The Z700’s overall performance has good points and bad. It is very slow to start up, taking around five seconds from opening the front panel to taking the first picture. However single shot mode the shot-to-shot time is approximately 1.6 seconds, which is very quick. In continuous shooting mode it can manage just under two shots a second, but only for five shots, after which it has to pause for nearly eight seconds while it writes the results to the memory card. At least there is an audio cue to tell you when a shot is taken, and the monitor remains live throughout.
The autofocus system is very fast and accurate in good light, and the automatic selection of the appropriate EXR mode is virtually instant, so there is minimal shutter delay. However the low-light focusing is less impressive, failing to focus in dim evening lighting. The Z700 has no AF assist lamp so it’s virtually useless in lower light levels, which is an odd omission for a camera designed for social snapshot photography and which lists the low-light shooting ability of the EXR sensor as a major selling point.
One significant concern is battery duration. The Z700 is powered by a relatively puny 720mAh li-ion rechargeable, and even Fuji’s own documentation only claims 170 shots on a full charge. I found that with a brand new battery I only got about 150 shots, but li-ion batteries do improve slightly after a few charge cycles. When most of its competitors can comfortably take 250 shots on a charge this is a bit of a weak point for the Z700.
Fortunately the Z700 does have one major strong point, and that is its image quality. As in its previous appearances the EXR sensor technology proves its worth, with dynamic range far surpassing any of its competitors, and better than average high-ISO noise control. Shots at 400 ISO are of very good quality, and are printable at 800 and even 1600 ISO. The 6MP-only 3200 ISO setting is a bit ropey, but then the same is true of most other cameras in this class.
Lens quality has never been one of Fuji’s strong points, and the Z700 does suffer from some chromatic aberration and slight blurring towards the corners of the frame, but centre sharpness is good and there is minimal barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom.
The FinePix Z700 EXR combines Fuji’s technically advanced sensor technology with a stylish design, a well-implemented touch-screen interface, decent performance, a good range of features and superior build quality to produce a great pocket compact that is fun to use and produces excellent results, although the poor low-light focusing is a disadvantage. The surprisingly low price makes it excellent value for money.