Fujifilm FinePix F10 Digital Camera
|Novice to experienced amateur|
|Family / Travel / Special Events|
|Point and Shoot, Full Manual Control|
|High, 6.3-megapixel Super CCD HR|
|Very Good, 11x17s, or 8x10s with heavy cropping|
Suggested Retail Price
The Fujifilm FinePix F10 is among Fujifilm’s latest compact digital cameras, and offers a great combination of ease of use, style, and image quality (particularly at higher ISO sensitivities). Based on a fifth-generation Super CCD HR chip design, the Fuji F10 offers great resolution at a good price point, with a resolution of 6.3 megapixels. With a sharp 3x zoom lens, compact size, and straightforward user interface, the Fuji F10 is an excellent all-around point & shoot model that should appeal to novice users and more experienced shooters alike. The Fuji F10’s most impressive feature though is its ability to produce very “clean” (low noise) images at ISO light sensitivity settings far above those most consumer-level digital cameras can manage. Read on for all the details.
The Fujifilm FinePix F10 is aimed at consumers who want quick and easy photos, shielding them from the complexities of shutter speeds and aperture settings (although the camera does let you know what values it has selected for you). Automatic and “Scene” modes simplify operation for point-and-shoot users, while a “manual” mode provides slightly more control for creative types, including control of metering and AF modes, white balance, and exposure compensation – but not direct control over the shutter speed or aperture. Small, compact, and light weight, the F10 offers Fujifilm’s fifth generation 6.3-megapixel Super CCD HR, which produces file sizes as large as 2848 x 2136 pixels. With mostly smooth body panels (only a very gently curved handgrip and the shutter button / mode dial protrude noticeably from the body), the Fuji F10 is an easy fit for coat or pants pockets, and may fit larger shirt pockets as well (but probably weighs a little too much for a shirt pocket to be comfortable). The camera is fairly compact at 3.6 x 2.3 x 1.1 inches (92.0 x 58.2 x 27.3 millimeters). The mostly metal body (only the battery door is plastic) is quite light at 7.1 ounces (200 grams, with the batteries and memory card loaded. The 3x telescoping lens and built-in lens cover keep the Fuji F10’s front panel fairly smooth when not in use, allowing the camera to slip into a pocket or purse without a hang-up.
The Fujifilm F10 features a 3x Fujinon lens, equivalent to a 36-108mm lens on a 35mm camera, a range from a reasonable wide-angle to a useful telephoto. Aperture can be automatically adjusted from f/2.8 to f/8, with the maximum aperture gradually reduced to f/5.0 as it zooms to the full telephoto zoom setting. Focus is automatically adjusted, and ranges from 2.0 feet (60 centimeters) to infinity in normal mode, or from 3.1 inches to 2.8 feet (7.9 to 83.9 centimeters) using the camera’s Macro setting. The Fuji F10 employs a TTL (Through The Lens) contrast-detection autofocus mechanism, and offers a choice of center or area AF modes, as well as a continuous mode. When in area AF mode, the camera indicates the AF point that was used on the LCD display. The FinePix F10’s autofocus system is faster that those of most cameras on the market, with shutter delays in full autofocus mode of only 0.55 second or so, and the optional “High Speed Shooting” mode reduces shutter lag to only 0.29 second at wide angle. The camera can also focus in fairly dim lighting, down to about one-quarter the brightness of typical city night scenes with its AF-assist light turned off, and in complete darkness (on nearby objects) with the AF light enabled.
In addition to the 3x optical zoom, the F10 offers as much as 6.2x digital zoom, depending on the image quality setting, but keep in mind that digital zoom decreases the overall image quality, since it just crops out the center pixels of the CCD’s image. For framing shots, the F10 offers no true optical viewfinder, only a color LCD monitor – although at 2.5-inches it is fairly generous in size. The LCD is not only larger than average, but quite accurate, showing almost exactly 100% of the final image area. An information overlay reports camera settings (including aperture and shutter speed) on the LCD monitor. There are also two less common record-mode displays. In the first, a framing guideline option displays an alignment grid which divides the image area into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, making it easier to line up tricky subjects. Even more unusual, the post-shot assist display mode shows the last three images captured since switching the camera to record mode alongside a live view, to assist in framing shots with similar composition.
The F10 offers a choice of Auto, Manual, Movie, and Scene Program modes, although only limited control over exposure variables is available in the Manual mode – and aperture or shutter speed are not among the variables under your control. In straight Auto mode, the camera controls everything about the exposure, except for options like zoom, macro, and some flash settings. Manual mode keeps the camera in charge of aperture and shutter speed, while the user retains control over certain other variables, including exposure compensation, metering mode, white balance, and AF mode, as well as all flash modes. Scene Program options include Night, Sports, Landscape, Portrait, and Natural Light, with each scene mode offering a limited subset of the camera’s manual controls. Automatically selected shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to three seconds, depending on exposure mode – although in Night scene mode you can manually select a shutter speed from three to 15 seconds if the long exposure mode option is enabled in the camera’s menu system. Metering options on the F10 include the default 64-zone Multi mode, which bases exposure on contrast and brightness values read from the entire scene, as well as Spot and Average options. The camera’s Exposure Compensation setting lets you increase or decrease the automatically-determined exposure from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments. White balance options include an Auto setting, as well as Fine, Shade, Fluorescent Light-1, Fluorescent Light-2, Fluorescent Light-3, Incandescent, or Custom settings. (The latter lets you set the color balance based on a white card held in front of the lens.) The F10 also features an unusually wide-ranging adjustable light sensitivity setting, with Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600 ISO values available. The Auto option actually ranges from 80 to 800 equivalents. Top-3 and Final-3 Continuous shooting modes include Top 3 (shoots and saves 3 frames), Final 3 (shoot up to 40 frames, camera saves last 3), or Long-period continuous (the camera shoots and saves up to 40 frames).
The F10’s built-in flash operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, Slow-Synchro, and Slow-Synchro with Red-Eye Reduction modes. The Red-Eye Reduction mode fires a pre-flash a fraction of a second before the exposure itself, to make the irises of your subjects’ eyes contract, avoiding the red-eye effect. Slow-Synchro combines the flash with slower shutter speeds, to allow more of the ambient lighting into your exposure. (Slow-Synchro is handy for getting more natural-looking flash photos at night, with more of the background visible.) Flash range is rated as 30 centimeters (1 foot) to 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) at wide-angle, or to 4 meters (13.1 feet) at telephoto. In our own tests though, the flash underexposed slightly even at 8 feet with the lens in its telephoto position and the ISO set to 80, and brightness decreased with each foot of increasing subject distance. A Self-Timer mode provides either a two- or 10-second delay between a full press of the Shutter button and the time that the shutter actually opens, helpful in self-portraits or group photos. (The shorter delay is handy for times when you want to use a tripod or prop the camera on something when shooting under dim conditions, to avoid blurred photos caused by camera shake.) The F10 also features a Movie mode, which captures movies with sound at either 640 x 480- or 320 x 240-pixel resolutions, both at 30 frames per second. Maximum recording times vary, depending on the resolution and amount of available memory space. A Voice option in Playback mode lets you record short audio clips to accompany captured images.
The F10 stores image files on xD-Picture Cards, and comes with a 16MB starter card. I have to say, I would much prefer for Fujifilm to reduce the cost of the camera by $10 and include no card at all rather than cripple the user with such a tiny card. At the full six megapixel file size of this camera, you can get a grand total of 2 images on this card; the manual claims 3, but that depends on how easily compressed the image is; I only saw 2 fit in the shots I took. So it goes without saying that before you leave the camera store or click on the checkout button, you’ll want to add at least a 256MB xD card to the mix. For power, the F10 uses a proprietary NP-120 Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, one of which is included with the camera, along with a “terminal adapter” that allows the battery to be charged in the camera body. Battery life was a very pleasant surprise, with a worst-case run time (capture mode with the LCD turned on) of four and a half hours with the included battery. Very impressive, so much so that it’s safe to say that most users won’t find any need for the second battery that I usually recommend. Also included with the camera is a USB cable for direct connection to a PC or Macintosh computer, and an A/V cable to connect the camera to a television set for reviewing images in Playback mode – both of which also must be connected through the bundled “terminal adapter”. A software CD loaded with Fujifilm’s FinePix software is also included. Installation of software is not required on most Macs or PCs, however, because the camera supports PTP mode, which allows the camera to appear on the computer as a hard drive.
- 6.3-megapixel Super CCD HR delivering image resolutions as high as 2848 x 2136 pixels (Slightly (but not dramatically) more detail than from a conventional 6.3 megapixel chip).
- 2.5-inch color, low temperature polysilicon TFT LCD monitor.
- 3x Fujinon 36-108mm zoom lens, with f/2.8 to f/5.0 maximum aperture.
- Autofocus with adjustable AF area.
- Digital zoom of up to 6.2x.
- Auto, Manual, and five Scene Program exposure modes (Manual mode does not allow user control of shutter speed or aperture).
- Adjustable white balance with eight settings, including a manual option.
- Adjustable ISO setting with Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600 equivalents.
- Shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to three seconds. (Long exposure mode permits exposures as long as 15 seconds.)
- Multi, Spot, and Average metering modes.
- Built-in flash with six modes.
- xD-Picture Card storage (16MB card included).
- JPEG image format.
- Power supplied by proprietary rechargeable NiMH battery.
- Interface software and USB drivers included for Windows and Macintosh computers.
- Picture Cradle adapter included for optional cradle for connecting to a computer and for in-camera battery charging.
- Movie (with sound) and Voice recording modes.
- High-speed shooting mode for increased focusing speed.
- Top 3 Frame, Final 3 Frame, and Long-period continuous shooting modes.
- 10- and two-second Self-Timer modes for delayed shutter release.
- Long exposure mode allows manual selection of shutter speeds from three to 15 seconds in Night scene mode.
- DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
- USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included).
- Video cable for image playback on a television set.
Light weight, compact, and easy to use, Fujifilm’s FinePix F10 is an excellent point-and-shoot digicam for novices just getting their feet wet in digital photography, as well as a useful second camera for more experienced users who don’t want to carry their larger feature-rich cameras all the time. With fully automatic control over shutter and aperture (except in long exposure mode), the Fuji F10 proves very approachable for beginners. Five preset Scene modes simplify common shooting situations, and a handful of image adjustment options provide some creativity. The camera’s relatively straightforward user interface means little time is spent learning how to operate the camera, making the Fuji F10 good for shooting on the fly. Thanks to surprisingly good high ISO performance for a compact camera, the F10 should prove useful in the poor lighting conditions many users will encounter (birthday parties, evening shots, etc.) Its very fast shutter response combined with good high-ISO performance also make it particularly well-suited for shooting sports and other fast-paced action. With pricing about average for a quality 6.3 megapixel digicam, the Fujifilm FinePix F10 offers good value in an “all around” digital camera.
Measuring 3.6 x 2.3 x 1.1 inches (92.0 x 58.2 x 27.3 millimeters), the F10’s body is small enough for a coat or pants pocket or and the camera should fit easily into most purses. The smooth front and rear panels, and the rounded hand grip make pocket retrieval hassle-free, and the sleek, silver metal and plastic body is attractive, fashionable, and rugged. Though compact, the F10 fits the hand well, and the smoothly curved handgrip on the right side provides some grip. The included wrist strap provides some extra security. The Fujifilm F10 weighs in at 7.1 ounces (200 grams), with the batteries and memory card loaded.
The F10’s metal front panel is nearly flat with the lens retracted, except for the rounded handgrip, which extends about a quarter of an inch. Turning the camera on extends the lens about an inch and a quarter from the camera body. A shutter-like lens cover protects the front of the lens when closed, and quickly retracts when the camera is powered on. Near the top of the front panel are the flash, self-timer lamp, and AF assist lamp. Two small holes below the lens barrel mark the location of the camera’s microphone.
The right side of the camera (as viewed from the rear) holds only the eyelet for the wrist strap.
The opposite side of the camera is smooth and featureless, except for a small rubber flap attached to the camera body, covering what Fujifilm calls the terminal adapter connection socket. Bundled with the camera is the terminal adapter, a small device measuring approximately 1.75 x 1.5 x 0.5 inches (45 x 38 x 13 millimeters), with a five inch (127 millimeter) cord attached to it. The terminal adapter plugs into the camera and acts as a splitter, allowing a single port on the camera body to offer three connections on the terminal adapter: 5V DC input, USB 1.1 connection to a computer or PictBridge-compatible printer, and A/V output connection for a TV or VCR. This doubtless helps reduce the size of the camera, but requires you to carry an extra piece of hardware with you when travelling.
Unfortunately, the power adapter doesn’t use the same type of connector as the terminal adapter. It would seem more sensible to design the two devices so that they use the same connector (with the power supply simply ignoring pins unrelated to power), so that the power cable could plug either into the terminal adapter, or directly into the camera body. This would have allowed users to charge the camera without needing the terminal adapter (although the adapter could still be used in the event that you wanted to use the USB or A/V cables simultaneously). As is, if you bring your power supply but forget to bring the terminal adapter with you, you will not be able to charge the camera’s proprietary battery pack.
On the F10’s top panel are the Power button and Mode dial, as well as the Shutter button (located in the center of the Mode dial).
The remaining camera controls are on the rear panel, sharing space with the LCD monitor. Note that the Fuji F10 forgoes any form of optical viewfinder, in favor of a larger 2.5″ LCD display, which dominates the left side of the camera’s rear. The LCD does seem fairly easy to view in most lighting conditions (it’s even surprisingly usable in full sunlight), so many users likely won’t even miss the optical viewfinder. The zoom rocker is at the top right of the rear panel, and a small indentation in the center of the rocker (as well as the panel below it) provides a fairly secure thumb rest to counter the front handgrip. The Playback and Photo Mode buttons (the latter marked with a stylized ‘F’ character in Fujifilm’s FinePix logo font) are side by side, centered vertically on the camera’s right rear. The Playback button doubles as a second power switch, allowing you to turn the camera on directly in Playback mode (without the lens extending) if you hold the Playback button in briefly.
A Four-way arrow pad next to the lower right corner controls macro and flash modes, the self-timer, and the LCD brightness, and also provides navigation controls for the LCD menu system. In record mode, the left arrow doubles as a Macro button, and the right arrow cycles through Flash settings, while the up arrow boosts the LCD’s backlight for better visibility, and the down arrow cycles through the camera’s self-timer modes. Located in the center of the Four-way arrow pad, a Menu/OK button calls up the camera’s Record or Playback-mode menu system, and acknowledges changes to menu items. Directly to the lower left of the Arrow pad is the Back/Display button, for backing out of menu screens, or cycling through the available LCD display modes. In Record mode, the display modes options are text overlay, image only, framing guidelines with text, or post-shot assist (which shows the last three images captured since switching the camera to record mode alongside a live view, to assist in framing shots with similar composition).
The Fujifilm F10’s bottom panel is flat, with the threaded plastic tripod socket located almost dead-center below the lens. The shared xD-Picture Card and battery compartment is to the right of the tripod mount (as viewed from the rear), with a hinged door that slides out before opening. The door doesn’t lock, but latches closed fairly firmly. Note that there is no latch to hold the battery in place, so once the door is opened you should take care not to drop the battery accidentally. The distance between the battery compartment and tripod mount is too short to allow quick battery or card changes while shooting with a tripod.
At the left end of the camera’s bottom panel, nine holes in a three by three grid indicate the location of the speaker. I initially found myself wondering why the camera’s sound seemed to randomly get louder or quieter, until I realized that the speaker is in exactly the wrong location: When holding the camera with both hands, the only logical position places your thumb directly over the speaker holes, muffling the camera’s sounds.