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DCRP Review: Fuji FinePix F10

 
   

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: May 24, 2005
Last Updated: April 6, 2008

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The FinePix F10 ($399) is a bit of a departure for Fuji. While it uses the SuperCCD HR sensor like many other Fuji cameras of late, it does different things with the extra data collected by the sensor. Where previous cameras using this sensor would use the SuperCCD sensor to create high resolution (12MP) images, the FinePix F10 uses it for low noise high ISO shooting. In other words, the camera can shoot at 6.3 Megapixels at ISO 1600 -- something no other point-and-shoot camera can do. Gone is the option to shoot at 12MP, though I won't miss it personally since the image quality just wasn't there.

Other features on the F10 include a compact metal body, a 3X zoom lens, a large 2.5" LCD display, and a unique "natural light mode" for taking sharp pictures in lower light conditions without having to resort to the flash.

How does this unique camera perform? Find out now in our review!

What's in the Box?

The FinePix F10 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 6.3 effective Megapixel FinePix F10 camera
  • 16MB xD Picture Card
  • NP-120 lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • AC adapter / battery charger
  • Wrist strap
  • Terminal adapter
  • A/V cable
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM featuring FinePix CX software
  • 119 page camera manual (printed)

Fuji includes a 16MB xD card with the camera, which holds a grand total of three images at the highest quality setting. So you should plan on buying a larger card right away. xD cards are currently available as large as 1GB, and I think 256MB or even 512MB are good starter sizes for most people. Be warned that xD cards tend to be more expensive than CompactFlash and SD cards.

The NP-120 lithium-ion rechargeable battery included with the FinePix F10 packs a punch, with 7.0 Wh of energy. That translates into an excellent CIPA battery life score of 500 shots per charge, which is higher than just about every other camera on the market, big or small.

I should mention the downside to proprietary batteries like the one used by the F10. For one, they're expensive, with this one costing at least $40 for a spare. Secondly, you can't just drop in a set of alkaline batteries when the rechargeable dies like you could on a camera that uses AA batteries.

When it's time to charge the NP-120 you plug the included AC adapter into the terminal adapter and four hours later you're set. What is the terminal adapter, you ask? I'll explain later. If you want an external battery charger, Fuji would be happy to sell you one for a whopping $60.

A lens cover is built-in to the F10 so there's no clumsy lens cap to worry about.

There are just a few accessories available for the F10. The most interesting is the WP-FXF10 waterproof case, which lets you take the camera up to 40 meters underwater. For those who want to protect their camera on land consider the SC-FXF10 soft case. The only other accessory of note is that $60 battery charger than I mentioned earlier.


FinePixViewer 3.3 for Mac

Fuji includes their FinePixViewer software with the F10. The version numbers are 5.0 for Windows and 3.3 Mac OS 9 and OS X. FinePixViewer is for basic image organizing and editing, and is no substitute for something like Photoshop Elements. Also included is ImageMixer VCD2 for Mac and Windows. This lets you create Video CDs from your still images and movie clips.

The F10's manual is fairly average for a digital camera. It's complete, but a bit cluttered.

Look and Feel

The FinePix F10 is a new design for Fuji and I like it. It's not a super thin camera -- that's reserved for the FinePix Z1 -- but it's still quite compact. The body is made almost entirely of metal and it feels solid, save for the cheap plastic door over the battery/memory card compartment. The important controls are well placed and I found it easy to hold and operate the camera with just one hand.

Here's a look at how the F10 compares in terms of size and weight with the competition:

Camera Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions) Volume (bulk) Mass (empty)
Canon PowerShot A520 3.6 x 2.5 x 1.5 in. 13.5 cu in. 180 g
Canon PowerShot SD500 3.4 x 2.2 x 1.0 in. 7.5 cu in. 170 g
Casio Exilim EX-Z750 3.5 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 7.2 cu in. 127 g
Fuji FinePix F10 3.6 x 2.3 x 1.1 in. 9.1 cu in. 155 g
Kodak EasyShare Z760 4.0 x 2.7 x 1.6 in. 17.3 cu in. 219 g
Nikon Coolpix 7900 3.5 x 2.4 x 1.4 in. 11.8 cu in. 150 g
Olympus C-630Z 3.1 x 2.4 x 1.0 in. 7.4 cu in. 125 g
Olympus Stylus 800 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.3 in. 12.3 cu in. 182 g
Pentax Optio 750Z 3.9 x 2.4 x 1.7 in. 15.9 cu in. 255 g
Pentax Optio S55 3.5 x 2.3 x 1.1 in. 8.9 cu in. 130 g
Samsung Digimax V700 4.1 x 2.2 x 1.2 in. 10.8 cu in. 150 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P200 4.0 x 2.0 x 1.0 in. 8.0 cu in. 144 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W7 3.6 x 2.4 x 1.4 in. 12.1 cu in. 197 g

As you can see, the FinePix F10 falls right in the middle of the group, though I'm not exactly sure what group it's in. It's a little too big for ultra-compact and a little too small for midsize. Oh well!

Enough numbers, let's start our tour of the camera now, beginning with the front.

The FinePix F10 features a F2.8-5.0, 3X optical zoom Fuji lens. The lens has a focal range of 8 - 24 mm, which is equivalent to 36 - 108 mm. The lens is not threaded and conversion lenses are not supported.

Those two holes below the lens and next to the FujiFilm logo make up the camera's microphone. To the upper-right of the lens are the self-timer and AF-assist lamps. The AF-assist lamp is used by the F10 as a focusing aid in low light conditions.

Above those is the F10's built-in flash, which is very powerful for a camera this size. The working range of the flash is 0.6 - 6.5 m at wide-angle and 0.6 - 4.0 m at telephoto. You cannot attach an external flash to the F10.

The FinePix F10 features a large 2.5" LCD display. While large in size, this screen isn't big on resolution, with just 115,000 pixels. While I could tell that the screen resolution wasn't the best, it didn't really bother me while using the camera. Outdoor visibility is good with the screen brightness at its normal level and even better with it turned up (I'll show you how to do that in a second). Low light visibility is about the same -- above average at normal brightness and very good with it turned up.

In case you didn't notice, the F10 lacks an optical viewfinder. Whether that bothers you or not is a personal decision -- I like having one myself.

At the upper-right of the photo is the zoom controller. This moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in just 0.9 seconds. I counted eight steps throughout the 3X zoom range.

Below that are three buttons and the four-way controller. The top two buttons are for entering playback mode and for opening the Photo Mode menu.

The Photo Mode menu has been toned down since the last Fuji camera I reviewed. Gone are the fancy colored menus -- this is kind of boring in comparison. Anyhow, the items in this menu include:

  • Image quality (see chart later in review) - I always like how the camera tells you how many shots you can take at each resolution
  • ISO (Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600)
  • FinePix color (Standard, chrome, black & white) - "chrome" boosts the contrast and color saturation

I want to talk about the F10's great high ISO shooting abilities. Previously ISO 1600 was reserved solely for digital SLRs -- not anymore! The F10 can take full-sized shots all the way from ISO 80 to ISO 1600. So what does this all mean? I'll tell you in a second.

The four-way controller is used for menu navigation and also for:

  • Up - LCD brighten (on/off) - quickly boosts the LCD brightness
  • Down - Self-timer (2 or 10 secs)
  • Left - Macro mode (on/off)
  • Right - Flash setting (Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, flash on, flash off, slow sync, slow sync w/redeye reduction)

The last button on the back of the camera is the Display/Back button. This toggles what is shown on the LCD and also "backs out" of the menus.

The only things to see up here include the power and shutter release button and the mode dial. The mode dial, which is wrapped around the shutter release, has the following options:

Option Function
Scene Position mode You choose the scene, the camera does the rest. Choose from natural light, portrait, landscape, sport, night, and long exposure. More below.
Auto mode Fully automatic, many menu options locked up.
Manual mode Not really manual; still automatic but with full menu access.
Movie mode More on this later

The natural light scene mode is really cool. Ever take a photo indoors without the flash and have it come out like this?

It's hard to appreciate that beautiful orchid when it's all blurry! I didn't do any tricks with this photo -- this is a handheld shot without the flash at ISO 80, which is what I'd use in typical everyday shooting. I didn't want to use the flash since it would wash things out.

Here's the same shot using natural light mode. By boosting the ISO sensitivity (as high as 1600) the FinePix F10 can take sharp pictures even in dim light without using the flash. The catch is that there may be a bit of noise in the photos, especially if the ISO is cranked all the way up. You can't see any noise in this shot since it was downsized considerably. You probably won't notice the noise in 4 x 6 or 5 x 7 inch prints -- but at 8 x 10 or larger you certainly will. And since most people are printing at those smaller sizes, this is one feature that is truly useful. I'll have a bit more on the F10's high ISO performance later in the review.

The long exposure mode lets you manually select a shutter speed ranging from 3 to 15 seconds. This is just what the doctor ordered for the night shot that you'll see later in the review. Regular night mode won't go any slower than 3 seconds which may not be enough for long exposures like that.

The only thing to see here is the I/O port, which is under that plastic cover. And now I can tell you about the terminal adapter!

In one of the dumber design decisions of the year, the F10 requires you to use this adapter if you want to use any of the I/O ports. That includes USB, A/V out, or DC-in. So if you plan on using any of those, you'll need to bring the adapter with you.

The F10 supports the USB 2.0 High Speed standard.

Nothing to see here.

On the bottom of the F10 you'll find the speaker, tripod mount, and battery/xD Picture Card compartment. It's a shame that after building such a nice metal camera that Fuji cheaped out by using a plastic tripod mount and flimsy plastic door over the battery/memory compartment.

The included NP-120 battery is shown at right. It's pretty big, though the photo makes it look larger than it really is.

Using the Fuji FinePix F10

Record Mode

The FinePix F10 starts up very quickly, taking just 1.4 seconds to extend the lens and "warm up" before you can start taking pictures.

The FinePix F10 offers a traditional shot preview (minus a histogram) as well as a unique view that shows the current shot as well as the three previous photos you took.

With the high speed shooting feature turned off, autofocus speeds were about 0.3 - 0.5 seconds, which is about average. Turn on the high speed shooting feature and things speed up greatly, making the F10 one of the fastest point-and-shoots I've seen recently.

Shutter lag was not an issue, even at slower shutter speeds where it sometimes crops up.

Shot-to-shot speed was very good, with a delay of around two seconds before you can take another picture. There's no way to delete a photo immediately after it is taken, though. You must enter playback mode to do that.

Now, let's take a look at the resolution and quality choices available on this camera.

Resolution Quality Approx. file size # images on 16MB card
(included)
# images on 256MB card
(optional)
6M
(2848 x 2136)
Fine 3.0 MB 5 85
Normal 1.5 MB 10 169
3:2
(3024 x 2016)
Normal 1.5 MB 10 169
3M
(2048 x 1536)
Normal 780 KB 19 325
2M
(1600 x 1200)
Normal 630 KB 25 409
0.3M
(640 x 480)
Normal 130 KB 122 1997

As I said at the beginning of the review, this is the first SuperCCD HR-based camera (along with the FinePix Z1) that doesn't give you the interpolated 12MP mode like previous models. The camera still takes the 6.3 Megapixels worth of data and interpolates it up to 12MP (it has to due to the design of the sensor), but then it brings it back down to 6.3MP again. This is, in my opinion, a good thing.

There is no RAW or TIFF mode on the FinePix F10.

The camera names files as DSCF####.JPG, where # = 0001 - 9999. The camera maintains the numbering even if you erase the memory card.

The FinePix F10 has a new menu system and I don't care for it. The layout is strange and navigating the menu just doesn't feel right. The old menu system that Fuji has used in the past was better in my opinion. Anyhow, the options in the full recording menu include:

  • Scene position (Natural light, portrait, landscape, sport, night, long exposure) - I discussed these earlier
  • Exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments)
  • Photometry [metering] (Multi, spot, average)
  • White balance (Auto, custom, sunlight, shade, daylight fluorescent, warm white fluorescent, cool white fluorescent, incandescent)
  • High speed shooting (on/off) - reduces focusing times by not trying to focus on things closer than 1 m away
  • Continuous shooting (Off, top 3-frame, final 3-frame, long-period) - see below
  • AF mode (Center, multi, continuous) - see below

The F10's custom white balance feature lets you use a white or gray card as a reference to get perfect color under any lighting.

There are three continuous shooting modes on the F10. Top 3-frame is your standard burst mode: the camera takes three shots in a row at 2.1 frames/second (my timing). Final 3-frrame lets you keep taking pictures at the same frame rate for up to 40 frames -- when you release the shutter release button the last three shots taken are saved to the memory card. The long-period continuous mode will keep shooting until 40 shots are taken. Unfortunately the frame rate wasn't consistent in this mode. It would take two shots quickly, then you'd wait three seconds for the next one, and so on. All-in-all I wasn't thrilled with any of the continuous modes. At least the LCD doesn't black out between shots.

The AF center mode always focuses on the center of the frame, while AF multi will pick an area of the frame automatically. Continuous AF will keep focusing at all times, which is handy for tracking a moving subject.

There's also a setup menu, of course, which is accessed from the record or playback menu. The items here include:

  • Image display (Off, 1.5, 3 secs) - post-shot review
  • Shutter volume (Off, 1-3)
  • Beep volume (Off, 1-3)
  • Playback volume
  • Frame numbering (Continuous, renew)
  • LCD brightness
  • Digital zoom (on/off)
  • AF illuminator (on/off)
  • Long exposure (on/off) - turn this on for exposures as slow as 15 secs
  • Auto power off (Off, 2, 5 mins)
  • LCD power save (on/off) - darkens the LCD when camera is idle
  • Format
  • Date/time (set)
  • Time difference (set)
  • Language (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Korean)
  • Background color (Blue, purple, pink, orange, green, black) - choose the menu background color
  • USB mode (DSC, PictBridge)
  • Video system (NTSC, PAL)
  • Reset

Those should be self-explanatory so let's move on to the test photos now!

The FinePix F10 did an excellent job with our macro test subject. The colors look good and the subject is very sharp. The custom white balance was helpful here as my 600W quartz studio lamps can often fool the preset white balance.

You can get as close to your subject as 7.5 cm at wide-angle and 30 cm at telephoto while in macro mode, which is about average.

The night shot turned out nicely as well, though there's quite a few hot pixels to be found here. The buildings are sharp and noise levels are low. There's a bit of purple fringing but it wasn't bad enough to be concerned about in my opinion.

Before we look at the ISO comparison for the night shot, I need to explain something. As you'll see as you scroll down, the pictures get brighter and brighter instead of staying about the same. That's because the user can only manually adjust the shutter speed when it's slower than 3 seconds. As the ISO hit 400 I needed to go faster than 3 seconds but there is no way to do that, which is why things are so much brighter on those shots.

With that out of the way we can now take a look at the high ISO performance from that same night shot:


ISO 80
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ISO 100
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ISO 200
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ISO 400
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ISO 800
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ISO 1600
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If you ignore the overexposure in the last three images you'll see that details are mostly still intact, even at ISO 1600. That's amazing for a point-and-shoot camera, and Fuji deserves kudos for that. If I could've used a faster shutter speed the results would've been even better.

One area in which the F10 isn't so hot is in the redeye department. As you can see, it's pretty bad, and that's with redeye reduction turned on. While your results may vary, you can expect to deal with redeye at least part of the time.

There's almost zero barrel distortion at the wide end of the F10's lens. I see no evidence of vignetting or blurry corners here.

Overall the photo quality on the FinePix F10 was excellent. This little camera produces images that in some cases rival output from a digital SLR. Colors are accurate, exposure is generally good (though I would probably adjust the exposure compensation by -1/3EV), and noise levels are low (though things are a bit grainy). Purple fringing is above average unfortunately, but I think most people are willing to put up with a little of that in exchange for everything else this camera can do.

I want to write more about the high ISO performance. This, as you may know, is my family room:

I took the same shot with the F10, the Sony DSC-H1, and the Nikon D70s. You're probably saying "why did you compare the $400 F10 against the $900 (body only) D70s? I did so because it shows just how well the F10 performs when up against something like a D-SLR. Let's continue with some examples:


FinePix F10, ISO 80
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This is the chair (with junk on it) cropped from the above photo. This shot was taken at ISO 80 with the FinePix F10. Do note that I brightened the levels a bit on the crops so you can better make out the details. The full size images are untouched.

The next two images show the same chair at ISO 400, first on the F10 and then on the Sony DSC-H1. I'm not picking on the H1 here -- I'm just using it as an example of how a typical camera would perform in these situations.


FinePix F10, ISO 400
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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H1, ISO 400
View Full Size Image

You don't have to be a rocket scientist or even a digital camera reviewer to notice that the F10 beats the H1 easily here. While details are being eaten away by noise on the H1, the image produced by the F10 is still perfectly usable.

The last two crops show the F10 and D70s both at ISO 1600. The results may surprise you.


FinePix F10, ISO 1600
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Nikon D70s, ISO 1600
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While the D70s won this battle, it's amazing just how well the $399 FinePix F10 did against it. The good news is that if you use noise reduction software like Noise Ninja you can make these photos look even better. And remember what I said earlier: although these photos look pretty bad at 100%, they'll still make excellent smaller-sized prints.

Well that's all for the photo quality discussion. If you want to see more photos taken in a variety of conditions, check out our extensive photo gallery. Remember, only you can decide if the F10's photo quality meets your expectations!

Movie Mode

The FinePix F10 has an excellent movie mode. You can record movies at 640 x 480 (30 frames/second) with sound until the memory card is full. That doesn't take very long with the included 16MB card -- it holds just 13 seconds of video. A 512MB xD card holds about 7.4 minutes worth. If you want longer movies and don't mind a lower resolution then try the 320 x 240 (30 fps) mode which doubles your recording time.

As is usually the case, you cannot use the zoom lens during filming.

Movies are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.

Here's an exciting sample movie for you, taken at the high quality setting:


Click to play movie (15.6 MB, 640 x 480, AVI format)

Can't view it? Download QuickTime.

Playback Mode

Playback mode on the F10 is typical of those on other cameras. Basic features are here, including slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail mode, voice annotations (30 seconds worth), and zoom and scroll. The camera is PictBridge-enabled for direct printing to a compatible photo printer.

The zoom and scroll feature lets you enlarge your image by up to 4.5 times, depending on the resolution of the photo, and then move around in the zoomed-in area.

Other features include in-camera image rotation and trimming (cropping).

The F10 also offers a handy "date view" of your photos.

The F10 only shows you basic exposure information for your photos. More info would've been nice, such as the shutter speed and aperture used.

The camera movies through images at a good clip. There's about a 1/2 second delay between photos, with no low resolution placeholder used.

How Does it Compare?

In case you haven't figured it out already, I like the Fuji FinePix F10. A lot. While it may look like just another compact point-and-shoot camera, it's much more than that. It's most notable features include its great photo quality, high ISO shooting ability, large LCD display, and stellar battery life. It's got a few downsides but the positives outweigh them in a major way.

The FinePix F10 is a fairly compact camera made almost entirely of metal. As is usually the case, the plastic door over the battery and memory card is fragile and could break off if forced. The camera fits well in your hand and I had no problem operating it with one hand. The F10 has a large 2.5" LCD with so-so resolution, but good visibility in low light -- plus you can brighten the screen at the push of a button. Do note that there is no optical viewfinder on the camera. One thing I don't like about the F10's design is its silly "terminal adapter" for getting at those I/O ports. Surely Fuji could've figured out a way to get the I/O ports on the camera itself. The camera does support the USB 2.0 High Speed protocol, though.

Camera performance is very good in almost all areas. It starts up quickly, focusing times are good (especially with the high speed mode on) and shutter lag was not an issue. The flash is very powerful for a camera this size, though unfortunately redeye was a problem. Battery life was amazing as well, with a CIPA battery life score of 500 shots per charge.

Photo quality on the F10 was excellent. I was consistently impressed with the output from the F10 -- and this is coming from someone who hasn't been a big fan of Fuji's recent efforts. If I was to complain about something it would be the above average purple fringing and occasional overexposure of some photos. The area in which the F10 really stands out is when the ISO is cranked up. If you're tired of blurry pictures, then this is the camera for you. The F10 can go all the way to ISO 1600 and the photos are still usable, though you probably won't want to print them at 8 x 10 or larger due to the noise. You can set the ISO yourself or just put the camera into natural light mode and let it pick the right sensitivity for you.

Two final things I like about the F10 include an excellent movie mode (640 x 480, 30 fps) and the AF-assist lamp. There are a few other things that I dislike about it as well. I think the menu system is clunky -- they are harder to use than they should be. I wish the camera had a few more manual controls. While I appreciate the custom white balance option, shutter speed, aperture, and focus controls would've been really nice. The F10's continuous shooting mode isn't great, either. And finally, the 16MB xD card that comes with the camera is just too small for a 6.3 Megapixel camera.

All-in-all though I really liked the F10 and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a point-and-shoot camera with great photo quality, low light shooting abilities, and a nice movie mode.

What I liked:

  • Excellent photo quality
  • Great high ISO performance for a non-SLR camera
  • Large 2.5" LCD display; visible in bright outdoor light and dim indoor light
  • Robust performance (save for continuous shooting mode)
  • Fairly compact metal body
  • Powerful flash
  • AF-assist lamp
  • Excellent movie mode
  • Awesome battery life
  • USB 2.0 High Speed support (though see issue below)

What I didn't care for:

  • Above average purple fringing; some photos were overexposed (easy to fix though)
  • Redeye
  • Terminal adapter required for using I/O ports
  • No optical viewfinder
  • Unimpressive continuous shooting modes
  • Needs more manual controls
  • Flimsy plastic door over battery/memory card compartment
  • Tiny memory card included

Some other cameras worth considering include the Canon PowerShot A520 and SD500, Casio Exilim EX-Z750, Kodak EasyShare Z760, Nikon Coolpix 7900, Olympus C-630Z and Stylus 800, Pentax Optio 750Z and S55, Samsung Digimax V700, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P200 and DSC-W7.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the FinePix F10 and it's competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

Want to see some pictures? Check out our huge photo gallery!

Want another opinion?

Read another review at Digital Photography Review.

Buy it now

Feedback & Discussion

If you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation.

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