Review: Fuji FinePix F601 Zoom
Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Sunday, March 17, 2002
Friday, May 24, 2002
first look is now a full review. All photos are from a production
model camera, and the text and illustrations have been updated where
before PMA in February, Fuji introduced three new cameras, each
of which uses the new SuperCCD III sensor. This is the 3rd generation
SuperCCD, and Fuji promises better pictures with less noise. The
"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
3.3 Megapixel SuperCCD produces images with 6 million pixels. Of
course, there is some interpolation ("guessing") going
on by the camera in order to pull that off.
F601 Zoom ($599) replaces the FinePix 4800 and 6800, which used
second generation SuperCCD sensors.
the 601 a good choice for a small, high resolution camera? Find
in the Box?
FinePix F601 has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
3.1 (effective) Mpixel Fuji FinePix F601 Zoom camera
Li-ion rechargeable battery
adapter / battery charger
featuring FinePixViewer software and drivers
been a battery change between the FinePix 6800 and the F601. While
the 6800 used the NP-80 battery (also seen in cameras made by other
manufacturers), the F601 uses the thin NP-60 battery, similar to
those seen in the "micro-cameras" that I've reviewed.
battery is rated at 3.7V, 1035 mAh, which gives it 3.2 Watt/hours
of power.. Fuji estimates that you should be able to take approximately
150 photos with the LCD on, or 300 with the LCD off, on a single
charge. To charge the battery, you just plug the included AC adapter
into the side of the F601.
includes a rather skimpy 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?
the camera has a built-in lens cover, there are no lens cap worries.
You can get a good idea about the F601's size in that picture.
really aren't any accessories to speak of for the F601 -- except one.
Just like on the 4800 and 6800, Fuji offers a docking cradle for the
F601 ($59). This cradle allows you to charge the battery and transfer
photos while the camera comfortably rests in the cradle. Do you need
it? Well, you can do both without it -- just not at the same time.
The included USB cable plugs into the bottom of the camera, and the
AC adapter plugs into the side.
F601 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.
camera manual included with the FinePix F601 was better than average,
FinePix F601 is a pretty small camera. Not as small as, say, a Digital
ELPH, but small nonetheless. This comparison chart should give you
(W x H x D)
FinePix F601 Zoom
x 3.7 x 1.3
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
the F601's dimensions seem "backwards" compared to the
others, it's because the F601's body is "vertical", compared
to the more traditional "horizontal" bodies of the others.
FinePix's body is all metal, and it feels as good as it looks. The
camera fits well in your hands, but you must watch out where you
put your right hand, for reasons I will cover in a second. The F601
fits in your pockets with ease. One thing I don't like about all
these small metal cameras is that they tend to scratch easily.
begin our tour of the camera now, starting with the front.
F601 features an F2.8, 3X optical zoom lens. The focal range of
the lens is 8.3 - 24.9 mm, which is equivalent to 36 - 108 mm. The
lens is not threaded, so don't expect any conversion lenses for
above the lens is the popup flash. The flash has a working range
of 0.2 - 3.0 m at telephoto, and 0.2 - 4.7 m at wide-angle. Again,
no external flash options are available, nor would one be expected
from a small camera like this.
four items to the left of the lens are what I was alluding to earlier
when I warned about right hand placement. From top to bottom, these
not sure what that last one is, as it's not pointed out in the manual.
Anyhow, remember how on the Nikon Coolpix 5000, people were having
trouble with flash exposure because their fingers were covering
the flash sensor? Well, if you're not careful, you can do the same
thing here on the FinePix F601. The microphone is also something
that you can accidentally cover. In other words, keep your hands
on the top of the camera.
there's anything missing from the front of the F601 (and all Fuji
cameras), it's an AF illuminator, to help with low-light focusing.
is the back of the camera.
1.5" LCD is a bit smaller than on many larger cameras, but
it's par for the course for a small digicam. It's bright and useable
in most conditions, except outside when it's bright. LCD brightness
is adjustable via the setup menu.
above the LCD, in the same gray square, you'll find (left to right)
the "Display" button, the "mode icons", and
the power button. The Display button toggles the LCD on and off.
The mode icons (my term) show what mode you're currently in, though
it seems redundant since you can just look at the mode wheel. The
power button needs no explanation.
the top left is the optical viewfinder. It's a bit small, and it
lacks diopter correction, but it's far away enough from the LCD
to prevent nose smudges.
to the right are more buttons and switches. The three on the left
are for Flash open, Back (in the menus), and Record/Playback. The
four-way switch handles menus, and doubles as the zoom controller
for the camera. The zoom controls are smooth and accurate. Pressing
the four-way switch into the camera will activate the menus.
those little holes toward the bottom-right of the photo are for
only items of note on top of the camera are the popup flash, and
the mode wheel with the shutter release button inside it. The choices
on the mode wheel are:
you choose Scene mode, you can then choose between five preset situations:
shooting mode will take up to 40 shots at a rate of about 2 frames/second.
The catch? They're all at 1280 x 960.
F601 has robust audio recording capabilities. You can record up
to 33 minutes of audio on the included 16MB SmartMedia card, and
up to 4.5 hours on a 128MB card. As you record, you can hit the
"up" button to leave an "index mark" (like a
bookmark), so you can quickly get back to that point in your recording.
You can have up to 256 of these indices. Audio is recording in WAV
format, by the way.
cover the other modes later in the review.
should also add that the F601 does not have an LCD info display,
which means that you'll have to turn on the main LCD to check settings
and see shots remaining. The FinePix 6800 had one on the back of
only thing to see on this side of the F601 is the DC in port, where
that AC adapter will plug into. There is no video out support on
this camera, unlike on its predecessor, the FinePix 6800.
the other side, you'll find the battery and SmartMedia slots, under
a plastic cover. The cover seems pretty flimsy, so be careful. Let's
open it up and take a look inside.
you can see the open cover, along with the NP-60 battery and my
64MB SmartMedia card (yours will be 16MB).
here is the bottom of the camera. Here you can see the connector
for USB (and the optional dock) as well as a metal tripod mount.
There's a little cover that slides over that USB/dock connector
the Fuji FinePix F601 Zoom
takes about two seconds for the F601 to extend its lens and "warm
up" after you turn it on. That's pretty darn fast for a camera
with a zoom lens.
you press the shutter release button halfway, the camera usually
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 good, but not exceptional.
Expect to wait just under three seconds before you can take another
shot at the 6MP setting.
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)
(2832 x 2128)
(2048 x 1536)
(1280 x 960)
(640 x 480)
is no TIFF or RAW support on the FinePix F601.
FinePix F601 uses a new menu system, and I don't like it. A friend
who used the camera didn't care for it either. The main menu items
are arranged in a circular fashion (see photo above left) on two
different menu pages. My big complaint is that navigating the menus
is really clumsy. Once you actually make it to a menu item, you
watch as the choices "drop" into place (which just slows
down the whole process). I'm hoping that this system will disappear
ranting, let's see what is actually in these menus. Items in bold
are only seen in manual mode.
Memo - record up to 30 seconds of audio with each picture (appears
to only be available in Auto record mode)
setting (Auto, redeye reduction, forced flash, slow synchro) -
to suppress the flash, just close it
shooting/AE bracketing (on/off, bracketing) - in continuous shooting
mode, the camera will take up to 4 shots at an interval of 0.2
sec; AE bracketing takes three shots in a row at different EV
settings (1/3, 2/3, 1EV increments)
mode (AF, AF area, MF) - in AF area mode, you use the four-way
switch to pick the subject to focus on. A manual focus feature
is also available.
(see above chart)
- the usual options
Mode (Program, aperture priority, shutter priority, full manual)
- more on this below
(Multi, spot, average)
(-2.1EV to +1.5EV in 1/3EV increments)
(-0.6EV to +0.6EV in 1/3EV increments)
(Auto, sunlight, cloudy, fluorescent (x3), incandescent) - still
no manual white balance!
(160, 200, 400, 800, 1600) - more below
(Hard, normal, soft)
want to comment on some of these menu items. I'll start from the
bottom. The F601 has unmatched ISO flexibility for a consumer-level
camera, with a range of 160 - 1600. The catch? If you want ISO 800
or 1600, you'll be forced to use the 1MP resolution.
a few readers asked, below is a rather unscientific example of the
different ISO settings. I took an indoor picture and cropped it
down for easier viewing.
you can probably tell, things get noisier as the ISO goes up. Why
would you crank up the ISO so high? In situations when you really
need a slow shutter speed (and thus a tripod), a higher sensitivity
will allow you to use a faster shutter speed than you would otherwise,
at the expense of noise.
other menu item I wanted to talk about was the Program mode option.
This lets you choose between programmed auto, aperture priority,
shutter priority, and full manual modes. Aperture priority mode
lets you choose from a few values between F2.8 and F8. In shutter
priority mode, the range is 2 - 1/1000 sec. In full manual mode,
you can shoot as fast as 1/1600 sec.
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).
F601 was able to produce a fairly noise-free night shot as well.
I wish things were a bit sharper but it's still pretty good. The
manual controls on the camera will help you take low light shots
like this. Remember, a tripod is a must!
a crop of a photo I took with the flash. The skin tone looks good.
Though it's not available here, you could see some barrel distortion
in the full shot (which was taken at wide-angle).
here is the redeye test. Taken in low light with the flash's redeye
reduction turned on. The image was cropped and enlarged 200% so
you can see the details. There's a bit of a reflection here but
FinePix F601Z has very good photo quality, for the most part. Fuji
is great with color accuracy -- just look how great the flowers
photos in the gallery look. Also, chromatic
aberration (purple fringing) as not a problem. One big issue with
these SuperCCD cameras is "artifacting". I will repeat
something I wrote in my FinePix
S602 Zoom review:
you look at the images on the screen -- especially those taken
at the 6MP setting -- you will see noise, artifacts, and "jaggies".
Downsizing the image gets rid of them, as does printing -- the
6MP images are excellent when printed on a capable photo printer.
The images seem oversharpened at times (again, mainly at the 6MP
setting), so you may want to experiment with the soft sharpening
setting, and let Photoshop do the rest.
check out the photo gallery and decide
about the F601's photo quality for yourself!
of the big new features on the FinePix F601 is its super movie mode
capabilities. You can record video at 320 x 240 or 640 x 480 (!),
15 frames/second, with sound! Of course, you can only 27 seconds
of the high res video on the 16MB memory card, so if you're serious
about it, you'll want a larger card. On a 128MB card, for example,
you can store about four minutes of VGA video. (The major difference
between the F601 and S602 movie modes is that the S602 records at
30 fps versus 15 fps on the F601.)
are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.
only real downside here is that the optical zoom isn't available
got two samples for you in this review. The first one was taken
at the QVGA (320 x 240) setting, while the second one was taken
at the full VGA (640 x 480) size. Be warned that the second one
is quite large.
320 x 240 movie sample (I hope you like sea lions).
AVI format, 1.8MB
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
640 x 480 movie sample. AVI format, 9.5MB
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
FinePix F601 Zoom has an average playback mode. While it does feature
thumbnail mode, DPOF print marking, zoom and scroll, and voice captions,
the F601 lacks a slide show feature.
zoom and scroll feature (my term) lets you zoom in as much as 18X
(!) into your photo, and then scroll around it. Another nice feature
is the ability to crop photos when you're zoomed in.
is no way to get any exposure information about your photos, unfortunately.
The F601 moves through your photos at lightning speed -- one of
the fastest cameras I've seen in that regard.
Does it Compare?
first thing that you need to remember is that no matter what you
read about the FinePix F601 Zoom, it's a three -- not six -- Megapixel
camera. The camera is at its best in 3MP/Fine mode. Once you get
into the 6MP mode, things don't look as nice. That said, the images
taken in the 6MP mode look great reduced in size or printed.
for the camera itself, the F601 is a worthy update to the FinePix
4800 and 6800. It has just about everything you desire on a digital
camera, including full manual controls. The only exception is the
lack of a TIFF mode and manual white balance. The F601's operation
is robust, especially when it comes to turning it on, and playing
back photos. The camera loses some points for a just so-so playback
though, the FinePix F601 Zoom is a nice choice for a midrange digital
camera, and it gets my recommendation.
nice looking body
full manual controls
quality pictures in most cases (esp. when downsized or printed)
startup time, minimal AF/shutter lag
good movie mode (not as good as S602, though)
I didn't care for:
noise issues at 6MP especially
mode just OK
manual white balance or TIFF mode
small, 3 Megapixel (or greater) cameras include the Canon PowerShot
PhotoSmart 812, Kodak
Finecam S3, Minolta
DiMAGE F100, Olympus
D-40Z, Pentax Optio 330
and the Sony DSC-P71
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera reseller to check
out the FinePix F601 and its competitors, before you buy!
to see how the photos turned out? Check out our photo
a second opinion?
miss the review of the F601 at Steves
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.