Naturally a lot of people ask me for advice when they are in the market for new digital cameras, I’ve been telling them to get the Fuji F30 or the F20. (well, most of the time when people seek advice they are barely looking for validation on what they have already decided, in those instances I just tell them what they were going to buy, or already have bought, works fine, and they usually do, but of course “fine” is relative).
I don’t own the Fuji digicams, in fact I don’t have a point-and-shoot camera myself since I sold my PowerShot S100, but I have photographer friends who use them and I’ve seen really great outputs (of course their PS skills have a lot to do with it too). Mainly the reason why I recommend the Fuji digicams is because of their excellent noise control at high sensitivity (ISO) settings, the F30 even has ISO 3200. People use their digicams indoor like at parties and clubs, where there isn’t a lot of available light, if the camera doesn’t have good noise control at high ISO settings, they will be forced to use the flash or have pictures with motion blur. Motion blur is unforgivable IMO, and straight on-camera flash, especially when the flash is close to the lens, like on most small digicams, almost always suck. When you use a camera that gives you an option to use an external flash, like D-SLRs or “high end” digicams like the Canon G-series, you could usually move flash to bounce the light on a surface (like upward to a white ceiling) to have better lighting angle, softer light, and just plain more flattering light. There are also a ton of light modifiers for these flash units, such as portable softboxes, flash brackets that move the flash unit up high above the camera, and Pocket Bouncers, they all make photographs with flash look better by modifying the quality or direction of the light. Also, our minds get used to the sun being up at the sky so any artificial light that doesn’t come from up above usually looks strange to us.
I should also note that image stabilization, or vibration reduction (IS, VR, or whatever they call it), with either lens or software only helps avoid camera shakes, the subjects will still have to be still to avoid blurs), while higher ISO settings allow faster shutter speeds to help freeze motions. I will take good high ISO performance over IS any day, especially when most of these cameras with IS have really really terrible noise performance even at relatively low settings like ISO800.
The F30 also has useful features like manual controls, aperture priority, which gives you a certain amount of depth-of-field (DoF) control, and shutter priority, which should help ensure shutter speed that agree with the inverse rule, this is important to avoid motion blur caused by camera shake.
Fujifilm just announced the F40fd, a follow-on to the F30 or the F31fd, the ISO only goes up to 2000 (vs 3200 of the F30), and they got rid of aperture and shutter priority modes on the F40fd. Looks like they go back to the F10 formula, I can sort of understand getting rid of Av and Tv, as most of the people who shoot with these cameras probably wouldn’t even use them, but ISO 2000 vs 3200 is a huge difference, that is like a full f-stop difference, which means people will not be able to get a good shot at conditions they would otherwise have been able to with the F30.
I will have to demo one in person to decide if I would continue to recommend Fuji point-and-shoot cameras to my readers and friends.
Pre-CES 2007: Fujifilm has announced a new model that joins the F20, F30 and F31fd in the growing FinePix ‘F’ range. The F40fd offers an increased pixel count (8.3 MP) and (perhaps because of this) a slightly lower ISO 2000 maximum sensitivity, and Fuji’s new Face Detection system. Interestingly the F40fd has dual memory card slots (xD and SD), but lacks the F30’s Aperture/Shutter priority modes.
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