Fuji Finepix F100fd Review
Usability - How easy is it to use?
What keeps this digital camera truly secure is Fuji's sturdy wrist-strap which has a tightening element for added security. The camera itself does not have a grip whatsoever. Unlike recent Fuji ultra-compacts, this one has space on the rear for pressing your thumb.
The shutter-release and surrounding zoom controller are easy to use and very responsive. Photographs are taken nearly instantly and the lens zooms rapidly from one end of the zoom-range to the other. Also, all other buttons provide instant feedback, unless the camera is writing an image to memory which is indicated by a steady orange light.
There are two rocker-buttons and one combined 4-way controller and control-wheel on the camera's rear. The top rocker-button activates the Finepix menu to the left and face-detection to the right. The bottom one takes care of iterating over display modes to the left and toggling to and from playback mode to the right. Between the two rockers lay the 4-way controller and the control wheel. Each direction on the 4-way controller is assigned a function: up toggles image stabilization, right cycles through flash-modes, down goes through the self-timer settings (Off, 2s, 10s) and left toggles macro mode. The spinning wheel part is quick and responsive. It is used to navigate through images and menu options very rapidly.
The Finepix menu, activated by the left side of the upper rocker, shows 5 options: ISO, Dynamic range, Power management, Image quality and Color mode. Again, we wonder who chooses the items which go into this menu since several more important items are missing here. Notably, we would really like to see white-balance, metering mode and exposure compensation. Fuji could keep this menu short by replacing power-management, image quality and color-mode, which we suspect are not used often.
The center of the 4-way controller does double duty as the gateway to a virtual mode dial and as the menu activation button. This is highly unfortunate because, to distinguish between the former and latter action, one must either press-and-release or press-and-hold the button. Press-and-release invokes a virtual mode-dial which is cycled through using the control-wheel. Press-and-hold activates the menu system after a 2s delay. This menu unfortunately hides the exposure-compensation, metering mode, white-balance and continuous drive options. In other words, you must wait at least 2 seconds to change these settings. We know this will be a deal-breaker to some, particularly considering that exposure-compensation is there.
There are ways that Fuji can get around this without adding any external controls, which was most likely the limiting factor for this design. The suggestions we offer can both be implemented via a firmware upgrade to the camera:
- Move the important settings of white-balance, exposure-compensation and metering to the Finepix menu. This way, Fuji does not even have to change the labeling on the camera.
- Use the up-direction of the 4-way controller to activate the virtual mode dial. To toggle image stabilization, add an option to the menu which would be activated by a simple press of the menu button - just like every other camera.
- At least allow the control-wheel to apply exposure-compensation when not used in conjunction with the menu or virtual mode dial. No label changes would be required.
The full menu of the Fuji Finepix F100 is organized as a single-level menu system with the last option for activating a multi-page setup menu.
The 2.7” LCD screen is simply superb. Outdoor visibility is excellent, even in direct sunlight. The anti-reflective coating really does its job well. Images on the screen are sharp and fluid. The display also has a clear mode which is activated using the F-button menu. In this mode, the F100's LCD refreshes at a higher rate and maintains a very fluid preview while providing a brighter image. This may be useful in extreme sunlight but keep in mind that exposure is not accurately previewed in this mode.
This camera is well constructed with a sturdy plastic body. Both battery and memory are found behind the compartment door. The battery is held in place with a latch so that it does not fall out while changing memory cards. Another nice touch is that the latch is colored yellow, as is one side of the battery to know which way to insert it. The Fuji Finepix F100 comes with a charger for its battery. This is better than in-camera charging which locks down the camera while a battery is being charged.
Like most recent Fuji cameras, the memory card slot accommodates both xD, SD and SD-HC cards, one at the time. Since SD cards are the cheapest form of flash memory and are generally much faster than xD cards, we recommend using SD cards instead of xD ones. SD-HC cards also come in larger capacities than xD cards.
The Fuji Finepix F100 is a point-and-shoot camera. As such, it is very easy to use. The menu system is quite simple and easy to navigate. There are a few obscure items though. For example, the Power Management options are: Power Save, Quick AF and Clear Display. These are not options which come to mind when we think of power management. Fortunately, we reviewed the F50 last year so these were not entirely surprising.
The virtual mode dial has a whopping 19 positions, 16 of which are scene-modes for various subject-types. The remaining 3 positions are Auto, Manual (the kind that is fully-automatic) and Menu. The Auto mode is just as automatic as Manual except that you cannot choose a fixed ISO sensitivity and that most menu options are hidden. The Menu option is another way to reach the menu. Instead of pressing the menu button for 2 seconds, you can press-and-release, rotate the control-wheel and select press-and-release the menu button again. Either way, getting to the menu system - and therefore to exposure-compensation - is slow. A scene mode that deserves special mention is the one that takes one image with flash and one without. This is handy in low-light when you cannot decide whether to ruin the mood or take a blurry picture.
Fuji F100fd Facts
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