Fujifilm continues to add to its digital camera range.
The DX-5, its latest offering, slots underneath Fujifilm's existing low-end cameras to satisfy users on an even tighter budget, but without martyring image quality to cost.
The DX-5 is smaller than its siblings and lacks an LCD screen, relying instead on an optical viewfinder. You can't argue with the size: at roughly 110 x 65mm and 35mm thick, this camera will slip into any pocket, possibly even the breast pocket of a jacket.
The camera takes two AA batteries which power the machine for well over 200 shots. The flash unit is an unusual flip-up device which appears each time you switch the camera on; pressing the flash down flush with the top of the case switches the camera off again.
A small readout panel on the back gives information about the current quality mode, flash setting, remaining battery power and the number of images still available on the removable 2Mb SmartMedia card supplied. The card can hold up to 30 shots of Normal quality, or 22 Fine images.
The DX-5 offers many features found in cameras costing twice the price. For a start, the CCD sensor behind the lens is a standard 350,000-pixel array, supporting 640 x 480 pixel resolution for all images regardless of quality setting. The lens is fixed-focus between 70cm and infinite, with a measure of automatic shutter speed and aperture adjustment; for significant changes between sunny outdoors and dark interiors, you can flick a manual aperture switch between two extreme settings to help the camera cope.
Images are downloaded from the camera to your Mac via a supplied serial cable. Fujifilm bundles a copy of PictureWorks PhotoEnhancer on CD but sensibly includes a standalone download utility, snappily entitled Data Transfer SD-T7. This utility can be used to build thumbnail catalogues of your downloaded images, preview those on the camera, and to do basic image enhancement. The serial download process is tedious, though. At more than 20 seconds per Fine quality image, a full camera could take eight minutes to transfer to hard disk.
Image quality is quite good for a camera at this price, though JPEG noise is evident in some colours and flat tonal areas when you zoom in. This affects the DX-5's ability to capture detail, but the camera more than makes up for this by capturing varied and vibrant colours, and indoor flash shots never fail to be clean.
At this quality and price, you won't find a more portable or less demanding digital camera on the market.