Despite Fujifilm being one of the most successful and prolific manufacturers of digital cameras, and also having made some of my favourite cameras, for some reason I don’t seem to review its cameras nearly as often as I would like. I haven’t seen one since I wrote about the fantastic Finepix S9500 back in November of last year, and before that I have to go back to August to find my review of the then-new Finepix F10. I was pretty enthusiastic about that model, mainly because it broke new ground in high-ISO image quality and noise reduction. I wasn’t the only one who liked it, because it was crowned EISA European Pocket Camera of the Year 2005/6. In view of that, it’ll be interesting to see what the new F11 can do.
The Finepix F11 is basically an updated version of the F10. It keeps exactly the same body design, the same 6.63 megapixel SuperCCD HR sensor and the same 3x optical zoom lens. What it adds to the winning formula is a higher resolution LCD monitor (153K pixels over 115K), slightly better macro performance (5cm instead of 7.5cm), and more importantly aperture and shutter priority exposure metering, absolutely essential for creative photography. It stops short of full manual exposure, but the additional options will be welcomed by keen photographers.
Like the F10 the F11 is also very affordable. It has a high street price of £239, but you can find it for around £220 from the more reputable online retailers. Bear in mind that the price includes a good quality Fujifilm-branded 64MB xD-Picture memory card, which would normally retail at around £10-£12. Very few manufacturers these days include memory cards with their cameras, so this is a welcome bonus.
The 6MP 3x zoom specification is the most popular and therefore the most hotly contested sector of the digital camera market. All of the main manufacturers have at least three or four models with this specification, and even Fuji itself has no less than five, so in order to stand out from this growing crowd the F11 needs to be very, very good.
In terms of design and build quality, my opinion of the F11 is unchanged from the F10. It’s a very well made camera; it doesn’t quite have the same brick-like construction as the Nikon P4, but it has a strong aluminium body with securely mounted metal controls and a scratch-resistant LCD monitor. Unfortunately the monitor is also highly reflective, which makes it difficult to see clearly in bright sunlight despite the quick-access brightness control.