Available in four eye-catching colours – champagne, pink, white and jade – the Fujifilm FinePix Z1000EXR is treated to a predominantly metal finish and incorporates a sliding front cover into its design that protects the lens and also acts as the main on/off switch. A small circular mirror is also located on the front of the camera between the lens and the built-in flash, and this can be used to help frame self-portraits with.
Despite being a slimline compact, overall construction is pretty good and the Z1000EXR certainly feels robust enough to stand up to a reasonable amount of wear and tear. The sliding front cover is given a slightly raised edge on one side and this acts as a kind of makeshift finger grip. The back of the camera is also given a small raised edge, which you can brace your thumb against.
The 3.5in touchscreen on the back of the camera takes up pretty all the available space and adds to the camera’s deliberately minimalist look. Despite being a larger than average screen it’s worth beating in mind that full-resolution still images shot in the native 4:3 aspect will display as such, which means they will not fill the entire screen and there will be black bands either side. Of course, this won’t be such a problem if you’re shooting HD movies in the native 16:9 aspect.
As we already mentioned the Z1000’s large screen also doubles up as the main control point to the camera, offering access to the various shooting controls and settings. Unfortunately though, the performance of the actual touchscreen leaves a lot to be desired and isn’t all that great. Given how responsive smartphone touchscreens have become these days, one might reasonably expect the same level of performance from a digital camera touchscreen. Sadly though, in the case of the Z1000 this isn’t the case; general function buttons lack responsiveness and often have to be pressed several times. On top of this, the in-camera menu system isn’t particularly well designed, with options buried below several layers, and thus several presses of the unresponsive screen.
The touchscreen isn’t the only area where the Z1000EXR disappoints in terms of performance. The autofocus system is quite problematic too, with accuracy and speed both taking a fairly severe knock in difficult lighting conditions. That said, the Z1000 does offer a fairly generous range of focus options that go a long way to improving performance including a number of face detection options. It’s just a shame that the focus system isn’t more generally reliable though.
Despite issues with the Z1000’s touchscreen and focusing performance, there are areas in which it performs well. The automatic scene selection mode, for example, is generally accurate, while the Auto EXR mode also generally picks out the correct EXR mode.
Overall image quality is respectable enough, albeit with a few reservations. Colour saturation levels are on the pleasing side of vibrant, but without being overly so. As with many Fuji compacts the Z1000 offers a range of ‘Film Simulation’ processing options based on old Fuji 35mm film stock, with the standard ‘Provia’ option complemented by a more saturated ‘Velvia’ look alongside Black and White and Sepia options.
During testing we found the Z1000’s folded zoom lens to be generally quite sharp – at least when it’s used at wideangle settings. Once the zoom is extended, however, we did notice some softening especially in the corners of the frame. Under close examination some fringing is also noticeable on high-contrast borders, although it’s not too much of a problem overall.
The Z1000’s dynamic range is generally quite impressive when the camera is being used in the D-Range Priority EXR mode, although the reduced 6MP resolution of this particular mode does mean that a certain amount of fine detail is sacrificed in the process. ISO performance is on a par with other cameras of this type and price, which is to say adequate at lower settings but quickly degrading in overall quality once you extend into the mid to high sensitivity settings.
The Fujifilm FinePix Z1000EXR is undoubtedly a stylish, eye-catching compact that will appeal to its target audience. Add to this what appears, on paper at least, to be a strong feature set and the Z1000 looks like a pretty solid option. Sadly, this isn’t quite the case though and while it’s certainly capable of producing good results on occasion, there are just too many niggly performance issues for it to merit a firm recommendation. For starters, the touchscreen lacks the precision and sensitivity that smartphone users will be accustomed to, which inhibits the basic user experience no end, while the autofocus can be slow and unreliable at times too. All in all then, while the Z1000 is a respectable enough camera, there better options on the market.