Fujifilm Finepix F31fd Review
Timing & Performance
The F30 was one of the fastest cameras on the market; it's still one of the best. The F31fd, unsurprisingly, offers very similar performance, with slight differences here and there (some of which will be down to test tolerances), but overall no significant changes. Shutter lag is still very, very low (we measured it at 0.02 sec, but the margin of error in our test means that Fuji's quoted 0.01 secs is perfectly feasible), and focus speed - in good light and at anything over about 3 feet - is excellent. The High Speed focus mode pretty much halves the focusing time, but it does increase the minimum focus distance to around 100cm (3.3 feet), meaning you end up with a lot of hunting when shooting in social situations such as across a dinner table. In fact close focus is the only weak spot in the F31fd's otherwise fast and snappy performance; we found that in macro mode and at the near limit of the normal focus mode there was more hunting - and therefore much slower focusing - than we'd expect from a camera in this class.
Overall though, the F31fd, like the models before it, rarely feels anything but very speedy in operation and - lackluster continuous shooting aside - it is one of the fastest cameras in its class.
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2846 x 2136 Fine JPEG image (approx. 3,030 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 512MB Olympus XD-Picture Card (type H).
|Power: Off to Record||Ready to take first picture||1.6|
|Power: Off to Play||Image displayed||2.2 *1|
|Power: Record to Off||All activity ceased||1.6|
|Power: Play to Off||When buffer is empty, lens retracted||~0.5|
|Power: Play to Off||When buffer is empty, lens extended||1.5|
|Record Review||Image displayed||~0.3|
|Mode: Record to Play||1.3|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens already extended||0.5|
|Play: Magnify||To full magnification (4.5x) 6MP image||3.8|
|Play: Image to Image||Time to display each saved image||~0.8|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||~0.4|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||36 to 108 mm (3 x)||0.9|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle||~0.5|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle, High Speed mode *3||~0.3|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto||~0.6|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto, High Speed mode *3||~0.3|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD live view||~0.02 *2|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||LCD live view, wide angle||~0.6|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||LCD live view, wide angle, High Speed mode *3||~0.3|
|Off to Shot Taken||LCD live view||~2.7|
|Shot to Shot||Flash off||2.4|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on (with red eye reduction off)||2.8|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on (with red eye reduction on)||~4.5|
|*1||You have to hold down the play button for around a second to start the F31fd in playback mode - to prevent accidental activation.|
|*2||Fujifilm quotes a lag of 0.01 seconds - this seems fair (this is one of the fastest responses we've ever seen on a compact zoom camera).|
|*3||The FinePix F31fd has a special 'high speed mode' that speeds up focus noticeably. The downside is a reduction in battery life and a slight increase in the minimum focus distance (from 60cm to 100cm).|
Lag Timing Definitions
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)
Many digital camera users prime the AF and AE systems on their camera by half-pressing the shutter release. This is the amount of time between a half-press of the shutter release and the camera indicating an auto focus & auto exposure lock on the LCD monitor / viewfinder (ready to shoot).
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (assuming you have already primed the camera with a half-press) to the image being taken.
(Take shot, AF/AE primed)
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (without performing a half-press of the shutter release beforehand) to the image being taken. This is more representative of the use of the camera in a spur of the moment 'point and shoot' situation.
(Take shot, AF/AE not primed)
The tables below show the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take another shot. The media used for these tests was a 512MB Olympus xD-Picture Card (Type H). Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.
Continuous drive mode
The F31fd has three continuous shooting modes; Continuous (Top 3), Continuous (Final 3) and Long Period Continuous. The 'Top 3' option is a standard burst mode - 2.2 frames per second for a maximum of three frames. The 'Final 3' option is interesting; hold down the shutter and the camera will take shots at around 2.2fps until you release the shutter. At this point the last three shots are saved to the card. In the unlimited 'Long Period' continuous mode the camera shows a preview image and refocuses between each shot, which really slows things down, but there appears to be no practical limit to how long you can keep shooting for.
Frames in a burst *1
|6MP JPEG Fine||Top 3 Continuous||2.3 fps||3||~7.9s delay|
|6MP JPEG Normal||Top 3 Continuous||2.2 fps||3||~6.0s delay|
|3MP JPEG||Top 3 Continuous||2.4 fps||3||~5.6s delay|
|2MP JPEG||Top 3 Continuous||2.4 fps||3||~5.6s delay|
|All sizes||Long period||~0.6 fps *3||no limit||n/a|
|*1||In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).|
|*2||Once the buffer is full the F10 stops for 4-6 seconds (dependant on the file size) as the images are saved to the XD Picture Card|
|*3||The F30 refocuses between each shot in 'Long Period' continuous shooting mode, so this figure in an average - the actual frame rate will depend on how fast the camera can focus.|
Whilst the measured frame rate of 2.2 fps is on the high side of average for a compact camera, the three frame limit (and fairly long buffer clear time) limits the usefulness of the F31fd as an 'action camera'. The Long Period mode is also something of a compromise - at the best quality 6M/Fine setting you're only getting one shot every 1.5 seconds or so. In the Long Period mode the camera assesses exposure for each frame (and attempts to refocus) - in the Top 3 or Final 3 modes focus and exposure are fixed with the first shot.
File Write / Display and Sizes
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when the activity indicator went out. This means the timings also include the camera's processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 512MB Olympus xD-Picture Card (Type H).
Time to store
Time to display
File size *1
Images on a *2
|6MP JPEG Fine||~3.7||~0.8||3,100 KB||170|
|6MP JPEG Normal||~1.8||~0.5||1,500 KB||339|
|3MP JPEG||~1.4||~0.3||750 KB||651|
|2MP JPEG||~1.5||~0.2||620 KB||818|
|0.3MP JPEG||~1.4||~0.2||130 KB||3,993|
|*1||All file sizes are an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (detail and noise).|
As we've seen with most xD cameras the F31fd manages a respectable, but hardly class-leading write performance; somewhere around 1MB/s, which explains the long delay you get after a 3 shot burst. It won't make any difference to everyday shooting (the three shot buffer means the camera is always ready to take a shot), but it does show the limitations of the xD format when it comes to high speed shooting in compact cameras.
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