Review: Fuji FinePix F401
Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Friday, September 20, 2002
Tuesday, December 3, 2002
FinePix F401 ($499) is the first lower-cost camera to use Fuji's
SuperCCD sensor. The F401 uses the third generation SuperCCD, with
2.1 effective Megapixels. Throw that into a small, sleek body with
a 3X optical zoom lens and you've got an impressive digicam.
"deal" with the SuperCCD is that the individual light
sensors on the SuperCCD are arranged in a different pattern that
on traditional CCD, allowing for a higher density. That's how a
2.1 Megapixel SuperCCD produces images with 4 million pixels. Of
course, there is some interpolation ("guessing") going
on by the camera in order to pull that off.
all sounds good on paper but how does the F401 perform? Find out
now in our review!
in the Box?
FinePix F401 has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
2.1 (effective) Mpixel Fuji FinePix F401 camera
Li-ion rechargeable battery
adapter / battery charger
featuring FinePixViewer software and drivers
F401 uses the NP-60 Li-ion battery, and I swear I've seen it somewhere
else before. The battery is rated at 3.7V, 1035 mAh, which gives
it 3.8 Watt/hours of power. Fuji estimates that you should be able
to take approximately 200 photos with the LCD on, or 450 with the
LCD off, on a single charge. To charge the battery, you just plug
the included AC adapter into the side of the F401.
includes a 16MB SmartMedia card with the camera. Prices for memory
have come down so much, but why are some companies still giving
you such a small card? Another thing I have to wonder: Fuji is switching
all their cameras over to the new xD Picture Card format, so I'm
willing to bet that the lifespan on the F401 will be short.
F401 is a pretty small camera
the camera has a built-in (and stylish) lens cover, there are no
lens cap worries.
only real accessory for the F401 is the CP-FX401 PictureCradle (price
not available). This cradle allows you to charge the battery and
transfer photos while the camera comfortably rests in the cradle.
No lens or flash accessories are available for the F401.
F401 works fine with Mac OS X and iPhoto. While I can't confirm
it, it should work fine with WindowsXP as well.
am pleased to say that FinePixViewer is now Mac OS X compatible,
and is greatly improved over its Mac OS 9 predecessor. It's snappy
and much more useable than ever before. The software is only really
useful for viewing and rotating images -- you can't correct redeye
or anything like that.
manuals have always been better than average, and that continues
to be the case here.
FinePix F401 is a very small camera. It's more "square"
than other small cameras, but it's quite a bit thinner at the same
time. This comparison chart should give you an idea:
(W x H x D)
FinePix F401 Zoom
x 2.7 x 1.1
x 2.2 x 1.1
x 2.5 x 1.2
x 2.0 x 1.4
x 2.6 x 1.7
x 2.3 x 1.2
x 2.2 x 1.2
FinePix's body is all metal, and it feels as good as it looks. The
camera fits well in your hands, and you can easily use it with one
hand. The F401 fits in any pocket with ease. One thing I don't like
about all these small metal cameras is that they tend to scratch
begin our tour of the camera now, starting with the front.
F401 has the most unique power switch of any camera I've used. If
you compare the shot above with the "in hand" one in the
previous section, you'll notice a difference. To turn the camera
on, you pull that area with the little blue lights away from the
lens. With a flash of blue light, the camera then turns on. To close,
just reverse the process.
F401 features an F2.8, 3X optical zoom lens. The focal range of
the lens is 5.7 - 17.1 mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 114 mm. The
lens is not threaded.
of the lens is the flash. The flash has a working range of 0.4 -
3.5 m at telephoto, and 0.4 - 2.0 m at wide-angle (a pretty small
coverage area). Again, no external flash options are available,
nor would one be expected from a small camera like this.
other item of interest on the front of the F401 are those three
blue lights on the left side. They are shown when the camera is
turned on, and also offer a visual countdown of the self-timer.
is no auto focus illuminator on the F401, unfortunately.
is the back of the camera.
1.5" LCD is typical size for a smaller camera. It's bright
and useable in most conditions, except outside when it's bright.
LCD brightness is adjustable via the setup menu.
the LCD, at the top of the picture, is the optical viewfinder. The
viewfinder has a "widescreen" aspect ratio, meaning it's
wide but not tall. It shows 80% of the frame. There is no diopter
correction for those with poor vision.
the LCD and optical viewfinder is the mode switch, which moves between
movie, playback, and record modes.
the right of that is a kind of four-way switch, which is used for
zoom, menu navigation, and changing the macro and flash settings.
The zoom buttons move the lens from wide to tele in just over two
seconds. The available flash choices are auto, redeye reduction,
forced, suppressed, and slow synchro.
those buttons you will find three more:
- toggles LCD on/off; shows thumbnails in playback mode
let's continue onto the top of the F401 now!
you thought the back of the camera was buttonless, have a look at
the top! The only things here are the shutter release button and
a bit more to see on this side of the camera. Here you'll see the
speaker, USB port, and DC in port (for included AC adapter). The
F401 does NOT have video out.
only thing over here is the connector for the neck strap. Now where
is that SmartMedia slot?
down here on the bottom of the camera, along with the battery compartment
and plastic tripod mount. I must admit that the system for ejecting
the SM is well designed -- it took me a minute to figure out how
to do it! Yeah, RTFM, I know!
the Fuji FinePix F401
takes just three seconds for the F401 to extend its lens and "warm
up" after you turn it on. That's pretty quick.
you press the shutter release button halfway, the camera locks focus
in under a second, though it does have trouble in low light. Pressing
the button fully results in a picture quickly, with little shutter
lag. Shot-to-shot speed is quite good -- about two seconds between
let's take a look at the resolution and quality choices available
on this camera.
photos on 16MB card (included)
photos on 64MB card (for reference)
(2304 x 1728)
(1600 x 1200)
(1280 x 960)
(640 x 480)
is no TIFF or RAW support on the FinePix F401.
FinePix F401 has a simple, and quite nice looking menu system. There
aren't many options, but it's easy to find your way around what's
thing I really like is how the menu tells you have many photos you
can take in each quality mode (see above).
see what is actually in these menus. Items in bold are only
available in manual mode.
(Auto, sunlight, shade, daylight fluorescent, warm white fluorescent,
cool white fluorescent, incandescent)
compensation (-2.1EV to +1.5EV in 1/3EV increments)
sensitivity (200, 400, 800, 1600)
(on/off) - 10 seconds
shooting (Final 4, top 4, off) - see below
(Setup, LCD brightness, manual/auto mode)
want to comment on some of these menu items.
SuperCCD allows the F401 to have impressive ISO flexibility for
a consumer-level camera, with a range of 200 - 1600. The catch?
If you want ISO 800 or 1600, you'll be forced to use the 1MP resolution.
F401 has two types of continuous shooting. The first is the normal
type (called top 4 here): you can take up to 4 shots with intervals
as short as 0.3 seconds. Final 4 is different; you hold down the
shutter release and the camera will take up to 25 photos (still
with the 0.3 sec interval). When you release the button, or when
the buffer is full, the camera saves the last four shots taken.
do our usual photo tests now.
FinePix did a "fine job" with the macro test. As is the
norm with Fuji cameras, the color is right on. You can see a bit
of the SuperCCD "artifacting" if you look closely (more
on this in a second).
F401 gave an unimpressive performance high atop Twin Peaks on a
beautiful, clear September night. The camera has no control over
shutter speed, and there's no "night scene" mode either.
The slowest it would go was 1/4 sec, which as you can see, wasn't
slow enough. There's also quite a bit of noise.
took the same shot at ISO
400 and ISO 800 -- as you can
see, the noise goes up quite a bit. I also took it at ISO 1600,
but I think the camera shook on that picture (but it was noise city),
so I'm not posting that one.
is some noticeable, but not major redeye in our redeye photo test.
Since the flash is close to the lens, redeye is more likely than
if it was further away (which is why many cameras have pop-up flashes).
What you see here could easily be removed in software. The image
above was enlarged to show detail.
FinePix F401 has very good photo quality, for the most part. Fuji
always does a really nice job with the color accuracy on their digicams.
Also, chromatic aberration (purple fringing) as not a problem. One
big issue with these SuperCCD cameras is "artifacting".
you look at the images on the screen -- especially those taken at
the 4MP (interpolated) setting -- you will see noise, artifacts,
and "jaggies". Intricate details are often lost (see the
red tiled roof in our gallery for an
example). Downsizing the image gets rid of them, as does printing
-- the 4MP images are excellent when printed on a capable photo
printer. The 2MP images will (usually) not have these problems,
since there is no interpolation going on.
check out the photo gallery and decide
about the F401's photo quality for yourself!
F401 has an above average movie mode. You can record movies for
up to 120 seconds at 320 x 240, or 480 seconds at 160 x 120. It's
important to note that the included 16MB card cannot hold that much
video. Sound is recorded with the movie.
are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec, at 10 frames/second.
cannot use the optical zoom during filming, though the digital zoom
a sample movie for you. I used the digital zoom at the very end.
Click to play movie (AVI format, 2.0MB)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
FinePix F401 Zoom has an average playback mode. While it does feature
thumbnail mode, DPOF print marking, zoom and scroll, and 30 second
voice memos, it lacks the common slide show feature.
zoom and scroll feature (my term) lets you zoom in as much as 14.4X
into your photo, and then scroll around it. Another nice feature
is the ability to crop ("trim") photos when you're zoomed
is no way to get any exposure information about your photos, unfortunately.
The F401 moves through your photos at an average clip -- about two
seconds go by before the next one is shown.
Does it Compare?
not really a standout in any way, the Fuji FinePix F401 is still
worth a look. It offers very good photo quality (more so at the
native 2MP resolution), good color, a small and stylish metal body,
and robust performance. The negatives include the rather high price
(considering that it's really a 2.1MP camera), lack of manual controls
of any kind, and poor night shot ability. One last concern is over
the lifespan of the F401. With Fuji switching all their cameras
over to xD, this one is probably going to be replaced soon.
stylish metal body
quality pictures in most cases (esp. when downsized or printed)
startup time, minimal AF/shutter lag
average movie mode
FinePix Viewer software
I didn't care for:
images at higher ISO settings (esp. compared to other SuperCCD
cameras) plus normal SuperCCD artifacting at interpolated resolutions
night shot ability
mode just OK
manual controls to speak of
small, 2 Megapixel (or greater) cameras include the Canon PowerShot
Digital ELPHs, Fuji FinePix A203
(these do not use the SuperCCD), Kodak EasyShare DX4330, Konica
KD-400Z, Kyocera Finecam S3X and S4,
DiMAGE X, Nikon Coolpix 2500
and 3500, Olympus D-520Z
Pentax Optio 330RS
and the Sony DSC-P2,
An exhaustive list, for sure -- this is a crowded field!
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera reseller to check
out the FinePix F401 and its competitors, before you buy!
to see how the photos turned out? Check out our photo
a second opinion?
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking
for a personal recommendation.