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Fujifilm FinePix F60fd Gordon Laing, January 2009
 

Fujifilm FinePix F60fd review

The Fujifilm FinePix F60fd is a 12 Megapixel compact with a 3x zoom lens, built-in stabilisation and a 3in screen. Announced in August 2008, it’s the successor to the popular FinePix F50fd, and shares the same sensor, same lens and the same chunky body, albeit now in a classier black finish. The upgrades this time round are a bigger screen, improved face detection and a new Auto mode with Scene Recognition.

Fujifilm clearly believes it got the design, optics and image quality side of the equation right with the earlier F50fd, so beyond the bigger screen, the headline features on the new model are essentially improved intelligence in automatic modes. Scene recognition, first seen on models from Panasonic, analyses the composition and automatically chooses the most appropriate scene preset to capture it. Fujifilm has also improved the face detection on the F60fd, now claiming to recognise full profiles. Find out whether it’s a worthy successor in our review where we’ll detail the new features and directly compare the image quality against key rivals.



Fujifilm FinePix F60fd


Measuring 93x60x23mm and weighing 182g with card and battery, the F60fd shares the same dimensions and mass as its predecessor. This is roughly the same as Canon’s IXUS 870 IS / PowerShot SD880 IS, and places both models on the chunkier side of the compact market. They’re best-suited to bags and larger coat pockets than shirt or trouser pockets.

Beyond the new black finish and a minor change on the mode dial, the F60fd shares exactly the same exterior design as its predecessor. As such, there’s a mild ridge running vertically up the front surface which acts as a surprisingly effective grip for your right middle finger. Your thumb then presses against the ridged edge of the mode dial on the rear. The combination allows you to hold the camera fairly confidently with one hand. The build quality is the same as its predecessor, feeling solid and confident with no creaks or poor joins to worry about.

 


 

The controls are in exactly the same positions as before. So on the top surface you have the power button, the shutter release button surrounded by a zoom rocker, and a button which switches the camera’s built-in stabilisation on and off – see later for a comparison of how effective this is in practice.

 

The rest of the controls are on the rear surface to the right of the screen. Along with a four-way pad for navigating menus, scrolling through images, or providing direct access to the flash, self-timer and macro modes, there’s an ‘F’ button which fires-up the camera’s F-Mode page to change settings like the quality (see later), and a button dedicated to switching face recognition and red-eye removal on and off.

The mode dial has the same options as the earlier F50fd, including the combined Aperture / Shutter Priority setting, although one of the scene preset positions has been swapped for the camera’s new Scene Recognition Auto mode. We’ll go over each of the modes later in the review.

The F60fd is powered by the same NP-50 1000mAh rechargeable Lithium Ion battery pack as its predecessor, which Fujifilm claims is good for the same 230 shots under CIPA conditions – although as before you’re looking at about half that amount with things like Image Stabilisation enabled. The battery compartment also houses a memory card slot, which like the F50fd can directly accommodate either xD or the more common SD format. This is much preferable to Olympus, which prefers xD and only handles the smaller Micro SD via an adapter. Alongside the door, just off-centre, is a metal tripod thread. Behind a small flap on the right side of the body you’ll find a combined USB and TV output – the camera’s only port.

As mentioned above, Fujifilm’s kept the same lens for the F60fd as its predecessor, and as such it’s equipped with a pedestrian 3x optical range that’s equivalent to 35-105mm. This misses out on the useful 28mm wide angle coverage of other models, not to mention anything more powerful at the telephoto end, and it’s a shame Fujifilm didn’t take the opportunity to widen or lengthen the range with this new model. You can see an example of its coverage below, and further examples of how you can use it in our sample images Gallery. The coverage shots were also taken within moments of those on our Pentax W60, Canon 870IS / SD 880IS, Canon A2000 IS and Sony T77 reviews, so feel free to open them and compare.



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Fujifilm FinePix F60fd coverage
8-24mm at 8mm (35 mm equivalent)
 
8-24mm at 24mm (105mm equivalent)

The lens extends rapidly upon power-up with the camera ready for action in around two seconds, or about twice that time if you’re starting into an auto mode which has to charge the flash first. A rocker around the shutter release operates the zoom motor with the F60fd offering just nine fairly coarse (albeit lurch-free) increments between wide angle and telephoto. The focal ratio remains f2.8-5.1 and the closest focusing distance when zoomed-out is still a fairly unremarkable 7cm, although as you’ll see in the sample images gallery, the macro result is relatively free from distortion.

The F60fd offers Image Stabilisation, but unusually while most cameras do so by adjusting their optics, the F60fd (like its predecessor) actually shifts its sensor instead. Fujifilm combines this with the opportunity to use high sensitivities and calls the feature ‘Dual IS’, although luckily it is possible to lock the ISO at a low value for the best quality.

Fujifilm FinePix F60fd Dual IS off / on
100% crop, 8-24mm at 24mm, 1/14, 100 ISO, Dual IS off
 
100% crop, 8-24mm at 24mm, 1/14, 100 ISO, Dual IS on

Above are examples taken with and without Dual IS with the F60fd fully zoomed-into its maximum equivalent of 105mm. Traditional photographic advice would recommend a shutter speed of at least 1/100 to eliminate camera shake, so the version above left taken without stabilisation at 1/14 is unsurprisingly shaky. The version to the right with stabilisation enabled, while an improvement, is sadly far from shake-free. In further tests we found the F60fd’s built-in stabilisation, like its predecessor, is good for around two stops of compensation compared to the three stops of most rivals. This is disappointing, but any compensation is better than none at all.

 
 

Round the back is a 3in screen with 230k pixels – the only physical upgrade over its predecessor, which was equipped with a 2.7in 230k model. In use the screen was good, but didn’t share the viewing angle or vibrancy of that on Canon’s IXUS 870 IS / SD 880 IS. Interestingly, like its predecessor, the F60fd’s live image on-screen could also look slightly coarse at times, with visible jaggies on smooth curves or diagonal lines. These didn’t appear on the recorded image though.

As before, Fujifilm splits its on-screen controls between the F-Mode (accessed by pressing the F button on the rear), the Shooting Menu (accessed by pressing Menu) and the Setup pages (accessed by selecting Set-up on the previous page).

The F-Mode menu presents four options to adjust the Power Management, ISO Sensitivity, Quality and the FinePix Colour mode. The latter gives the choice of Standard, Chrome (for increased colour saturation) or Black and White.

     

The Power Management section defaults to Power Save, but there’s the choice of Quick AF or Clear Display options which improve the AF or the screen brightness and refresh rate respectively, albeit at the cost of shorter battery life. It’s good to have the options to change these, but given just four items on this quick access menu, many would probably have preferred direct access to the White Balance or drive modes instead.

These are all found on the Shooting Menu, accessed by pressing the Menu button in the middle of the four-way rocker. This starts with four options for adjusting the metering, White Balance, Continuous shooting and AF modes, with a fifth option to enter more detailed Setup menus, spread across five tabbed pages. This is exactly the same menu implementation as the F50fd, so while the order and arrangement seems a little odd to us, obviously Fujifilm’s sufficiently happy to include it unchanged on its successor.

 

While shooting, the DISP button switches between a clean view of the image, one with shooting information and another which adds a three-by-three grid for alignment; sadly there’s still no histogram either when shooting or during playback.

The FinePix F60fd features a variety of shooting modes, with some interesting variations on the norm. Alongside Auto is the new SR Auto option which employs Scene Recognition to automatically switch the camera between Portrait, Landscape, Macro and Night presets. In use it really works too, and as we panned the camera between a distant mountain, a nearby person and a close subject, the F60fd switched from Landscape to Portrait with face detection and then into macro.

Beyond the SR Auto mode, the other options are the same as the previous F50fd. These include a selection of scene presets, along with a Natural (no flash) and Natural plus Flash mode. The latter takes two consecutive photos, one with natural light and the second with a flash to make sure – warn the subject you’ll be taking two photos though in case they move.

     

   

The icing on the cake though is the A/S mode on the dial which switches the F60fd into either Aperture or Shutter Priority (you choose which within the main menu system).

The camera then gives you complete control over the aperture or shutter, and while the small sensors and focal lengths used by compacts mean you’ll never achieve a DSLR-style small depth of field, it’s still great to have this degree of control.

In A/S mode, you can choose from ten aperture settings (when zoomed-out) and shutter speeds from 1/ 4 to 1/2000; the night presets extends the longest exposure to eight seconds. There’s also what Fujifilm describes as a Manual mode, but don’t get too excited as this simply works like a Program option on other cameras.

 

Fujifilm’s enhanced face detection was also the best out of the recent compacts we’ve tested, quickly locking onto subjects even in full profile. The F60fd also takes a sensible approach to indoor flash portraits, increasing the sensitivity to reveal more of the background, rather than the dark expanse that most cameras capture. In use this can certainly deliver nicer-looking compositions, but obviously at the cost of higher noise levels due to the higher sensitivities in use. You can force the F60fd to use a sensitivity of your choice though or limit the auto setting to a maximum of 400, 800 or 1600 ISO.

The movie mode can capture 640x480 VGA or 320x240 QVGA video at 25fps; the optical zoom cannot be adjusted once you start filming. Video is compressed using the Motion JPEG format and stored in an AVI wrapper; the best quality VGA mode consumes just under 1MB per second and the maximum file size is 2GB. VGA footage looked detailed, but with visible graininess at times, it wasn’t as clean as the best models available.

The F60fd offers a variety of continuous shooting options. Top 3 and Top 12 fire up to three or 12 frames at approximately 2fps and 5fps respectively, although the latter operates at a maximum of 3 Megapixels and at 400 ISO or above.

Final 3 and Final 12 offer the same speeds and restrictions as above, but only record the last three or 12 frames after the shutter release has been released – handy to make sure you don’t waste frames before the crucial moments of action. All four of these modes operate with fixed exposure and focus once you start shooting, but a fifth Long Period mode can adjust focus and exposure on each frame, but with a 2.3 second interval between best quality images. Sticking with drive modes, the F60fd also offers the choice of 10 or two second countdowns for its self-timer.

   
   
   

The FinePix F60fd is equipped with the same 12 Megapixel SuperCCD HR sensor as its predecessor, measuring 1/1.6in. This generates 4:3 images with a maximum resolution of 4000x3000 pixels, and there’s the choice of five lower resolutions or a 3:2 aspect ratio mode which crops and scales to deliver an image with 4224x2816 pixels.

The top 12M mode is available with two compression settings, Fine and Normal, with the former typically measuring 4.5MB each; there’s 25MB of built-in memory to get you started and as mentioned earlier, a dual-media memory slot which can take xD or SD cards.

The sensitivity ranges from 100 to 1600 ISO at full resolution, with 3200 and 6400 ISO options operating at reduced resolutions of 6 and 3 Megapixels respectively. To see how the quality of the F60fd measures-up in practice, take a look at our real-life resolution and high ISO noise results pages, browse the sample images gallery, or skip to the chase and head straight for our verdict.


All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2014 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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