Price: £339 plus VAT
The FinePix F401 Zoom combines all the features you’d expect from FujiFilm and, after putting it through its paces, we can safely say that this is one of the best all-round lower-end digital cameras on the market. That’s not to say that the F401 isn’t without its faults, but it’s still a worthy buy. The FinePix F401 Zoom has an effective range of 2.1 megapixels, but the third-generation Super CCD manages to extract 4mp from the sensor. It’s worth noting that this is without the aid of interpolation, which means that the photography retains a natural look rather than ending up suffused with unnatural colours. The picture quality is, without a doubt, better than that of other 2mp cameras in this category, with fine detail shining through on high-resolution shots. However, with this quality on show, it’s a shame FujiFilm doesn’t offer a TIFF option to complement the JPEG shots. The 3x optical zoom is standard fare on beginner cameras these days, though it’s still notable on a camera this small. It retains the brushed-steel finish and the autoslide lens cap from the more expensive F601 for protection– with an almost-square pocket-sized compact chassis and a low weight of 185g. Other specifications that impressed us are the ISO equivalent settings. If you’re taking photographs reaching a resolution of 1,280-x-960 pixels, you can set the camera up to an equivalent film sensitivity setting of ISO 1600 – an impressive feat even on high-end digital cameras. This means that you can shoot low-light conditions without flooding the frame with a glaring flash. The backlash for digital cameras with high sensitivity is electronic noise interference – noise produces a grainy, dirty effect on the image. However, FujiFilm compensates for this by including noise-reduction technology on the FinePix. We took some shots at the ISO 1600 speed equivalent, and were impressed with the lack of noise interference. The technology is obviously doing a good job. The movie capability now comes with sound, but if you want to truly take advantage of this feature, it’ll require the largest SmartMedia storage card money can buy – not the 16MB card that comes bundled with the F401 Zoom. To be fair, the 16MB card is a generous bundle at this price point. In fact, the whole bundle is generous because this version contains the Premium kit – it includes an adaptor for the rechargeable lithium battery, a docking station with USB connection, good software, and a useful case. Our only complaint is that the small lithium battery doesn’t have the life span of larger models, so it’s worth investing in a spare one.