Handling is good, although you couldn’t really describe it as comfortable. The F810 is quite heavy for a compact, and with its long thin shape it does feel awkwardly balanced. You’ll probably find yourself using both hands to keep it steady, and to operate the controls on the far side of that huge screen. One point against it though; the flash doesn’t pop up automatically even in Auto mode, so you have to press a button to activate it manually. However it does pop back down again by itself when the camera switches off.
Although the F810 is a bit of a heavyweight, it’s surprisingly nimble on its feet. It starts up in a very respectable 1.2 seconds, and in standard mode it can shoot at one frame per second even in its processed 12.3 megapixel mode. In continuous drive mode it can shoot at two frames per second, but only has room in the buffer for four frames.
The model used for this review had clearly done the rounds prior to arriving here, but even though the battery had presumably been charged and discharged several times its performance was still disappointing. A full charge was barely enough for a day and an evening of fairly light use. The F810 uses the same sized 710mAh lithium-ion battery found in the much smaller Pentax Optio S5i, and it may simply not be powerful enough for the job. Fortunately charging the battery is easy, since the F810 comes with a USB/charger cradle.
Finally, on to picture quality. Fujifilm cameras, like its films, have always been known for their vivid colour reproduction, a tradition which the F810 carries on. Even in standard mode colours are incredibly bold. In ‘Vivid’ mode they are almost blinding. However, it has to be said that the F810’s pictures are a little disappointing. When viewed at 100 per cent they lack sharpness and fine detail, and large areas of colour tend to look blotchy, almost as if the colours had run. Admittedly they would still make an excellent A3-sized print, but many six and eight megapixel cameras would do better. Part of the problem may be the lens, which suffers from corner blurring and barrel distortion at wide angle, and the other from the in camera image processing that doubles the resolution. Image noise is very well handled except at the highest ISO setting of 800, which also restricts image size to 3MP and should be avoided for best results.
With a street price of around £250 the F810 is far from cheap, but it does offer a few unique features to justify the price. First is that big widescreen monitor and image format, which you’ll either love or hate, and then there’s the 12.3 megapixel straight-out-of-camera image size, which beats all but the top few digital SLRs. However image quality isn’t all that you might hope from the numbers and the short battery life can also be a problem.