Fujifilm FinePix F420 Zoom review
I did TONS of research on DCs and was basically deciding between the A70/80 or either the F410/F420. I chose the F420 for these reasons, in no particular order:
1) EVERYBODY has an A series, 70 or 80 ... The F420's operation time is very quick. You can easily take pictures in succession, and pictures are taken with only minimal delay. The A70's delay is pretty unbearable, in my opinion. After holding down the shutter button, it always takes at least 2 seconds before the picture is taken. Sometimes, you just cannot wait that long because your subjects might not be human friends who are waiting for you to take the picture.
2) Fuji metal construction is just unbeatable . . . the A80's flip out LCD felt so cheap in construction.
3) unlimited 30fps video is hard to pass up!
4) xD card. Load time is fast, save time is fast, review time is fast, edit time is fast! Some people confuse the blinking orange light after a picture is taken as "image save time". But that is actually the flash recharge time. If you take shots without flash on, you can start taking pictures almost instantly.
5) 1.8 LCD on an ultra-compact camera (this camera is so small. Online pictures make it look so much bigger). The LCD is bright and has a good resolution.
6) Very little competitors within it's category. Super CCD 4th gen. = great colors + 6MP (interpolated), extremely small, big enough LCD, AWESOME user interface, aesthetically pleasing.
7) Buttons are neatly placed and intuitive. Most cameras I've looked at have so many buttons and they're placed all over. No intuitive feel to it. Lots of my friends have great cameras, but they just don't use all of the features, simply because a) no one wants to read a huge user manual b) just so darn complicated to access different features. The F420's interface and buttons are extremely well designed and you can easily figure out how to use all of its features without the manual.
8) "F" photomode button for quick access to ISO, shooting mode and resolution
9) you WILL get complimented on the camera because it looks absolutely gorgeous. The Canon A series, although good in their own rights, are like Civics. They are worth the money, but they're just everywhere and don't stand out. The F420 is extremely rare and people will notice and want to play with it.
In the end, the camera itself only cost me roughly $415 canadian (roughly $315 US) since it has been out in Asia for a while now. North American prices for the F410 alone are still well over $600 CAN / $500 US. So I did not even hesitate to get the newer F420. But you will want to get yourself a bigger memory card. 16M is very little space.
I've been over-using the camera (to my fellow students' frustration!) for a few days now and I've tried it out in all conditions I can think of. Day, night, pitch black, sunny, indoors, subway, computer labs, various areas in my house ... overall, picture quality is good. What stands out, though, is the color. If you take pictures of multi-colored scenes, you get beautiful colors that are well defined. Unfortunately, superb picture quality can only be obtained through trial and error and figuring out which settings are the best. This is my biggest complaint ...
Pictures taken with the F420 come out fairly good. But in low light conditions, the pictures are grainy in the background. In darker light, ISO 800 turns out the brighest pictures, but camera shake is a pain. Objects closest to the camera always turn out perfect. But backgrounds, such as walls, turn out grainy under low lighting.
The camera is extremely small and light, so any hint of camera movement is reflected in the pictures. You have to be quite careful when taking pictures, and make sure you keep the camera steady before and after you take a shot, just to make sure you don't ruin your picture.
Battery life doesn't last as long, since it runs on the rechargeable NH-20 or two commercial AAA batteries (which are quite small). This is due to the size of the camera. The pros definitely outweight the cons, so it was worth the sacrifice.
Even though it might take you some experimenting to figure out which settings turn out the best pictures in any given situation, the F420 does offer easily acccessible features to help you get the best quality out of your shots. The Manual mode doesn't quite give you as much freedom as you'd want, but with all the positives this camera has to offer, it's very hard to find any real criticism with the F420.