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Fujifilm FinePix Z1 Digital Camera@DASHING THING REVIEW

11 Jul


Camera QuickLook
Review Date
8/19/2005
User Level
Novice
Product Uses
Family / Travel
Digicam Design
Subcompact Point and Shoot
Picture Quality
High, 5.1-megapixel Super CCD HR
Print Sizes
Very Good, 11x17s, or 8x10s with heavy cropping
Availability
June, 2005
Suggested Retail Price
(At introduction)
$ 449.95

Introduction


The Fujifilm FinePix Z1 is among Fujifilm’s latest ultracompact 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 Fujifilm Z1 offers good resolution in a pocket-friendly body, with a resolution of 5.1 megapixels. With a prism-folded 3x zoom lens that contributes to the camera’s compact size, and straightforward user interface, the Fuji Z1 is an excellent take-anywhere point and shoot model that should appeal to novice users and more experienced shooters alike. It has a refined feel that is best experienced to appreciate. Read on for all the details. 

Camera Overview

The Fujifilm FinePix Z1 is aimed at consumers who value style, portability, and ease of use, 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 AF and flash modes, white balance, and exposure compensation – but not direct control over the shutter speed or aperture. Small, compact, and light weight, the Z1 offers Fujifilm’s fifth generation 5.1-megapixel Super CCD HR, which produces file sizes as large as 2,592 x 1,944 pixels. With smooth body panels and some edges gently rounded off, the FinePix Z1 is an easy fit for most shirt pockets, but weighs enough that it may prove more comfortable in a jacket or pant pocket. The camera body is compact and slim at 3.5 x 2.2 x 0.7 inches (90 x 55 x 18.6 millimeters). The mostly metal body (only the battery door is plastic) is quite light at 5.1 ounces (146 grams), with the batteries and memory card loaded. The 3x Fujinon zoom lens is mounted vertically inside the camera behind a prism that folds the optical path. A built-in sliding lens barrier dominates the Fuji Z1’s front panel, and doubles as a power control with which to turn the camera on or off.

The Fujifilm FinePix Z1 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/3.5 to f/8, with the maximum aperture gradually reduced to f/4.2 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 2.6 feet (8 to 80 centimeters) using the camera’s Macro setting. The Fuji Z1 employs a TTL contrast-detection autofocus mechanism, and offers a choice of center or multi AF modes. When in multi AF mode, the camera indicates the AF point that was used on the LCD display.

In addition to the 3x optical zoom, the Fuji Z1 offers as much as 5.7x 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 FinePix Z1 offers no true optical viewfinder, only a color LCD monitor – although at 2.5-inches it is fairly generous in size. 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 Fujifilm FinePix Z1 offers a choice of seven Still Image modes: Auto, Manual, and five different Scene Program modes. Only limited control over exposure variables is available in the Manual mode – and aperture or shutter speed are not among these variables. 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, white balance, and AF mode, as well as all flash modes. Scene Program options include Night, Sport, 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 1/1,000 to four seconds, depending on exposure mode. Metering on the Fuji Z1 is calculated by splitting the image into 64 zones, thus basing the exposure on contrast and brightness values read from the entire scene. 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, or Incandescent settings. The Z1 also features an unusually wide-ranging adjustable light sensitivity setting, with Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400, and 800 ISO values available.

The Fuji Z1’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 1 foot (30cm) to 9.8 feet (3.0m) at wide-angle, or 2 feet (60 cm) to 7.6 feet (2.3m ) at telephoto. 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 Z1 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 Fujifilm FinePix Z1 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 5.1 megapixel file size of this camera, you’ll only fit a handful of shots on the card. 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 Fuji Z1 uses a proprietary NP-40 Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, one of which is included with the camera, along with a cradle that allows the battery to be charged in the camera body. Battery life was reasonable, though not terrific, with a worst-case run time (capture mode with the LCD turned on) of ninety minutes with the included battery. Not bad, but I recommend that you purchase a second NP-40 cell as a spare. 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 must be connected through the bundled cradle. 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.

Basic Features

  • 5.1-megapixel Super CCD HR delivering image resolutions as high as 2,592 x 1,944 pixels (Slightly, but not dramatically, more detail than from a conventional 5.1 megapixel sensor).
  • 2.5-inch color, low temperature polysilicon TFT LCD monitor.
  • 3x Fujinon 36-108mm zoom lens, with f/3.5 to f/4.2 maximum aperture.
  • Autofocus with adjustable AF area.
  • Digital zoom of up to 5.7x.
  • Auto, Manual, and five Scene Program exposure modes (Manual mode does not allow user control of shutter speed or aperture).
  • Adjustable white balance with seven settings.
  • Adjustable ISO setting with Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400, and 800 equivalents.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/1,000 to four seconds.
  • 64-zone Multi metering.
  • 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.

Special Features

  • Movie (with sound) and Voice recording modes.
  • High-speed shooting mode for increased focusing speed.
  • 10- and two-second Self-Timer modes for delayed shutter release.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • PictureCradle included for connecting to a computer via USB, for connecting to a television set for image playback, and for in-camera battery charging.

Recommendation
Stylish, compact, light-weight, and easy to use, the Fujifilm FinePix Z1 is a good point-and-shoot digicam for novices and more experienced users alike, and unlike larger feature-rich cameras is more likely to be there when that surprise photo opportunity arrives. With fully automatic control over shutter and aperture, the Z1 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 Z1 good for shooting on the fly. Thanks to surprisingly good high ISO performance for a compact camera, the Z1 should prove useful in the poor lighting conditions many users will encounter (birthday parties, evening shots, etc.) With pricing about average for a quality 5.1 megapixel ultracompact digicam, the Fujifilm FinePix Z1 offers good value and feature-set in a very attractive and portable body.

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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in cameras

 

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