Getting natural-looking shots in low light without a flash is tricky – especially for ultracompact cameras, which don't tend to have high-sensitivity ISO settings. Surprisingly, though, their ability to shoot with ease on the move means ultracompacts are often used in such situations.
Fuji has attempted to solve this dilemma with its Z2, a stylish and slim 5.1Mp (megapixel) camera that's low on features but offers ISO 1,600 sensitivity. Problem is, there's no image stabilisation to reduce blur and we found that shooting in gloomy conditions produced too many noisy digital artifacts. That said, in other conditions it produced acceptable images with vibrant colours – although we felt the pictures lacked a lot of detail. Macro shots were much better.
The Z2 is the perfect-looking handbag ultracompact camera. Our all-black review model has a slide front cover that reveals the 3x optical zoom lens, and the array of controls round the back is distinctly minimal. Fuji's F button gives direct access to resolutions, ISO and colour, while the four-way navipad has a menu button in the middle that's a joy to use. There's no optical viewfinder, but credit to Fuji for the big, scratch-resistant LCD which gains up nicely in low light so it's easy to compose shots.
There's an excellent continuous shooting mode and presets for scene and white balance and exposure – but not much else. In other words, the Z2 is ideal for point-and-shooters.
We didn't find the Fuji very responsive, but this month we've also been treated to Canon's i zoom, so maybe this is unfair. The Z2 will please most buyers, and the lithium battery is a good addition. As, for that matter, is the movie mode – although the xD card holds only 13 seconds of footage, so you'll need some better storage. On the down side it's a shame you can't directly connect the power adapter – all connections are via the bundled docking station.