DCRP Review: Fuji FinePix 2600 Zoom
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Friday, November 2, 2001
Last Updated: Friday, December 7, 2001

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The FinePix 2600 Zoom is one of the newest models in the FinePix line from Fuji. At $299, it's also their lowest cost optical zoom camera. There has been a lot of reader interest in this camera as well as for the FinePix 2800 Zoom, which has a 6X optical zoom lens for $499.

This is a pretty crowded field, so how does the FP2600 compare? Find out now...

What's in the Box?

The FinePix 2600 has an excellent bundle. Here's what you'll find inside the box:

  • The 2.0 (effective) Mpixel Fuji FinePix 2600 Zoom camera
  • 16MB SmartMedia card
  • 2 AA-sized NiMH rechargeable batteries
  • Battery charger (holds 2 cells)
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM featuring FinePix Viewer Software and drivers
  • 91 page manual plus software manual (printed)

Fuji is one of those camera manufacturers who "gets it". They include rechargeable, standard batteries. They include a battery charger. And, they include a memory card that can hold more than 10 photos.

Fuji includes two NiMH rechargeable batteries (1700 mAh), as well as a charger that plugs right into the wall. The charger takes 5 hours to full charge these two. Of course you can buy a faster charger if you want one. Fuji estimates that the camera can take between 150 and 300 photos with fresh batteries, depending of course on LCD use.

Another nice thing is the 16MB SmartMedia card, which is quite large for a 2 Megapixel camera. I won't mention a certain other manufacturer that includes the same sized card with a 5MP camera!

The camera has a built-in lens cover, so you don't need to worry about lens caps. In the above photo, you can also get a good feel for the size of this camera.

For those of you with Windows PCs, the FP2600 can also double as a "PC camera", for teleconferencing on the Internet. This feature isn't Mac compatible so I couldn't try it out.

The camera does work correctly with Mac OS X version 10.1. The Image Capture application starts right up.

Fuji's FinePixViewer software is just average, and useful only for transferring, rotating, and resizing images. You'll want a more powerful photo editing suite if you need more than those features.

The manuals for Fuji cameras have always been better than average, and that's still the case here.

Look and Feel

The FinePix 2600 Zoom is an all-plastic camera, and I'd rate it about average in terms of build quality. The camera is light, and should fit easily into most pockets. The camera is easy to operate with one hand or two.

The official dimension of the camera are 3.9 x 2.6 x 2.1 inches (W x H x D) and it weighs just 200 grams empty. Let's start a 360 degree tour of the camera now.

Here's the front of the camera, with the lens cover opened. To turn on the camera, you have to open the lens cover (obviously) and also hit the power switch on the top. If you do the switch before the cover, the camera will put a warning on the LCD.

The F3.5 Fujinon zoom lens has a focus range of 6 - 18mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 114mm. The lens is not threaded.

Just northwest of the lens is the flash, which has a working range of 0.2 - 3.0m at wide-angle, and 0.8-3.0m at telephoto.

There is no AF illuminator on this camera to help the camera focus in low light situations.

The keyword with the FinePix 2600 is simple. There aren't a lot of buttons and everything is easy to navigate. The 1.8" LCD is good-sized, but seems too dark to me, even after bumping up the brightness.

The optical viewfinder, just above the LCD, covers about 80% of the frame. There's no diopter correction, so those with glasses may find things a little blurry at times.

To the right of the LCD are three buttons: Disp(lay) toggles the LCD on and off. Menu invokes the menu, and doubles as the OK button while inside them. The back button does just as it sounds in the menu system.

Towards the top right is the four-way switch. This is used in menu operation, as well as for controlling the zoom. The zoom mechanism is quiet and responsive.

Up on top of the camera you'll find the power switch, mode dial, and shutter release button. Up here I always like when there's an LCD info display, but like with most cheaper cameras, there isn't one on the FinePix 2600. Thus, you'll have to turn on the LCD in order to see how many photos you have left.

The choices on the mode dial are Record, Playback, and Movie. I'll have more about each of these later in the review.

On this side of the camera, there are two I/O ports. The one on the left is for the optional AC adapter, while the one on the right is for USB. There is no video output on this camera.

On the other side, the only item of note is the hook for the wrist strap.

Finally, here's the bottom of the camera, all opened up. If you open the plastic cover, you will find the battery compartment (note that it only takes two AA batteries!) as well as the SmartMedia slot. The door that covers these seems like it could bust off if too much force is applied, so be careful.

The other item on the bottom is the tripod mount, which is made of plastic. You can see it just left of the batteries.

Using the Fuji FinePix 2600 Zoom

Record Mode

The camera takes about three seconds to extend the lens and "warm up" before you can start taking photos. The LCD is off by default and there is no way to change that, so you have to hit Disp overtime you want to turn it on. When you depress the shutter release button halfway, the camera usually locks focus in under a second. When you press it fully, the photo is taken after a noticeable lag of almost a second. Shot-to-shot speed is very good -- you'll wait about two seconds before you can take another photo.


LCD in record mode

There are many choices available for resolution and quality on the FP2600, as this table explains:

Resolution Quality Approx. File Size # photos on 16MB card (included) # photos on 64MB card (for reference)
2M
(1600 x 1200)
Fine 770 KB 20 82
Normal 390 KB 39 159
Basic 200 KB 75 306
1M
(1280 x 960)
Fine 620 KB 25 101
Normal 320 KB 49 198
VGA
(640 x 480)
Normal 130 KB 122 497

There is no TIFF or RAW mode on the FinePix 2600, which isn't surprising considering its cost.

The menu system on the FinePix 2600 is all new, and pretty colorful too. There are little tabs with different options, each with it's own color. There is a manual mode, which essentially unlocks some menu items. Strangely, manual mode locks out one useful option. Anyhow, here are the menu choices:

  • Flash (Auto, redeye reduction, forced flash, no flash, slow synchro)
  • Macro (on/off)
  • Self-timer (on/off) - 10 seconds - only in auto mode (!)
  • Exposure compensation (-1.5EV to +1.5EV in 0.3EV increments) - only in manual mode
  • White balance (auto, sunlight, shade, fluorescent x3, incandescent) - only in manual mode
  • Setup (LCD brightness, auto/manual mode, quality)

Let's take a look at our photo tests now.

The FP2600 did a great job at the macro test. The colors on the figure are correct, and the image is sharp. The focal range in macro mode is 10 - 80cm on the FinePix.

Like with all point-and-shoot cameras, the FinePix didn't fare too well in the night shot test. The lens is rather "slow", and since you can't set the shutter speed manually, there's not much you can do about it. In the shot above, I even cranked the exposure compensation all the way up.

Overall I was pleased with the photo quality on the FinePix 2600. Images were usually sharp, and colors were accurate. I didn't see any major purple fringing (chromatic aberrations) either. Take a look at the photo gallery and judge for yourself.

Movie Mode

The FinePix 2600Z can record movies as long as 20 seconds, at 320 x 240 and 10 frames per second. No sound is recorded during filming since the camera lacks a microphone.

When in movie mode, the camera is locked at wide-angle, and only the digital zoom can be used.

The camera can hold about 94 seconds of total video on the included 16MB card.

Here's a quick sample movie:


Click to play movie (AVI format, 1.6MB)

Playback Mode

The FinePix 2600's playback mode has all the basic features that you'd expect. That includes thumbnail mode, DPOF print marking, and zoom and scroll. One basic feature that I was surprised not to see is image protection so you don't accidentally delete important photos. Another feature that I would've liked is the ability to rotate photos in-camera.

The zoom and scroll feature, as I call it, lets you zoom in as much as 5X into your photo, and then scroll around in it.

Moving between photos takes just over two seconds. When you want to delete photos, you can do one at a time, or all. There is no way to delete a selected group of images.

In addition, there isn't any information about your photos, other than their number and time they were taken.

How Does it Compare?

I think the interest in Fuji's FinePix 2600 Zoom is justified. It's a fine, entry-level optical zoom camera. While it's fairly limited when it comes to manual controls, it's intuitive menus make it very easy to use. The photo quality is quite good, and it's nice to have a 3X optical zoom on a $299 camera. Also, I appreciate Fuji including both a large SmartMedia card as well as rechargeable batteries with the camera. On the downside, the playback mode is limited, and there is noticeable shutter lag. Overall though, I think the camera is a good buy, considering what you get for a low price.

What I liked:

  • Very good photo quality
  • Great bundle
  • Good value - 3X optical zoom for under $300
  • Menu system intuitive, easy to use
  • Can be used for videoconferencing - though Windows only

What I didn't care for:

  • Shutter lag
  • LCD a little dark
  • Playback mode could have more features
  • No sound in movie mode

Other entry-level cameras zoom cameras worth looking at include the Canon PowerShot A10 and A20, Fuji FinePix 2800 Zoom, Kodak DX3600, Olympus Brio D-150Z and D-510Z, Sony DSC-P50, and the Toshiba PDR-M61.

As always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out the FinePix 2600Z and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

So how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos in our photo gallery!

Want a second opinion?

Be sure to read Steves Digicams review of the FinePix 2600 Zoom.

Feedback

Jeff welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to jakeller@pair.com. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation.

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