Fujifilm Finepix F420 Zoom
Review Date: August 21st 2004
Ease of Use
Upon first sight the FinePix F420 Zoom looked like a cut-down version of the FinePix F610 Zoom, being more square in shape yet having the same kind of brushed aluminum finish to the body and very similar external controls.
As with the FinePix F610 Zoom, you will either love or hate the square format of the FinePix F420 Zoom, which isn't the most natural to hold if you're used to more conventional cameras. I found the best method was to support the top-left hand corner of the camera with my forefinger/middle finger and the bottom of the camera with my left hand thumb, then operate the zoom and shutter release controls with my right hand. Despite being very small in size, I didn't find it too small to operate the FinePix F420 Zoom, and I loved the fact that it easily fits into a jeans pocket.
One of the most immediate and striking things about the FinePix F420 Zoom is the large LCD screen that dominates the back of the camera. The screen is a bright 1.8 inch colour TFT LCD monitor with 134,000 pixels, which makes composing pictures and movies very easy. The large LCD is a little difficult to use in bright sunlight, but most LCD screens suffer from this problem, and you can always use the optical viewfinder instead.
The second impressive thing about the FinePix F420 Zoom is the way that you turn it on. Instead of having a boring power button like many cameras, you turn the FinePix F420 Zoom on by sliding a panel on the front of the camera (marked Finepix) from left to right. As you do so, the Finepix lettering lights up in a blue colour for a few seconds! It's certainly the most innovative way of turning a camera on that I've yet seen, although it's not as quick as just pressing a button.
There are a couple of other ways to access menu settings. As with a number of other Fujifilm digital cameras, the FinePix F420 Zoom has a Menu button on the rear of the camera which, as you would expect, gives you access to the software menu system. This lets you set various parameters including exposure compensation and white balance. There is also a small blue button with an F on it, which opens the Photo Mode menu and allows you to control the file quality setting, ISO speed and colour settings (B&W, Chrome or Standard). I'm not really sure why these 3 settings alone should fall under the heading of Photo Mode, and things like white balance are just part of the standard menu. And I'm undecided about whether it is a good idea or not. The F button does give quick access to certain features, but you do have to memorise what another button does.
The FinePix F420 Zoom is very well constructed, being built of a mixture of brushed aluminum and a few plastic parts. It certainly looks very stylish and will no doubt impress your friends. Unfortunately the various buttons on the rear of the camera are a little on the small side and may be fiddly to operate if you have large hands. One last complaint is about the tripod mount, which is made of plastic and even worse is positioned at the extreme left of the bottom of the camera. The camera designers may have concluded that not many people who buy this camera will actually mount it on a tripod, but if so why not remove it altogether? It's practically unusable as it stands anyway.
Despite a few minor complaints, overall the FinePix F420 Zoom is a very stylish and well-built digital camera that I feel will definitely appeal to all you gadget-lovers out there, although the small external buttons and strange square format will maybe put some people off. The FinePix F420 Zoom tiny size and light weight makes it a camera that you can put in your pocket and forget about until you need it.