Product Type: Fujifilm digital cameras
Newest Review: ... by 5" (but a discerning eye will be able to tell the image is a bit grainy). I took it on a camping trip in dense woodland where th... more
Still the best point and shoot out there...
Fujifilm Finepix F31fd
Member Name: hakking
Fujifilm Finepix F31fd
Advantages: Awesome image quality, Great in low light, Durable, Long battery life, Good value
Disadvantages: Ugly, bulky, lacking in features.
The Fuji F31fd was released in late 2006 but 3 years on its still one of the best point and shoot cameras on the market. On first glance it seems pretty ordinary, weighing in at a meagre 6 megapixels, 3x optical zoom and not particularly pretty - but image quality is where this camera comes into its own.
Super picture quality
I only truly realised this when I actually used the F31fd to take snaps of my sisters wedding a few months ago (an indoor affair with soft ambient lighting). Everyone had bought their point and shoot cameras along and was taking pictures and at the end the whole family had ordered prints. All the images were grainy and grey except from those pictures taken from my camera. The vibrancy of the coulours it produced was excellent - almost as good as if the ceremony had been done outdoors.
However, you can't push it too far - don't expect to get any pictures worth printing at ISO 1600 (ISO is a measure fo correction for low light - the higher the ISO the grainier the image usually). ISO 800 will produce prints that are ok for small prints up to 7" by 5" (but a discerning eye will be able to tell the image is a bit grainy). I took it on a camping trip in dense woodland where there was little light coming through canopy. Even at the heights of midday - the camera's auto mode was switching to ISO 800/ISO 1600. For those conditions and SLR is probably needed. However, anything printed up to ISO 800 is a beauty to behold.
Huge battery life
The other big bonus with this camera is the massive battery life. I've taken up to 400 pictures with it before needing to recharge. So its perfect if you're going away for a few days, packing light and don't fancy taking the charger. I've recharged less than twenty times in three years of owning this gem. You've absolutely no need to worry about back up batteries - the one it comes with will last you.
Durable but bulky
If you're always dropping things like me then durability is essential. Its worth getting the leather case thats made to fit the F31fd. Enclosed in that, I've dropped it several times on rocks and hard ground and never even had the tiniest scratch work its way on to the metal casing. The screen is a bit of a magnet for finger prints but is as sturdy and firm as the metal casing. Its reassuring to know this camera can take some beating and still survive. As a comprimise it feels a little bulky and makes an unsightly bulge in your trouser pocket - alternatively you can just tie the drawstring around your wrist if you need to be constantly ready for the opportune shot.
Grey and ugly
Not particularly pretty. Just a lump of grey metal really. The beauty is all in the image processing inside.
It has a small 2.5" by 1.5" screen that is fairly dim - but the brightness can be increased a press of a button. The small size of the screen means judging the quality of the picture you just took is difficult immediately (when blown up on your computer screen in fact it could be quite blurry)
The zoom has a range of only 3x, which is just standard. However, it is quite noisy. Thats probably not a problem for most people, but worth noting if taking pictures of animals etc.
Focussing on close range objects can be difficult even in macro-mode. Anything farther than a foot is fine - but closer and the focssing is noiser and takes longer. The macro-mode range is also quite poor, more than 5cm in my experience. If you're taking a picture of a resting butterfly, for example, the combination of the long focussing time and poor range.
The flash makes your shots look overexposed except when its pitch black (however, I still haven't mastered the art of using flash well so this may be down to skill).
The face detection is pretty poor. Its quick to recognise faces, but people in your shot have to be looking directly at the camera - so not great for capturing those split-second emotions. For that, you may as well pay the premium for a DSLR anyway :)
Good value for money
I got this camera from the Fuji Refurbished Site for half-the-price it normally would be at £120. However, you only get half the warranty but considering the superior build quality it shouldn't really break down anyway so in my eyes its worth the gamble. The manufacturer refurbishes to the standard of a new camera also - so there is little reason to worry.
All in all, a great little camera, expecially if you're inside and can't afford an expensive dSLR.
Summary: A legend of a camera, expected to remain up there for ages as one of the best point and shooters
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