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Fuji FinePix 4700

Fuji packs a 2.4 million pixel "SuperCCD" sensor and 2400 x 1800 images into an ultra- compact digicam!

Review First Posted: 10/7/2000

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MSRP $999 US


Ultra-compact design
2.4 megapixel SuperCCD sensor delivering 2400x1800 pixel images
True 3x optical zoom lens
SuperCCD for normal ISO 200, optional 400, 800
AVI motion JPEG movies with sound (320x240, 10 fps)
USB computer interface
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Manufacturer Overview
Fuji has been producing digicams for several years now, cranking out a wide range of models for both themselves and other companies (Toshiba and Leica). Their product mix has evolved in two directions, with one series that closely resembles conventional point & shoots, plus a compact line that are highly "pocketable", with a small (tiny?) form factor, and retracting lens covers to instill confidence at just dropping them into your pocket. Recently, Fuji announced their "SuperCCD" technology, which promised higher light sensitivity and greater interpolated image resolutions than were feasible with conventional CCDs. The FinePix 4700 is the first of their SuperCCD cameras, using a 2.4 megapixel sensor to create image files 2400x1800 pixels in size. Fuji drew some harsh criticism when the camera was first announced, because they labeled it a "4.3 megapixel" camera, referring to the final image size, rather than to the underlying sensor pixel count. Fuji's contention was that the SuperCCD technology facilitated a higher level of interpolation than did conventional CCDs, justifying the higher pixel count. In the production release of their camera (at least here in the US), Fuji has dropped the explicit "4.3 megapixel" labeling, instead referring only to the pixel dimensions of the final file.
This is the first public review of a production-level 4700, so we've tried to be particularly careful in our testing to insure accuracy in setup of the shots and handling of the files. (We had our hands on a prototype unit a few weeks ago, but wanted to wait for a production model before presenting any test shots, given the scrutiny they'll doubtless receive.) Was the 4.3 megapixel resolution claim justified? Well not entirely, in our humble opinion (IOHO) but we tend to agree that there's some justification for a claim beyond the 2.4 megapixels of the sensor itself. We feel that there is some benefit to the unique design of the SuperCCD sensor, albeit not as great as Fuji initially claimed. This highlights an important issue in the consumer digicam market: We badly need a universally agreed-upon standard way to specify and refer to image resolution. The ISO-12233 resolution target that we use in our own tests was designed to address that, but in its simplest usage, the numbers derived from it are still subject to interpretation, while in its most rigorous application, the results it produces are too complex and confusing to be of any use to the average consumer.
If we can ever find time amidst the ongoing flood of digicams needing testing, we'll write a white paper on digicam resolution: The community badly needs a discussion of this critical area. In the meantime, we'll make the best use of the tools at hand. (We're pleased to see that at least one of the major Japanese digicam testing sites has now begun using the ISO 12233 test in the way that we pioneered over two years ago.)
Given the level of interest surrounding the FinePix 4700's introduction, we're sure that many of our readers will want to immediately skip to our index page for its sample images. To satisfy that urge, here's a link to that page. - Do come back for the full review though, as there's a lot more to the story, detailed below!

Executive Overview
Following the compact design aesthetic of their previous "pocket camera" models, Fuji's new 4700z fits easily in a typical shirt pocket. (Well, maybe it'd be a little more comfortable in a jacket pocket or purse, but it's definitely very portable!) Its ultra-modern, silver body design is attractive and functional. One design element that keeps the camera's facade so smooth is the retractable lens. Protected by a mechanical cover that slides out of place when the lens extends outward (which it does when the camera is turned on), the fully retracting lens keeps the camera face free of any protrusions when it's stowed. Also adding to the camera's sleek appearance is the pop-up flash design, which neatly hides the flash when it's not needed. We liked the design of the four way arrow buttons on the back panel, which encircle a small, black and white LCD display that reports the current functions of the surrounding buttons, and the status of the settings they control. What's great about this display is that many of the camera's settings can be controlled here, meaning you don't have to rely too much on the LCD based menu (which is only available in Manual exposure and Playback modes), saving a significant amount of battery power in normal use. An interesting feature on the 4700z is that it allows you to program a startup image that appears on the LCD monitor every time the camera is turned on. This is a nice touch for businesses who want to put their logo in the startup or anyone who just has a favorite image they want to program in.
The 4700z features both a real-image optical viewfinder, with autofocus target and cropping marks, and a two inch, low-temperature, polysilicon TFT color LCD monitor for image composition. An information readout can be displayed or removed from the LCD monitor and reports a variety of information about the camera's settings, depending on the exposure mode you're in. When shooting in Manual mode, the settings menu remains at the bottom of the screen, while the battery status and image count is displayed at the top. When the shutter button is half-way pressed, the aperture and shutter speed settings are revealed at the bottom of the screen. An interesting feature of the LCD in Playback mode is that it allows you to create a 25-image index display from captured movies (not stills) so that you can grasp the content of the movie without playing it back. You can also zoom into captured images up to 15x (!) and scroll around to check details. You can do this during the preview display as well, which gives you a chance to examine images captured in Manual exposure mode before recording them to the SmartMedia card.
The Fujinon 3x, 8.3 to 24.9mm lens (equivalent to a 36 to 108mm lens on a 35mm camera) offers aperture settings of f/2.8 or f/7.0 in normal, wide-angle mode ranging to f/4.5 of f/10.8 in telephoto. With a normal focal distance from 31.5 inches (80cm) to infinity and 7.9 inches (20cm) to 31.5 inches (80cm) in macro, the 4700z offers both automatic and manual focus options in Night Scene, Manual and Continuous Shooting exposure modes. A 1.88x/3.75x digital telephoto extends the camera's telephoto range to effective focal lengths of 203 or 405mm, but only for the smaller image sizes.
Exposure control on the 4700z is very simple, as the camera controls most of the settings. A variety of exposure modes set the camera up for different shooting scenarios: Night Scene, Landscape, Portrait, Auto, Manual, Continuous Shooting and Movie. The majority of the exposure modes put the camera in charge of all the exposure choices (including white balance and exposure compensation). This is convenient for some people, who don't want to worry too much about the details. Manual exposure mode gives you control over everything except for the aperture and shutter speed. You have several white balance options (including three different types of fluorescent lighting), sharpness controls, metering modes, optional manual focus control, exposure compensation (EV), flash intensity, flash mode (Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed and Slow-Synchro), ISO (200, 400 or 800) and more. We found the user interface a little tricky to decipher at first, as the Shift key provides shortcuts to several Setup menu options such as changing file size and quality. However, a quick read of the manual answered all of our questions. Once we were accustomed to it, we really liked the combination of LCD readout and jog control, making a number of camera settings very accessible without resorting to the LCD menu system.
The Continuous Shooting mode allows you to take up to three consecutive shots at approximately 0.2 second intervals (!), depending on the amount of SmartMedia space and image information to process. Because the flash is unavailable in this mode, the only feature you can control is manual focus. Movie mode allows you to capture up to 90 seconds of moving images with sound at approximately 10 frames per second. All movies are recorded at the 320 x 240 image size. As we mentioned earlier, you can create a 25 image index of each movie for quick review and there's even an option to play movies backwards, if you so desire.
One of the more controversial aspects of the FinePix 4700 is the way it creates 4.3 megapixel files from it's 2.4 megapixel SuperCCD sensor. We're reluctant to step into the ring to argue the pros or cons of image interpolation, but will make the following comment: The 4700's resolution as measured by our studio tests is clearly better than typical 2 megapixel cameras, but equally clearly doesn't rise to the level of the best 3.3 megapixel units currently on the market. (April, 2000)
Images are stored on a SmartMedia card (a 16MB card comes with the camera) with three quality settings and three image sizes available. A USB cable is included with the camera for quick image transfer to a PC or Mac and a software CD provides basic image viewing and editing capabilities with Exif Viewer and QuickTime 4. The camera ships with a complement of software for both Mac and Windows platforms, letting you download, view, and manipulate images on both platforms. An included NTSC video cable (US and Japanese models, PAL in Europe) means you can connect the camera to a television set for image playback or composition, using the television screen as a large LCD monitor.
The 4700z utilizes two AA Ni-MH or NiCd batteries for power, or an optional AC adapter. Most likely because it uses only two batteries, we found battery life to be rather short, even though you can opt to shoot without the LCD monitor: We strongly recommend keeping a couple sets of freshly charged batteries handy. We also recommend purchasing the AC adapter for tasks like downloading or reviewing images. Kudos to Fuji though, for including a set of high-capacity (1600 mAh) NiMH rechargeable batteries with the camera, and a compact charger for recharging them. (Since rechargeable NiMH batteries are really a necessity with digicams, we'd like to see more manufacturers include this essential equipment in the box with their cameras.)
Overall, this is a great camera for a consumer looking for hassle-free shooting, portability, and large file sizes for high-quality prints. Because the camera always has control over aperture and shutter speed, the most you have to worry about is an exposure-compensation adjustment, and whether or not you need flash. The camera's extremely compact design makes it a good candidate for consumers on the go who don't want to fuss with a camera bag. The high resolution means you'll be able to make true photo-quality 8x10 prints from your images. The 4700z is a fun camera that definitely won't be left behind.
Fuji's new 4700z is definitely one of the most compact digicams out there. At a size of 3.1 x 3.8 x 1.3 inches (78 x 97.5 x 32.9mm), the 4700z easily fits into an average size shirt pocket. It's fairly light weight too, at only 10.9 ounces (310g) with its magnesium alloy body. The camera's control layout ingeniously maximizes every bit of space and presents a very sleek and sophisticated appearance.

The front panel of the camera mainly features the lens, which is protected by a mechanical, sliding cover that retracts when the camera is turned on. When the camera is off, the fully retractable lens gives the camera front a very smooth profile with no protrusions. We particularly like the sliding metal lens cover, which adds greatly to our confidence in slipping it into a pocket. There's also a curved finger grip rib, tiny microphone, flash control sensor, self-timer lamp and viewfinder window on the front, all very unobtrusive in their design.

The right side of the camera (viewing the camera from the back) is flat and smooth, featuring only the wrist strap eyelet.

On the opposite side of the camera is the speaker; pop-up flash release button; digital, video and AC input jacks; and the SmartMedia slot. As with the rest of the camera, everything is silvery smooth, with the exception of the input jacks which are uncovered. The SmartMedia slot is opened by a small, sliding switch and is easily accessible, especially when the camera is mounted to a tripod (something we always appreciate).

The top of the camera features the pop-up flash, which lies smooth when closed, the shutter button and the mode dial, which selects the exposure mode. The mode dial has a knurled rim which provides a nice grip for your finger. It also clicks into place at each position, giving you clear tactile feedback as you move through the settings.

On the back panel of the camera are the majority of the exposure controls, zoom controls, menu button, LCD panel and optical viewfinder. All the controls are silver and smooth, and so compactly grouped that one-handed operation is definitely possible (although two hands are needed to access jog control options via the "shift" key). A small rubber handgrip on the right side provides a more secure hold on the camera. We found the "jog control" arrow button setup interesting, as the four arrows encircle a small, black and white LCD display panel which shows the current function of each arrow button. (It also says "Hello" or "Bye" when you turn the camera on or off.) The benefit of this small information display is that it allows you to access various Setup menu items without relying on the menu systems on the large (and typically power-hungry) LCD screen or entering Setup mode.

The 4700z features a nice flat bottom, holding the tripod mount and battery compartment. Unfortunately, the real estate is too small to allow much space between the battery compartment and tripod mount, meaning battery changes aren't possible on a tripod. This probably won't be a major concern for most people, but we tend notice it because of the amount of studio work we do. The battery compartment itself is very simple to get to, as the cover just slides out and then opens. (Many digicams feature locking battery compartments that are a little tricky to operate, so we highly appreciate one that's so straightforward).


The 4700z offers both an optical viewfinder and an LCD monitor on the back panel for composing images. The real-image optical viewfinder features an autofocus and exposure target in the center and some cropping guidelines around the edge. A small LED on the side of the viewfinder reports the camera's status (i.e. whether or not the focus is ready, flash is charged, etc.). The optical viewfinder zooms along with the camera, but digital zoom can only be operated when the LCD is on.
The two inch, low-temperature, polysilicon TFT, color LCD monitor on the back panel can be turned on or off via the Display button just above it. A varying information display on the LCD monitor reports the camera's exposure settings, flash settings, battery power, number of images, etc., depending on the exposure mode you're in. The exposure menu options are also listed at the bottom of the screen, but only in Manual exposure mode. When shooting in manual exposure mode, this information display is always present, even if the LCD display is turned off. In all other modes, the information and the image display can both be canceled and a framing guideline function can be displayed to help frame shots for individual or group portraits. The optional alignment grids default to one of several forms, varying according to the capture mode you're operating in. Once the grid is displayed though, you can select from a variety of secondary options by pressing the Shift and Up-Arrow keys. These grids are very handy tools for getting critical subjects (like our "House" and "Far" test shots) aligned square to the frame. Curiously, the alignment grid option doesn't seem to be available in Manual mode, an omission we'd really like to see corrected in future releases of the product: It's really very handy for quickly lining things up.
Viewfinder accuracy on the 4700 is a bit of a mixed bag. The optical viewfinder crops the frame rather severely, showing only 76% of the final image area in wide-angle mode and 77% in telephoto. By contrast though, the LCD viewfinder is quite good, at 96% and 95% respectively. While we really prefer a 100% LCD viewfinder, 95% isn't bad, and in fact better than many. The optical viewfinder is a bit of a problem though, since it not only crops the image area, but shows an offset view of the subject: The final picture is offset up and to the left from where the camera seemed to be aimed in the optical finder. In practice, this sort of idiosyncrasy isn't too hard to compensate for as you get used to a camera, but we don't see why it needs to be there in the first place.
In Playback mode, the LCD monitor allows you to zoom into captured images up to 15x and create an index display to view 25 selected frames from a captured movie at once (not available for still shots). Interestingly the 25-frame movie index is created as a separate image file, stored on the camera's SmartMedia memory card. The 15x playback zoom level goes way beyond the magnification level we've seen on any other digicam to date (April, 2000), and is a very useful feature: For the first time, you can really check critical focus using a camera's LCD display - Other manufacturers take note! (The 130,000 pixel resolution of the LCD also goes a long way toward making it useful for evaluating image quality.)

The 4700z is equipped with a Fujinon 3x, 8.3 to 24.9mm lens (equivalent to a 36 to 108mm lens on a 35mm camera). Apertures are f/2.8 or f/7.0 in wide-angle mode, ranging to f/4.5 or f/10.8 in telephoto. The lens aperture is apparently restricted to two possible physical apertures: Experimenting with the camera with gradually increasing illumination revealed that it would switch abruptly from f/2.8 to f/7.0, without passing through any intermediate values.
When the camera is off, the lens is stored inside the camera and protected by a mechanical cover that slides out of place as the lens telescopes out when the camera is turned on. Focusing distance ranges from 31.5 inches (80cm) to infinity in normal, wide-angle mode and from 7.9 inches (20cm) to 31.5 inches (80cm) in macro mode. Macro mode is quickly accessed by pressing the left arrow button while composing an image. A manual focus option is available in Night Scene, Manual and Continuous Shooting modes. Once activated, the focus is controlled by the left and right arrow buttons (the small information display guides the button functions). We'd like to see either a magnified "live" view during manual focusing, an explicit distance-readout display, or both. As it is, it's difficult to set focus accurately, relying only on the display in the LCD viewfinder. (On the other hand, using the "review" mode and the incredible 15x playback zoom, you can fairly quickly determine focus very accurately if you're willing to shoot multiple test frames.)
Macro coverage with the FinePix 4700 is fairly good, if not rising to the "microscopic" level of some recent cameras: At the 20cm (~8 inch) minimum focusing distance, the 4700 captures an area covering 1.92 x 2.56 inches (48.7 x 64.9 mm).
Perhaps due to the combination of very compact size, larger physical sensor size, and relatively long 3x zoom ratio (other compact digicams only go to a 2x zoom as of this writing in April, 2000), the lens on the 4700 shows more geometric distortion than usual. It is also a bit unusual in that it doesn't switch from barrel to pincushion distortion when going from wide to tele mode, but rather simply reduces the amount of barrel distortion at the telephoto end. At wide angle, we measured barrel distortion of 1.5%, decreasing to a barely-perceptible 0.3% at the telephoto setting. (Barrel distortion refers to a tendency for straight lines near the edges of the frame to bow outward in the middle.) By contrast though, chromatic aberration was quite low, with only one pixel of color appearing around resolution target elements in the extreme corners at the wide angle setting, and none at all in telephoto mode.
An up to 3.75x digital zoom is enabled by zooming to the end of the telephoto range and then pressing the up arrow (telephoto zoom button) one more time. Digital zoom extends the camera's telephoto capability to an equivalent of 405mm, but only at the lower resolution settings. (Digital Zoom works by simply cropping into the central portion of the CCD's image, increasing the apparent magnification by reducing the image size. In the case of the 4700, the maximum 3.75x digital zoom is only available at the 640x480 image size, with half that much provided for 1280x960 images, and none at all at the 2400x1800 size.)
The 4700z offers good exposure control, with several exposure modes to accommodate a variety of shooting situations, although it stops short of advanced modes such as aperture- or shutter-priority. Normal shutter speeds range from 1/4 to 1/2000 of a second, but extend down to 3 seconds in Night Scene mode.
Auto exposure controls everything, from white balance to shutter speed, giving you very little control except over the flash (which you can simply open or close). If the pop-up flash is released, the camera will judge whether or not it's needed, although you can override that decision by forcing the flash to fire via the flash mode control. You can also access the self-timer, macro mode and digital telephoto settings. Manual exposure mode simply means that you have control over white balance, exposure compensation, ISO, flash intensity, etc., everything except aperture and shutter speed. In all capture modes, aperture and shutter speed are reported on the LCD monitor whenever the shutter button is halfway pressed and the LCD is enabled. In manual mode, this information is displayed even if the LCD viewfinder function is turned off, since Manual mode uses the LCD for its menus anyway. While we personally prefer to have complete exposure control, we do understand that many users prefer the simplicity of a point-and-shoot camera that assumes more of the responsibility for the exposure selection.
We were a little puzzled by the Portrait and Landscape modes: Generally, modes of this sort bias the exposure system toward large apertures (shallow depth of field) and small apertures (greater depth of field) respectively. In the case of the 4700 though, we didn't see this effect, but rather a slight tendency to expose for the highlights in Portrait mode and to expose for shadows in Landscape. (Slightly shorter and longer exposure times respectively.)
In Manual mode, white balance can be set to Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent or Incandescent values. Exposure compensation is adjustable by +/- 1.5EV in 0.3 EV increments and ISO can be set to 200, 400 or 800. Metering can also be adjusted, with options of Average, Spot and Multi available. The Average metering setting simply takes an average exposure value of the entire subject while Spot metering bases the exposure on the very center of the image. The Multi setting lets the camera assess the entire scene and then select the optimum exposure, using a sophisticated algorithm to decide what is most likely important in the picture. Auto bracketing takes three shots of the same image at different exposure variables, which you can select (choices of +/- 1/3, 2/3 and 1 EV increments). A sharpness option lets you adjust the image sharpness to high, normal or low (-, 0 or + settings). Compared to some cameras we've tested, the low and high sharpness options appear to be a bit more subtle, and hence perhaps a bit more useful: Use low sharpness if you're planning to do more manipulation of the image after capture, in a program like Photoshop(tm), applying sharpening there after you've completed your manipulations. Use high sharpening for images that will be printed immediately. (We actually found the high sharpness setting to be of some use in sharpening images which were a little softer than we'd have liked, particularly in low-light situations such as our indoor portrait shots.)
Finally, a 10 second self-timer is accessible in most of the exposure modes by pressing the right arrow button. Once activated by the shutter button, the self-timer lamp on the front of the camera lights solid for five seconds and then blinks for the remaining five. A numerical countdown is also displayed in the small information display panel. An interesting feature on the 4700z is that after firing the shutter in Manual exposure mode, the LCD optionally displays the image and asks whether you want to record it or delete it. Because this feature could be helpful in some situations but annoying in others, it can be turned on or off through the Manual exposure settings menu. You can zoom into a captured image while in Preview Display by pressing the zoom controls. (Having that full 15x playback zoom is really handy in preview mode, particularly for focus-critical work like macro shooting!)

The 4700z features a built-in pop-up flash with Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed and Slow-Synchro modes. In all exposure modes except for Manual and Night Scene, the flash is always set to Auto and can only be controlled by popping it up or closing it. In Manual mode, all the flash modes are available, as well as an intensity setting in the Manual exposure settings menu (from -0.6 to +0.6 in 0.3 EV increments). In Night Scene, the Slow-Synchro flash mode can be combined with the mode's slow shutter speed to illuminate subjects in front of a dark background.
Fuji lists the 4700's flash range as being from 0.7 - 13.1 feet (0.2 - 4.0m) in wide angle mode, and 0.7 - 9.8 feet (0.2 - 3m) in telephoto mode. These numbers agree well with our own tests using the telephoto setting, in which the camera did well out to about 10 feet before falling off. (As you might expect, increasing the ISO speed to 400 or 800 proportionately extends the flash range: At ISO 400, the telephoto range should extend to about 14 feet, and all the way to 20 feet at ISO 800, albeit with the increased levels of image noise that the higher ISO settings bring.)
Special Exposure Modes
The 4700z features several special exposure modes to accommodate a variety of shooting scenarios, all accessible by turning the mode dial on top of the camera. As noted earlier, we're not sure just what Portrait exposure mode does: We went so far as to speak with the Fuji product manager for the 4700, and he thought it was supposed to set a bias in the exposure system toward the larger aperture setting. (As we'd also expected.) Extensive experimentation with our test unit showed that this wasn't the case however. Likewise, Landscape mode is supposed to select the smaller aperture setting and the daylight white balance option. We can't speak to the white balance setting, but the aperture appears to be free to assume whatever value the auto exposure system sees fit... Night Scene mode uses a slower shutter speed (maximum of three seconds) to capture subjects under low-light conditions. Continuous Shooting allows you to take up to three consecutive shots at approximately 0.2 second intervals (depending on SmartMedia space and the amount of image information to process). A framing guideline function is available in Auto, Portrait, Landscape and Night Scene to help frame particular shots such as group portraits or a large scene.
Movie mode sets the image size to 320 x 240 pixels and records at approximately 10 frames per second with sound. The amount of recording time varies with the amount of SmartMedia space and is displayed on the LCD panel when entering the mode. Fuji estimates that a 16MB SmartMedia card (supplied with the camera) should provide approximately 90 seconds of shooting time, with larger memory capacities holding proportionately longer movies. (Up to 364 seconds on a 64MB SmartMedia card.) The movies are stored in a standard AVI motion-JPEG format, and can be viewed on a computer using Quicktime 2.0 or later.
Shutter Lag / Cycle Times
When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time is to allow 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 now routinely measure it.
The 4700's shutter lag was just slightly longer than average, at 0.9 seconds for full autofocus (average is probably about 0.8 seconds), dropping to a slightly better-than-average 0.19 seconds for shots in which the lens is prefocused by half-pressing the shutter button prior to the exposure itself. In manual focus mode, the shutter delay is about 0.42 seconds.
Cycle times at maximum resolution and quality are quite fast, about 1.5 seconds between the first and second shots, increasing to about 2.5 seconds for subsequent ones. Cycle times at minimum resolution and quality hover around 2 seconds, regardless of how many shots have been taken. (The internal buffer memory apparently comes into play for the first one or two high-resolution images.) Overall, this is a very fast shot-to-shot performance for a camera of this resolution. In Continuous mode, successive shots are captured every 0.24 to 0.25 seconds (Fuji's official spec is "about 0.2 seconds".) We measured the frame rate in movie mode at exactly 10 frames per second.

User Interface
The 4700z has a very friendly user interface, the camera actually says "Hello" and "Bye" in the small LCD information display panel when the camera is turned on or off. Because the camera is so compact, one-handed operation should be possible for most users, as all the controls are in close proximity to each other, although some functions do require two hands to press the "Shift" and arrow keys simultaneously. Additionally, since the only exposure mode that gives you any control is Manual, there isn't much more to think about in the other exposure modes other than framing and pressing the shutter button. This means picture-taking is truly "point & shoot" most of the time. When shooting in Manual mode, the settings menu is accessed through the Menu button and very easily navigated via the four arrow buttons. As we noted above, the icons and interaction between the shift and arrow buttons were initially a bit confusing. Once we learned the control operation though, we found it very easy to navigate the various functions. We did find a slight lag between pressing an arrow button and the associate change in camera state, a delay of close to a second before the LCD readout in the center of the arrow buttons would respond and show the new setting. This was rather annoying until we learned to just be patient after pressing the button. - At first, we frequently found ourselves pressing a button, not seeing a change, then pressing it again. This resulted in the function being left back at its original setting, and no change appearing on the readout. (This was a particular problem the first few times we tried to use the self-timer function, until we finally caught onto what was happening.) Not a big issue, but one we'd like to see corrected on future models.
Control Enumeration

Mode Dial: Located on the top of the camera, this dial sets the exposure mode to Night Scene, Landscape, Portrait, Auto, Manual, Continuous Shooting or Movie modes and accesses the Setup mode.
Shutter Release Button: Encircled by the mode dial, this button sets focus and exposure when half pressed and fires the shutter when fully pressed.

Shift Button: Located on the back panel at the top left, this button is used to access alternate functions of the other controls and provides shortcuts to several Setup menu options. In Preview Display (the captured image is previewed on the LCD monitor before recording in Manual mode), after zooming into a captured image, pressing this button in conjunction with the arrow keys allows you to scroll around the enlarged image. In all exposure modes except for Movie and Continuous Shooting, pressing this button in conjunction with the down arrow button activates the self-timer mode (repeating the action cancels the mode). In Playback mode, when viewing movies, pressing the Shift and down arrow button plays back the movie in reverse. (A lot of fun, playing movies with people talking backwards!) In all record modes except for Movie, pressing the Shift button with the right arrow key sets the image quality and the left arrow sets the image size. In any mode, pressing the Shift button with the Display button allows you to adjust the LCD brightness, and when a movie is selected in playback mode, this combination allows you to adjust speaker volume as well.

Cancel/Back Button: Located to the right of the Shift button, this button cancels menu operations and backs out of menus.

Power Button: Located in the center of the mode switch on the back panel, this button turns the camera on and off.

Mode Switch: Located on the back panel of the camera, this switch puts the camera in Record or Playback mode. (Slightly confusing terminology here: The mode switch selects record or playback modes, whereas the mode dial described earlier selects between various recording modes or the setup menu.)

Display Button: Located just above the LCD monitor on the left side, this button cycles through the image and information displays, depending on the exposure mode of the camera. (Auto, Landscape and Night Scene modes include an alignment grid in the cycle of displays, while Portrait mode has an alignment frame. Manual, Continuous, and Movie modes have no alignment aids.) In any mode, when pressed with the Shift button, brings up the LCD brightness adjustment. If a movie file is selected in playback mode, Display plus Shift lets you set both LCD brightness and speaker volume.

Menu/EXE Button: Also located just above the LCD monitor but to the right, this button pulls up the settings menu in Manual exposure mode and Playback and executes menu settings.

Four Direction Arrow Buttons (aka "Jog Control"): Located on the back panel of the camera, these buttons are arranged in a circular pattern, surrounding a small information display panel and each button has an arrow in one of four directions (left, right, up, down). On their own, the up and down arrows control optical and digital zoom; the right arrow controls the flash mode; and the left arrow controls the macro mode. In Manual exposure mode, after pressing the Menu button, these arrows navigate through the settings menu. In most other exposure modes, the arrow buttons perform a variety of functions when combined with the Shift button. Also in Manual exposure mode, when manual focus is activated, the right and left arrows adjust the focus. When the down arrow button is pressed with the Shift button, the self-timer mode is activated. Pressing the left and right arrow buttons with the Shift button controls file size and image quality. In Auto, Portrait, Landscape and Night Scene modes, pressing the up arrow and Shift buttons selects from among the framing guidelines available in each mode, but only if the framing guides have already been displayed by pressing the Disp button.
In Playback mode, the up and down arrows zoom into an image. With the image enlarged, holding down the Shift button and pressing any of the arrow buttons scrolls around an image. Also in Playback mode, the right and left arrow buttons scroll through captured images sequentially.
Pop-up Flash Release Button: (not shown) Located on the left side of the camera (as viewed from the rear), just above the speaker grille, this button releases the pop-up flash.
Card Slot Switch: (not shown) Located on the very edge of the SmartMedia slot, this sliding switch releases the SmartMedia slot cover.
Camera Modes and Menus

Record Mode: Activated by flipping the record/playback mode switch to the red camera symbol, this mode provides the following exposure modes to choose from:

Playback Mode: Accessed by sliding the mode switch to the playback symbol, this mode allows you to review captured movies and images with the following menu options:

Image Storage and Interface
The 4700z uses SmartMedia (3.3v) for image storage and a 16MB card comes with the camera. Upgrades to 32MB and 64MB sizes are available as accessories. The entire SmartMedia card can be write-protected by placing a small sticker on the indicated area of the card. Write-protection stickers can only be used once, as they must be clean to be effective. Individual images can be protected through the Playback menu, which prevents them from being accidentally deleted (except through card formatting).
The 4700z offers three image sizes for stills: 2400 x 1800, 1280 x 960 or 640 x 480. Movie images are always recorded at 320 x 240 pixels. There are also three image quality settings to choose from: Fine, Normal and Basic. Movies are always recorded at the same quality setting. (That is, no quality options are available in Movie mode.) All images are saved as JPEG compliant Exif. ver.2.1 and movie files are saved as AVI format motion JPEGs.

Following are the approximate number of storable images and compression ratios for a 16MB card:

Image Capacity vs
High Resolution Images 9 19 47
5:1 11:1 27:1
Standard Resolution Images 25 49 90
4:1 8:1 16:1
Low Resolution

AVI movies are recorded at 320x240 resolution and 10 frames per second. The standard 16MB card can record up to 80 seconds of movie content, although it can apparently store a bit more than that once it's digested the first 80 seconds' worth.
The 4700 communicates with your computer via a fast USB interface, providing a very welcome speed increase relative to the serial connections that have prevailed on digicams in the recent past. We clocked the data transfer rate at 15.1 seconds for a collection of files totaling 8,495 Kbytes, for a net rate of 563 Kbytes/second. (!) This is very fast, even for a USB connection on a camera. (Standalone card readers can go a bit faster, but probably not enough so to warrant the expense of purchasing one.) We're very happy to see USB becoming more widely available on digicams, especially as file sizes get larger. The exceptionally fast interface on the F4700 really makes downloading files directly from the camera very practical. Kudos to Fuji for such a fast interface!

Video Out
The 4700z comes with an NTSC video cable for connection to a television set (we assume European models come with the appropriate PAL cable and signal timing). Images can be reviewed on the TV screen or recorded to video. You can also use the television as an enlarged version of the LCD display for composing and capturing images.

The FinePix 4700zoom is powered by two AA NiMH or NiCd batteries. The power system is probably our biggest area concern for the 4700. On the one hand, we applaud Fuji's decision to go with a standard power system (the AA cells) for the camera, as opposed to the proprietary (and quite expensive) LiIon rechargeable batteries used in their previous compact models. On the other hand though, the energy density of even high-capacity NiMH batteries isn't that great, and battery life with only two AA cells is rather short. The "soft key" menu in the small LCD data readout helps conserve battery power though, by keeping you out of the main LCD menu system much of the time, and we applaud Fuji's inclusion of two high-power (1550 mAh) NiMH cells and a compact charger with the camera. On the downside though, the rather inaccurate optical viewfinder will have you using the LCD screen for viewfinder functions more than you should have to. Definitely buy several sets of high-capacity NiMH batteries, and plan on some pocket space to carry them along with you. Before we get too wrapped up in telling you how much power the 4700 consumes though, it might be wise to consider some actual power-on times in various modes, as measured with the provided NiMH cells: The camera will operate continuously for 78 minutes in playback mode, and for two or three hours in capture mode without the LCD screen activated before draining the batteries. Not too bad after all, but our standard recommendation for extra sets of batteries definitely still applies. Seventy-eight minutes of continuous playback actually isn't too bad, as continuous operation is an especially severe test.)

Operating Mode
Power Drain
Capture Mode, w/LCD
1220 mA
Capture Mode, no LCD
390 mA
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
1200 mA
Half-pressed w/o LCD
720 mA
Memory Write (transient)
(same as capture mode)
Flash Recharge (transient)
1270 mA
Image Playback
850 mA

Included Software
A USB cable packaged with the 4700z allows you to connect the camera to either a PC or a Mac for high speed image downloads. An included software CD features the following applications in the indicated languages for the indicated platforms:

USB Driver
English, French, German
Exif Viewer
English, French, German
DP Editor
(Edits DPOF orders)
English, French, German
Exif Launcher
Adobe PhotoDeluxe HE
(Home Edition)
English, French
Adobe PhotoDeluxe 2.0

These applications are for the most part self-explanatory. Exif Viewer lets you view not only the images captured by the camera, but the exposure information stored in the "Exif" file header. It also allows you to edit a couple of fields of this header, to store user or copyright information. (Interestingly, the displayed Exif information also includes a panel of data for GPS (Global Positioning System) information! - Could this hint at a possible future Fuji product direction?)

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 FinePix 4700 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 4700 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.
Because it produces a 4.3 megapixel file from a 2.4 megapixel sensor, the FinePix 4700 Zoom has been the subject of much controversy on the 'net. The claim has been that the unique pixel layout would allow a higher-than-normal level of interpolation, resulting in larger useful file sizes and more resolution. (For the record, *all* digicams interpolate, it's just a matter of the degree to which they do so: The 4700 uses a higher level of interpolation than most digicams on the market.) In our own testing, we felt that the 4700 did indeed perform a bit better than its raw pixel count would normally suggest, but only just barely. This conclusion was based on careful study of fine detail in a large number of test images shot with the 4700 and a number of other cameras we've tested.
An unfortunate aspect of Fuji's choice of a higher interpolation level than the competition is that its image on-screen look much softer than those from lower-resolution cameras, even though we believe that our tests demonstrate that the images contain the same amount of detail as those from other ~2.5 megapixel cameras. Unfortunate, because many people are likely to look at the camera's images on-screen, see the softness, and conclude that they have lower resolution than they actually do. The best test would probably be to make prints from the 4700's files and those of other cameras, and compare the images printed at the same size on paper. Most people won't have time for this, so we suspect Fuji will have a harder time in the marketplace than they might otherwise have had, with less interpolation.
In terms of the actual numbers, we "called" the 4700's resolution at ~850 lines per picture height horizontally, and 800 vertically.
Other key parameters of the camera are quite good, in that it carries forward the very compact and ruggedly constructed compact body design made popular by previous Fuji cameras. It also shows quite good color and is more light-sensitive than most of the competition, at a base ISO of 200, and with very acceptable noise performance at ISO 400. Color is generally accurate, although we often found better results with the "Fluorescent 2" white balance than with the daylight or automatic settings. Color saturation is just about right, and color reproduction is accurate: Most digicams fall into two camps with regard to color reproduction, tending to favor either the additive primary colors (red, green, blue) or the subtractive primaries (cyan, yellow, magenta), in terms of color saturation. The 4700 seems to be of the former camp, showing a slight undersaturation on the subtractive primary colors. We did feel that there was somewhat more noise in the 4700's images at ISO 200 than we're used to seeing in other digicams which typically operate at ISO 100, but by the same token, we've seen elevated noise levels in some digicams with lower ISO ratings as well.
We would have liked to see more exposure control (such as aperture-priority and shutter-priority exposure modes, preferably even full manual), but that may not be as big an issue for a camera like the 4700, obviously aimed at the bring-it-anywhere recreational shooter rather than the technically oriented enthusiast. (It does provide a "night mode" that biases the camera toward longer exposures, and the "portrait" mode should bias it toward larger apertures and faster shutter speeds, even though our test unit didn't appear to respond in this way.)
The FinePix 4700 did quite well in our low-light shooting, but you need to use its "Night Mode" for best results, as that's the only way to get to its 3 second maximum exposure time: Other modes stop at 1/4 second, something that strikes us as a needless limitation: We'd really like some of the flexibility of the Manual mode available with slow shutter speeds as well. Color balance in our low light tests was somewhat on the warm side, perhaps due to the lower color-temperature light source we use for those shots. Color was better than most digicams under low-light conditions however. Another area with at least some room for improvement is the 4700's optical viewfinder, as the current design only shows 76% of the final image area. Fortunately, the LCD finder gives about 95% coverage, so you can look to it for critical framing.
Macro performance was good, if not microscopic, with the camera capturing a minimum area of 2.56 x 1.92 inches (65.05 x 48.79 mm). This is about average in the current digicam market.
We're not sure if it's an optical necessity in ultra-compact digicams, but we've seen lower optical viewfinder accuracy on several models, both from Fuji and others: The 4700's optical viewfinder crops the subject rather tightly, showing only about 76% of the final image area. By contrast, the LCD viewfinder is much more accurate, at 96%.
As a bottom line to our tests, the 4700 delivered good images, clearly at the top of the ~2.5 megapixel range in terms of resolution and detail: The extra pixels in the final file format really aren't necessary or beneficial, in our opinion. If prospective users pay attention to how the images print on their printers, rather than how they look blown up 1:1 on-screen though, the camera is likely to be popular, given its extremely compact form factor and otherwise good image quality.
The Fuji FinePix 4700 is clearly one of the more controversial digicams in recent memory, which is why we elected to wait until a final production model was available before publishing our review. In contrast to at least one recent review, we feel that it does just fine as a 2.4 megapixel camera, as long as you're not fooled into thinking that softness on-screen means low resolution. There's clearly a full ~2.5 megapixel's worth of resolution in its images, just spread out over 4.3 megapixels worth of file "real estate." (We base this conclusion on extensive comparisons between files from the 4700 and a large number of other cameras in the 2.1 -3.3 megapixel range.) In the plus column for the camera, we'd count good color and resolution (again, subject to the 2.5 megapixel note above), the excellent compact Fuji camera design, nice user interface (we really liked the "soft key" jog control buttons), higher than usual ISO speed, and nicely-implemented movie functionality. On the downside, we're just as soon have seen fewer pixels in the final images, and battery life is a bit short, at about 80 minutes of continuous playback. The included high-capacity NiMH cells are a definite plus, and we recommend buying another four or so high-capacity AAs to pack along with you on outings. We see this as a good camera producing high resolution, good color, and good light sensitivity for the "road warrior" (or soccer mom) who wants a compact camera that won't get left in the drawer, more so than for the technophile enthusiast interested in extensive exposure control. Would we buy one? Well, we never answer that question, but will admit to owning a Fuji MX-1700 that's our "bring along" digicam, and the 4700 *does* have more resolution and better low-light performance than that model...

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