There are two menu systems, the main menu with all of the set up controls, metering options and so on and the Finepix menu. Fujifilm was among the first to include a separate function button offering fast access to common settings such as ISO and it's good to see that it's still here. However Fujifilm's choice of included settings is somewhat puzzling. There are no metering options, they're in the main menu, along with White Balance and exposure compensation. But there is the useful Dynamic Range function, to help open up the shadows and mid tones, and a useful film mode, offering standard, chrome and monochrome options. Weirdly though, Fujifilm has placed the power management control here, with power save modes, quick AF and LCD brightness all bundled in the same submenu. This just doesn't seem logical to me.
The main menu is simple to navigate, with a bright and clear labelling, while the scene mode menu offers short descriptions and sample images of each modes purpose and effect.
Despite my initial reservations about both the need for a 12MP compact and the amount of noise it would produce, the images from the F100fd are rather good.
Exposures are bang on 99 percent of the time and image clarity is very clear. More pixels theoretically means sharper images, and generally the F100fd captures plenty of sharp detail, especially when images are viewed at less than 100 percent or printed up to A4. What's refreshing though is that the cameras sharpening algorithms don't go overboard, keeping images natural looking rather than too digital.
Similarly colour is very nice and natural, which we've come to expect from Fujifilm, with its long history of producing colour films and photographic papers. The chrome option adds a bit more vibrancy and punch to the images; with its main purpose to mimic the look of 35mm slide film.
The camera's raison d'être is its dynamic range function, this is what the sensor was designed for. I was lucky enough to use the camera over a particularly bright bank holiday, with high contrast especially on the beach with the sun reflecting off the sea.
The camera coped admirably in the auto setting, but in the deep shadow areas the option to boost the DR by 100% or 200% was a real benefit. The best thing about this though is that the system is sensor based, rather than the software-based systems used by Nikon or Sony for example. This results in images that look really natural with no disintegration of the mid tone which can sometimes happen with other cameras.
Fujifilm has long been a believer in using high ISO settings to avoid camera shake, and was one of the last to incorporate optical or mechanical image stabilisation. As a result the company has become adept at producing high ISOs while keeping noise at a minimum. Cameras like the F10 produced startling results at ISO 3200, and the F100 continues that tradition. There's no denying the noise is present, but the noise reduction algorithms employed by Fujifilm along with the excellent sensor and processing produces excellent results.
This camera probably won't many win plaudits for style, it looks quite bland, with little wow factor, but it produces the goods. It's well made, easy to operate and has a feature set that appeals to the photographic savvy. However it would be nice to have some more manual control such as aperture and shutter, and a histogram would also be nice. It's a little too high end for the average snap shooter and just a little to basic in operation for the enthusiast, despite having features that the enthusiast would love, especially the dynamic range function.