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Fuji MX-1700 digital camera
Fuji squeezes a 3X zoom lens into the tiny MX-700 form factor!
1.5 megapixels and a 3x optical zoom fit in any pocket!

("First Look" Review posted 26 August, 1999, full review posted 29 September, 1999)

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1.5 Million pixel sensor
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1280 x 1024 resolution
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True 3x optical zoom lens, plus 2x digital zoom
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Autofocus lens w/macro
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Built-in flash
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Flexible "manual" exposure mode
   

Manufacturer Overview
Fuji is a longtime player in the digicam marketplace, having produced some excellent units over time, and finding some unique market niches. (For instance, their VGA-resolution DS-220 had a unique macro attachment with built-in flash that made it a runaway favorite for oral surgeons documenting patient treatments.) Their latest lineup is one of the broadest in the industry, including a very affordable and surprisingly full-featured 0.8 megapixel mode (the DX-10), the just-announced 1.3 megapixel update of the DX-10 the MX-1200, two 1.5 megapixel models (the MX-1700 that's the subject of this review, and the inexpensive MX-600), a tiny 2.3 megapixel model with a fixed focal-length lens (the MX-2700), and a very flexible "enthusiast's" camera, the 2.3 megapixel MX-2900.
The MX-1700 fits into the lineup as a rugged, portable, and (we felt) tremendously appealing 1.5 megapixel "pocket" camera. Despite its diminutive size, it has a good selection of features and a true 3x optical zoom lens. The MX-1700 is the Fuji digicam for people "on the go," looking for a camera they can just slip in their pocket and bring along anywhere. If this prospect interests you, read on for all the details!
Major Features

  • 1.5 megapixel sensor capturing images up to 1280 x 1024 pixel resolution
  • Super Fujinon glass lens with true 3x optical zoom (f/3.2-f/7.0 wide angle, f/5.0-f/11.5 telephoto) Focal length range equivalent to 38-114 on a 35mm camera
  • 2x "Digital Telephoto" (in-camera cropping) feature
  • TTL autofocus from 31.5 inches to infinity in normal mode and from 9.8 to 31.5 inches in telephoto
  • ISO equivalent to 125
  • Shutter speed from 1/4 to 1/2,000 seconds
  • Two inch 130,000 pixel low temperature polysilicon TFT LCD monitor for preview and image replay with a standard optical viewfinder
  • 1.2 - 4.0x "Zoomed Playback" for close inspection of captured images.
  • Built-in flash with five settings (Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed and Night/Slow Synchro)
  • Flash range of 9.8/11.8 feet at telephoto/wide angle lens settings
  • Manual exposure mode allows control of both ambient and flash exposure, as well as white balance setting
  • Continuous Shooting mode (approximately three frames per second in 640 x 480 pixel mode)
  • Framing Guidelines in LCD viewfinder assists image composition
  • Special effects functions so you can modify images in the camera
  • Compatible with 3.3V, 2MB to 32MB SmartMedia
  • Mode dial and rocker toggle button simplify menu operation
  • Runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery (NP-80)
  • Compatibility with DPOF standard for easy print ordering
  • High grade, aluminum-magnesium alloy body
  • Built-in, automatically retracting lens cover

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Executive Overview

The MX-1700’s very compact styling makes it exciting for us gadget-oriented folks who like good things in small packages. It fits easily into the smallest of pockets, ensuring that it won’t be forgotten on any afternoon jaunt. A slick metal lens cover slides in and out of place automatically, freeing up your short term memory for more important things like where you left your car keys. With the majority of the controls on the back of the camera and a rocker-toggle button for menu navigation and zoom lens control, operation is pretty straight forward. Our only user-interface gripe was the mode dial, which we found a little hard to grip, requiring you to get a feel for it before you're completely comfortable.
Both an optical and LCD viewfinder help you compose each shot and have center AE and AF target guides. The LCD records about 90 percent of the full frame coverage as opposed to the optical viewfinder’s approximate 80 percent. And the LCD is easily turned off by the Display button for power conservation, although it remains lit in a lower-power mode while using "manual recording" functions, to display menu information. Like many camera LCDs, that on the MX-1200 can't be trusted for accurate display of "absolute" color, but is nonetheless very useful in determining which white balance setting produces the most neutral overall cast.
The Fujinon lens is a true 3x zoom lens with aperture settings ranging from f/3.2 to f/7.0 in wide angle and from f/5.0 to f/11.5 in telephoto. Focal length ranges from 6.6 to 19.8mm, equivalent to a 38-114mm lens on a standard 35mm camera.
Now for exposure: The Automatic setting controls the aperture, shutter speed, white balance and metering. You have the ability choose macro focusing, and also to select the flash mode in both Automatic and Manual capture modes. In Manual capture mode, you can also control white balance, flash intensity, exposure compensation and Continuous Shooting mode (which allows up to nine shots at about three frames per second). White balance offers seven settings (Automatic, Outdoors in Fine Weather, Outdoors in Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent and Incandescent). Flash mode has five settings, all controlled by the Flash button (Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed and Night/Slow Synchro).
The self-timer gives you a 10 second countdown on the status display and LCD monitor. In addition, a red LED beside the lens lights solid for the first five seconds, then flashes during the remaining five seconds.
The Macro function on the camera allows image captures from 9.8 to 31.5 inches and is initiated and canceled by hitting the Macro button. The MX-1700 also features a 2x Digital Telephoto option, but at the expense of image quality. It’s best to stick with the true optical zoom.
The MX-1700’s user interface was straightforward and uncomplicated. The rocker toggle button simplifies menu navigation and feels natural. As we mentioned earlier, the mode dial takes some getting used to, but becomes comfortable once you get a feel for it. The SmartMedia and input jacks reside next to each other on the side of the camera and the battery compartment hatch is on the bottom of the camera beside the metal tripod mount.
Images are stored on standard 3.3V SmartMedia cards (a 4MB card comes standard with the camera). You have the ability to perform minor image manipulation right on the camera (black and white, sepia tones, silver cross and rainbow cross options) and have the option to cancel before actually applying the change.
Similar to other cameras we've tested that use the small NP-80 LiIon batteries, battery life is somewhat short (if you use the LCD much), so we suggest keeping a few spares around.
The camera comes with Picture Shuttle and EZtouch software, giving you limited manipulation capabilities, and Adobe PhotoDeluxe which provides a wider range of options (like greeting card formats and extra image-modification filters).
Overall, the MX-1700 is a smart little camera with a lot of options packed into its tiny frame. The super portability is definitely a plus, especially with a true 3x optical zoom lens included!
Camera Design
The MX-1700 has the same sophisticated design qualities as its predecessor the MX-700, but is even more compact, having the same form factor as the recent MX-2700. It’s lightweight at about 8.1oz (230g), excluding the battery and accessories, and measures at 3.1 x 3.8 x 1.3 inches (79 x 97.5 x 33.4 mm) in its dimensions. The high grade, aluminum magnesium alloy body is sleek and extremely thin, easily fitting into your pocket or even a small handbag. The mode dial and power control are positioned atop the camera with the LCD viewfinder, status display and function controls on the back.


The input jacks and SmartMedia compartment live next to each other on the side of the camera and the battery and tripod mount are in their usual location on the bottom. Hooray for the return of the rocker toggle button, making menu navigation much more of a snap. Alternatively, the mode dial has become a bit awkward. You can only access the outer grooves on one side of the dial and we sometimes ‘missed the stop’ in the process of turning.


A nice feature is the automatic, retractable, metal lens cover. When the camera is switched on, the cover slides out of the way and the lens comes out from ‘hiding.’ Likewise, when the camera is powered off, the lens moves back inside the camera and the metal cover slides closed. It’s always nice to forget about that troublesome, loose lens cap.


Viewfinder
The MX-1700 sports an optical viewfinder and a two inch, low temperature, polysilicon LCD panel displaying 130,000 pixels. The real image optical viewfinder shows about 80 percent of frame coverage as opposed to the LCD’s 90 percent. The optical viewfinder has a black, circular focus target inside while the LCD monitor has two brackets to indicate center. An LED beside the optical viewfinder lets you know if the camera is focused, ready to shoot or in any trouble (full memory card, internal error, etc.). The optical viewfinder has no dioptric correction for the visually impaired, but does have a fairly high "eyepoint." We had no trouble using it with glasses, although we did find ourselves using the LCD a lot. (We thought to mention this, because it surprised us a little: We really didn't have any trouble with the optical finder, but nonetheless realized after a while that we were using the LCD most of the time...)
One thing we found a little disconcerting about the viewfinder was that the pre-exposure viewfinder display and the post-capture image review show rather different renditions of the image, in terms of color and brightness. The post-capture review is much more accurate (not surprising), but we'd like it if the live viewfinder image were more representative of what the final shot would look like.

Optics
The MX-1700 features a Fujinon optical 3x zoom lens with aperture settings of f/3.2 and f/7 in wide angle and f/5 and f/11.5 in telephoto. The focus distance is from 6.6 to about 19.8mm (equivalent to 38 to 114mm on a 35mm camera). Focal range in normal setting is approximately 31.5 inches to infinity and in macro from 9.8 to 31.5 inches.
The optical zoom is controlled by the up and down arrows on the rocker toggle button. Like a number of other cameras we've tested, the MX-1700's zoom lens seems to have a fixed number of "preferred" focal lengths. That is, although you're free to stop zooming in or out at any point, the lens will sometimes overshoot slightly, ending up just a smidgen away from where you wanted it. The amount of overshoot is pretty small, almost certainly less than 10% of the lens' range, so it probably won't be a problem for most users. (Not to mention you can usually just walk forward or back a bit.) We did notice it though, so felt compelled to mention it here.
The MX-1700 shows some geometric distortion at the wide-angle end of its range, in the form of "barrel distortion." At the wide-angle end of its range, the barrel distortion is more severe than most, at about 1.5%. (We measure this parameter as the amount of vertical (outward) "bow", divided by the total horizontal distance, using our "viewfinder accuracy" target as the test subject.) At the telephoto end of the lens' range though, barrel distortion drops to an almost imperceptible 0.3%.
By contrast, the MX-1700's lens is almost entirely free of chromatic aberration, a lens defect that produces colored "fringes" around high-contrast objects at the corners of the field of view. The MX-1700 outperforms most cameras we've tested in this respect.
Exposure
Although you cannot control shutter speed and aperture yourself, the MX-1700 offers a variable shutter speed from 1/4 to 1/2,000 seconds (using AE) and aperture choices (as stated earlier) of f/3.2 or f/7 on the wide angle end and f/5.0 or f/11.5 on the telephoto end. Its equivalent ISO rating is 125. In combination, these specs result in an "official" light-sensitivity range of EV 10 to EV 22, more properly 8 to 32,000 foot-candles, or 88 to 350,000 lux. The lower limit of this range in fact agrees fairly well with our own tests, although we felt that our test exposure at EV 9 (4 foot-candles, or 44 lux) was usable, if a little dark.
Automatic Capture Mode
The MX-1700’s Automatic capture mode fairly typical, just turn the mode dial to the little red camera icon and focus by halfway pressing the shutter button (the LCD will say “standby” and the LED next to the optical viewfinder will shine green when ready). When you’re ready to shoot, push the shutter button down all the way and the camera beeps before making the exposure. (Of course, you can just press the shutter button in one smooth motion, and the camera will focus and shoot.) When you half-press the shutter button, the exposure and focus settings are "locked" until you either take the picture, or release the button. You can use this function to control exposure in tricky lighting conditions, by turning to aim at something with lighting you're trying to adjust for, half-pressing (and holding) the shutter button, and then turning to frame your oddly-lit subject. (This can work great for backlit subjects.)
If you want to change the autofocus and exposure settings while in this mode, simply point the camera at the part of the composition you want to base the exposure settings on, halfway hold down the shutter button to focus and meter and without moving your finger. Then, keeping the shutter button halfway pressed, go back to the original framing and fully press the button.
The MX-1700 also features a Framing Guideline function for Auto capture mode. Push the Display button and you can select between Scene, Group Shot and Portrait framing guidelines. As you scroll through each selection, white guidelines appear on the LCD monitor to help you compose the shot. Hit Display again to make them go away. The framing on the Scene guideline is roughly divided up into thirds horizontally and vertically. Fuji states that once the image is printed, you may see a slight shift from the original framing (i.e. the framing guidelines in the LCD monitor may not be completely accurate).
You can also access the Digital Telephoto, Flash and Macro functions while in Automatic capture mode. Flash and Macro are each controlled by buttons on the back of the camera, next to the small LCD status display and will be discussed further down. The Digital Telephoto feature allows you to digitally zoom in 2x, in addition to the true 3x optical zoom. You zoom in or out digitally by holding down the Shift key and either the up or down arrows. Digital Telephoto automatically sets the file size to 640x480 pixels, and really just amounts to the camera cropping-in to the central portion of the CCD array.
Manual Capture Mode
Manual mode allows you a little more control over your exposure by letting you choose the white balance, exposure compensation (EV), flash intensity and Continuous Shooting selections. Once you enter Manual mode by turning the mode dial to the appropriate position, the settings menu is displayed at the bottom of the LCD monitor at all times, along with a mode designation, flash setting, number of available exposures, camera shake warning, etc. To conserve power, you can hit the Display button and make the image go away, but the menu options will remain. You can turn off the "live" viewfinder display in both Automatic and Manual modes, but not if you’re using Macro. The menu-only display in manual mode does consume less power than the "live" viewfinder view, but still takes more power than auto mode with the LCD off completely.
Just like in Automatic, you have control over the Flash, Macro and Digital Telephoto functions. Also, once you’ve made an exposure in Manual, the camera asks you if you want to record it or erase it. This can become somewhat tedious, especially if you’re in an action type situation. On the other hand, it can be helpful if you have a change of heart about the composition. (We'd like to see a menu option though, to turn off this "auto review" function, to save time when you want to shoot more rapidly.)
White Balance
You have seven white balance settings available to you while in Manual mode (Automatic Adjustment, Outdoors in Fine Weather, Outdoors in Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent and Incandescent. The white balance setting is disabled when using the flash. The Automatic Adjustment setting may not be the most effective when shooting closeups or using special lighting. As noted earlier, while the LCD screen is useful for telling which white balance setting produces the most neutral final image, it can't be entirely trusted to show a true representation of the images' color. Likewise, it's only useful for framing while in the "live" mode, as both exposure and color balance can be markedly different in the captured image.
Exposure Compensation (EV)
The MX-1700 has nine EV levels available while in Manual mode, from -0.9 to +1.5 in approximately 0.3 EV increments. Whatever setting you choose will be disabled when using a flash and the camera will automatically adjust itself.
Flash
Five flash modes are available on the MX-1700, all selectable by pressing the Flash button. Each time the Flash button is pressed, a different flash mode icon appears in the small status display window next to the button. Choose from Auto (no icon displayed), Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed (no flash at all) and Night/Slow Synchro. Red-Eye Reduction emits a small pre-flash before unleashing the real flash to reduce the red-eye effect. Forced mode is good for backlit subjects and Night/Slow Synchro is good with slow shutter speeds for night subjects, to brighten the background. In the Night/Slow Synchro setting, the shaking hand symbol will appear in the LCD monitor, suggesting that a tripod be used. The manual notes that when Suppressed mode is selected, the delay between switching the camera on and the camera being ready to shoot is shortened. It also notes that when switching the flash mode from Suppressed to any other mode, the LCD monitor may turn black while the flash unit changes, and the viewfinder LED will blink orange.
When in Automatic capture mode, the flash range is from 9.8 inches to 11.8 feet (0.25 to 3m) at wide angle and telephoto. (This seems an odd spec: The lens has a smaller aperture at telephoto, so the flash range should be less in that mode.) You can adjust the flash intensity while in Manual mode from -0.6 to +0.6 EV in approximately 0.3 EV increments.
Macro
Macro mode on the MX-1700 is controlled by a button next to the small status display, just above the LCD monitor and marked with the traditional flower symbol. Once the button is pressed, the same flower symbol appears on both the status display and the LCD monitor. You can then focus on subjects from 9.8 to 31.5 inches from the camera (25 to 80cm). All of the flash settings remain available, including the intensity which is adjustable in Manual mode. Also note that switching to Macro automatically turns on the LCD monitor if it previously was off. Cancel the mode by hitting the Macro button again. If you see the camera shake warning, use the flash or get out a tripod.
Continuous Shooting
Continuous Shooting is only available while in Manual capture mode and is controlled by the settings menu at the bottom of the LCD monitor. The options are simply on and off. Once Continuous Shooting is activated, the file size automatically fixes at 640 x 480 pixels. The camera continues shooting for as long as the shutter button is pressed, up to nine shots at approximately three shots per second depending on available memory space. Note that neither flash nor digital telephoto is available during this mode and the exposure settings are fixed at the values selected when the shutter button was originally pressed.
Self-Timer
The Self-Timer mode on the MX-1700 is accessed by turning the mode dial to the Self-Timer symbol. Simply focus the subject and then fully press the shutter button. You have 10 seconds to get into position. The Self-Timer LED (next to the lens) lights solid red for the first five seconds, then flashes for the remaining five. Simultaneously, a numeric countdown is displayed in the status display and LCD monitor. Cancel the timer by hitting the Cancel/Back button. The Framing Guideline and AF lock functions are available in this mode, as are the Night/Slow Synchro flash and Macro focusing modes.
Shutter Lag / Cycle Times
The MX-1700 was quite responsive to the shutter button. It also cycled quickly between shots (barring the image capture confirmation in Manual mode). Shutter lag is surprisingly short at 0.5 seconds for full autofocus and about 0.1 to 0.2 seconds when the lens was prefocused by halfway pressing the shutter button. Shot to shot cycle time was only about 4.5 seconds for maximum resolution images. (Note: These are approximate times only  - we neglected to do a rigorous test before we had to send the camera back. The values above should be pretty representative though.)
User Interface/Control Enumeration
We found the MX-1700 to be very user friendly, with the exception of the slightly awkward mode dial. The return of the rocker toggle button is nice and the other controls are follow Fuji’s standard layout. The power control, mode dial and shutter button are all on top of the camera. The remaining controls are all on the back of the camera, including the rocker toggle button, Cancel/Back button, Menu/Exe button, Flash, Macro, Display and Shift buttons. A small status display gives you the camera’s settings in addition to the larger LCD monitor, a good reference when you’ve disabled the LCD monitor to conserve power.

Mode Dial
Allows you to choose between six camera modes:

  • Self-Timer: lets you set up your shot and then gives you 10 seconds to get into position.
  • Setup: allows you to change camera settings like date & time, LCD brightness, etc.
  • Manual: gives you control over white balance, flash intensity, exposure compensation (EV) and continuous shooting mode.
  • Automatic: puts you in point and shoot mode while the camera automatically adjusts all the exposure settings except flash.
  • Playback: allows you to view and erase images.
  • PC: allows you to transfer images to your computer.

Shutter Button
A two stage shutter button rests snugly in the center of the mode dial on the top, right hand side of the camera. Press the button halfway to set focus and then fully press the button to expose the image. In Automatic and Self-Timer capture modes, the shutter button sets AE Lock in addition to AF.
Power Switch
Located directly to the left of the mode dial, this switch turns the camera on and off.
Flash Button
Positioned directly beside the small status display, this button allows you to choose from five different flash modes:

  • Automatic: The camera controls when and how much flash is used based on existing light levels.
  • Red-Eye Reduction: Emits a pre-flash before opening the shutter and firing the real flash to reduce the Red-Eye Effect.
  • Forced: The flash always fires, regardless of lighting conditions.
  • Suppressed: Completely disables the flash.
  • Night/Slow Synchro: Fires the flash when using a slow shutter speed to maximize on night scenes.

Macro Button
Situated directly beneath the Flash button, this button turns Macro on and off in all capture modes. In macro mode, the camera will focus on objects from 9.8 to 31.5 inches (25 to 80 cm).
Shift Button
The Shift Button is located on the far left of the camera back, just on top of the LCD Monitor. When pressed in any mode (except for Setup and PC), the Shift menu appears.

  • In Self-Timer, Manual and Automatic capture modes, Shift allows you to:
    • Adjust LCD brightness (Shift + Display)
    • Adjust image quality (Shift + Flash)
    • Adjust the image size (Shift + Macro)
    • Access the Digital Telephoto function (Shift + up and down arrows)
  • In Playback mode, Shift allows you to:
    • Adjust LCD brightness (Shift + Display)
    • Pan around the enlarged image when in "zoomed" playback mode. (Shift + any of the arrow keys).

Display Button
Located just below the Macro button on the back of the camera.

  • In Self-Timer and Automatic capture modes it accesses the Framing Guidelines feature and also turns the image display off and on.
  • In the Manual capture and PC modes, Display simply turns the "live" image display on and off.
  • In Playback mode, displays nine images per screen if hit twice. While in this multi playback mode, hitting Display once after selecting an image will bring it full screen.

Cancel/Back Button

  • In any mode, the Cancel/Back button allows you to cancel menu selections or back out of any menu.
  • In Manual mode, the Cancel/Back button allows you to erase an image once exposed instead of saving it to SmartMedia.

Menu/Exe Button

  • In Manual capture mode, accesses the settings menu. Also used to confirm saving an image to SmartMedia after image capture.
  • In Playback mode, accesses the Playback menu.

Rocker Toggle Button

  • In Self-Timer mode, controls the optical zoom.
  • In Setup mode, navigates the Setup menu.
  • In Manual capture mode, controls the optical zoom (up and down) and navigates the manual settings menu (right and left to choose a menu function, then up and down to select settings).
  • In Automatic capture mode, controls the optical zoom.
  • In Playback mode, scrolls through image screens and navigates the Playback menu as well as zooms individual images up to 4x

Camera Modes and Menus
Self-Timer Mode Gives you 10 seconds once the shutter button is fully pressed before the shutter is released. Once the shot is composed and the shutter button fully pressed, an LED beside the lens lights solid red for five seconds, then blinks for five seconds more. A numeric countdown is also displayed on the LCD monitor and smaller status display. The Cancel/Back button cancels the self-timer midway.



Setup Mode
The Setup menu is automatically displayed when the mode dial is placed on Setup. Options here are:

  • Quality: Sets the compression ratio for recording. Choose between Fine, Normal (default) and Basic.
  • File Size: Sets the number of pixels recorded to either 1280 x 1024 (default) or 640 x 480.
  • Sharpness: Four sharpness levels available from none to very sharp.
  • Auto Power Off: Sets the automatic power off function either on or off. If enabled, the camera turns off when unattended for two minutes. This function does not operate during automatic playback or in PC mode. (Camera stays on continuously in these modes.)
  • Frame Number: Specifies whether or not the frame numbering function is used. Choose between:
    • Renew: Pictures are stored on each SmartMedia beginning with file number 0001.
    • Continue: Pictures are stored beginning from the highest file number stored on the last SmartMedia used.
  • Beep: Selects the beep volume for camera operation from High to Low to Off.
  • Date/Time: Sets the date and time.
  • Reset: Pressing the Menu/Exe button here resets the Setup menu settings to factory defaults, excluding the date and time.



Manual Mode
Allows you to control the exposure in regards to white balance, flash intensity, exposure compensation (EV) and provides access to Continuous Shooting mode. The settings menu is automatically displayed at the bottom of the screen upon switching into Manual mode. Here are the options available:

  • White Balance: Gives you the choice between Automatic, Shooting Outdoors in Fine Weather, Shooting Outdoors in Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent and Incandescent. When in Auto mode, the correct white balance may not be obtained in situations like closeups and special lighting.
  • Brightness (Exposure Compensation): Allows you to select the amount of exposure compensation needed in 0.3 EV increments from –0.9 to +1.5. When using flash, manual exposure compensation is disabled, although the menu selection remains.
  • Flash Brightness: Sets the flash power for optimum brightness with correction levels in 0.3 EV increments from –0.6 to +0.6.
  • Continuous Shooting: When turned on, up to nine shots are taken at about three frames per second as long as the shutter button is held down. Flash and Digital Telephoto are not available in this setting and the file size is automatically set to 640 pixels.


Automatic Mode

Best for taking pictures under average light conditions. The camera controls aperture, shutter speed, focus and white balance.
Playback Mode
Turning the mode dial to Playback allows you to view your captured images as well as perform some minor image manipulations. Once in Playback, hit the left and right arrow keys to scroll through the images. You can zoom into a particular section of an image by using the up or down arrow buttons. The zoom scales up to 4.0x and can be set in 0.2x increments. Pressing the left or right arrows cancels the zoom and advances to the next image. Once you’ve zoomed an image, you can move around the image by holding down the Shift key and any of the four arrow buttons. The Cancel/Back button returns you to the normal, non-zoom display.
Pressing the Display button twice gives you a nine shot multi frame display, navigable by the arrow keys. To view a selected frame, push the Display button again. If you have more than nine images, hit the Shift button in conjunction with the left or right arrow button to change pages.
You can also view images by connecting to a television set via the video playback cable included with the camera.
Hitting the Menu/Exe button in Playback mode gives you the following options:

  • Erase: Gives you the option of erasing a single frame, all frames or to format the SmartMedia. Formatting erases all of the data on the SmartMedia (included protected images).
  • Effect: Gives you four options for modifying your pictures, but requires ample space on the SmartMedia to save the new versions.
    • B/W: Converts the image to black and white.
    • Sepia: Converts the image to sepia tones.
    • Silver Cross: Adds shining highlights to the image, similar to a star filter.
    • Rainbow Cross: Adds rainbow highlights to the image.
  • Automatic Playback: Plays all the images recorded frame by frame (canceled by hitting the Cancel/Back button).
  • Protect: Gives you the option to protect a single frame, all frames or to unprotect all.
  • DPOF: Allows you to set up prints for ordering compliant to the Digital Print Order Format (DPOF). You can enable date and time printing, select individual frames for printing, preview selections, select all frames or cancel all.
    • Date/Time: Selects whether or not the date and time are displayed on the shots.
    • Frame: Use the arrow keys to find a specific frame. Once found, you can set the number of prints to be made and specify any cropping that needs to be done.
    • Set All: Specifies one print to be made for each image.
    • Cancel All: Cancels all DPOF settings.


PC Mode

When you’re ready to transfer images to a PC or Macintosh, turn the dial to the transfer selection and connect with the appropriate cable (Mac or PC serial RS-232C) to your machine. A CD packaged with the camera includes image transfer software compatible with Windows 95, 98 or NT 4.0 and Mac OS 7.6.1 to 8.6.
Image Storage and Interface
The MX-1700 utilizes SmartMedia for image capture and storage. A 4MB card comes standard with the camera, but you can purchase additional cards in 8MB, 16MB and 32MB sizes. Remember to use only 3.3V SmartMedia (sometimes marked simply 3V) and steer clear of the 5V versions. (Most cards currently on the market operate at 3.3 volts.) The 4MB card can hold approximately five Fine quality images, 11 Normal images and 22 Basic (depending on compression ratios and image sizes). The table below shows average image sizes and storage capacities of the included 4 megabyte card, for the camera's various resolution/quality modes:

Resolution/Quality vs Image Capacity
High Resolution
Standard Resolution
Images
Approx.
Compression
Images
Approx.
Compression
High Quality
1
1:1
12
1:1
Fine Quality
8
5:1
46
5:1
Normal Quality
17
10:1
89
8:1
Basic Quality
35
20:1
141
16:1


SmartMedia should never be removed while the camera is on and neither should the camera be turned off while performing operations to avoid damaging the media. Always load the SmartMedia with the gold electrodes going into the camera first.
You can write protect SmartMedia by placing a write protection sticker in the designated area. Write protection stickers can only be used once and must be clean to be effective. You can protect individual images through the Playback menu in Playback mode. The MX-2900 gives you the freedom to select one image or all of them to protect from deletion, file resizing or any other manipulation.
Frames are stored on SmartMedia and assigned file numbers from 0001 to 9999 with a preceding directory number. Once 9999 is reached, the directory number goes up by one. Setup mode allows you to alter the frame numbering sequence by selecting Renew or Continue. Use Renew to start images at 0001 each time a new SmartMedia card is used. Continue stores images beginning from the highest file number recorded on the last SmartMedia used. The Continue option ensures that images are not duplicated when downloaded to a computer.
Since there is no image resizing option on this digicam, we suggest you plan ahead and either have extra SmartMedia available or budget file sizes before shooting. Images are captured in JPEG (Exif ver. 2.1) format.
You can erase images via the Playback menu while in Playback mode. Here, you have the option of erasing a single frame, all frames or to format the card. Formatting erases all images on the card, including protected images, and re-initializes the SmartMedia. You can also erase images while in Manual capture mode when you are asked to delete or record each image as it is exposed.
The MX-1700 connects to your computer via a standard RS-232 serial interface. We didn't perform any download timings, as the early production evaluation model we received arrived without the software package, forcing us to use a card reader to transfer our test images.
Video Out
The MX-1700 comes packaged with a video cable that plugs into the Video Out jack on the side of the camera (US & Japanese models support NTSC, European models are presumably PAL compliant). All camera modes are available when connected to the television. The LCD panel will automatically cut off once the camera is connected to the television set and the Frame Guidelines option is not available.


Power
Battery life seems to be an issue again with this camera, due in part to its compact size and necessity for the NP-80 LiIon rechargeables. The NP-80 has a stated capacity 3.76 watt-hours, quite a bit less than the 6.25 watt-hours of a set of 4 NiMH AA cells, and we therefore suggest taking a couple extra along. Note though, that most of our use of the MX-1700 was with the LCD activated. With the LCD off in "Auto" mode, the power consumption was very low, to a level that should provide upwards of 8-10 hours of continuous use! According to Fuji, the pairing up of the NP-80 and the MX-1700 should give you about 100 consecutive shots with the LCD monitor on and about 300 without the LCD. We don't test "number of shots", but our power-consumption measurements for various camera operating modes are listed in the table below.

Operating Mode
Power Drain
Capture Mode, w/LCD
660 mA
Capture Mode, no LCD
80 mA
Half Pressed Shutter, w/LCD
410 mA
Half Pressed Shutter, no LCD
660 mA
Memory Write (transient)
4600 mA
Flash Recharge (transient)
240 mA
Image Playback
440 mA
"Sleep" Mode
~1 mA


Included Software
The early evaluation unit of the MX-1700 we received for testing came without any software disk, so we can only list the following information, based on what Fuji says will come with the camera:
A software CD comes with the MX-1700 and includes the data transfer software Picture Shuttle, a DS-Serial TWAIN driver, EZtouch and Adobe PhotoDeluxe. Software is compatible with both Macintosh and Windows operating systems (Windows 95, 98 and NT and Mac OS 7.6.1 to 8.6). A separate software manual fully explains the system requirements for each operating system. A noise suppression core is also included with the camera and clips onto the serial cable for more reliable image transfers.
Once you connect the camera (in PC mode) to your machine and open up Picture Shuttle, images can be transferred. A picture index window is displayed from which you can view images or open them for editing. Opening an image triggers EZtouch, where you can perform some minor image manipulations (such as the white vignette and emboss filters). You can also crop, color correct and take out Red-Eye. From EZtouch, you can save images in either BMP; high, medium or low quality Exif-JPEG files; or in Exif-TIFF.
Adobe PhotoDeluxe expands your image manipulation capabilities even further with a wider selection of filters and the option to put images on cards, calendars, etc. There’s also an Internet connectivity option where you can email images and set up electronic greeting cards.
Test Results
In keeping with our general policy, our comments here are rather condensed, summarizing our key findings: For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the MX-1700's pictures page.
As with all Imaging Resource camera tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the devices performed: Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how well the MX-1700 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.
Overall, we found the MX-1700 to be a tremendously appealing little camera, with surprising image quality for such a small package. We've seen some comments about Fuji's ultra-compact digicams to the effect that they're too small to hold comfortably, but we experienced no problems in that area ourselves. (This is obviously a personal preference issue though, so don't take our word for it.) We did have the occasion to take the MX-1700 on a business trip to a trade show and were so pleased with how easy it was to just slip in or out of our pockets to snap shots wherever we happened to be. The automatic lens cover contributes to a feeling of safety in just dropping it in a pocket and lugging it along.
This portability would be of little value if the MX-1700 didn't also take excellent pictures, but we're happy to report that it did. Colors are quite rich and accurate, although often exhibiting the slightly warm cast that we've come to associate with Fuji cameras. (Which has led us to frequently recommend the PhotoGenetics program, reviewed elsewhere on this site.) Tonal range is excellent as well, preserving detail in both the highlights and shadows, while still retaining good contrast. Resolution is very good as well, giving away nothing relative to other 1.5 megapixel cameras we've tested. (Visual resolution measured about 700  lines per picture height horizontally and 650 lines per picture height vertically.)
Macro performance is about in the middle of the pack, with a minimum capture area at closest approach of 2.3 x 2.9 inches (5.9 x 7.4 cm). Some recent digicams have extended macro performance into the "micro" arena, but the MX-1700's capabilities are likely to be sufficient for all but the most zealous of macro shooters.
One of our few complaints with the MX-1700 is that its optical viewfinder is “looser” than most, showing only 80% of the final image area at the wide-angle end, and 78% in telephoto. The LCD viewfinder also crops the image area somewhat, showing about 90% of the final image in both telephoto and wide-angle modes. The overall view of the optical finder is biased downward  about 10% at the telephoto end of the lens range (producing final images shifted upward from where you thought you were shooting), but well-centered at wide-angle. The LCD viewfinder image is well-centered. You'll probably need to shoot a few frames to develop a sense of what's actually being recorded, particularly with the optical finder. Another quibble we had was the moderate barrel distortion (1.5%) in wide angle mode: This wouldn't be the camera to use for high-end architectural photography.
Flash uniformity is quite good across the full focal length range, and the flash throttles-down well for macro shooting.
Conclusion
The MX-1700 combines the best features of the earlier MX-700 in an even smaller case, and with the fabulous addition of a true 3x optical zoom (remarkable in such a thin body). Compact design, a sturdy metal body, and a smoothly-functioning metal lens cover mean this camera won’t be left at home on a lonely shelf. The menus and controls are uncomplicated and simple to use: Once you get used to the slightly stiff action of the mode dial, you’ll be in business. If you plan on using the LCD screen a lot, you'll definitely want to purchase a couple of extra batteries and keep them charged. If you can avoid the LCD screen though, our tests indicate battery life should be quite long. Overall, we found the MX-1700 to be tremendously appealing, providing image quality very much on a par with the best of the 1.5 megapixel field in a compact, portable package. A real winner!

Reader Sample Images!
Do you have a MX-1700 camera? If you'll post an album of your samples on one of the photo-sharing services and email us at photos@imaging-resource.com, we'll list the album here for others to see!

 

For More Info:
View the data sheet for the MX-1700

View the test images from the MX-1700

 

Reader Comments!
Questions, comments or controversy on this article? Click this link to see what other Imaging Resource readers have had to say about Fuji MX-1700, or add comments of your own!


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