The Fujifilm Finepix JZ300 is an affordable compact super zoom with a 10x optical range, 12 Megapixel CCD sensor and a 2.7inch LCD screen. The long zoom is made practical by effective stabilisation, which makes the JZ300 the answer for all photographic situations from cramped interiors to the wildlfe park.
The FinePix JZ300 can shot HD video in the 720p format and, unusually, the zoom can be used during shooting – a great feature that may bring its own drawbacks in the form of motor noise and focus wander – but is welcome all the same.
The Finepix JZ300 has several auto exposure modes including Scene Recogniton and Face detection AF, it also has very effective tracking autofocus, so is an ideal choice for sports photography, albeit limited by a slow continuous shooting rate.
Compared to Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 / FH20
Making a choice between the Fujifilm FinePix JZ300 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 / FH20 is more difficult than we thought it would be. These two cameras are similar in weight and dimensions, though not in looks – the JZ300 is more robust and professional looking and, though looks are a subjective issue, we prefer the JZ300’s styling. In terms of handling, the Lumix FS30 / FH20’s screen was easier to get on with making the whole experience of using the camera, particularly outdoors, more comfortable. The FS30 / FH20’s Q Menu, which provides fast access to commonly-used settings, was also an advantage.
On the features side, the FS30 / FH20 zoom range falls short of the JZ300 (280mm equivalent on the JZ300 compared with 224mm on the FS30 / FH20). That’s a significant differrence in telephoto reach, but against it the Panasonic Lumix FS30 / FH20 has an extra 2 milion pixels on its 14 Megapixel sensor. That would allow you to crop a Lumix FS30 / FH20 full resolution image down to the 4000 x 3000 pixel maximum resolution of the JZ300 and get a closer result.
What about image quality? Again, there’s very little in it. In terms of overall image quality we can’t see enough of a difference between these two cameras to justify making a purchasing decision in favour of one or the other on quality grounds.
If you’re looking for something to separate these two cameras it’s going to come down to one of two things, handling and secondary features. The former is going to be a personal decision and, as always, we’d recommend you get a hands on experience of both models before making a decision. In terms of features it’ll be a question of how important things like video zoom, screen performance, autofocus modes, and long exposures modes are to you. Who knows, in the end it may even come down to factors like whether an A/V cable is incuded in the box (Panasonic yes, Fujifilm no).
For more details look out for our Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 / FH20 review.
Fujifilm FinePix JZ300 final verdict
Let’s say straight off that, in terms of its two headline features, the 10x stabilised zoom and 720p HD video, the Fujifilm FinePix JZ300 offers excellent value for money. While those two features will endear it to those with particular photographic needs, for the casual user it also has a good range of ease-of-use features including several auto exposure modes, Scene recognition, Face detection and scene modes that can be selected from a programmable mode dial.
On the down side, in use we found the screen on the FinePix JZ300 very difficult to use outdoors – its lack of contrast making it difficult to compose shots other than on the dullest of days. The lack of area AF is also a drawback if your subject happens to be elsewhere than in the centre of the frame. The FinePix JZ300’s flash performance isn’t great either, unless you’re prepared to let it select a higher ISO setting and suffer the noise consequences. And the lack of slower shutter speed settings in Program mode may well rule it out if you like to make long exposures with the camera on a tripod – though there are scene modes that will let you do this, albeit with less control.
Overall though, these negatives are mostly worth putting up with for what is a very capable and well-specified compact super zoom that puts in your pocket features that would, on many other models, cost considerably more.
(relative to 2010 compacts)
18 / 20
16 / 20
15 / 20
17 / 20
17 / 20