We're not easily impressed, but the FinePix F31's face-recognition feature, here given its best rendition yet in a compact digital camera, has had us running around trying it out on family and friends.

The function ensures that the camera automatically focuses on the faces in the frame rather than details and backgrounds. In practice, outlined squares appear on the ample 2.5in LCD screen around each of your subjects' faces (up to 10 at once). They'll even follow them as they move, as if you've locked on to them in 'Top Gun'.

This all sounds great and it worked brilliantly in a well-lit office – but, to our disappointment, more challenging lighting conditions gave it a bit of a headache.

The rest of the functions, however, perform really well in a range of situations. An impressive ISO rating of 3,200 at full resolution gives the FinePix an advantage in low light.

There are 15 special scene modes, including snow, fireworks and even an underwater setting, to be used with a special case (not included, sadly).

The F31fd is fairly quick off the mark, with a 0.01 second shutter lag. That should ensure you don't miss too many photo opportunities. The one down side for us is the FinePix's bulky appearance – and at 155g without batteries, it's quite heavy for a pocket-sized model.

Fujifilm FinePix F31fd: Specs

  • 6.3Mp
  • 1/1.7in super CCD HR
  • ISO 3200
  • shutter speed 3 to 1/2,000th sec
  • 2.5in LCD
  • rechargeable li-ion battery
  • AVI format 640x480 pixels, 30fps
  • 1.5 second startup
  • 93x28x57mm
  • 155g (excluding batteries)
  • 6.3Mp
  • 1/1.7in super CCD HR
  • ISO 3200
  • shutter speed 3 to 1/2,000th sec
  • 2.5in LCD
  • rechargeable li-ion battery
  • AVI format 640x480 pixels, 30fps
  • 1.5 second startup
  • 93x28x57mm
  • 155g (excluding batteries)

OUR VERDICT

Posers looking for a great-looking camera to show off at a party need not apply. But if you want your prints to look the business, the Fujifilm FinePix F31fd is the camera for you. It's absolutely perfect for beginners, with its special functions and that remarkable – if marginally flawed – face-recognition chip.

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