DCRP Review: Fuji FinePix F402
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Tuesday, December 3, 2002
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 3, 2002

Printer Friendly Version

Despite it's higher number, the Fuji FinePix F402 ($349) is a lower cost version of the FinePix F401 (see our review). The F402 lacks the zoom lens of the F401 and uses xD memory cards instead of SmartMedia, but otherwise it's very similar.

The F402 is a very small metal camera designed for point-and-shoot users. It uses a 2.1 Megapixel SuperCCD sensor rather than a regular CCD used by other cameras. The "deal" with the SuperCCD is that the individual light sensors on the SuperCCD are arranged in a different pattern that on traditional CCDs, 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.

Learn more about the F402 in our review!

Since the F402 is so similar to the F401, I will be reusing a lot of text.

What's in the Box?

The FinePix F402 has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 2.1 (effective) Mpixel Fuji FinePix F402 camera
  • 16MB xD Picture card
  • NP-40 Li-ion rechargeable battery
  • AC adapter / battery charger
  • Neck strap
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM featuring FinePixViewer software and drivers
  • 130 page manual

The F402 uses a different batteries than the F401 did -- it's much less powerful. The F401 used the NP-60, which had 3.8 Wh of power. Here, the NP-40 battery has 2.6 Wh of power -- about 1/3 less.

Fuji estimates that you should be able to take approximately 140 photos with the LCD on, or 400 with the LCD off, on a single charge. The F401's numbers were 200 and 450, respectively. To charge the battery, you just plug the included AC adapter into the side of the F402. Charging takes about two hours.

I've never been a huge fan of proprietary (read: non AA) batteries on digital cameras, but they are unavoidable on these ultra-small cameras.

One of the major differences between the F402 and the F401 is memory card usage. While the "old" F401 uses SmartMedia, the F401 uses the new xD Picture Card format. xD cards are very small -- perhaps too much so. They are faster than other memory cards out there (on paper at least), but I still wish we didn't have another memory card format to deal with. The included 16MB card is enough to get started, but you'll probably want a larger one soon after buying the camera.


The F402 is a very small camera

Since the camera has a built-in (and stylish) lens cover, there are no lens cap worries.

There are a few accessories available for the F402, including an external fast battery charger, USB docking cradle, and carrying case. There are also card readers and PC card adapters for the xD memory card format.

The F402 works fine with Mac OS X and iPhoto. While I can't confirm it, it should work fine with Windows XP as well.

I 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.

If you've got a Windows PC, you can also use the F402 as a PC Camera for videoconferencing.

Fuji's manuals have always been better than average, and that continues to be the case here.

Look and Feel

The FinePix F402 is a very small, metal camera. It falls somewhere between the Canon PowerShot Digital ELPH and Casio Exilim cameras in terms of size. It's about the same size as the Minolta DiMAGE X/Xi.

The body is made almost entirely of metal, and it feels very solid. One downside of these metal cameras is that they scratch easily, so a case is a good investment. The F402 fits into any pocket with ease, and can be operated with one hand. I do wish that the buttons were a bit larger though.

The dimensions of the F402 are 3.0 x 2.7 x 0.9 inches (WxHxD), and it weighs just 125 grams empty. By comparison, the F401's stats are 3.3 x 2.7 x 1.1 inches and 185 grams.

Let's begin our tour of the camera now, starting with the front.

The F402 shares the same unique power switch as the F401. 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 the left part of the circle away from the lens. With a flash of blue light, the camera then powers up. To shut it off, just reverse the process.

The F402 has an F3.2, fixed focal length lens. The focus distance is 6 mm, which is equivalent to 39 mm. The lens is not threaded.

Above-left from the lens is the built-in flash. The flash has a working range of 0.3 - 3.0 m. No external flash options are available, nor would one be expected from a small camera like this.

The blue light (not illuminated in above photo) lights up when the camera is turned on, or when the self-timer is counting down. Above it as the microphone.

Like all Fuji digicams, there's no AF assist lamp on the F402. That means focusing in lower light levels can be difficult.

Here is the back of the F402.

The 1.5" LCD is typical size for a smaller camera. It's bright, fluid, and useable in most conditions, except outside when it's bright. LCD brightness is adjustable via the setup menu.

At the top-left of the picture is the optical viewfinder. IT's really quite small -- too much so in my opinion. It shows about 83% of the frame. There is no diopter correction for those with poor vision.

To the right of the optical viewfinder is the mode switch. You can move between movie, playback, and record mode using this. Further over is the four-way switch (well, kind of). I found this to be too small for my average-sized fingers. You use this for menus, digital zoom, macro mode, and flash setting. The available flash settings, by the way, are auto, auto w/redeye reduction, forced, off, and slow synchro.

The buttons just above the LCD are display, back, and menu/ok. The display button toggles the LCD on and off, among other things.

Next stop, the top of the camera!

Not much to see here, other than the shutter release button.

There's a bit more to see on this side of the camera. The USB port (top) does double duty -- it's for hooking into a computer, of course. But it also is the connector for the optional ($80) camera dock.

Below that is the port for the included AC adapter.

The only thing over here is the connector for the neck strap.

Here's the bottom of the camera, all opened up. Notice the lack of a tripod mount!

In the compartment you see above, you insert the battery and xD card, both of which are pictured above.

Using the Fuji FinePix F402

Record Mode

Since there's no big zoom lens to extend, the F402 starts up very quickly, in under two seconds.

When you press the shutter release button halfway, the camera locks focus very quickly -- well under a second. In low light, focusing can be troublesome, due in part to the lack of an AF illuminator lamp. Press the button fully to take the photo after a shutter lag which is definitely noticeable.

Shot-to-shot speed is 2.5 seconds, which is about average.

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

Resolution Quality Approx. File Size # photos on
16MB card
(included)
# photos on
64MB card
(for reference)
4M
(2304 x 1728)
Fine 1.6MB 9 40
Normal 750KB 20 84
2M
(1600 x 1200)
Normal 390KB 39 159
1M
(1280 x 960)
Normal 320KB 49 198
0.3M
(640 x 480)
Normal 130KB 122 497

There is no TIFF or RAW support on the FinePix F402. Files are named DSCFxxxx.JPG, where x = 0001-9999. One annoying Fuji tradition is the lack of any file numbering memory. Erase the card, the numbers reset. This can be frustrating.

The FinePix F402 has a simple, and quite nice looking menu system. Your options are very limited though.

One thing I really like is how the menu tells you have many photos you can take in each quality mode (see above).

Let's see what is actually in these menus. Items in bold are only available in manual mode.

  • White balance (Auto, sunlight, shade, daylight fluorescent, warm white fluorescent, cool white fluorescent, incandescent)
  • Exposure compensation (-2.1EV to +1.5EV in 1/3EV increments)
  • ISO sensitivity (200, 400, 800, 1600) - more below
  • Quality (see chart)
  • Self-timer (on/off) - 10 seconds
  • Continuous shooting (on/off) - see below
  • Option (Setup, LCD brightness, manual/auto mode)

I want to comment on some of these menu items.

The SuperCCD allows the F402 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.

The F402 doesn't have the same continuous shooting mode as the F401, and that's a shame. The burst mode here only takes 2 shots in a row, at a rate of 2 frames/sec.

Let's do our usual photo tests now, with one exception.

Aside from a little extra noise in the reds, I'm happy with the F402's macro test performance. I took the shot at the native 2MP resolution. The subject is sharp and colors look good! The focal range in macro mode is 6 - 65 cm.

I did not perform the usual night shot test, since the F402 doesn't have a tripod mount!

Look out, it's demon eye! I wasn't totally surprised to see the redeye in this shot, as the flash is really close the lens, which is usually an indication of how the camera will fare in the test. And sure enough, it's bad. You can remove redeye (most of it, at least) in software. Note that I enlarged this a bit so you can see the details.

The FinePix F402 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) is not a problem. The big issue with these SuperCCD cameras is "artifacting".

When you look at the images on the screen -- especially those taken at the (interpolated) 4MP setting -- you may see noise, artifacts, and "jaggies". They are not comparable to photos from a true 4 Megapixel camera. 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 not have these problems, since there is no interpolation going on.

Please check out the photo gallery and decide about the F402's photo quality for yourself! I apologize that it's a bit on the small side.

Movie Mode

The F402 has an inferior movie mode compared to the F401 (anyone else think they should switch model numbers?). You can record movies for up to 60 seconds at 320 x 240, or 240 seconds at 160 x 120. Sound is recorded with the movie.

Movies are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec, at 10 frames/second.

You can use the digital zoom during filming.

Here's a sample movie for you. I have no idea why there is moaning in the background.


Click to play movie (AVI format, 1.3MB)

Can't view it? Download QuickTime.

Playback Mode

The FinePix F402 Zoom has an average playback mode. While it does feature thumbnail mode, DPOF print marking, and zoom and scroll, it lacks the common slide show feature.

The 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 in. At a certain point, the F402 won't let you crop the photos anymore, as they'll be too small for printing.

There is no way to get any exposure information about your photos, unfortunately. The F402 moves through your photos at an average clip -- about two seconds go by before the next one is shown. To rapidly move through photos, you can hold down the left/right button, and you move through small thumbnails at a much faster rate.

How Does it Compare?

The Fuji FinePix F402 is a small, stylish camera that is very easy to use. It takes good quality pictures, at four million pixel resolutions (through interpolation). It's also expensive (at $349) for what is essentially a 2 Megapixel camera. Add to that noticeable shutter lag, bad redeye problems, no optical zoom, and very limited features, and you've got a camera that's not a great value for the money. Though both are more expensive, I found Fuji's F401 ($449) and 3800 ($399) to be nicer cameras, in terms of both features and performance. With that in mind, I think your money could be better spent on another camera.

What I liked:

  • Small, stylish metal body
  • High quality pictures in most cases (esp. when downsized or printed)
  • Quick startup time
  • Attractive, easy-to-use menus

What I didn't care for:

  • Expensive!
  • Redeye a problem
  • Noticeable shutter lag
  • No tripod mount
  • Playback mode just OK
  • No manual controls to speak of
  • No AF illuminator

Other small, 2 Megapixel (or greater) cameras include the Canon PowerShot S200, S230, and S330 Digital ELPHs, Fuji FinePix A203 and A303 (these do not use the SuperCCD), Kodak EasyShare DX4330 and LS443, Konica KD-400Z, Kyocera Finecam S3x and S4, Minolta DiMAGE X, Nikon Coolpix 2500 and 3500, Olympus D-520Z and D-550Z, Pentax Optio 330RS and 430RS, and the Sony DSC-P2, DSC-P7, and DSC-P9. An exhaustive list, for sure -- this is a crowded field. I did not list any non-optical zoom cameras because I won't buy a camera without it!

As always, I recommend a trip to your local camera reseller to check out the FinePix F402 and its competitors, before you buy!

Photo Gallery

Want to see how the photos turned out? Check out our photo gallery!

Want a second opinion?

None available!

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.

All content is ©1997 - 2002 The Digital Camera Resource Page. All Rights Reserved.
Reviews and images from this site may NEVER be reposted on your website or online auction.
All trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Comments about this site should be directed to Jeff Keller.