Fujifilm FinePix Z1 Digital Camera Review
Testing / Performance
*Fujifilm’s Z1 is equipped with a Real Photo image processor that takes the data from the Super CCD and transforms it into image files. This process often impacts speed and color reproduction. We evaluate the accuracy of the colors produced by digital cameras to see if they are close to reality – as they were originally perceived by the photographer. We tested the Z1’s color rendering capabilities by recording a series of exposures of a GretagMacbeth color chart under Lowell softbox lamps in a controlled studio environment, then uploading the images into software that gives us more quantitative data. We used Imatest Imaging Software to compare the Z1’s produced colors to the chart’s original tones; below is a modified chart output by the software. The outer square shows the Z1’s produced color, while the inner rectangle is the ideal color from the original chart. The inner square illustrates the camera’s produced tones, corrected for luminance. In a perfect world, the inner rectangle and the outer square would look the same. But this isn’t a perfect world.
If you’re having trouble eyeballing that chart, you’re in luck. Imatest output another chart that shows exactly how far off each individual color is from the ideal. On the chart below, the squares represent the Fujifilm Z1’s produced colors and the circles represent the ideal colors from the original GretagMacbeth chart. The closer the two shapes, the better.
Unfortunately, the Z1 exaggerated many of the colors, creating a palate that is 15.8 percent over-saturated. Without multiple color modes or a manual white balance setting, the Z1 had trouble adapting to our studio setup. As you can see, the reds and blues are so far off, they’re hardly reds and blues at all. This extreme alteration of tones is poor in comparison to other similarly-styled digital cameras, even within the Fuji brand. The Z1’s 3.59 overall score is lower than Fujifilm’s former bottom-of-the-line model, the FinePix A330, which scored a 4.76. It should be noted that the Z1’s rendered colors were far more naturalistic when used outdoors (in both Auto and outdoor white balance settings), but for interior shots, users should prepare to do some work post-capture.
**Still Life Scene
**Below is an image file of our still life scene, recorded with the Fujifilm FinePix Z1.
Click on the image above to view a full-resolution picture, but beware of the large linked file.](http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/viewer.php?picture=FujiZ1-StillLifeLG.jpg )
Resolution / Sharpness*(3.42)
*Using Imatest Imaging Software, we tested the resolution of the FinePix Z1 by taking images of an ISO resolution chart at various apertures and focal length settings and uploading the files into Imatest to analyze the sharpness and definition. The software detects all the pixels used for taking pictures. We report the score as both a number of detected pixels and as a percentage of the camera’s advertised resolution. Don’t be alarmed if our count is not the same as what Fujifilm advertises. This rarely happens. In fact, we think it’s good if a camera comes within 70 percent of its advertised count. We give a camera with a "very good" title if it surpasses 80 percent and "excellent" if it surpasses 90 percent.
Click on the above image to view full res chart](http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/viewer.php?picture=FujiZ1-ResCH-LG.jpg)
Unfortunately, the Z1 didn’t even reach the good designation. Of the 5 effective megapixels that are advertised, files produced by the FinePix Z1 utilized 3.42 of them to form the composition. This works out to be 68 percent, which falls just short of the noteworthy "good" mark. This does not necessarily mean that images resulting from the camera will not look as sharp as those from competing models; it just means users should expect to see the quality loss apparent from a 3.42 megapixel imager when the photos are enlarged or cropped.
This is the approx. white balance error of the image above. This was extracted from a file recorded with the Z1 in the same lighting setup.
Noise – Auto ISO*(2.91)
*If you’ve ever looked very closely at a digital picture – especially one taken by a cheap camera – you’ve probably noticed small, random green and purple dots. This "noise" functions similarly to film grain, increasing with higher ISO sensitivity ratings and detracting from the overall clarity of the image. When the Z1 automatically controlled the ISO, there was quite a bit of noise. The camera worked adequately in dim situations, but when ample illumination was available, the camera did not always acknowledge it and set the ISO higher than it should have. This resulted in more visible noise than was necessary and contributed to the camera’s 2.91 overall auto ISO noise score.
Noise – Manual ISO*(8.67)
*The Fujifilm FinePix Z1 offers a wide range of ISO sensitivities to choose from, including 64, 100, 200, 400, and 800. We took exposures with the same lighting at different ISO ratings to compare picture quality. We obtain results from each rating and run a regression analysis to determine the overall score.
The Z1 performed much better when the sensitivity was manually set, as is evident by the camera’s 8.67 overall manual noise score. While there is a significant jump in noise when the ISO is pushed to the 800 rating, the extended range will be incredibly useful to users shooting at night or in limited light, particularly with the limited maximum aperture offered by Z1’s lens. The chart above shows how the Z1 performed at each setting, with the vertical side representing noise levels and the horizontal axis showing the respective ISO ratings.
Low Light Performance*(5.5)
*The Z1 is touted as digital camera that you can throw in your purse or pocket and take out into town at night, something you can whip out at the nightclub to snap a few shots. This FinePix model even has an 800 ISO rating to aid in those dimly lit spaces. We put the Z1 to the test by taking pictures at decreasing light levels of 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux. 60 lux is about equivalent to two table lamps or a dimly lit nightclub. 30 lux is equivalent to a single 40-watt lightbulb. 15 and 5 lux approach total darkness; when it’s this dark, you should just go for the flash, but we test at these levels nonetheless.
At 60 lux, the colors can be seen, but the overall image is a bit furry. The image loses even more definition at 30 lux. At 15 lux, the picture looks considerably darker and it becomes difficult to discern gray from black values. At 5 lux, many of the colors are indistinguishable, the image is extremely dark, and the picture is anything but sharp. All of the low light images were taken in the Natural Light mode, which defaults to 1600 ISO and turns the flash off. We tested the Z1 in its low light-oriented preset as well as its manual mode. Since the results were very similar, we reported the Natural Light results since it is what Fuji is marketing to consumers.
**Speed / Timing
***Start-up to First Shot (8.83)
*Armed with a sliding cover and non-extending lens, the Z1 is designed to boot up quickly. Capturing an image in just 1.17 seconds, the Z1 may not have the speed of an SLR, but it is far faster than most point-and-shoots and should help ensure those fleeting moments make it to print.
*Shot to Shot Time (8.8) *
Without a true burst mode, the Z1 is at a disadvantage when trying to capture an action sequence. The Z1 needs 1.2 seconds to capture subsequent images, so users will have to time their shots appropriately.
*Shutter to Shot Time (8.86)
*While the Z1 sacrifices a burst rate, Fujifilm compensated for it with minimal shutter lag of just 0.07 seconds. This is close to the S3 and other digital SLRs and should virtually erase the delay between the depression of the shutter and capturing of an image.