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Our New Camera

We bought a new camera.

Oddly enough, its another Fuji - a Fuji F31fd to be precise. We used to have a Fuji F610.

The camera is supposed to be one of the class leaders in 'inside photography'. Guess what? Our only gripe with the F610 was its performance 'inside'.

Awesome result - plus it was very close to the £100 mark, which is fab by my wallet!

Here's the dpreview.com consluson:

Pretty much everything we said about the F30 applies
equally to the F31fd (in fact you'll notice that sections of the
conclusion below are lifted straight from that review); this is a very
minor upgrade indeed, which is good news and bad news. The good news is
that Fuji hasn't done anything to significantly affect the
class-leading high ISO performance or astounding resolution, and it
appears to have tweaked the processing to produce more natural,
pleasing results in bright daylight too. The bad news is that the
camera itself is starting to look a little long in the tooth and many
of the niggles that have affected the range since the original F10 -
purple fringing, slow macro focus, mediocre burst mode, slow card
writing, boring 36-108mm zoom range and so on - have not been fixed.
The interface has improved marginally, but it's still nowhere near as
polished as you'd find on a Canon or Panasonic, for example. None of
this is going to be a deal-breaker, but as the market moves on and
features like image stabilization and wider zoom range become the norm
there is only so long this range can effectively stand still, amazing
high ISO performance or not.

But let's not
forget, the FinePix F31fd offers a tantalizing glimpse of how very
different compact cameras would be if all manufacturers put as much
effort into developing sensor and processing technology as they do into
designing and marketing pretty cameras with features no one ever asked
for. Our tests show that the F31fd's sensor gives you at least a
two-stop advantage over the best that conventional CCD technology can
offer, and in many cases a three-stop advantage, with ISO 800 output
that can rival some cameras at ISO 200.

that most 'average' casual snap shooters are likely to use their camera
at (dimly lit) social occasions more than at any other time, this is a
real, significant advantage; allowing flash-free photography without
blur. More serious photographers will welcome a camera that brings the
low light capabilities of a compact a step or two closer to those of
most digital SLRs.

Of course the Super CCD
chip isn't magic; it's a bit bigger than the average CCD, and the pixel
arrangement is such that more of the surface area is used to gather
light - so it is more sensitive, but there's a limit to what you can do
with a chip this small. At ISO 800 you're beginning to lose low
contrast detail to noise reduction, and ISO 1600 / 3200 - though better
than any CCD camera by a long stretch - are hardly what a serious user
would call 'photo quality'. These settings are fine for snapping your
friends in the pub, where fine detail isn't too important, or for
producing small prints, but they are really pushing the capabilities of
the sensor a little too far. But let's not lose sight of the fact that
the F31fd blows away all its competitors at anything over ISO 200,
which is no mean feat.

And the battery life
is superb, though this has in part been achieved by setting the default
screen brightness too low for use in bright light (turning on the high
speed focus mode also reduces the headline 580 shot per charge life).

have been changes over the F30; the new processor's noise reduction has
been tweaked slightly to preserve a little more detail, meaning that
all ISO settings are slightly noisier than the F30; ISO 1600 and 3200
visibly so. The default contrast and sharpening also appear to have
been turned down a notch (more like half a notch really). Whether any
of this is good news or not is more a matter of taste than anything,
but for the more serious user (especially those who like to
post-process) even the slightest toning down of in-camera processing is

If you've noticed I've got this far
without mentioning the face detection technology that Fuji considers so
important it adds two letters to the end of the camera's name, there is
a reason; I just don't think it's a major selling point. It works
exactly as advertised, quickly spotting faces in the frame and focusing
on the them, but it's far from infallible (often losing track of the
face/faces for a second if they're moving) and - like all such systems
- is limited to situations where it can see the full face, looking more
or less directly at the camera. In all our tests of 'fd' cameras we've
found good old multi AF to work just as well in 99% of situations (the
other 1% being the ones these manufacturers choose to illustrate the
advantages of these systems). I'm not saying it's useless, just that it
will never be a make or break feature for anyone but the absolute

And so, to sum up; the F31fd is
everything the F30 was, with a couple of tweaks here and there that -
on balance - can be considered to offer a slight improvement over what
was already a uniquely capable camera. I suspect (though I hope I'm
wrong) that this is the last time we'll see this sensor in a compact
camera, as Fuji feels the pressure to keep up with the megapixel race
ever more strongly. This would be a real tragedy; the F31fd hits the
image quality 'sweet spot' by using a large sensor, relatively low
pixel count and some very clever processing, and I can't see them
repeating this with a more densely-packed sensor. It is the perfect
illustration of the oft made point that more pixels do not mean better
quality; we've compared the F31fd to a whole range of much more
expensive compacts going right up to 10MP, and - aside from a little
extra resolution at base ISO - it puts most of them to shame. Once you
get to ISO 400 there simply isn't a compact on the market that can hold
a flame to it.

Unlike so many manufacturers
that produce amazing cameras with average sensors, Fuji has an amazing
sensor and - to be brutally honest - an average camera. As with the F30
this is a camera that wins a Highly Recommended only
if you regularly shoot in low light - if you only ever take pictures in
blazing sunshine there are competitors with far more impressive feature
lists or lower prices. But you just can't take away from Fuji the fact
that - at this moment in time - this unassuming little 6MP camera still
sets the benchmark for image quality in the entire compact sector. It's
also a surprisingly reliable 'point and shoot' model with excellent
color and accurate focus/metering in most circumstances.

Full review here, for those of you who might be considering it:




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