Fuji F420 Zoom review
This camera is simple to operate. A single button gives control over quality, sensitivity and colour. To access more detailed settings, you simply go to the camera's menu, displayed on its 1.8in LCD screen.
The CCD light sensor inside the F420 has 3.1 million pixels - but that's not the figure Fuji wants you to remember. The F420 is the smallest camera in Fuji's range to incorporate the company's super CCD HR technology. Fuji claims this enables the camera to record images containing 6 million pixels. This allows resolution settings from 640x480 up to a massive 2816x2120.
In order to record more pixels than its CCD really has, super CCD technology employs some highly educated guesswork. Photos at maximum resolution are bright, colourful and sharp enough at first glance. Look closely enough, though, and you see compression artefacts, visible as blockiness. Stepping down to the second highest setting increases digital 'noise' or speckling, particularly in darker areas, although it still provides plenty of detail. Generally, though, image quality was reasonably good. Outside or in, colours were bright without being oversaturated, producing natural-looking shots without being flat.
The F420 has a wide range of light-sensitivity settings, corresponding to film speeds between 160 and 800. The 800 setting, however, is restricted to the lowest resolution, and these pictures suffer badly from noise. The longest exposure is 2 seconds which, with the slow flash and high ISO settings, makes the camera well-suited to night photography.
The 3x optical zoom will get you in closer to your subject. There is an additional digital zoom, but you will get the same or better results by zooming in later with image-editing software. More useful is the macro facility, which will enable you to focus as close as 8cm. Autofocus is quick and performs fairly well in low light, displaying shutter speed and aperture as it locks on. It also tracked movement well, although a shutter lag of around one second made it difficult to capture what you compose. A continuous shooting mode helped a little, providing the camera was kept still. The F420 can also record movies at 30 frames per second with sound.
The F420 is well-made, looks great, and takes decent photos with a minimum of fuss. If image quality at the highest resolutions and ISO settings had been a bit better, the Fuji could well have been in line for an award.