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Fuji FinePix F601 Zoom

A new SuperCCD sensor gives Fuji's latest ultra compact true 3.1 megapixel resolution and great color.

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 6/21/2002

Test Results
In keeping with my standard policy, my comments here are rather condensed, summarizing my key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the F601 Zoom's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource camera tests, I 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 F601 Zoom performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

The F601 Zoom produced good color and saturation throughout most of the testing, and the White Balance system generally handled the test lighting well. I typically chose the Auto setting as the most accurate, though it often produced a slightly warm cast. The Daylight setting did the best job with the difficult Musicians poster though, as the preponderance of blue in the composition followed the Auto setting somewhat (a common problem among digicams). The tough incandescent lighting of the Indoor Portrait (without flash) gave the F601 a hard time as well, with both the Auto and Incandescent white balance settings producing strong color casts on that shot. The F601 Zoom had no problem distinguishing the tough tonal variations of the Davebox target, and reproduced the large color blocks well, though saturation was weak in the subtractive primary colors. Outdoors, colors were bright and vibrant, without being oversaturated. Skin tones in particular look pleasant and lifelike, although the camera's slightly high contrast caused it to lose some highlight detail and plug the shadows in the contrasty lighting of the outdoor portrait test.

The F601 Zoom did pretty well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as high as 550 lines per picture height, but showed "strong detail" out to at least 1,200 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at about 1,450 lines. (There were a lot of artifacts in the closely-spaced target lines at resolutions well below the 1200-line limit though.)

Optical distortion on the F601 Zoom is a good bit higher than average at the wide-angle end, as I measured a 1.44 percent barrel distortion at that zoom setting. The telephoto end showed only about 9 pixels of pincushion distortion present, about 0.33 percent. Corners of the target are quite soft, but there's fortunately only a little color there from chromatic aberration. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target. - There's about 8 or 9 pixels of blur, but the coloration is fairly slight.)

Though the F601 Zoom has a Manual exposure mode, its maximum shutter time is three seconds, which limits the camera's low-light shooting capabilities. The camera captured bright, clear images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) at the 1,600 ISO equivalent setting, and as low as 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) at ISO 800 and 400. ISO settings of 100 and 200 wouldn't go much below one foot-candle (11 lux), though a somewhat dark image could potentially be used at 1/2 foot-candle (5.5 lux). Autofocus worked to surprisingly low levels, about 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux) at all ISO settings. Since average city street lighting at night is equivalent to about one foot-candle, or 11 lux, the F601 Zoom should handle much darker shooting conditions fairly well, though you'll need to boost the ISO.

The F601 Zoom's optical viewfinder was very tight, showing only about 76 percent of the final frame area at wide-angle, and approximately 77 percent at telephoto. Images framed with the optical viewfinder were also shifted toward the lower right corner, with some extra space along the top and left sides. The LCD monitor was only slightly more accurate, showing approximately 86 of the final frame accuracy at wide-angle, and approximately 88 percent at telephoto. Given that I generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the F601 Zoom falls short in this area.

In the Macro test, the F601 Zoom performed very well, capturing a minimum area of only 2.37 x 1.78 inches (60.1 x 45.2 millimeters). Resolution was high, with excellent detail on the coins, brooch, and dollar bill. Details were just slightly soft, however, with a fair amount of corner softness that extended down the right and left sides of the frame. Exposure looks good, though color balance was warm from the Auto white balance setting. The F601 Zoom's flash did a good job throttling down for the macro area, actually slightly underexposing the macro test subject.

Despite a slightly warm color balance in some cases, I was pleased with the F601 Zoom's performance throughout the testing. Image quality was good, as well as color accuracy, and the camera's macro and low-light shooting capabilities are very good. With all of the F601 Zoom's manual exposure controls, I'd like to see a manual white balance option thrown in as well. Still, a good job overall.

The FinePix F601 Zoom builds on an already impressive Fuji digicam design, continuing the good looks of last year's models, and adding the flexibility of full manual exposure control. The 3.1-megapixel Super CCD offers great resolution and color, and the expanded exposure options make the camera extremely versatile. Movie and Audio recording modes, a handful of preset Scene modes, and varying levels of exposure control give the camera universal appeal, and should attract both novice and more advanced consumers alike. Apart from an annoying (!) user interface, I liked the F601, particularly its accurate color and very pleasing handling of skin tones. If you're looking for a compact, stylish camera that snaps good pictures, the F601 deserves serious consideration.

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