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DCRP Review: Fuji FinePix V10
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: April 9, 2006
Last Updated: April 6, 2008
The Fuji Finepix V10 ($349) is shaped like a square, but Fuji definitely threw in a few curves behind the scenes. The V10's two biggest features are its SuperCCD HR sensor and its large 3-inch LCD display.
Initially, the SuperCCD HR was marketing as a sensor which could produce ultra high resolution photos, but the image quality was lacking. Now, Fuji is taking advantage of the sensor's low noise levels to produce much cleaner images than other cameras at higher ISO sensitivities. The sensor was impressive on the FinePix F10, but Fuji's using a different one here, so we'll see how it performs later in the review.
The other "big feature" on the V10 is its 3.0" LCD display, which is as big as you'll find these days (with this exception). The big screen makes it easier to compose and view photos, and it comes in handy for playing games too. Yes, you read that right: the V10 plays video games (four to be exact).
Read to learn more about this unique camera? Find out now in our review!
What's in the Box?
The FinePix V10 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
Fuji includes a 16MB xD card with the FinePix V10, which holds a grand total of six photos at the highest image quality setting. That means that you'll want to buy a larger memory card right away, which increases the initial purchase price of the camera a bit. I'd recommend a 256MB or 512MB xD card as a good starter size. While they were once a lot more expensive than other formats like Secure Digital, these days xD cards can be found for about the same price. As far as I can tell, a high speed xD card is not necessary.
The V10 uses the now familiar NP-40 lithium-ion rechargeable battery. This battery isn't terribly powerful, packing just 2.7 Wh of energy. The chart below shows s how that translates into battery life on the V10, and how that compares with other cameras in its class:
The FinePix V10 turned in average battery life numbers in the ultra-compact class. Buying a spare battery probably isn't a bad idea. Let me remind you that batteries like the NP-20 are expensive ($40 a pop), and you can't use off-the-shelf batteries like you could if the camera used AA batteries. Then again, you'd be hard-pressed to find an ultra-compact camera that uses AAs.
The V10's battery is charged while it's inside the camera. Just plug in the included AC adapter, pour a cup of coffee, and about two hours later the battery is charged. If you'd prefer an external charger, Fuji would be happy to sell you one ($50).
Like all ultra-compact cameras, the V10 has a built-in lens cover, so there are no lens caps to worry about. As you can see, it's a pretty small camera.
There aren't very many accessories available for the FinePix V10. In fact, I counted three: extra batteries, an external charger, and a soft case ($28).
FinePixViewer 3.3 for Mac
Fuji includes their FinePixViewer software with the V10 (version 5.1 for Windows, 3.3 for Mac). This software does very basic things like image viewing, rotating, resizing, and e-mailing. There are no editing functions, so you'll want to pick up something like Photoshop Elements for that.
The bundled ImageMixer VCD2 software lets you create Video CDs of your photos. If you shell out $50 for the premium version, you can also burn to DVD discs.
The manual included with the FinePix V10 is about average. The information you're looking for is all there, but the layout could be more user friendly.
Look and Feel
The FinePix V10 is a compact, rectangular-shaped camera. The camera is constructed mostly of metal, and it well put-together for the most part (save for the plastic door over the battery/memory card compartment).
As far as ergonomics go, the V10 is a bit of a disappointment. When designing the camera Fuji engineers seemed to forget that people have thumbs, because when you're holding the camera, guess where your right thumb goes? You guessed it, right on the 3" LCD display! I wasn't a fan of the four-way controller, either -- it's too small and awkward to use, in my opinion.
|Images courtesy of Fuji|
The V10 comes in three colors: gray, orange, and silver -- though I could only find the first two for sale in the US.
Now let's see how the V10 compares with other ultra-compacts in terms of size and weight:
The FinePix is about average for its class in terms of size and weight. Ready for the tour now? Let's begin!
The FinePix V10 gives you a little more zoom than most of the ultra-compacts. Its F2.8-5.5, 3.4X optical zoom has a focal range of 6.3 - 21.6 mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 130 mm. The lens is not threaded, nor would I expect it to be.
Below the lens is the microphone. Jumping to the upper-left we find the built-in flash. The flash is small and turns in average numbers, with a working range of 0.6 - 4.4 m at wide-angle and 0.6 - 2.3 m at telephoto. You cannot attach an external flash to the V10.
That circular item to the upper-left of the flash is the self-timer lamp. The V10 does not have an AF-assist lamp, and we'll see how that affects its low light focusing performance later in the review.
The main thing to see on the back of the V10 is a huge 3-inch LCD display. Unfortunately, the upper-right corner of the screen will be covered by your thumb, since Fuji didn't give you anywhere else to put it. One thing Fuji got right was the resolution of the screen: it has 230,400 pixels, so everything is nice and sharp. Outdoor visibility was good, and the screen was easy to see in low light conditions, as well. In darker rooms the screen "gains up" automatically, and you can brighten things even more by pressing the button with the sun on it.
As you probably noticed, there's no optical viewfinder on the FinePix V10. This bothers some people, while others don't care, so it's up to you to decide if this is an issue or not.
Now let's take a look at all those buttons below the LCD. The two on the left are for entering playback mode, deleting photos, and for quickly brightening the LCD. Skipping past the four-way controller for a second: the other two buttons are for entering the menu system (and saying "okay" to options), for toggling what's shown on the LCD, and for backing out of menus.
The four-way controller, which is small and awkward to operate, is used for menu navigation and also:
On top of the V10 you'll find the Photo Mode, power, and shutter release buttons, plus the zoom controller.
Pressing the "F" button opens the Photo Mode menu, which has the following options:
The zoom controller, which is wrapped around the shutter release button, moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in 1.2 seconds. I counted nine steps throughout the 3.4X zoom range.
On this side of the camera you can see the DC-in port, which is protected by a plastic cover. This is where you'll plug in the included AC adapter.
On the other side of the V10 you'll find the record/movie mode switch and A/V+USB port (that thing in the middle is where you'll attach the wrist strap).
There's on port for both USB and A/V out, and it's also has a plastic cover over it. The V10 supports the USB 2.0 High Speed standard for fast data transfer to your Mac or PC.
We end our tour with a look at the bottom of the camera. Here you'll find the speaker, a plastic tripod mount, and the memory card/battery compartment. This last item is protected by a flimsy plastic door that looks pretty easy to bust off. You cannot swap memory cards while the camera is on a tripod.
The included NP-40 battery is shown at right.
Using the Fuji FinePix V10
You'll wait about 1.4 seconds after turning on the FinePix V10 before you can start taking pictures -- not bad.
The camera's focus times are good without the "high speed shooting" option (see below), and great with it. Focus times are 0.1 - 0.3 seconds with high speed shooting, and 0.2 - 0.4 seconds without it. Focus times did get a little slow if the camera had to "hunt" a bit, though. While not great, low light focusing was better than expected from a camera without an AF-assist lamp.
Shutter lag was not noticeable, even at slower shutter speeds where it often shows up.
Shot-to-shot speed was excellent, with a delay of about a second before you can take another shot.
You cannot delete a photo right after it's taken -- you must enter playback mode.
Now, here's a look at the image size/quality choices on the V10:
The FinePix V10 does not 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 FinePix V10 has a fairly basic, overlay-style menu. Some of the options below are only available in the manual shooting mode. And now, the full recording menu:
The manual shooting mode isn't really that manual. It simply opens up the full recording menu -- there aren't any manual controls on the V10. The natural light mode is the same as it was on previous FinePix modes. The camera lets you take photos using ambient light by increasing the ISO sensitivity high enough to ensure a sharp photo. The new natural light & flash mode takes two photos in a row: the first raises the sensitivity (to as high as ISO 800), while the second uses the flash.
The photos taken in natural light mode didn't impress me as much as they did when I reviewed the FinePix F10 last year. The F10 definitely has less noise, as its photo quality at ISO 400 looks like ISO 200 on the V10. If the ISO gets to 800 then photos start to look more like watercolor paintings (example one, two), though they still make decent small prints. I'll have more on this subject later.
There are three continuous shooting modes on the V10. The top 3-frame mode takes just three shots in a row at 2.2 frames/second. The final 3-frame mode takes up to 40 shots in a row (at the same frame rate) and saves the last three photos that were taken before you took your finger off the shutter release button. The long-period takes up 40 shots in a row at about 0.7 frames/second. The camera re-focuses between each shot, which slows things down even more. The LCD does keep up well during shooting in all three of the continuous modes.
There is also a setup menu, which you get to from either the record or playback menus. Here's what you'll find in it:
Enough menus, let's talk about photo quality now!
As you can see, the FinePix V10 had some trouble with our macro test shot, and for one simple reason: it has no custom white balance feature. This shot is taken in my studio, with two 600W quartz lamps providing the light. While some cameras can nail the color without custom WB, the V10 is not one of them. I should point out that this issue won't matter to most people, since you're probably not shooting under this kind of light. But if you do, you might want to find a camera that lets you manually set the white balance. (Here's how the photo should've looked -- I adjusted the color in Photoshop.)
Aside from the color cast, everything looks good. The subject is nice and sharp, and the V10 captured plenty of detail.
You can get as close to your subject as 9 cm at wide-angle and 39 cm at telephoto on the FinePix V10.
The night shot turned out very well. The only way to take long exposures is to use the night scene mode, which allows for shutter speeds as slow as 4 seconds. You don't get to pick the shutter speed though -- the camera does. The camera also boosts the ISO as needed, and things still look pretty clean here at ISO 200. Purple fringing was not a problem.
Since I can't control the shutter speed on the V10, I am unable to do the night ISO tests. Look below for another ISO test taken in our studio, though.
There's mild barrel distortion at the wide end of the V10's 3.4X zoom lens. Vignetting (dark corners) and blurry edges didn't show up in the chart, though I saw a tiny bit of the latter in a few of my real world photos.
Small cameras usually have big redeye problems, and the V10 is no exception. While you results may vary, odds are that you'll have at least some problems with this annoyance.
Here's the other ISO test that I mentioned earlier. I took a photo of the above scene at each of the ISO settings, from 64 to 1600. As you can see, the same reddish color cast that was in the macro test shot is here as well. Since we're looking at noise here, that isn't a huge deal. Check out the crops below for a quick comparison, and be sure to view the full size images to compare other areas of the photo.
As you can see, noise levels remain low through ISO 200. At ISO 400, the "graininess" starts to pick up, and at ISO 800 and above you start seeing the "watercolor" effect that I mentioned earlier. While I found that the ISO 800 photo could be printed at 4 x 6, the ISO 1600 shot had noticeable noise in the print.
The V10 doesn't have the same high sensitivity advantages over the competition as the F10 did. In fact, some of the competition does a better job at high ISO settings than the V10, most notably the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W50.
Out in the real world I was generally pleased with the photos I took with the FinePix V10. Photos were well-exposed, with pleasing color and sharpness and minimal purple fringing. Noise levels are low, as long as the ISO doesn't wander up too high. Since image quality really takes a nose dive at ISO 800 and above, I'd skip the natural light mode and instead shoot in manual mode, setting the ISO yourself (no higher than 400).
Ultimately you need to be the final judge of the FinePix V10's photo quality. Have a look at our photo gallery, print the photos if you'd like, and then decide if the V10's photo quality meets your expectations.
The FinePix V10 has a very good movie mode. You can record video at 640 x 480 (30 frames/second) with sound until the memory card is full. That takes just 13 seconds with the included 16MB memory card, so you'll want a larger card for longer movies. A 1GB xD card holds about 15 minutes of video.
For longer movies you can drop the resolution to 320 x 240, which doubles recording time. Movies are saved in AVI format using the M-JPEG codec.
As is usually the case, you cannot use the zoom lens during filming.
Here's the usual train station sample movie for you:
Click to play movie (11.2 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, QuickTime format)
Can't view them? Download QuickTime.
The FinePix has a standard playback mode with one very unique extra feature. The basic features include slideshows, image protection, voice captions, DPOF print marking, thumbnail view (including a calendar view), and zoom & scroll. This last option lets you enlarge the frame by as much as 4.1 times and then move around in the zoomed-in area. As you might expect, the V10 is PictBridge-enabled for direct printing to a compatible photo printer.
Images can also be rotated, resized, and cropped.
|The games of the FinePix V10|
The FinePix V10 is the only digital camera in the world that has games built-in. You can choose from number puzzle, block buster (think Breakout), maze (sort of like Pacman), and "shooting game". While I suppose the games could kill time if you're really bored, I don't think people will be throwing away their PSPs just yet.
The V10 doesn't tell you much about your photos, as you can see above.
The camera moves through photos at an average clip. There's a delay of about half a second between high res photos.
How Does it Compare
The Fuji FinePix V10 is an ultra-compact camera with a huge LCD screen, very good photo quality in most situations, and one very unique feature: it plays video games. While not recommended for everyone, the V10 is a capable point-and-shoot camera for those who can live with a few annoyances.
The FinePix V10 is a slim and stylish rectangular-shaped camera whose most notable feature is its enormous 3-inch LCD display. Fuji didn't skimp at all on this screen -- the resolution is high, and low light visibility is very good. There are some tradeoffs that come with the big screen, though. There's no optical viewfinder, the buttons are too small, and there is nowhere to put your thumb except for right on the screen. I'm not a fan of the plastic tripod mount and flimsy memory card/battery compartment cover, either.
The V10 is a 100% point-and-shoot camera, with no manual controls. That's too bad, since it really needs manual white balance controls at the very least. What you will find are several scene modes, including the natural light mode that was made famous by the FinePix F10. Unfortunately, the V10 doesn't perform as well as that camera at high ISO sensitivities, so I'd skip that mode altogether and set the ISO manually, keeping it at 400 or less. The V10 has a very nice movie mode, recording VGA quality video at 30 frames/second until the memory card fills up. And yes, the V10 plays games -- four of them to be exact. They're not terribly exciting, and the controls leave something to be desired, but I suppose some people will enjoy them. I would've preferred manual controls and an AF-assist lamp instead, personally.
Camera performance was very good in most areas. The camera turns on quickly, focusing is snappy (with the high speed mode turned on), and shutter lag was not a problem. Low light focusing was decent, but certainly not great. The V10's burst mode wasn't terribly impressive, taking just three shots in a row. Battery life was average for the ultra-compact class.
Photo quality was a mixed bag: it really depends on the situation. In normal outdoor shooting, the V10 took very nice photos, with accurate color, good exposure, and pleasing sharpness. In lower light levels the camera will want to crank up the ISO, and if it gets above ISO 400 then things start looking more like Monet paintings than photographs. The FinePix V10 doesn't perform as well as the now legendary F10 in this area, and some other cameras like the Sony DSC-W50 wipe the floor with it. Redeye was also a big problem, and if you shoot under unusual lighting you might want to find a camera with manual white balance instead.
In conclusion, the FinePix V10 is best suited for folks who will be doing most of their shooting outdoors or in good light. The V10 doesn't have the great high sensitivity performance of the FinePix F10, and doesn't match its excellent low light capabilities. It's not the best camera in its class, but the FinePix V10 is certainly worth a look.
What I liked:
What I didn't care for:
Some other ultra-compacts worth considering include the Canon PowerShot SD630 and SD700 IS, Casio Exilim EX-Z600, Fuji FinePix Z1, HP Photosmart R927, Kodak EasyShare One and V603, Nikon Coolpix S6, Olympus Stylus 710, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01, Pentax Optio S6 and T10, Samsung Digimax i6, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1 and DSC-T30.
As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the FinePix V10 and its competitors before you buy!
Want to see how the photo quality turned out? Then have a look at our gallery!
Want another opinion?
Feedback & Discussion
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.
To discuss this review with other DCRP readers, please visit our forums.
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