If the sales figures for cameras such as the Canon’s Digital IXUS range, Konica Minolta’s X-series and Sony’s DSC-T series teach us anything, it’s that there is a big market out there for sleek, stylish fashion cameras. The FinePix Z1 is Fujifilm’s latest take on the concept, and as an exercise in design it is a spectacular success.
It has a sleek futuristic appearance, with a wrap-around back panel and a flat, almost featureless front unlike anything else in Fuji’s extensive camera range. At just 18.6mm thick it is one of the slimmest cameras on the market, while its front dimensions are smaller than a pack of cigarettes. The main reason for its compact size it the non-extending 3x optical zoom lens. Although Fuji was somewhat vague about how this actually works, the most likely explanation is that it’s mounted vertically inside the camera and looks out via a prism, rather like a periscope. Similar systems have been used successfully on Konica Minolta and Sony cameras.
The lens is protected by a sliding cover that doubles as the on/off switch, while the back features a large scratch-resistant 2.5in LCD monitor and an attractively minimalist control layout. The Z1 is available in either matt black or flat metallic silver. Although both colours are the same price – around £220 – the black model will almost certainly be the more popular, since it looks so damned sexy.
The Z1 doesn’t just look good, it also performs well, although it does have some limitations which we’ll come to later. Thanks to the non-extending lens and high speed electronics the Z1 has an outstandingly fast start-up time, and is ready to take a picture in just 0.6 seconds. It also has an amazingly short shutter lag of just 0.01 seconds, a good fast AF system, while high speed data recording means that, although the camera doesn’t have a continuous shooting mode, it can still shoot 10 frames in around 13 seconds, which is respectably quick for a 5.1 megapixel camera.