Fujifilm drops a gaggle of point and shoots, plus an ultrazoom

In the grand camera company tradition of releasing your products all at once, at midnight, Fujifilm has dropped a cartload of new gear on us this hot night, from entry-level point-and-shoots to a big ol’ ultrazoom. DSLRs and micro four-thirds cameras may be making that last genus extinct, but as long as there are Best Buys, there will be a market for that sort of thing.

Let’s see what we’ve got here, in order of interestingness.

(Some of these have that sweet little sensor with its special pixel binning modes (pro-low light mode). Many also include some dubious “film effect” modes (do your own color correction, it’s fun and easy) and a “pro focus” mode that combines three shots, each with a different focus, into one, creating an enhanced depth of field effect. I question the wisdom of using this last mode, which is essentially a way to get around the slowness of their lenses, and suggest that if you’re interested enough in photography that you want to mess with depth of field, do the right thing and get a DSLR. Face detection etc is also standard.)

Moving on:

The Ultrazoom

  • 14.3x Fujinon optical zoom lens (30.5mm-436mm equivalent)
  • 50% improved battery life over its predecessor (hmm)
  • 1/1.6” 12 megapixel Super CCD EXR sensor
  • New 2.7” high contrast 230k-pixel LCD
  • .2” 200K-pixel electronic viewfinder (expensive and useless)
  • RAW (EXR)/JPEG shooting – handy
  • EXR sensor
  • Full manual control, bulb setting

A nice big ultrazoom. I never have supported these things, but if you’re scared of DSLRs, there’s not much else to do. Take it from me, though, you’re never going to be able to adequately take advantage of that 436mm equivalent lens. This thing costs $600, people.

The Luxury Compact

  • 10x optical zoom (27-270mm equiv.)
  • 230K-pixel 2.7” LCD
  • 22.7mm thin (nice)
  • 10 megapixels
  • 1/2″ EXR sensor
  • “Dual stabilization,” not adequately explained

The best deal of the bunch, I’d say. 10x zoom is enough for most, it’s got the EXR sensor and modes, and the design is understated. It’ll set you back $280. A bit pricey but almost certainly a great camera.

The One They Think Teens Will Want

  • 10 megapixels
  • 3x zoom
  • 2.7″ LCD
  • Comes in teen-friendly blue, green, or violet (AKA purple)
  • 19mm thin, not bad

The highest-end offering that doesn’t use Fujifilm’s secret sensor sauce. This should not be considered under any circumstances. $150.

The Budget One

  • You like that white space?
  • 10 megapixels
  • 3x zoom
  • 2.7″ LCD
  • The usual

The capabilities of the Teen camera without the freaky body (I like this one better anyway) and minus a couple non-essential features. A solid budget camera if you’re looking to save a little scratch. $130.

The Really Budget Ones
A170 and A220

  • Don’t buy these

I advise strongly against buying at the very bottom of the spectrum. Who knows where they cut corners?

My advice:
Fujifilm has some good cameras here, but mainly because of their cool EXR sensor, which lets you do things even DSLRs don’t. If you can afford the F70EXR ($280, I know), get that one. If you can’t, the J38 is your best bet, but I would shop around for other cameras in the same price range from Canon, Panasonic, etc. They focus more on the basics and you’ll get a better deal.