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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 3:Design

Review First Posted: 6/21/2002

With a very fashionable design aesthetic, the Fuji FinePix F601 Zoom's aluminum-magnesium alloy body is both attractive and sturdy (and reminiscent of previous F. A. Porsche-designed Fuji digicams). Compact and lightweight, the F601 Zoom's small dimensions of 3.1 x 3.8 x 1.4 inches (80 x 97.5 x 36.3 millimeters) should let it slip into most larger shirt pockets with no trouble, and will definitely help it find its way into average sized handbags. Weighing only 8.8 ounces (250 grams) with SmartMedia and battery pack, the F601 Zoom is very portable, qualifying for the "ultra compact" class of digital cameras. The F601 Zoom's sleek design fit my hand well, although I found the grip and controls slightly cramped when holding the camera one-handed. Though the grip is a bit more precarious than I'd have liked, the included wrist strap provided the extra security I needed to keep from worrying about dropping it.

The F601 Zoom "interpolates" the images from its 3.1-megapixel Super CCD to produce six-megapixel image files (2,832 x 2,128-pixel resolution). Without interpolation, the highest resolution is 2,048 x 1,536 pixels. The Super CCD features an interwoven pixel pattern (shaped like a honeycomb) and a primary-color filter for accurate, high-definition color. Like the 6800 Zoom before it, the F601 Zoom is designed to fit into a cradle (a separate accessory), which works similarly to the cradle of a cell phone or palm PC device. A USB cable connects the cradle to a computer, letting you just drop the camera into the cradle to transfer image files to your computer. The cradle also lets the camera act as a "webcam" (with the included Windows-only software), holding the camera at a fixed angle during Internet videoconferencing. The cradle also connects to the AC adapter, charging the battery pack whenever the camera is docked. While the F601 Zoom doesn't have a Video Out jack itself, you can connect an accessory AV cable from the cradle to a television set for viewing images.

The front of the F601 Zoom is sleek with a matte, silver finish and lightly sculpted design elements. The 3x lens shares the camera front with the optical viewfinder window, self-timer lamp, flash exposure sensor, and microphone. As in several FinePix designs in the past, the F601 Zoom's lens is protected by a sliding metal cover that retracts instantly when the camera is powered on. The lens then telescopes outward an inch or so to its shooting position. Likewise, the lens retracts and the cover slides closed when the camera is powered off. A very slight hand grip is sculpted onto the right side of the camera (as viewed from the back), providing a tiny, beveled edge for your fingers to cling to. (As I mentioned above though, I'd feel more comfortable with a more secure grip on the camera.)

The right side of the camera holds the battery and SmartMedia compartment, protected by a sliding plastic door that flips open after first sliding outward. The NP-60 battery and SmartMedia card slots line up side-by-side vertically, making the most of the small space available. A small button at the bottom of the compartment releases the latch holding the battery in, popping it out for easy removal. Just above the battery and memory compartment is an eyelet for attaching the wrist strap.

The opposite side of the F601 Zoom features only the DC In connector, for connecting the AC adapter.

On top of the camera are the pop-up flash compartment, Mode dial, and the shiny, silver Shutter button. The ridged Mode dial encircles the Shutter button, and both slant downward on the right side. I like the very pronounced notches on top of the Mode dial, which gave my thumb a substantial grip for turning the dial, but I still found it a little awkward to operate.

The majority of the camera's external controls are on the rear panel, along with the optical viewfinder and LCD monitor. A status LED on the left side of the viewfinder eyepiece reports camera status, indicating when exposure and focus are set, when the flash is still charging, etc. Opposite the viewfinder is a bank of controls, which includes the Open Flash latch button, Back button, Multifunction pad control, and sliding Mode switch. I found the Multifunction pad very interesting, as it navigates in eight different directions, reflecting the LCD menu system's circular layout. ("Pad" is a bit of a misnomer here, but I don't know what else to call it - It's really more of a joystick arrangement, but it sits more flush with the camera body than anything I'd normally call a joystick.) The remaining controls (Power and Display buttons) dot the top corners of the LCD monitor, with a series of mode icon LED lamps in between. The camera's speaker is tucked away on the thumb rest near the lower right corner.

A very flat bottom panel completes the F601's clean design. A threaded metal tripod mount is off center from the lens on the far right side. I'm glad to see that the position of the tripod mount won't interfere with accessing the battery compartment door. On the other hand though, the off center position makes for a less stable mount on most tripod heads. (Realistically though, the portable design of this camera means it probably won't spend too much time in a studio setting or otherwise mounted on tripods.) Also on the bottom panel is the digital connection jack, which connects the camera to the separately available cradle or to the supplied USB cable.

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