At 2400 x 1800 pixels Fujifilm's FinePix 4700 Zoom has the highest resolution of any digital camera on the market, but does it produce the best pictures?
New 3.3 megapixel digital cameras may feature 2048 x 1536 pixels compared to the 1800 x 1200 of earlier 2.1 megapixel models, but with its new Super CCD technology, Fujifilm's FinePix 4700 Zoom boasts a massive 4.3 megapixel resolution with 2400 x 1800 pixels to play with.
Super CCD uses octagonal photodiodes closely packed in a honeycombed pattern. The active area is thereby increased, boosting sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratio. Fujifilm also claims that the closer pixels of Super CCDs deliver an effective resolution of 1.6 to two times that of conventional CCDs. Since Fujifilm then describes a 1.9 megapixel Super CCD as equivalent to a conventional three megapixel CCD, we looked forward to seeing what quality lay behind the 4.3 megapixel badge.
In terms of memory, 2.1, 3.3 and 4.3 megapixel cameras produce raw, uncompressed file sizes of around 6Mb, 10Mb and 13Mb respectively. Using its best JPEG-quality mode and highest resolution, the 4700 produced 1.6Mb files. Compare this to Canon's 3.3 megapixel S20, which at its best-quality settings produced files just over 2Mb. Since the 4700 started with 30 per cent more pixels and still produced a smaller file, its best-quality compression is more severe than Canon's.
Fujifilm supplies the 4700 with a 16Mb SmartMedia card that can squeeze in nine, 19 or 47 images at the highest resolution. 1280 x 960 and 640 x 480 pixel modes are also available. The maximum card size is 64Mb.
Physically speaking, the 4700 measures 78 x 98 x 33mm and weighs 255g without batteries - very compact and comparable to Canon's S20. The 4700 takes just two AA batteries, and Fujifilm supplies a pair of NiMHs (nickel metal hydrides) that recharge in 12 hours and are good for around 80 shots with the decent 2in TFT display, or 230 with the optical viewfinder. You can use alkalines in an emergency, but they run down alarmingly quickly.
Despite its compact dimensions, the 4700 houses a 3x optical zoom equivalent in coverage to 38-114mm on a 35mm camera. There's a manual focus option with around 15-20 steps depending on how quickly you can press the buttons.
Shutter speeds range from three seconds to 1/2000 second, and there are two aperture settings: f2.8/4.5 or f7/10.8. You can't manually adjust shutter speed or aperture, but you can change flash brightness, white balance, sensitivity, metering mode and exposure compensation from +/- 1.5 EV (exposure value) in 1/3 steps.
Most impressive of all is the video-capture mode that produces great looking 320 x 240 pixel AVI movies at 10fps, which play back on the screen or your PC using QuickTime 4. Clips of up to 80 seconds with sound can be captured, and the 16Mb card will store a total of 90 seconds.
Control and camera status are handled by a circular backlit LCD panel on the back, surrounded by four buttons. It's dead easy to operate, with the panel icons changing to indicate which button does what. Optimised modes are available for night scenes, portraits and landscapes, while guidelines can be overlaid to aid composition.
Surprisingly, this is Fujifilm's first camera to feature a USB interface. The supplied software mounts the card as a drive in My Computer and images are transferred in seconds; Adobe PhotoDeluxe Home Edition 3.0 is included. Composite video and audio outputs are provided for TVs.
The higher sensitivity of the Super CCD was apparent in our tests with good, bright images captured without flash indoors. But to accommodate large 4.3 megapixel images, Fujifilm has been forced to turn even the best-quality compression up a bit too far. Pixelated JPEG artefacts were visible when closely examining images compared to results from other cameras. In our optical test, any benefit of higher CCD resolving power was lost as compression blurred the finest details into each other, with no TIFF mode to avoid it.
That said, the 4700 still captured slightly more detail than 2.1 megapixel models, but not as much as Canon's S20. We'll have to wait for Fujifilm's high-end 6.1 megapixel FinePix S1Pro SLR, with uncompressed TIFFs and support for IBM's CF MicroDrive to see what Super CCD can really deliver.
In the meantime, the 4700 is still a fine camera that out-gadgets Canon's S20, and outperforms just about every other digital compact.
Contact Fujifilm 020 7586 1477
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