If you're looking for a stylish but ultra-compact digital camera, the decision is going to be a hard one because you've got plenty to choose from. All of the major manufacturers have entire ranges with dozens of highly desirable premium-priced cameras featuring cutting edge technology and fashionable design. Canon has its Digital IXUS range; Nikon its Coolpix S series; Sony is represented by the Cyber-shot T series, and Samsung has both its NV range and its new i-series models. For Fujifilm its premium style range is the FinePix Z-series, and one of the latest is this, the Z100fd.
The Z100fd is an 8-megapixel ultra-compact camera featuring a 2.7-inch 230k monitor, 5x zoom internal lens (equivalent to 36-180mm) and moving-sensor mechanical image stabilisation. At just 19.8mm thick it is one of the slimmest cameras on the market to feature this technology. Like most style-oriented compact cameras the Z100fd isn't cheap. It is currently selling for around £160-£170, but this looks a lot more reasonable when you compare it to similarly-specced models from other manufacturers, such as the Canon IXUS 860 IS (£210), the Panasonic Lumix FX-55 (£225), the Olympus mju 830 (£185) and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T200 (anywhere between £210 and £320).
The external design of the Z100fd is certainly distinctive, although it seems to have been designed more for its aesthetic appeal than ease of handling. It has a manually-operated sliding cover over the lens and flash, which is nothing new, but just to be different this one slides diagonally, and the 'Z' logo lights up for a few seconds when the camera is activated. The body is all metal, and comes in a range of colours, including "Shell pink", "Satin silver", "Cappuccino brown" and the colour scheme of my review sample "Tuxedo black", which has a contrasting white cover. The other three have a brushed-metal finish, but I found that the glossy enamel finish of my review sample was quite slippery to hold and showed up fingermarks very easily. The lens is positioned very close to the top edge of the body, and the glass covering the front element is almost flush with the front surface of the camera, and I found that care had to be taken to avoid smearing fingermarks over this as well, resulting in blurred pictures. Despite this quibble, the build quality is excellent, and the camera feels solidly expensive. Even the tripod bush is metal, which is unusual enough to be worth mentioning.