|DCRP Review: Fujifilm MX-1700
by Jeff Keller [DCRP Creator/Webmaster]
With apologies to Monty Python: And now for something completely different. A friend of mine, while interested in the various cameras I'd bring in for show-and-tell, had always complained about their bulk. He wanted something small and light, with a real zoom lens.
Well, it looks like the $599 Fuji MX-1700 may just fit the bill! This camera packs a 1.5 Mpixel CCD (1280x960 photos), a real 3X zoom lens, and support for 32Mb Smartmedia into a very small package!
What's in the Box
Just like when I reviewed the MX-2900, Fuji supplied me with the camera (and all it's accessories), plus a Fuji-branded USB Smartmedia reader, which is a must.
Inside the box for the camera, you'll find:
Keeping with Fuji tradition, they include a rechargable Lithium Ion battery -- always a nice touch.
Since the lens cover is built-in, there are no worries about losing it -- and it looks real sharp too!
I have no complaints about the manual, just like with the MX-2900.
As I mentioned, Fuji tossed in a SM-R1 USB SmartMedia card reader (manufactured by Hagiwara Sys-Com, as it turns out), which is great. A quick install of drivers and you're ready to go. If you've got USB ports on your computer, forget the Flashpath adapter-- get the card reader!
Look and Feel
I already said the MX-1700 was sexy -- I found it pretty use to hold and use as well. My dad thought it was a little awkward to hold in one hand, but I didn't have any trouble with this. I was able to hold it in my right hand and fire away. The only exception here is when you need to use the menus, at which time you'll need that other hand.
Looking at the back of the camera, you can see that it also has a four-way switch (complete with Star Trek-style blinking lights) as it's big brother. This switch lets your scroll through the menus, and zoom in and out.
To bring up said menu, you hit -- get this -- the menu button. These menus are an overlay, rather than the traditional style. The only real menu is when you flip the dial to Setup mode. In setup mode, you can choose quality (the amount of compression), size, sharpness, picture numbering, and a few other camera-specific settings.
To change the LCD brightness, you hold down Shift (that one on the left) and Disp (in the middle), which brings up a little menu for that. I wish more cameras had the little dial on the bottom though.
All the other buttons on the back are pretty self-explanatory. The status LCD, which is usually on top of most cameras, sits on the back of the MX-1700. It's got the usual standard features -- no complaints here.
Moving onto the top of the camera (yes, this picture was flipped over in Photoshop), you can see the power switch and the mode dial. If there's one thing that Fuji's got down, it's where to put the power on switch. There's no way you can accidentally turn off either the 1700 or 2900 models that I've tested.
The choices on the mode dial are: Timer, Setup (discussed above), Manual record, Auto record, Play, and PC connect.
Here you can see the left side of the MX-1700, with digital (PC) and video output, as well as a spot for an AC adapter. I really hope to see Fuji add USB support onto their cameras one day, though the card reader manufacturers probably don't agree.
Everything on this camera feels solid, from the switches on the top to the Smartmedia door pictured above. This thing may be small, but it's not weak. But how does it work?
Using the Fuji MX-1700
I was pretty hard on the last Fuji I tested, complaining about slow response times, a noisy zoom lens, and strange menus. With perhaps the exception of the unusual menus, I have no major complaints about the MX-1700.
The 1700 certainly is no speed demon, but I found it's power-on time and time between shots to be adequate. The automatic record mode is point-and-shoot. The only settings you can change are for the macro function and the flash. It should be noted that unlike the MX-2900, there is no uncompressed TIFF mode on this camera. The focusing here was still a little sensitive, and I found the "standby" message on the LCD to be a bit misleading, but it always took the picture.
Having a true 3X optical zoom on something this small never fails to amaze. The folks at Fuji invented a very small little lens! One possibly disadvantage of small lenses in general is that they can't take as much light in as a larger lens. If you're inclined to use the digital zoom as well, you can, but it's not recommended since the quality of the image rapidly declines.
Another feature of the MX-1700 is a "guideline mode" which puts guides on the LCD display for outdoor scenes, group shots, and portraits.
Anyhow, let's move onto manual record mode. The term manual is somewhat misleading, since there really isn't that much you can control here.
The four things in the menu you can control are: whitc balance, exposure compensation (-0.9 to 1.5 EV), flash intensity, and continuous shooting. (In the gallery, you'll see quite a few examples of the cloudy white balance mode.) And that's all the manual controls you've got -- no aperture or shutter priority modes, for example. But then again, for under $600, maybe that's all that you should expect to get.
One other item of note about manual mode -- here, it will ask you if you want to save or delete the image, before it's written to the card.
Moving onto play mode, you have five different functions you can perform: erase, effects, slideshow, frame protection, and printing.
Erase mode works fine-- you can delete one frame at a time, or all. You cannot, however, choose more than one photo at a time to delete.
Effects mode has four options:
Luckily, you get to see what you've done before the image is saved!
The auto playback, frame protection, and print features need to explanation.
Two other features in play mode include: Thumbnail mode, and playback zoom (so you can take a closer look at your pictures).
How does it compare?
I found the photo quality to be very good on the MX-1700 (check the gallery to see what I mean), though on cloudy days or in low light, things deteriorated a bit. Colors were always very accurate, and the camera was quick enough to take some action shots.
The Fuji MX-1700 proves that good things do come in small packages (if you pardon the cliché): the thing is very small and light, it's got a real zoom lens, it takes very good pictures, and did I mention that it's nice to look at?
My only real complaints would be the lack of a real menu system (not a big deal), more manual controls, and perhaps USB support (get a card reader instead). So if you can live without fancy manual controls, the MX-1700 may be the best camera in its class.
Want a second opinion? Check out the Imaging Resource Page's review of the MX-1700.
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