Review: Fuji FinePix 1400
Dunne, DCRP Contributing Editor
Originally posted: Tuesday, June 20, 2000
Last Updated: Saturday, October 7, 2000
first got to play with a model of the Fuji
FinePix 1400 back at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this
year. Before I even saw it, the guys from Fuji said something like
"When you see it, you're probably going to say something. We
know." Sure enough, I did just as they predicted -- they whipped
out the 1400 and I said "wow, it looks just like the Olympus
D-400 series!" I was told that consumers seemed to like that
type of camera, so Fuji set out to make their own camera like the
D-400. For this review, I'm pleased to welcome back Alex Dunne,
the Ricoh RDC-5300 for us last year. Enjoy! --Jeff
Jeff asked me to review the $350 FinePix 1400 Zoom, I thought to
myself "sure Jeff, go ahead and give me the low-end Fuji to review,
while you save the fun high-end models for yourself!" But once I
started using this camera, I found that it to be well designed,
easy to use, and with the exception of some small problems, a good
camera all around. For a 1.3 megapixel camera with a 3X optical
zoom (plus 2x digital zoom) at an MSRP of $399, it's a good deal.
in the Box?
open the box for the FinePix 1400 and peering inside, you see the
1.3 megapixel FinePix 1400 Zoom camera
4 "AA" alkaline batteries
containing USB drivers and software package (including Exif Viewer)
that you don't get a serial cable, an AC adapter, or a soft camera
case in the box. For me, USB is a must, but if your computer doesn't
have a USB jack, that could be a deal-breaker right there. I also
will forgive Fuji for not supplying an AC adapter, because the only
time I ever use one is while downloading pictures to the computer,
and that's a minute or two of battery drain that I can live with.
And since the FinePix 1400 Zoom does a pretty good job of protecting
itself without a soft case, the omission of a soft case didn't strike
me as a big deal. (Remember, this camera costs about $350 on the
street, so Fuji had to reduce the price by leaving out some frills.)
said, what I would have liked in the box is at least an 8MB SmartMedia
card (the camera supports up to 64MB). With just 4MB of storage
capacity right out of the box, you'll only get about 6 shots at
1280x960 at the "Fine" (highest picture quality) setting.
If you don't care about picture quality (though most of us do),
know that you can get over 60 640x480 shots at the "Basic"
(lowest picture quality) setting onto the 4MB card. There is also
a "Normal" picture quality setting in between "Fine"
and "Basic". All photos are stored as JPEG images, and
there is no support for uncompressed TIFFs.
off the bat, I have to compliment Fuji on the design of this camera.
I'm on the go a lot, and I bring cameras to places that can be inhospitable
to cameras (particularly digital cameras), like on mountain-bike
rides, while I sail, and on hikes in the mountains. Fortunately,
Fuji designed the FinePix 1400 to defend itself under rough conditions.
The camera's plastic body includes a built-in lens cover, and when
you flip the camera into picture-taking mode and slide the lens
cover it back, the lens quickly and quietly motors out. When turned
off, the lens retracts, you close the cover, and once again it's
protected. This also gives the camera a slimmer profile too, which
is good when you're storing it in your pocket. There is also a clear
plastic plate covering the 1.6" LCD on the back of the camera,
for added protection. If Fuji had just only put a cover over the
camera's USB and AC adapter plugs, this little guy would have been
all battened down against sand and dirt. As it is, though, it's
still generally well protected. (Note that Fuji doesn't bill this
camera as water resistant or somehow less prone to the elements
than other cameras -- I just feel that all things being equal, this
camera would do better than most under tough conditions.) The FinePix
1400 isnt too heavy either, weighing in at about 12 ounces
FinePix 1400 uses a similar control panel as other Fuji models.
There is a mode switch on top of the camera, which toggles between
picture-taking mode, picture-viewing mode, and the "Off"
position. On the back are four round buttons: Display (for adjusting
options related to the rear LCD display), the ever-present flash
on/off button, and Cancel/Back and Menu/Exe buttons which are mostly
used for aborting and confirming camera options within the navigation
menus. On the far right is a constellation of three navigation buttons
(up/down, left, and right) which are used for navigating the camera's
interface, and also for zooming in/out on subjects.
LCD on the FinePix 1400 does the job, but it's a bit grainy and
not as bright as those I've seen on other cameras. One nice feature
was the ability to adjust the brightness of the LCD according to
outside lighting conditions, but that didn't help the graininess
of the image, and if you bump up the brightness too far, the image
washes out into bright whites, not necessarily made brighter.
can see the DC input and USB out ports here. Note the lack of video
manual that came with the camera was easy to read and navigate,
with plenty of helpful diagrams to get you up to speed quickly.
And once the USB drivers (which were a snap to install) were loaded,
I was off and running with the FinePix 1400 Zoom.
4Mb SmartMedia card hides behind a sturdy plastic door on the opposite
the Fuji FinePix 1400
shots with this camera and navigating through the LCD picture-taking
interface is easy. I wasn't acquainted with the menuing system on
Fuji cameras prior to this review, but nevertheless I was able to
pick it up quickly (see shotoffuji-backmenu.jpg to get an idea of
the menus look and feel). In picture-taking mode, hitting
the "Menu/Exe" button brings up an overlay menu on the
rear LCD screen for adjusting these settings:
on/off (only available in Auto mode)
mode (for switching between Auto/Manual/Set-Up).
A look at the menus in record mode.
you want to point and shoot, the FinePix 1400 can be set up to do
just that, just by staying in Auto mode. But if you're a bit more
of a control freak like me, the camera has a Manual mode that lets
you tweak settings. In his earlier reviews of the Fujifilm MX-1700
and FinePix 4700, Jeff opined that its a little misleading
of Fuji to call it "Manual" mode because unlike an SLR
cameras manual mode, you can neither adjust the shutter speed
(it varies between 1/2 and 1/750 of a second, and is determined
by the camera) nor the aperture. But fortunately you can exert some
control over difficult lighting situations. Like its higher-end
Fuji brethren, the FinePix 1400's Manual mode lets you modify lighting
exposures of a shot (between -0.9 to 1.5 EV, in 0.3 increments),
so that high-contrast scenes can be equalized somewhat (which comes
in handy when you are taking a picture of a backlit person). See
the three photos of San Francisco below to see the difference this
makes, which were photographed at -0.9, 0.0, and 1.5 EV, respectively.
FinePix 1400 also has seven different white balance settings to
give you more accurate colors in various types of indoor and outdoor
lighting conditions. These different settings are somewhat helpful
for giving you a more accurate representation of a scene's colors
under, say, incandescent lights, but if you plan to take a lot of
indoor shots and you are really concerned about accurate color representation,
nothing beats the "Auto Levels" function of Adobe's Photoshop.
In other words, invest in some good image editing software too,
because digital cameras in general (not just the FinePix 1400) are
not so hot at color balancing. See below to see an example of the
not-so-white white balancing.
are some downsides to the Manual mode. For some reason, Fuji doesnt
let you use the self timer when you're in Manual mode, which I found
a bit odd. Another drawback to Manual mode is that it displays the
picture on the LCD after you take a shot, and you must confirm or
cancel each one after you take it. That means taking shots in rapid
succession while in Manual mode is problematic.
for the record, some of the features found in higher-end Fujis that
you do not get with the FinePix 1400 are flash strength controls,
continuous shooting, sharpness controls, manual focus, and sensitivity
(ISO settings) controls. But again, there's a reason why those cameras
are more expensive.
here: Okay, I blew it on this night shot, and took it in 640 x 480,
but you get the idea
FinePix 1400's 3X lens responds quickly and quietly during zoom
operations, and is equivalent to a 38-144mm lens on a 35mm camera.
If you're a fan of digital zoom, you might be disappointed in the
digital zoom on this camera, because it's an all-or-nothing feature.
Unlike the optical zoom, the digital zoom is not adjustable -- when
it is enabled, it automatically magnifies the image by a set amount,
and there is no way to pull back a bit to somewhere in between the
maximum optical zoom (3X) and the full-strength digital zoom (effectively
6X). Additionally, the digital zoom feature only works when you're
taking pictures at 640x480, and is unavailable if you are shooting
1280x960 images. All told, however, I don't consider this to be
a major deficiency. Digital zoom is not nearly as important as optical
zoom, and I wouldn't warn someone off from this camera just because
of this. It's really a minor drawback in the big scheme of things.
couldn't let a review go by without this picture!
flash can be set to auto flash, forced flash, forced off, red-eye
reduction, and "Night Scene". The first four modes are
fairly common, but the last mode bears some explanation. In "Night
Scene" (also called "Slow Synchro"), a slow shutter
speed is combined with the flash to illuminate people in the foreground
and distant background cityscapes at night.
Playback mode is very straightforward and easy for viewing pictures
youve already taken, either individually or in grid of thumbnail-size
shots. In picture-viewing mode, hitting the "Menu/Exe"
button brings up a menu for:
images from erasure
previously taken pictures
the DPOF and date/time settings.
at play mode.
erase images, you can opt to erase one at a time, or the entire
lot on the SmartMedia card. There is no selective deletion of multiple
pictures at once. Protecting images is likewise accomplished one
at a time, or altogether.
FinePix 1400 lets you resize images in the camera, too. If you have
a 1280x960 image and you want to take it down to 640x480 or 320x240,
you can do that within the camera. Note that the original is not
affected -- another image is created on the SmartMedia card with
the new, smaller image. Then, if you like, you can delete the original.
can use the DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) settings to set how
many copies of a particular picture you want printed, whether you
want the date and time printed on the photo, and so on.
feature that I liked is the ability to zoom in on a picture that
I already took, and pan around to see details. In the course of
using digital cameras, I've often taken pictures that looked great
on the back LCD panel, but then when I got home and downloaded them,
it turned out that they were blurry, the lighting was too dim on
the target, and so on. Because the LCD panels on cameras are so
small, its hard to make out subtle details in photos from
the small representation. But with the playback mode on the FinePix
1400, you can zoom in way into pictures (up to 4.0X) simply by pushing
the "up" button (which is also the zoom button while in
picture taking mode, so the context of the button is similar). You
zoom into images at .2X increments each time you push the up button,
and when you hit the "Disp" button, the four navigational
buttons on the back of the camera become panning controls.
Does it Compare?
I said at the beginning of this review, I didnt have high
hopes for this camera when I began, but I quickly came to feel that
this camera has a lot going for it. I think its a credit to
Fuji that they were able to pack quite a bit into a low-end digital
camera. On top of that, Fuji kept "must have" features
on board, and ditched those that were not important (or at least,
the features Fuji omitted wouldnt be on my "must have"
what I liked about the FinePix 1400 Zoom:
color accurate pictures
not too heavy, and the protection the streamlined case offers
makes the camera good for bringing just about anywhere.
system is simple and pretty easy to use.
as for what turned me off about the camera:
The LCD on the back betrays a lack of quality the display
is grainy and not very bright.
camera only comes with a 4MB SmartMedia card, and no AC adapter.
like to be able to take pictures rapidly in Manual Mode, and to
be able to use the self timer, but no such luck.
the whole, the FinePix 1400 Zoom is a great camera for the price.
If youre in the market for a digital camera and you dont
need 2+ megapixel images, you ought to seriously look at it. I might
have been skeptical of this low-end camera when I began this review,
but now, at the end of the review process, Im a believer.
says: As always, I recommend going out to your local reseller to
play with the camera before you buy it. The only real competitor
here is the Olympus
D-460Z, no surprise there.
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a second opinion? How about a third?
Digicams review of the FinePix 1400. Or, try the Imaging Resource