FinePix F601 Zoom, FinePix F410 Zoom, FinePix A303
IntroductionFujifilm has unleashed a trio of digital cameras suitable for all kinds of users. Fujifilm cameras aren’t like other digital cameras. They use a different type of CCD, which Fujifilm likes to call a Super CCD. Unlike normal CCDs, Super CCDs are arranged in a honeycomb pattern, rather than squares. Other proprietary technologies, such as pixel-data coupling and pixel- mixing, make quoting resolution difficult. Comparing the resolution of a Fujifilm camera to a normal camera is tricky because on the one hand it appears to have less pixels. Yet on the other it has higher resolution output. The close configuration of the pixels, plus the pixel-data coupling, means that output resolution is bigger than the number of active pixels. What’s up here? Is Fuji cheating, merely interpolating the output image? No, it’s far more clever than mere interpolation. All you really need to know is that you trust the output resolution rather than the pixel count with Fujifilm cameras. You’ll never see any blockiness, which you would if the image was simply interpolated. Choose your model
The FinePix F601 Zoom has an impressive equivalent 6-megapixel maximum resolution. It has a peculiar, if funky, portrait style. Personally, I didn’t really get on with it that well. Being a lefty, I’m used to adjusting my grip for cameras designed for right-handed people, but even operating the F601 with my right hand felt clumsy. It’s all to easy to cover the sensors or even the lens when holding it in a “natural” position. The pictures are excellent, helped by a 3x zoom lens. It has a good balance between being small enough to be carried around regularly but large enough to have a zoom and high-resolution output. List price is £499 – but it’s possible to find it online for £150 less. Smaller still is the FinePix F410, though it has almost identical specifications, and the same (6-megapixel equivalent) Super CCD and zoom lens. In fact it’s only really the more traditional, better-designed landscape design of the camera that differentiates it from the F601. Both the F601 and the F410 use xD picture cards. These are amazingly, almost dangerously, small. Be careful as you unpack the camera, it’s easy to throw out the memory card with the packaging. Both come with 16MB cards, a bit stingy considering the size of files that are created by the cameras. You’ll get just ten full-resolution images on those bundled cards. A 128MB xD costs about £50. There isn’t a lot to choose between the F601 and the F410, but I favour the F410 because it’s easier to handle. Those who appreciate a funkier design can go for the F610, but will have to pay an extra £50 for the privilege. The final camera, the FinePix A303, breaks the mould in that it doesn’t use a Super CCD, just a normal square-pixel CCD. This means you get only 3-megapixel output, but also it costs considerably less. And a 3-megapixel resolution will suit most people with a decent inkjet printer, and certainly those with a Web site. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the more expensive models, but it does the basic job very well. Its RRP is £299, but you can find it online for as little as £229.