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Conclusion - Pros

  • Resolution to match the average four megapixel consumer digital camera
  • Excellent, vivid colour reproduction (slight orange cast to pure red)
  • 6 megapixel mode good for large prints straight out of the camera
  • Very quick operation, good buffering excellent shot-to-shot times
  • Good dynamic range, tonal accuracy
  • New manual controls are welcome (aperture priority etc.)
  • Images seldom need any post-processing
  • Superb video recording capability (unlimited length, good frame rate)
  • Virtually no chromatic aberrations
  • Compact size, light weight, metal case, clean design
  • Cradle for charging and connectivity (standard in UK, optional elsewhere)
  • Excellent build and finish quality
  • Automatic lens cover
  • Supplied Lithium-Ion battery lasts and lasts, good power management
  • Battery charges in-camera (easier, means that charger doubles as adapter)
  • USB connectivity


Conclusion - Cons

  • Orange cast to reds
  • Poor frame coverage for LCD live view (just 89%)
  • No video out from camera, requires cradle
  • Strong barrel distortion at full wide angle
  • Limited night exposure ability
  • SuperCCD image quality doesn't live up to its billing (artifacts, moire etc.)
  • ISO 800, 1600 only at 1280 x 960 and only 94% frame coverage
  • LCD monitor would gain a lot from an anti-reflective coating
  • Normal sharpening level is too hard
  • No control over colour saturation / tone camera algorithms
  • Flash doesn't have the power or the cover wide angle shots
  • No histogram display in record review or playback modes
  • Auto White balance doesn't work well in artificial light
  • Relatively expensive for its limited feature set


Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Fujifilm FinePix F601 Zoom: (3 megapixel compact)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 9
Features 8
Image quality 8
Lens / CCD combination 7.5
Ease of use 7
Value for money 8

The F601 Zoom is a very capable high resolution compact digital camera. It provides a good range of manual features as well as an ease of use which means anyone can point-and-shoot with it. It's clean looks, good build quality and compact metallic case will ensure it sells well in certain parts of the world.

On the negative side I would like to have seen control of the in-camera colour and tone algorithms, the 89% LCD frame view is also disappointing and can lead to a spoiled shot, it's also a shame that the higher sensitivities of ISO 800 and 1600 are limited to 1280 x 960 and only cover 94% of the shooting frame. There's also the nagging worries about SuperCCD image quality, with artifacts hard to avoid and large files sizes which quickly fill a 128 MB SmartMedia card.

Fujifilm have however proven that they listen to the feedback of owners and reviewers. Several bug-bears such as limited movie recording and manual controls have been addressed and applied to the new generation camera. Overall I liked the F601 Zoom, it's very quick, well designed and on balance has good image quality.

Recommended

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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