Fujifilm FinePix F420 Zoom review
I bought this Fuji, my first digital camera, last January (2005) and have since shot nearly 10,000 photos with it or nearly 600/mo.
I thought I might enjoy the practicality of digital photography (no film, no processing, etc.) after having used a film SLR for many years prior. I have not been disappointed! I take more photos now than I ever did with my old SLR and would say I've improved my photography techniques as a result.
* Size + Build + Style: The ultra compact F420 is small enough for a shirt pocket and it's a well put together product: the metal body is sturdy and attractive - many people comment on it. The screen in it's day (2004) was huge, though now 1.8" is average or smallish. The on/off front panel is very slick but can easily be pushed off by accident.
* Simple Operation w/ some Manual Controls: Although it's a point and shoot, it has a few manual controls of which white balance is the most useful for adjusting exposure values in low or high light situations. Alas there are no shutter speed controls. In very low light I use the Burst mode to capture subjects clearly.
Macro lens is great for close ups like flowers and architectural models.
* Quick Startup: Under 2 sec.
* 30fps video capture. A bit of a novelty but kind of fun.
* Data transfer to a PC is relatively quick through a USB cable.
Overall, I have not been disappointed with the F420 esp since I purchased it for $250 + tax Cdn. or nearly half it's regular retail price since the retailer was clearing "old" stock for the then upcoming F440. I've not had any problems with the camera and would by it's successor if it's as well built and reliable.
* Short battery life is the number one issue: with NiMh batteries 50 shots are typical without heavy flash useage.
I carry 2 extra sets of 850mA AAAs for a day's worth of photography. Later models use longer life Lithium batts I think.
* The user interface could be simplified where some options are on buttons on the camera instead of screen menus. This would make it faster to get to the settings one wants. This has been done on the newest iteration the V10 I notice.
* Low light is a problem when you a) can't see anything through the LCD screen or b) capture it clearly. As I mentioned, burst mode helps, in this regard. Get a small tripod like the Giotto pocket series to keep things steady.
* Over time, I notice that my perception of image quality has changed i.e. at first I thought the image quality was outstanding, but having used the camera for 1-1/2 years and seen many other high end DSLR pix I've gotten jaded and now think it's only fair to average. But hey, it's just a tiny CCD point & shoot and it's still a great little starter cam:)