.7 EV exposure boost didn't do much to brighten the image, the longer shutter time did even out the exposure somewhat. Both flash shots have a slight warm cast from the background incandescent lighting, though the Slow-Sync mode shot has a stronger cast from the longer exposure time.
ISO 100 Range. At wide angle, flash shots at ISO 100 remained bright out to a distance of about 7-8 feet, decreasing in brightness from that point on. At full telephoto and ISO 100, brightness decreased from the seven-foot distance on.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Auto ISO 400
Auto ISO 800
Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. In the wide angle shot above, the FinePix Z5fd seems to perform exactly as Fujifilm says it will, producing a good exposure at the rated distance with its ISO set to Auto (though it boosted ISO to 400 and 800). Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.
Good print quality, good color, sharp 11x14 inch prints. ISO 400 images are soft but still usable at 11x14, ISO 800 shots are still good at 8x10, and 1,600 ISO makes decent 4x6.
The Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd had enough resolution to make good looking 11x14 inch prints. 13x19 inch prints were reasonable, but softer. ISO 200 shots are better than expected at 11x14, as are ISO 400 shots. Quite impressive from such a small camera. Moving up the ISO scale, the Fuji Z5fd's 800 setting made great 8x10s and the 1,600 setting was good at 5x7, better at 4x6. Color and contrast remained pretty consistent across the entire range, very surprising for a camera in this class. An excellent printed performance.
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 iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)
The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd Photo Gallery.
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. We 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 lot 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 digital camera 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...
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd 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!
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.