The camera’s performance is, unfortunately, a bit of a weak point. It takes three seconds to start up, which is a bit slow by comparison to other high-spec compacts. Shot-to-shot time is also rather sluggish at an average of three seconds in both single-shot mode and in long-period continuous mode. It also has top-three and final-three continuous modes which can manage 1.4 frames per second. When using the flash, the shot-to-shot time is around eight seconds, which is a also slower than average. The AF system however is very good, focusing quickly and accurately on virtually any target even in very low light conditions, despite the camera not having an AF assist lamp. One major concern though is battery duration. The camera is powered by a 740mAh Lithium-ion rechargeable battery of a type used in a number of similar cameras. However in the Z100fd it has to power a lot of technology, and I found that on a full charge I was only able to take just over 100 shots, about a quarter of them with the flash, before it ran out of juice. This was with a brand new battery, and Li-ion batteries do improve slightly after a few charge cycles, but even allowing for this, it is still a very poor performance.
Fortunately, the Z100fd does have the saving grace of reasonably good image quality, although it isn’t perfect. Despite its unusual zoom range and configuration, the lens produces a virtually zero distortion and good corner sharpness with a minimum of chromatic aberration, although it has to be said that the overall level of detail could be higher. The Z100fd has a conventional 1/2.5-inch CCD rather than Fuji’s more sophisticated SuperCCD, and so it doesn’t have the high-ISO capabilities of cameras such as the F40fd. The noise reduction system is a bit heavy-handed and images look over-processed from 200 ISO upwards, and although the level of detail and colour balance remains usable up to 800 ISO, there is visible noise in the mid-tone areas even at 200 ISO. High contrast edges in many shots also show that traditional Fujifilm problem of purple fringing. Despite these problems, the Z100fd is capable of taking good snapshot photographs in most social situations, and will look cool and stylish while doing so.
As style-conscious snapshot cameras go, the Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd offers a lot of advanced features for a lot less money than most of its competitors. The 5x zoom range, mechanical image stabilisation and ultra-compact size combined with its good low-light focusing and good flash exposure system make it an ideal social snapshot camera, while its bold appearance is sure to draw admiring looks. Its performance is quite slow however, and the very limited battery life is a big disadvantage.