We just received the new Fuji Z700 compact digital camera. I’ve been anxious to get this model in stock since seeing it at the February PMA convention. The specifications were impressive, now a chance to check it out for myself.
The first thing I noticed is the all aluminum body. The fit and finish is outstanding for such a slim camera. Many times the slimmer cameras become the more ‘plasticy’ they feel. Not in this case. Though the body is thin and not much larger than the palm of my hand, the camera has a little heft to it, you know you are holding on to something.
The battery and memory card both easily load under the same door in the base of the camera. With the Z700 the battery charges in a wall charger outside of the body. Turning the camera on for picture taking is as easy as sliding the front lens cover down. Fuji has provided a top mounted power switch too which is useful to power up the camera immediately in playback mode while keeping the lens covered.
Like any other camera this one starts out in time setting mode the first time power is turned on. Since this is a touch screen camera time and date are selected by touching arrows on the screen. Then the camera will ask for the shooting mode it should start in at power up. Total setup time is under a minute.
I have always had some trouble with touch screens on cameras. Either my finger is too broad, too dry or too something. The Z700 is the first camera that never failed to read my touch signals. The mode I chose to start the camera in was the touch shot mode.
In the touch shooting mode the camera presents a large yellow box outline on the screen. To take a picture all that is required is to touch the intended subject on the screen. The focus shifts, the shutter and flash trip and the picture is captured. There is a slight lag in this process, it isn’t as decisive as pressing the shutter button. However for shooting at parties, in the living room or anywhere else split second timing isn’t required the lag isn’t a deal breaker.
The menu function is also touch driven and Fuji has taken steps to make the process very smooth. Large arrows move the user between pages and direct touch activates options or settings. The menus themselves are easily understood and highly legible.
While it is possible to manually select among the dozen or so shooting modes the Z700 has an intelligent mode setting that seems to work very well. In intelligent mode the camera selects Portrait, Sports, Scenic or whatever mode is required based on the scene presented. I admit that I didn’t try too hard to fool the camera but I have found that this kind of mode on any camera model works very well and has a high success rate.
Dual image stabilization is standard in the Z700. This means that the camera uses both increased ISO settings and CCD shift to eliminate hand shake. The system is effective but can create some very grainy pictures in extreme low light.
The Fuji EXR image chip is used in this model. EXR technology increases the image chip’s sensitivity to light and allows the user to decide between capturing the highest resolution, the widest dynamic range, or the best shadow detail with less noise. This isn’t a software trick like HDR (which is next) but a physical difference in the Fuji image sensor.
EXR aside, the Z700 can be set to do a two exposure HDR image automatically. The camera takes two very quick exposures: one exposed toward the highlights and the other toward the shadows. Then the camera’s processor will combine the two images to create an image with exceptional detail from highlight to shadow.
For the user who wants movies, the Z700 captures 720p HD movies. After taking the video or later during playback on the camera, a video clip can be tagged for upload to YouTube or Facebook. Once the camera is connected to the computer, the Fuji software will automatically take care of the upload and presentation of the video to YouTube or Facebook.
There are a lot more features on this camera and it would take many more paragraphs to speak to them all. For now my conclusion is that Fuji has produced a camera that I wouldn’t mind owning myself. The feature set, the build and the picture quality all make this camera a real bargain at $279.99.