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DCRP Review: Fuji FinePix F100fd  
   

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: July 31, 2008
Last updated: January 4, 2012

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The FinePix F100fd ($379) is the top model in Fuji's venerable F-series of digital cameras. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the F-series, these cameras were somewhat famous for their low light / high sensitivity shooting abilities. As Fuji started to play the Megapixel game (along with everyone else) with the F50fd, that advantage started to decline a bit.

The FinePix F100fd doesn't exactly break from the Megapixel madness phenomenon -- it too has a 12 Megapixel sensor, like the F50. However, it uses a new 8th-generation SuperCCD HR sensor and a new image processor, so hopefully it will be better able to deal with the noise that comes at such a high resolution.

Other features on the compact F100fd include a 5X optical zoom lens, 2.7" LCD display, image stabilization, an elaborate face detection system, and adjustable dynamic range.

Has the FinePix F100fd gone back to its roots as a leader in low light photography? Find out now in our review, which starts right now!

What's in the Box?

The FinePix F100fd has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 12.0 effective Megapixel FinePix F100fd digital camera
  • NP-50 lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring FinePix software
  • 163 page camera manual (printed)

Like most cameras these days, Fuji built memory right into the F100fd, instead of including a memory card in the box. The F100fd has 57MB of memory, which is pretty good -- it holds 11 photos at the highest quality setting. Even with all that memory, you'll still want to buy a large memory card for this 12 Megapixel camera. The camera supports xD, SD, and SDHC memory cards, and I'd recommend a 2GB card to start with. It's probably a good idea to get a high speed card, though there's no need to go overboard. Do note that a high speed xD card is known as as Type M+.

The F100fd uses the same NP-50 lithium-ion battery as the FinePix F50fd. This battery holds 3.7 Wh of energy, which is much lower than the batteries used on the older F-series models. Here's how that translates into battery life:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Canon PowerShot SD890 IS * 320 shots
Casio Exilim EX-Z200 * 400 shots
Fuji FinePix F50fd * 230 shots
Fuji FinePix F100fd * 230 shots
GE E1050 200 shots
Kodak EasyShare Z1285 ** 320 shots
Nikon Coolpix S550 * 200 shots
Olympus Stylus 840 * 190 shots
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10 */** 460 shots
Pentax Optio V20 200 shots
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170 * 390 shots

* Has image stabilization
** Uses AA batteries

Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

I first want to point out the fact that the old FinePix F31fd, arguably the last of the "great" F-series cameras, could take 580 shots on a single charge. By comparison, the F100fd can take just 230 -- which is 60% less.

In the group as a whole, the FinePix F100fd's numbers are about 25% below average, so you might want to pick up a spare. Speaking of which, an extra NP-50 battery will set you back around $50. In addition, if your battery runs out of juice, you can't just grab a battery off-the-shelf, like you could on an AA-based camera. If you want a camera with that ability, you may want to consider the Kodak and Panasonic models listed above.

When it's time to charge the NP-50, just pop it into the included charger, and then plug the whole thing into the wall (yay). Fuji says that it'll take around 2.3 hours to fully charge the battery.

As is usually the case, there's a built-in lens cover on the FinePix F100fd, so there's no clunky lens cap to deal with.

The F100fd is pretty light in terms of accessories. Here's all that's available:

Accessory Model # Price * Description
Underwater case WP-FXF100 $250 Take your camera up to 40 meters under the sea. Not an easy product to find in the US.
AC adapter AC-5VX
CP-50

From $34
From $25

Power your camera without draining the battery. You'll need both of these accessories!
Soft leather case SC-FXF100 From $25 A soft leather case to protect your camera
* Prices were accurate at time of publication

Not a terribly exciting list, but a fairly typical one for a compact camera.


FinePixViewer 3.6 for Mac

Fuji includes their FinePixViewer software with the F100fd, which you can use to transfer photos from the camera to your computer. The Mac version is very basic, featuring things like slideshows, image rotating, resizing, and e-mailing. And that's about it.


FInePixViewer 5.4 for Windows

As is often the case, Windows users get a much better version of FinePixViewer. This one does everything the Mac version does, adding image editing and redeye reduction tools, not to mention a slicker interface.

Fuji includes a good-sized manual with the FinePix F100fd. It's not the most user-friendly manual, but it should answer any question that may come up about the camera. Documentation for the bundled software is installed on your computer.

Look and Feel

The FinePix F100fd is a compact (but not tiny) camera made mostly of metal. It has a nice, gently curving design that is quite appealing to the eye. It's well put together in most respect, with only the plastic tripod mount causing me to grumble a little.

The F100fd doesn't have a lot of buttons, which I view as a good thing. However, the buttons that it does have are quite small (especially the four-way controller / scroll wheel combo), especially considering the amount of real estate on the back of the camera.

Now, here's a look at how the F100fd compares to other camera in its class, in terms of size and weight:

Camera Dimensions (W x H x D, excluding protrusions) Volume (bulk) Mass (empty)
Canon PowerShot SD890 IS 3.8 x 2.3 x 1.1 in. 9.6 cu in. 155 g
Casio Exilim EX-Z200 3.7 x 2.2 x 0.9 in. 7.3 cu in. 119 g
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd 3.8 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 7.9 cu in. 170 g
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 7.5 cu in. 155 g
GE E1050 3.6 x 2.2 x 0.9 in. 7.1 cu in. 145 g
Kodak EasyShare Z1285 3.5 x 2.5 x 1.2 in. 10.5 cu in. 161 g
Nikon Coolpix S550 3.6 x 2.1 x 0.9 in. 6.8 cu in. 120 g
Olympus Stylus 840 3.8 x 2.2 x 0.9 in. 7.5 cu in. 130 g
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.3 in. 11.9 cu in. 141 g
Pentax Optio V20 3.8 x 2.2 x 0.9 in. 7.5 cu in. 130 g
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170 3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in. 7.7 cu in. 142 g

When it comes to size, the FinePix F100fd is right in the middle of the pack. The same cannot be said for its weight: it's the heaviest camera in the group.

Let's begin our tour of the camera now.

Front of the Fuji F100fd

On the front of the camera you'll find a 5X optical zoom lens. This maximum aperture range of the lens is F3.3 - F5.1, which is quite slow at the wide end of things. The focal length of the lens is 6.4 - 32.0 mm, which is equivalent to a very nice 28 - 140 mm. The lens is not threaded, and conversion lenses and filters are not supported.

The FinePix F50fd features a CCD-shift image stabilization system. You'll need this to help counter the effects of camera shake, a phenomenon caused by tiny movements of your hands which can blur your photos. The camera senses this motion, and the sensor is shifted to compensate for it. While this won't freeze a moving subject or allow for one second handheld shots, it will let you obtain sharp photos at shutter speeds that would be otherwise unusable. Want proof? Look at these:


Image stabilization off


Image stabilization on

Both of these photos were taken near the telephoto end of the lens, with a shutter speed of 1/13 of a second. As you can probably tell, the image stabilization system produced a much sharper photo. Fuji does their best not to tell you if the IS system is available in movie mode, and I'm pretty sure that it is NOT.

Just to the upper-left of the lens is the camera's AF-assist lamp. The F100fd uses this as a focusing aid in low light situations. This lamp also serves as a visual countdown for the self-timer.

Just to the left of that is the built-in flash. The flash's working range is about average for this class. It's 0.6 - 4.3 m at wide-angle, and 0.6 - 2.8 m at telephoto. You cannot attach an external flash to the F100fd.

The last item of note on the front of the F100fd is its microphone, which is at the lower-left corner of the lens.

Back of the Fuji FinePix F100fd

The main event on the back of the FinePix F100fd is its 2.7" LCD display. While the resolution of 230,000 pixels is pretty standard for LCDs this size, I found it to be plenty sharp. Outdoor visibility was very good, and I think the glossy coating over the screen has a lot to do with this. Low light viewing was equally good, with the screen brightening automatically in those situations.

As you can see, there's no optical viewfinder on this camera. Whether that's a problem is up to you. Some people like them, while others could care less.

Now let's talk buttons. At the top-right of the photo are two of them: one opens the F-mode menu, while the other activates the cameras face detection / redeye reduction system. The items in the F-mode menu (which will vary depending on your shooting mode) include:

  • ISO (100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, Auto, Auto 400, Auto 800, Auto 1600, Auto 3200)
  • Dynamic range (Auto, 100%, 200%, 400%)
  • Power management (Power save, quick AF, clear display) - pick which of these is the most important to you
  • Image quality (see chart later in review)
  • FinePix color (Standard, chrome, black and white)

Wow, that's a lot of ISO options! Do note that the two top sensitivities (6400 and 12800) lower the resolution to 3 Megapixel. The auto settings will boost the ISO (as needed) up to the limit of that particular setting. Thus, Auto 800 won't use a sensitivity higher than ISO 800.

The dynamic range setting (also found on the FinePix S100fs that I recently reviewed) lets you reduce the amount of over/underexposure in your photos. The catch is that the ISO setting must rise with the DR setting, so for 200%, the ISO must be 200 or above, and so on. Does the feature actually work?

DR 100%
View Full Size Image
DR 200%
View Full Size Image
DR 400%
View Full Size Image

I picked a real torture test for the dynamic range feature. While you can certainly see changes by looking at the small image above, you'll really get a feel for what's going on if you view the full size images. If you look at the 100% shot, you can see that the sky is a little blown out, and there's not a lot of detail on the "brick road" at the bottom of the scene. If you enlarge the image, you'll see that the tops of the trees have a lot of lost detail due to highlight clipping. As you increase the dynamic range, the sky starts to turn to a more natural blue color, and the contrast on the road becomes much more accurate. The tops of the trees look a lot better, though the higher ISO (400) setting is eating away details in other areas. Thus, the DR feature does work, but keep in mind that image quality goes down (due to increased noise) as the dynamic range goes up.


The camera found four of the six faces

Remember that other button next to the F-mode one? This button turns on the camera's Face Detection 3.0 feature, which is the most elaborate on the market. It can detect up to ten faces, whether they're looking at you, in profile, in motion, and even upside down. If the camera detects redeye on any of the faces it's discovered, it can remove it automatically for you. While the F100fd's face detection system works fairly well, it didn't handle our test scene as well as some other cameras (Canon, Panasonic). It managed to find four of the six faces in the scene, though usually it found fewer than that.

Getting back to the tour now, our next stop is the combination four-way controller / scroll wheel. You'll use this for menu navigation, moving through photos, and also:

  • Up - Image stabilization (on/off)
  • Down - Self-timer (Off, 10 sec, 2 sec)
  • Left - Macro (on/off)
  • Right - Flash (Auto, flash on, flash off, slow sync)
  • Center - Menu/OK

As you can see, pressing up on the four-way controller is how you turn off the image stabilizer. You'll want to do this if the camera is on a tripod.


Virtual mode dial

While the center button on the controller says "Menu", it really opens a virtual mode dial, which lets you flip through the various shooting modes on the camera. At first, I was annoyed by the fact that you had to use the virtual mode dial to access the menu system. After I originally posted this review, a helpful reader (thanks, Russell) pointed out that you can actually hold down the menu button to accomplish the same task. Fuji seems to keep this a secret, as its hidden in fine print on page 64 of the manual.

[Section above updated 8/2/08]

By the way, the available options on the virtual mode dial include:

Option Function
Auto mode Fully automatic, some menu options locked up
Natural Light & Flash Takes two shots in a row, one in Natural Light mode (see below) and the other with the flash
Natural Light mode Boosts the ISO in order to obtain a sharp photo in natural lighting
Portrait For people pictures
Portrait enhancer Similar to above, but with a "soft skin" filter
Landscape Scene modes
Sport
Night/Long Exposure The long exposure mode lets you manually select a shutter speed between 1 and 8 seconds
Fireworks More scene modes
Sunset
Snow
Beach
Underwater
Museum
Party
Flower
Text
Movie mode I'll talk about this later
Menu Here's how you get to the main menu
Manual Still fully automatic, but with full menu access

As you can see, the F100fd is loaded with scene modes. Despite having a "manual" mode, the camera is almost completely point-and-shoot. The only things you can adjust manually are the shutter speed (in night mode) and white balance.

The last items on the back of the camera are buttons for Display/Back and Playback. The former toggles the information shown on the LCD and "backs out" of menus, while the latter enters Playback mode.

Top of the Fuji FinePix F100fd

Now onto the top of the camera. That dark area right in the center of the photo is an infrared transmitter, used with the camera's IrSimple feature. This lets you "beam" photos to other IrSimple devices, most of which happen to be other Fuji cameras. The other device needs to be pretty close for this to work -- between 5 and 20 cm away.

Next to the IR transmitter you'll find the power and shutter release buttons. The zoom controller is wrapped around the shutter release button, and it moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in just 1 second. I counted fifteen steps in the F100fd's 5X zoom range.

Side of the Fuji FinePix F100fd

Nothing to see here.

Side of the Fuji FinePix F100fd

The only thing to see here is the camera's sole I/O port, which is protected by a plastic cover. This port handles both USB and A/V output, and the former uses the USB 2.0 High Speed protocol, for fast data transfer to your PC.

The lens is at the full telephoto position in this photo.

Bottom of the Fuji FinePix F100fd

On the bottom of the FinePix F100fd you'll find the speaker, plastic tripod mount (hidden from view), and the battery/memory card compartment. The door over this compartment is plastic, but it has metal bracing which gives it a more sturdy feel. Do note that you won't be able to access this compartment while the camera is on a tripod.

The included NP-50 battery can be see on the right.

Using the Fuji FinePix F100fd

Record Mode

It takes the FinePix F100fd around 2.5 seconds to extend its lens and prepare to take pictures, which is on the slow end of the spectrum.


There's normally no live histogram available on the F100fd

The camera's focusing performance was more impressive than its startup speed. Typically, the camera locked focused in 0.2 - 0.4 seconds at wide-angle, and around twice that at the telephoto end of the lens. Low light focusing was both responsive and accurate, with focus times staying at one second or less in most cases.

I didn't find shutter lag to be a problem, even at the slower shutter speeds where it sometimes occurs.

Shot-to-shot speeds ranged from around 1.5 seconds without the flash, to between 3-4 seconds with it.

There's no way to delete a photo immediately after taking it -- you must enter playback mode to do that.

Now, here's a look at the image resolution and quality options available on the FinePix F100fd:

Resolution Quality Approx. file size # images on 57MB onboard memory # images on 2GB SD card (optional)
12M
4000 x 3000
Fine 4.7 MB 11 418
Normal 3.0 MB 19 666
3:2
4224 x 2816
Normal 3.0 MB 19 673
6M
2848 x 2136
Fine 3.0 MB 18 659
Normal 1.5 MB 37 1291
3M
2048 x 1536
Normal 800 KB 70 2384
2M
1600 x 1200
Normal 650 KB 88 2952
0.3M
640 x 480
Normal 150 KB 336 12401

Even with a decent amount of built-in memory, the chart above illustrates why you'll still want to buy a memory card right away.

The F100fd doesn't support the RAW or TIFF image formats.

Files are numbered using a simple convention: DSCF####.JPG, where #### = 0001 - 9999. The file numbering is maintained as you swap or erase memory cards.

The F100fd's menu system is similar to that of other Fujifilm cameras. Once you finally get to the menu system (I already complained about that earlier), you'll find it fairly easy to get around. Keeping in mind that not all of these options are available in every shooting mode, here's the complete list of record menu options:

  • Exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV, in 1/3EV increments)
  • Photometry [metering] (Multi, spot, average)
  • White balance (Auto, custom, sunlight, shade, fluorescent 1/2/3, incandescent) - the custom option lets you select a white or gray card, for accurate color even under mixed lighting conditions
  • Continuous (Off, top 3, final 3, long period, top 12, final 12) - see below
  • AF mode (Center, multi, continuous) - the last option keeps the AF system active, even with the shutter release halfway-pressed
  • Setup - see below

The only thing I wanted to mention here is the extensive continuous shooting mode. Here's what you can expect from each of the five available modes:

  • Top 3 - three shots in a row at 1.7 frames/second
  • Final 3 - camera keeps shooting at 1.7 fps (up to 40 shots), saving the last three photos that were taken
  • Long period - camera keeps taking photos at 0.6 frames/sec; focus and exposure are reset between each shot
  • Top 12 - camera takes up to 12 shots at 5 frames/sec; resolution is lowered to 3MP, and ISO raised to 400
  • Final 12 - camera keeps shooting at 5 fps for up to 40 shots, saving the last 12 taken before you let go of the shutter release

There you have it -- nothing too exciting in the continuous shooting department. Let's move on now.

There's also a setup menu on the FinePix F100fd, which is accessible from the record or playback menu. The options here include:

  • Shooting options
    • Image display (Off, zoom/continuous, 1.5 or 3 secs - post-shot review; the zoom/continuous option enlarges the photo on the screen
    • Frame numbering (Continuous, renew)
    • Save original image (on/off) - whether the unretouched photo is saved when using auto redeye removal
    • AF illuminator (on/off)
    • Digital zoom (on/off) - it's best to leave this off
    • Long exposure/night mode (on/off) - Allows you to manually set the shutter speed in night mode
  • Setup 1
    • Date/time (set)
    • Operation volume (Off, 1-3)
    • Shutter volume (Off, 1-3)
    • Shutter sound (Sound 1, 2)
    • Playback volume (0-7)
    • Blog image size (Standard, small)
  • Setup 2
    • LCD brightness (-5 to +5 in 1-step increments)
    • Format (Internal memory or memory card)
    • Language
    • Auto power off (Off, 2, 5 mins)
    • Time difference (Home, local) - for when you're on the road
    • Background color - choose the menu background color
  • Setup 3
    • Guidance display (on/off) - whether function explanations are shown
    • Video system (NTSC, PAL)
    • IR communication (Standard, irSS)
    • Reset - back to defaults

Nothing to talk about here, so let's move onto the photo tests!

The FinePix F100d did a decent job with our macro test subject. As you can see, the camera captured plenty of detail -- you can see that Mickey could use a dusting. The nose is a bit out-of-focus (poor depth-of-field), and since I can't adjust the aperture, there's not much I could do about that. Color accurate is fairly good, though the reds could be a lot more saturated.

There's just one macro mode on the camera, and it has minimum focus distances of 5 cm at wide-angle and 50 cm at telephoto. Those numbers are typical of a compact camera.

The night shot looks very good, though there are a few hot pixels here and there, as the camera lacks a long exposure noise reduction function. You can take long exposures like this by using the night scene, which can be automatic or manual. In the manual mode, you can select the shutter speed yourself, from a range of 1 - 8 seconds. Whichever way you shoot it, the ISO will be fixed at 100, which is a good thing. The F100fd captured a lot of detail here, with minimal noise for a 12 Megapixel camera (save for those hot pixels). Purple fringing was not a problem.

Since one cannot control the ISO and shutter speed at the same time, there's no long exposure ISO test in this review. I do, however, have a studio ISO test for you in a bit.

There's moderate barrel distortion at the wide end of the FinePix F100's 5X zoom lens. The building on the right side of this photo illustrates what barrel distortion means in real world terms. While it's pretty minor, you may encounter some blurring at the edges of the frame on the F100fd. I saw some vignetting (dark corners) as well, but barely.

As you probably know, compact cameras almost always have big problems with redeye. Thankfully, the F100fd has a fancy, automatic redeye removal system, which does away with this annoyance!

Here's the studio ISO test that I promised you. I took a photo of the above scene at each sensitivity offered on the F100fd, and you can use them to judge the noise levels at each setting. While the crops below give you a quick overview, I highly recommend viewing the full-size images to get the full picture (no pun intended).


ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400


ISO 800


ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 12800

Everything is nice and clean through ISO 400. Above that is where the FinePix F100fd is supposed to strut it's stuff, and at ISO 800, it's performing better than the 12 Megapixel Canon PowerShot G9. Unfortunately, things go downhill rapidly after that. The ISO 1600 setting has a lot of detail loss, so I'd save it for emergencies only. Everything above that is not usable, in my opinion, with the highest settings looking, well, awful.

In conclusion, yes, the F100fd performs slightly better than its competitors through ISO 800, but above that, it disappoints. Go back and look at what the two year old FinePix F30 could produce at ISO 1600 and I think you'll agree that the F100fd isn't in the same league.

Overall, the FinePix F100fd has very good quality photos for a compact camera. They were well exposed (save for some clipped highlights in the purple fringing tunnel), with accurate (though not overly vivid) color. Sharpness is great in the center of the frame, but soft around the edges. Noise levels are quite low until you pass ISO 400, as the test above illustrated. You will, however, find some smudged details at lower ISOs, which is sort of a trademark of the SuperCCD sensor. Purple fringing was not a problem.

Now, I invite you to have a look at our FinePix F100fd photo gallery. Browse through the photos, maybe printing a few if you wish, and then you should be able to decide if the F100's photo quality meets your expectations.

Movie Mode

The FinePix F100fd has a pretty standard movie mode. You can record video at 640 x 480 at 30 frames/second (with sound) until the file size hits 2GB, which takes around 36 minutes. Since the onboard memory fills up quickly, you'll want to be sure to use a large, high speed memory card for recording long clips.

To increase recording time, you can drop the resolution down to 320 x 240 (30 fps). This allows for movies as long as 70 minutes.

As is often the case, you cannot use the optical zoom lens while recording movies. The image stabilizer doesn't seem to be active, either.

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

While not the greatest sample movie, this is the best one I was able to record:


Click to play movie (11.1 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.

Playback Mode

As was the case with the movie mode, the F100's playback mode is standard-issue. Basic features here include slideshows, image protection, 30 second voice captions, DPOF print marking, thumbnail view, and zoom & scroll. This last option lets you enlarge the frame (I'm not sure of the exact ratio), and then move around in the zoomed-in area. If there are faces in a photo, you can press the face detection button to quickly jump to them.

Photos can be viewed one at a time, by date, or as thumbnails. One view shows 100 thumbnails at once, though they're so tiny that it's hard to make out anything.

Photos can be rotated, trimmed, and downsized (via the "blog mode") right on the camera. If you weren't using the automatic redeye reduction feature for your people pictures, you can manually operate that tool via the playback menu.

Not surprisingly, there's a tool to copy photos from the internal memory to a memory card and vice versa.

Unfortunately, there camera doesn't give you much in the line of information about the photos you've taken. What you see above it just about it!

The F100fd moves through photos quickly. A lower resolution version is shown instantly, with a sharper version following about a half second later.

How Does it Compare?

The Fuji FinePix F100fd certainly has its work cut out for it. Like the F50fd before it, it will be inevitably compared to what most people feel is the best low light compact cameras of all time, the FinePix F30 and F31fd. Unfortunately, Fuji gave in to the Megapixel race on the FinePix F100fd, which pretty much did away with the high sensitivity advantage that made earlier models such a success. The F100fd performs slightly better than other compact cameras, up to a point (ISO 800), but above that, images become a noisy mess. The camera is marred by other flaws as well, including a slow lens, sluggish startup time, and poor battery life. The FinePix F100fd certainly isn't a bad camera -- it's just an average one -- which is a disappointment, considering its heritage.

The FinePix F100fd id a compact (but not tiny) camera with a stylish, curved design. The camera is well put together for the most part, with my only complaints being the plastic tripod mount, and the fact that you can't access the memory card slot while the camera's on a tripod. The F100fd's buttons are on the small side, and getting to the menu system takes more work than it should. Fuji managed to fit a 5X optical zoom lens (with a nice 28 - 140 mm range) into this compact camera, though the lens isn't terribly "fast" at the wide end. There's also a CCD-shift image stabilization system here, which does a nice job of reducing the risk of blurry photos. While I can't seem to find a definitive answer, I'm 99% sure that the IS system is disabled in movie mode. On the back of the camera is a 2.7" LCD display with 230,000 pixels. I found the screen quite easy to see in both bright outdoor light and dimly lit rooms. There's no optical viewfinder on the F100fd.

Like most cameras in its class, the FinePix F100fd is pretty much completely automatic. That means that you'll find plenty of scene modes, plus a regular auto mode. If you're taking people pictures, you'll probably appreciate the camera's elaborate face detection system. While it didn't find faces as well as some other cameras I tested, it does have the ability to find faces in positions other than "head on". Attached to the FD system is an effective automatic redeye removal tool, which really is "a must" on a compact camera. If you're looking for manual controls, you'll find just two. One allows you to set slow shutter speeds yourself, while the other is an always useful custom white balance function. You can also adjust the dynamic range, which works fairly well, though the ISO goes up accordingly, which may not be desirable. The F100fd has a pretty standard VGA movie mode, allowing for up to 35 minutes of continuous recording.

Camera performance was mixed. The F100fd is slow to start up, making you wait around 2.5 seconds before you can take a photo. The camera does focus quickly, though, even in low light situations. I didn't find shutter lag to be a problem. Shot-to-shot speeds were around 1.5 seconds without the flash, and about twice that with it. While the F100fd has a number of continuous shooting modes, none of them are terribly impressive. While you can shoot at 5 fps at lower resolutions, at 12 Megapixel the best you'll get is 1.7 fps for three shots. While the old FinePix F30 had truly stellar battery life, the same can't be said for the F100fd -- it's well below average for its class.

Though it doesn't have the high ISO abilities of earlier F-series models, the F100fd still produces very good quality photos for a compact camera. They're generally well-exposed, with pleasing (though not terribly saturated) color. Images are quite sharp across most of the frame, save for the edges, where there's often blurring. The camera keeps noise under control all the way through ISO 400, save for some mild smudging of fine details (a SuperCCD trait). The camera produces better quality photos at ISO 800 than the competition. Above that, things are disappointing: photos are quite noisy at ISO 1600, and a far cry from what the old F30 could produce. The highest ISO settings are far too noisy to be usable. On a more positive note, the camera keeps purple fringing well under control.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the FinePix F100fd. It's a nice enough compact camera, with good photo quality and a host of user-friendly features (though it has its share of annoyances, too). At the same time, as someone who has used all of the models in the F-series, I'm disappointed with the direction Fuji has taken the line in recent years (in terms of low light shooting, battery life,etc). The FinePix F100fd earns a somewhat hesitant recommendation from me, though I'd take a close look at the competition.

What I liked:

  • Very good photo quality; slightly better than competition at ISO 400 and 800
  • 5X zoom lens in a compact, stylish body
  • CCD-shift image stabilization
  • Nice 2.7" LCD with good outdoor and low light visibility
  • Good autofocus performance
  • Effective dynamic range expansion feature (though ISO sensitivity goes up, too)
  • Redeye not a problem thanks to auto removal feature
  • Memory card slot supports both xD and SD/SDHC cards
  • Optional underwater case

What I didn't care for:

  • Doesn't live up to the legacy of earlier F-series models
  • Poor image quality at highest ISO settings; some detail smudging at low ISOs
  • Slow startup time for a compact camera
  • Below average battery life
  • Lens is on the slow side at wide-angle
  • No optical viewfinder
  • No image stabilization in movie mode (as far as I can tell)
  • Few manual controls
  • Plastic tripod mount; can't access memory card slot while camera is on a tripod

Some other compact cameras with a little extra zoom power worth a look include the Canon PowerShot SD890 IS, Casio Exilim EX-Z200, GE E1050, Kodak EasyShare Z1285, Nikon Coolpix S550, Olympus Stylus 840, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10, Pentax Optio V20, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the FinePix F100fd and its competitors before you buy!

[Conclusion updated 8/2/08]

Photo Gallery

See how the photos turned out in our gallery!

Feedback & Discussion

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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.