The Z20fd’s performance is a bit below average for its class. It starts up in just under two and a half seconds, and shuts down again just as quickly, which is acceptable. However in both single shot and continuous shooting modes it can take a picture approximately once every three seconds, which is a bit on the slow side, although it does have two three-shot burst modes (last three or first three saved) which are a little faster at 1.5 seconds per shot. The autofocus system is quick enough though, keeping shutter lag to an acceptable level, and it also focuses extremely well in low light conditions, although only up to a certain point because it lacks an AF assist lamp, a puzzling omission on a camera so obviously designed for use in a party environment. The face detection system is very good though, in fact one of the best I’ve seen, detecting faces quickly and accurately even in poor light or when the face wasn’t turned directly to the camera.
When it comes to image quality, I’m not sure what to say about the Z20fd. It has a couple of interesting qualities, for example it automatically corrects the image to compensate for lens distortion, resulting in nice straight edges and reduced distortion of facial features at close range, and the flash is astonishingly powerful for such a small camera, easily exceeding its stated 3.9 metre range. However there are a number of things I really don’t like about it, particularly its horrible colour rendition, which is certainly unusual for a Fujifilm camera. Shooting in the standard colour mode all colours are massively over-saturated, but especially reds, which come out looking like Day-Glo pink. All of the images look over-processed, and lack the kind of fine detail that most 10MP cameras can produce.
The Z20fd has a small 1/2.3-inch 10-megapixel sensor, and as usual it produces limited dynamic range with murky shadows, although it is pretty good on highlight detail. Image noise is also a problem, with visible noise even at the 64 ISO minimum sensitivity setting, getting progressively worse, particularly in the red channel, which may be connected with the colour rendition problem.
The Fujifilm FinePix Z20fd is designed to appeal to a particular demographic, and will probably find itself living in a small fashionable handbag next to a pink Motorola Razr mobile phone. For under £90 it delivers eye-catching style, durable build quality and simplicity of operation, along with reasonable performance and some fun features. Picture quality is a bit disappointing, especially the psychedelic colour saturation, but to be fair that’s probably not a priority for its target audience.