Although it looks dull next to some of the flashier models we tested, the Fuji FinePix F50fd is a compact camera that has all the latest features and takes great shots.
Portly and plain are not the most compelling adjectives for a point-and-shoot digital camera, but the Fuji FinePix F50fd has very high resolution, offers tons of features, and performed quite well in our tests. It may look dull, but the looks are only shell-deep.
The Fuji FinePix F50fd has a champagne-coloured plastic front and a black plastic rear panel; unlike several other cameras we've tested, it comes in only that single colour scheme.
Although the Fuji FinePix F50fd weighs more than most similar-sized compact cameras, it also has a larger-than-average LCD panel, at 2.7in, and a higher resolution (12Mp) than most.
And - a rarity in a point-and-shoot - the F50fd offers aperture- and shutter-priority modes. The Fuji FinePix F50fd also has a "manual" mode, but that's misleading - you can't set the aperture or the shutter speed in that mode; rather, it works like other cameras' Program modes, for access to exposure compensation and more flash modes. No matter; the priority modes will serve in most situations.
Fujifilm gave the Fuji FinePix F50fd all the latest gee-whiz digital camera features too, including image stabilisation and, according to the company, a newer version of face-detection technology that can detect faces at up to a 90-degree angle, versus only 30 degrees with the company's older models.
The Fuji FinePix F50fd did seem to find and lock on to faces more easily and quickly than other units we've tried, doing so whether they were looking at the camera or not. And it starts up quickly, although its LCD panel seemed a bit slow to adjust to changing lighting conditions.
You can choose a power-management mode to save power, another mode to make the autofocus system as quick as possible, and a third to max out the LCD's clarity (it also, it seemed to us, quickened the autofocus). We like having the option of saving power, but we didn't like having to choose between the other two. In the default, power-saving mode, the Fuji FinePix F50fd took 276 shots over about 2.5 hours in our tests.
In our image-quality tests, the Fuji FinePix F50fd earned the highest mark of any recent point-and-shoot for having the least distortion. The Fuji FinePix F50fd also received very high marks for sharpness. Its flash is a bit weak, so it didn't get high scores for its flash shots, but overall, it earned a rating of Very Good.
Fujifilm offers flashier, more colourful models. But if you're more concerned with what your pictures look like than what your camera looks like, then the Fuji FinePix F50fd is probably a good bet.