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Fuji FinePix 2600 Zoom

2 megapixels, a 3x zoom lens, great pictures, and a bargain price: A great "value leader" from Fuji!

Review First Posted: 11/08/2001

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MSRP $299 US


2 megapixel CCD for 1,600 x 1,200 pixel images
3x, 38-114mm equivalent optical zoom lens
Movie mode (without sound)
Rechargeable batteries & charger included with the camera

Manufacturer Overview
Fujifilm produces a wide range of digicam models from bare-bones entry-level models up to and including a high-end digital SLR. To my mind though, where they've really had their greatest success has been in creating good-quality midrange cameras that sell at very competitive prices. The latest case in point is their FinePix 2600 Zoom, which sports a 2 megapixel CCD, a 3x optical zoom lens, and a quick USB computer connection, all for only $299 retail at its introduction. (This review was written in late October, 2001.) This is a great bargain, for a camera with a nice complement of features and very good photo quality. In fact, I think it's one of the better bargains in the digicam market today.

High Points

Executive Overview
The FinePix 2600 Zoom is the latest in Fuji's line of small, compact digicams. Highly portable and lightweight, the 2600 Zoom is fit for most any excursion, as its small size will let it slip easily into coat pockets and purses. Measuring 3.9 x 2.6 x 2.1 inches (99.8 x 65 x 53.9 millimeters), the 2600 Zoom weighs just 7.1 ounces (200 grams without batteries or SmartMedia) and fits well into one hand. The 2600 Zoom offers a two-megapixel CCD, which delivers clear, sharp images as large as 1,600 x 1,200 pixels.

A 3x, 6-18mm lens is built into the 2600 Zoom, which is equivalent to a 38-114mm zoom on a 35mm camera. A sliding lens cover protects the lens when not in use, and eliminates the need for a traditional (and easily lost) lens cap. The telescoping lens extends from the camera when powered on, and then retracts when the camera is shut off. Apertures are automatically controlled, but range from f/3.5 to f/8.7. Focus is also automatically controlled at all times, with a focal range from 2.6 feet (0.8 meters) to infinity in normal mode, and from 3.9 inches to 2.6 feet (10 to 80 centimeters) in Macro mode. In addition to the 3x optical zoom, the 2600 Zoom also offers as much as 2.5x digital enlargement, depending on the resolution size selected. For composing images, the 2600 Zoom offers both a real-image optical viewfinder and a 1.8-inch, D-TFT color LCD monitor. The LCD monitor has a limited information display, reporting various camera settings, as well as an optional framing guide display, which divides the image into thirds horizontally and vertically.

Though the camera offers Automatic and Manual exposure modes, the camera remains in control of aperture and shutter speed at all times. Manual exposure mode simply enables the user to adjust the camera's white balance and exposure compensation settings. Shutter speeds range from 1/1,000 to 1/2-second, but are not reported on the LCD display. The 2600 Zoom uses a 64-zone metering system to determine exposure, which places the greatest emphasis on the center portion of the image area. Sensitivity is rated as equivalent to ISO 100, and is not adjustable. When shooting in Manual exposure mode, exposure compensation is adjustable from -1.5 to +1.5 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. White balance offers seven settings, including Auto, Daylight, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, and Incandescent.

The 2600 Zoom's built-in flash operates in one of five modes, which include Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, and Slow Synchro modes. A 10-second self-timer is available in Automatic exposure mode only, and is activated via the LCD menu system. The 2600 Zoom can also capture movies as long as 20 seconds each, while in Movie capture mode. Movie files are saved in the Motion JPEG format, at a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels.

Images captured by the 2600 Zoom are saved to SmartMedia cards, and a 16MB card comes with the camera. (A fairly generous card size for an inexpensive camera.) In addition to the 1,600 x 1,200-pixel resolution size, the 2600 Zoom also offers 1,280 x 960- and 640 x 480-pixel resolution sizes. Three JPEG compression ratios are available, including Fine, Normal, and Economy. The Playback menu offers DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) settings for printing images on a compatible device. A USB cable and software CD accompany the camera, allowing for high-speed connection to a computer. The software CD is loaded with Fuji's FinePix Viewer software, which organizes and displays downloaded images, as well as provides printing and minor editing capabilities. Windows users can take advantage of PictureHello, which turns the 2600 Zoom into a videoconferencing tool.

The 2600 Zoom utilizes two AA NiMH rechargeable batteries for power, which accompany the camera. A battery charger is also included, but we still recommend picking up a spare set of batteries and keeping them freshly charged. (This inclusion of rechargeable batteries and charger further contribute to the excellent value of the 2600 Zoom. More camera makers should do this!) The AC adapter is a separate accessory, but is helpful for saving battery power while reviewing and downloading images (as well as using the camera as a videoconferencing webcam). Unless you're taking advantage of the camera's webcam capability though, the rechargeable batteries mean you won't likely need the AC adapter.

With its compact and lightweight body, the convenience of full automatic exposure control, and two-megapixel CCD, the 2600 Zoom is a good choice for consumers looking for portable, affordable, easy to use digicam that takes good pictures. The 2600 Zoom offers a basic level of exposure control when you want it, and a Movie mode for capturing quick bits of action. All in all, one of the better bargains in the digicam market today, and very complete "out of the box", thanks to the inclusion of a decent-sized memory card and rechargeable battery/charger kit.

Small and compact, the Fuji FinePix 2600 Zoom adds to Fuji's growing line of portable digicams. The 2600 Zoom easily fits into one hand, but is a little too chubby for most shirt pockets. Still, the 2600 Zoom could easily find its way into larger coat pockets and purses, and the sliding lens cover lets you carry it without worrying about scratching the lens or losing the lens cap. Measuring 3.9 x 2.6 x 2.1 inches (99.8 x 65 x 53.9 millimeters), the camera's all-plastic body keeps it light weight at just 7.1 ounces (200 grams, without batteries or SmartMedia). With only a handful of control buttons, the 2600 Zoom's exterior is sleek and smooth, save for the small protrusion of the LCD monitor on the back panel. The sliding lens cover fits smoothly into the body design, maintaining the camera front's smoothly curving profile.

Built into the 2600 Zoom is a two-megapixel CCD, which produces image resolutions as large as 1,600 x 1,200 pixels. Camera controls are somewhat sparse, as the majority of features are automatically controlled by the camera. This keeps the user interface uncluttered and clean, as well as simple to operate. With that in mind, let's take our virtual walk around the camera.

The front of the 2600 Zoom is sleek and stylish, with shiny silver highlights on a matte silver body. The sliding lens cover's elliptical shape is echoed by the optical viewfinder window. A small indentation in the lens cover not only makes it easier to slide open, but also serves as a finger rest when holding the camera in a shooting position. We're glad that Fuji opted not to use the lens cover as a power switch, as these designs seem more prone to breakage. (Instead, the 2600 Zoom is powered on by a switch on top of the camera.) When the camera is powered on and the lens cover is open, the lens telescopes out from the camera body about a half of an inch. It then retracts whenever the camera is shut off. The lens shares the front panel with the optical viewfinder window, flash control sensor, flash, and self-timer LED (the small, red LED just beside the lens).

The right side of the camera (viewed looking from the back) contains only the wrist strap attachment eyelet.

The DC In and USB connection jacks are on the opposite side of the camera, and lack any protective covering. We generally like to see some type of covering over these terminals, as dust and dirt can easily find their way into these small openings, especially on a highly portable camera such as this one. (A minor design strike against the 2600.)

The 2600 Zoom's top panel features the Mode dial, Shutter button, and sliding Power switch. The Power switch is covered with small raised bumps, which give your fingers more traction for sliding the small control.

The remaining camera controls are on the back panel, along with the LCD monitor and optical viewfinder eyepiece. Positioned on the right side are the zoom controls and arrow buttons, as well as the Display, Menu/OK, and Back buttons. Though the camera does not offer a substantial handgrip, a series of raised bumps on the right side of the back panel provide a sort of thumb rest, facilitating a tight grip on the camera. The optical viewfinder eyepiece has a small LED just to its right, which reports the camera's current status (such as when focus is set, flash is charging, etc.). Also visible from the back panel is the top of the SmartMedia / battery compartment, which opens from the bottom of the camera.

The 2600 Zoom's bottom panel is fairly flat, though a series of raised bumps provide traction for the SmartMedia / battery compartment cover, and level out the area surrounding the tripod mount. A sliding cover protects the SmartMedia / battery compartment, and slides outward (toward the back of the camera) before opening on a hinge to reveal the compartment. This is a great design for maximizing the camera's space, but bad for tripod work as you have to dismount from the tripod to change batteries or change out the memory card. We suspect this won't be much of an issue for users of this camera however, as its designers were clearly intending it for on-the-go use, not studio shooting. The tripod mount features plastic threads and is a bit off center from the lens. The mount is fairly close to the center of the camera body though, and it remained stable on our tripod while we were shooting with it.

The FinePix 2600 Zoom offers both a real image optical viewfinder and an LCD monitor for composing images. The optical viewfinder's view has a small, black outline circle in the center, designating the autofocus and autoexposure target areas. Two small projections at the top of the viewfinder display help guide alignment for closeup images, but we strongly recommend using the LCD viewfinder for close-in shots. Though there is no diopter adjustment dial for the 2600 Zoom's viewfinder, it does have a fairly high eyepoint, and we were able to clearly see the full frame at a good distance from the eyepiece. Most eyeglass lenses shouldn't pose a problem. A small LED lamp next to the viewfinder reports the camera's status, lighting a solid green when the camera is switched on. The LED flashes green and then lights solid when focus and exposure are set (if the LED continues flashing green, it means the camera cannot focus). The LED glows orange when images are being recorded to the SmartMedia card, and flashes orange when the flash is charging. The LED flashes red whenever the camera is warning of an error (the error message is reported on the LCD monitor).

The 1.8-inch, D-TFT color LCD monitor is activated by pressing the Display button on the back panel. The LCD information display includes details about the number of available images for the SmartMedia card, the resolution and quality settings, flash mode, and exposure mode. (The display would also include any features set through the Record menu, such as Macro mode, the self-timer, etc.) This information display is always present when the LCD monitor is active. Pressing the Display button a second time activates an alignment grid, which divides the image area into thirds horizontally and vertically. Thus, you can line up tricky shots using the grid. A third press of the Display button disables the LCD monitor altogether.

In Playback mode, the LCD monitor displays limited image information, such as the file number and date the image was captured. An index display mode shows as many as nine thumbnail-sized images on the screen at once, and a Playback zoom feature enlarges captured images as much as 5x so that you can check on fine details and framing.

Built into the FinePix 2600 Zoom is a Fujinon 3x, 6-18mm lens, the equivalent to a 38-114mm zoom lens on a 35mm camera. While aperture is automatically controlled at all times, the 2600 Zoom's lens provides a range from f/3.5 to f/8.7. Focus is also fully automatic, with a working distance that ranges from 2.6 feet (0.8 meters) to infinity in normal mode. Enabling the Macro mode changes the focal range to 3.9 inches to 2.6 feet (10 to 80 centimeters). Instead of a lens cap, the 2600 Zoom's lens is protected by a sliding lens cover, a handy design that avoids the problem of lost lens caps. Unlike many cameras with this sort of "clamshell" body/lens cover design, just opening the lens cover doesn't turn the camera on: For that, there's a separate top-panel slide switch. Likewise, closing the clamshell cover does retract the lens, but doesn't turn the camera off.

In addition to the 2600 Zoom's 3x optical zoom capabilities, the camera also offers up to 2.5x digital zoom. The amount of digital zoom available depends on the current resolution setting. At the 1,280 x 960-pixel size, only 1.25x of digital zoom is available; the 2.5x digital zoom is only available at the 640 x 480-pixel still image size or in Movie mode. (No digital enlargement is possible at the 1,600 x 1,200-pixel resolution size.) Keep in mind that digital zoom merely enlarges the center portion of the CCD image, and thus lowers image quality by decreasing resolution.

Exposure control on the 2600 Zoom is very straightforward, thanks to the camera's full automatic control. Though the Record menu offers "Automatic" and "Manual" exposure modes, "Manual" mode in this case simply allows the user to adjust the white balance and exposure compensation settings, as well as select the flash mode and macro option. The 2600 Zoom employs a 64-zone TTL (Through The Lens) metering system to determine the exposure, dividing the image area into 64 zones that are independently metered and averaged for the best exposure. One note here is that the greatest weight of the exposure is placed on the center of the frame, allowing you to use the Shutter button to manually lock the exposure on your subject. To lock exposure (and focus as well), frame a portion of the subject in the center of the frame and half press the Shutter button. Then, keeping the Shutter button halfway pressed, reframe the subject to the original composition and fire the shutter.

Though you cannot adjust either the shutter speed or aperture settings, you can "tweak" the exposure when shooting in Manual mode. Exposure compensation is adjustable from -1.5 to +1.5 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. Shutter speeds on the 2600 Zoom range from 1/1,000 to 1/2-second. - The 1/1,000 second top speed is very good, but the 1/2 second maximum shutter time severely limits the camera's low-light shooting capabilities. ( A brief report of our findings here can be found in the Test Results section.) Sensitivity is equivalent to ISO 100, and is not adjustable. Manual mode also allows you to adjust the White Balance setting, with choices of Auto, Daylight, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, and Incandescent.

The 10-second Self-Timer option is only available in Automatic exposure mode (the option disappears from the menu in Manual mode). I find this rather puzzling, as the self-timer would be equally useful in either auto or manual mode. When in Self-Timer mode, a full press of the Shutter button activates the timer, which counts down from 10 seconds before the shutter is opened. A digital timer appears in the LCD monitor and the self-timer LED lamp lights on the front of the camera. The LED actually lights solid for the first five seconds, then flashes for the remaining five. The mode is automatically disabled after the shot.

The 2600 Zoom features a built-in flash that operates in five different modes: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, and Slow Synchro. In Auto mode, the camera chooses when to fire the flash, based on the current lighting conditions and whether or not the subject is backlit. In Red-Eye Reduction mode, the camera fires a small pre-flash before firing the flash at full power, to reduce the occurrence of the Red-Eye Effect (caused by light reflecting off of an enlarged eye pupil). Forced mode simply activates the flash to fire with each shot, regardless of the exposure conditions, while Suppressed mode completely disables the flash. Finally, Slow Synchro mode times the flash with a slower shutter speed, which allows more ambient light into the image. Slow Synchro mode is good for night shots in front of skylines or sunsets, as the slower exposure allows more of the background color into the image. Fuji estimates the 2600 Zoom's flash power as effective to about 9.8 feet (3.0 meters), which matches our own test results.

Movie Mode

Though the FinePix 2600 Zoom does not feature a continuous shooting mode, it does offer a Movie mode. Activated by turning the Mode dial to the movie camera icon, Movie mode allows you to capture as many as 20 seconds of video at a time (without sound). Movie files are captured at 320 x 240-pixel resolution, at approximately 10 frames per second. Actual shooting time will vary depending on the amount of SmartMedia space available. Once in Movie mode, a full press of the Shutter button both starts and stops the recording. The number of available seconds appears in the LCD display. The lens is locked in the wide angle position in Movie mode, but digital zoom is available as much as 2.5x. No other exposure features are available in this mode.

Shutter Lag / Cycle Times
When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a delay or lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time allows the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms time to do their work and can amount to a fairly long delay in some situations. Since this number is almost never reported on, and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, we routinely measure it using a special electronic test setup.


Fuji FinePix 2600 Zoom Timings
Time (secs)
Power On -> First shot
About average for a telescoping lens.
Pretty quick. (Time for lens to retract.)
Play to Record, first shot
Time until first shot is captured. Pretty fast.
Record to play
Time to display a large/fine file after capture. Pretty fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
Two times are for wide/telephoto. Quite speedy, a good bit better than average.
Shutter lag, prefocus
Time to capture, after half-pressing shutter button. A good bit faster than average.
Cycle Time (shot to shot delay)
First time is for large/fine, second is for small/normal quality level. Pretty fast, particularly since no buffer memory: Shoot this fast until you fill the card.


Overall, the FinePix 2600 Zoom is a surprisingly fast little camera. In particular, its shutter delay is noticeably less than even some much more expensive models, and its shot to shot "cycle times" are quite good as well. With very fast-paced action, you'll still want to "prefocus" the camera by half-pressing and holding the shutter button prior to the exposure itself, but even without that, the 2600 is a good bit faster than average in most situations.

Operation and User Interface
With only a few controls, the 2600 Zoom's user interface is very straightforward. Settings like flash, exposure compensation, white balance, etc. are all adjusted through the LCD menu, which is also very uncomplicated. Because the 2600 Zoom operates mainly under automatic control, the user only needs to worry about a few adjustments. Navigating the LCD menu system is no problem, as there's only one page of options for the Record menu. The Setup menu is accessed through the Record menu, and also offers only one page of options. The camera's small size and few controls also makes it easy to operate the camera one-handed. All things considered, we don't think you'll even need to read the manual to operate this one. Following is our standard list of controls and functions, as well as camera modes and menus.

Control Enumeration

Shutter Button: Located on top of the camera and encircled by the Mode dial, this button sets focus and exposure when pressed halfway. A full press of the button fires the shutter.

Mode Dial: Surrounding the Shutter button on the top panel, this dial selects the camera's operating mode. Three choices are available:

Power Switch: Directly to the left of the Mode dial and Shutter button, this sliding switch powers the camera on and off.

Zoom Rocker Button: In the top right corner of the back panel, this rocker button is flanked by two arrow keys. In Record mode, this button controls the optical and digital zoom. This control also doubles as the up and down arrow keys when navigating the LCD menu system. In Playback mode, the up and down button controls the digital enlargement. Once playback zoom is activated, this button also moves up and down within the enlarged image.

Right and Left Arrow Buttons: Located on either side of the Zoom Rocker button, these buttons navigate left and right through settings menus. In playback mode, these buttons scroll left and right within an enlarged image.

Display Button: Situated just to the right of the top right corner of the LCD monitor, this button activates the LCD display in Record mode. The first press enables the image and information display, while the second press activates a framing grid. A third press disables the display entirely, saving power. In Playback mode, this button cycles between an image information overlay and no image information at all. When playback zoom is enabled, this button cycles back and forth between zoom and panning modes.

Menu / OK Button: Just below the Display button, the Menu / OK button activates the settings menu in any mode. This button also serves as the OK to confirm menu selections.

Back Button: Directly below the Menu / OK button, this button backs out of menus and menu selections.

Camera Modes and Menus

Record Mode: Marked on the mode dial with a red camera symbol, this mode allows you to capture still images. Two "exposure" modes are available: Automatic and Manual. Depending on the mode, different menu options are available in the Record menu.

Playback Mode: The traditional green playback symbol (an arrow within a rectangular outline) designates this mode on the Mode dial. Here, the user can review captured images, enlarge them, delete them, or set them up for printing on a DPOF-compatible output device. (Digital Print Order Format) Pressing the Menu button pulls up the following options:

Movie Mode: The final option on the Mode dial, this mode is designated by a red movie camera symbol. Movie mode sets the camera to capture moving images for a maximum of 20 seconds per movie (or as long as the SmartMedia card has available space). Pressing the Menu button in this mode simply allows the user to adjust the LCD brightness and access the same Setup menu as in Playback and Record modes.

Image Storage and Interface
The 2600 Zoom stores images to a SmartMedia card, and a 16-megabyte card is included with the camera. Additional SmartMedia cards are available as separate accessories, with capacities as large as 128-megabytes. SmartMedia cards can be individually write-protected by placing a small sticker over the designated area on the card. A set of stickers comes with the card, and stickers can only be used once (they must be clean to be effective). Write-protecting the entire SmartMedia card prevents anything from being written to or deleted from the card. Interestingly, the 2600 Zoom does not provide an option to write-protect individual images through the Playback menu. This is a feature that has become standard on most digicams, but has been left out here. The only downside of this is that you can only write-protect the entire card instead of just one image.

The 2600 Zoom offers three resolution sizes, 1,600 x 1,200; 1,280 x 960; and 640 x 480 pixels for still images. Three JPEG compression levels are also available, Fine, Normal, and Economy, though the 1,600 x 1,200-pixel size is the only resolution to offer all three quality settings. Movie files are captured at a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels.

Following are the approximate number of recordable images and the compression ratios used, for the included 16-megabyte SmartMedia card:

Image Capacity vs.
High Resolution 1600x1200 Images
20 39
7:1 14:1
Standard Resolution 1280x960 Images
Low Resolution 640x480

The 2600 Zoom is accompanied by a USB cable and interface software for connecting to a PC or Macintosh. (Macs running OS 8.6 or later, and PCs with Windows 2000, Me or XP should need no additional driver software to connect to the camera.) Here again, the FinePix 2600 Zoom proved itself to be quite fast, downloading files to our G4 Mac host computer at a speed of 528 KB/second. This isn't quite as fast as the quickest high-end digicams we've tested, but is clearly near the top of the field. (No need for a card reader with this camera!)

One of the first things any new digicam owner will need is a larger memory card for their camera: The cards shipped with the units by the manufacturers should really be considered only "starter" cards, you'll definitely want a higher capacity card immediately. - Probably at least a 32 megabyte card for a 1.3 or 2 megapixel camera, 64 megabytes or more for a 3, 4, or 5 megapixel one. (The nice thing about memory cards is you'll be able to use whatever you buy now with your next camera too, whenever you upgrade.) To help you shop for a good deal on memory cards that fit the FinePix 2600, we've put together a little memory locater, with links to our price-comparison engine: Just click on the "Memory Wizard" button above to go to the FujiFilm memory finder, select your camera model , and click the shopping cart icon next to the card size you're interested in. You'll see a list of matching entries from the price-comparison database. Pick a vendor & order away! (Pretty cool, huh?)
Video Out
The 2600 Zoom does not feature a Video Out jack.

For power, the 2600 Zoom utilizes two AA NiMH rechargeable batteries, and comes with both a pair of batteries and a battery charger. (BIG kudos to Fuji for including a rechargeable battery solution with such an inexpensive digicam model! - This makes the camera usable right out of the box, from day one.) An AC adapter is available as a separate accessory, useful during image playback and downloading, and essential if you plan to use the camera as a "web cam". We also recommend purchasing a spare set of rechargeable batteries and keeping them freshly charged. (Get high-power NiMH cells, like the Maha PowerEx1700 mAh ones.) Fuji estimates that a fully charged set of NiMH batteries should provide about 150 frames with the LCD monitor on, and about 300 frames with LCD monitor switched off. This seems reasonable, based on our own measurements.

Operating Mode
Est. Minutes
(1600 mAh AAs)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
750 mA
Capture Mode, no LCD
130 mA
(~9 hours)
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
740 mA
Half-pressed w/o LCD
440 mA
Flash Recharge (transient)
1060 mA
Image Playback
540 mA


Although we still recommend a second set of batteries to pack along with you, battery life on the FinePix 2600 Zoom is really quite long. In its worst-case power drain mode, the included 1600 mAh cells should last a bit over an hour and half, in continuous operation. With the LCD left off, you should be able to snap pictures all day long without running out of juice. A very good performance, in this respect, particularly for a camera that uses only 2 AA cells to operate.

Included Software
Both a USB cable and software CD accompany the 2600 Zoom, allowing for quick connection to a PC or Macintosh. The CD is loaded with FinePix Viewer, Exif Launcher, and VideoImpression, as well as USB drivers and Apple QuickTime. FinePix Viewer displays thumbnail lists of images stored on the computer and allows you to organize them into groups. You can also print images and perform minor corrections. Exif Launcher is the utility that launches FinePix Viewer whenever the camera is connected to the computer. Included with FinePix Viewer (on Windows machines only) is PictureHello, which allows you to use the 2600 Zoom as a videoconferencing tool. The PC Cam USB mode on the camera lets the camera be controlled through the computer, like a webcam. For processing movies, VideoImpression provides minor editing utilities, allowing you to delete frames or add music to your captured movies.

In the Box
Packaged with the 2600 Zoom are the following items:

Test Results
In keeping with our standard policy, our comments here are rather condensed, summarizing our key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the 2600 Zoom'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 2600 Zoom performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

Throughout our testing, the 2600 Zoom produced accurate color with good saturation. The camera's White Balance system handled most of our test lighting well, though we often noticed a warm cast in our studio shots. We typically chose the Auto setting as the most accurate, but noticed a slight warm cast in many images. The tough incandescent lighting of our Indoor Portrait (without flash) did give the 2600 a hard time though, as both the Auto and Incandescent white balance settings resulted in warm, yellowish images. The 2600 Zoom had no problem distinguishing the tough tonal variations of our Davebox target, and reproduced the large color blocks with good saturation. Skin tones looked very good, and even the tough blue flowers in our "outdoor portrait" shot came out nice and blue, with only hits of the purple coloration that's a common problem among digicams.

The 2600 Zoom performed well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart for its two-megapixel class. We found "strong detail" out to at least 800 lines, although there were very strong artifacts in the vertical direction starting at 600-700.

Optical distortion on the F2600 Zoom was a bit lower than average at the wide-angle end, where we measured an approximate 0.5 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared somewhat worse, as we measured a 0.58 percent pincushion distortion, quite a bit higher than average. Chromatic aberration was very low, showing only about two faint pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. (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.) The most prominent optical problem we saw was rather pronounced softness in the extreme corners, but this didn't extend very far at all into the image area.

The 2600 Zoom features full automatic exposure control and a maximum shutter speed of 1/2-second, which significantly limits the camera's low-light shooting capabilities without flash. During our testing, the camera captured bright, clear images at light levels only as low as four foot-candles (44 lux), which is about two EV stops brighter than average city street lighting at night. (This camera wouldn't be your first choice if you planned to do a lot of available-light night photography.) However, the 2600 Zoom produced good color in its low-light shots and very low noise.

The F2600 Zoom's optical viewfinder is very tight, showing approximately 77 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 74 percent at telephoto. Images framed with the optical viewfinder also show significant extra space at the top and left sides of the target. The LCD monitor fares much better, showing approximately 96 percent of the image area at the wide angle setting, and approximately 94 percent at telephoto. Given that we generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the F2600 Zoom's LCD monitor does pretty well here. Flash distribution at wide angle is fairly even, with slight falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is even throughout the frame.

In the Macro category, the 2600 Zoom turned in about an average performance, capturing a minimum area of 3.94 x 2.96 inches (100.17 x 75.13 millimeters). Resolution was high, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame. Color was also good, though the Auto white balance produced a warm cast. We noticed some corner softness in all four corners of the frame, as well as some barrel distortion. The 2600 Zoom's flash throttled down for the macro area nicely, though it produced some shadows in the corners of the frame.

Given the 2600 Zoom's full automatic exposure control, the camera performed well throughout our testing. We'd like to see more a more accurate white balance system (for indoor shots under incandescent lighting) and extended low-light shooting capabilities. That aside, the 2600 Zoom produced good color and image quality, with high resolution in most cases. Overall, we think the 2600 Zoom will do well in typical "consumer" shooting situations. Considering its low price, the 2600 Zoom's performance was really excellent.

Nice image quality, a compact body design, and true, 3x optical zoom make the 2600 Zoom a welcome addition to Fuji's digicam line. Fuji's previous models in this series (the 2400 Zoom and 1400 Zoom before it) both delivered good pictures at excellent prices. The FinePix 2600 Zoom expands on that heritage, with pictures that are sharper and more colorful than ever, at a great price that even includes (a drum roll, please) rechargeable batteries and a charger right in the box. Overall, this is an excellent camera for entry-level users, really one of the strongest entries in that part of the market. Highly recommended!

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