But the latest FinePix F50fd is proof that the Japanese firm has finally swept aside its previous prejudices and is now willing to compromise with what we've all been clamoring for. The final middle ground? Fujifilm calls it the Dual Image Stabilizer--a solution that combines high light sensitivity with a CCD shift stabilizer system.
Conventional wisdom tells us that at higher sensitivities (ISO 1,600 at 12 megapixels on the F50fd) shutter speeds can be decreased, though at the expense of image noise which tends to increase when the output from the CCD sensor is amplified. So it's really too much of a good thing. Image stabilization, on the other hand, fixes the problem of camera shake with a floating mechanism (lens or the CCD) to compensate for undesired hand movements.
The results? We can't really say since Fujifilm won't let us comment on the image quality for the prototype F50fd. But based on the shots we've taken, we can say our appetites have been well-whetted for the review unit that we hope Fujifilm will be delivering to us soon.
Ease of Use
It certainly is. Captions are plentiful. Turn the jog dial and onscreen instructions will tell you what you are looking at. There're 10 levels of LCD brightness, good for saving battery juice and serving as an emergency torchlight, but it's a bit of overkill nonetheless.
Speaking of overkill, we can't help but mention the image review mode. As a rule of thumb, the more images you see at a single glance, the more time you save. Ten or 25 images on a screen sound convenient. But 100 thumbnails on a 2.7-inch screen? Again, that's too much of a good thing. Our eyes started crossing when we tried to make out the myriad of thumbnails on the FinePix Z10fd's 2.5-inch screen.
The F50fd accommodates xD, SD and SDHC. That is, indeed is good news for consumers switching over from another brand (most compact cameras use SD) and, coming from the long-time xD card supporter, it's telling that the xD's days are numbered.
On design, the F50fd has adopted Fujifilm's new design language, the Aero. It's all clean lines and gentle curves. But the minimalist design is deceptive. The camera is not a featherweight. It clocks a hefty 155g.
Now the Auction Mode on the F50fd makes a fair bit of sense. Instead of just lowering the resolution capture and rebranding it as online auction-friendly, Fujifilm gives added value to the budding online entrepreneur by adding in frills that are actually helpful.
The built-in image-stitching template is intuitive to use--pick a template, snap the pictures, and the F50fd will put it all together in an attractive image for eBay upload. Perhaps we may be able to sell off our grubby PS/2 keyboard after all.