Several of the big camera manufacturers seem to think there is room for good-looking but low-featured point-and-shoot digicams on the market. With the FinePix Z1 Zoom, Fujifilm has proved itself no exception.
With its nifty sliding lens cover, matt black finish and attractive 2.5in screen the Z1 is quite a looker, but under the bonnet it's all a bit average. There's not much in the way of manual settings, with no Shutter or Aperture Priority - and the selection of pre-set modes is also a bit thin (just Automatic, Outdoor, Night, Portrait and Landscape). Nor is there a viewfinder - it's LCD or nothing here.
That said, the LCD is clear and responsive, and can be dimmed or brightened at the press of a button. The menu includes a good few white-balance settings, so you should be able to avoid too many under- or over-exposed pictures. And the colours the Z1 captures are bright and strong, so while this is a pared-down photographic experience, it is an effective, even enjoyable, one.
The 5.1Mp CCD (charge-coupled device) sucks up the light with a thirst, while the 3x optical zoom helps you frame your pictures nicely. But if you want to take decent hi-res shots, you'll need to supplement the rather piddling 16MB xD-Picture card with something a bit more capacious. Otherwise, you're going to be downloading the pictures to your PC pretty regularly, a task that requires the use of a docking station. There's a fun movie function that can record at 640x480. But again, you'll need more memory.