FujiFilm FinePix F10Even gadget-heads like us occasionally get tired of fiddling with dials, knobs, and buttons to get our devices working right. Sometimes, in the sleepy, alcohol-infused predawn hours, we just want to snap a picture of our new Reno friends without having to worry about whether we’ve picked the right white balance setting or adjusted the freakin’ autofocus properly. And yet, control freaks that we are, we don’t want to give up such options during our more lucid moments back in the Mobile offices, after the annulment has gone through.

That’s why we like the Fujifilm FinePix F10, a straightforward compact camera that produces excellent shots without requiring you to get a PhD in photography — and yet offers a wealth of easy-to-access options for shutterbugs who refuse to loosen their deathlike grip on their camera’s exposure settings.

With 6.3 megapixels of resolution, the F10 is bumping up against prosumer camera territory, yet it’s still small and portable. The F10’s no-nonsense silver case is about an inch thick except for a slight bulge on the right side of its front face. The display is a generous 2.4 inches, and it’s clear and bright. Fujifilm left out the optical viewfinder, and we didn’t miss it, except when sunlight was drenching the display.

The mode dial encircling the shutter button is simpler than most, with just four positions. In “scene position” mode, you choose between five different preset configurations.

In automatic mode, the F10 is fairly intelligent at sussing out exposure, white balance, and focus settings — and it does so very quickly, with a shutter lag of just half a second and a shot-to-shot recovery time of 1.2 seconds. It powers up quickly, too, and can take a decent shot within 1.8 seconds. If anything, the F10 is a little too eager to get going — it’s easy to turn the camera on accidentally by brushing the power button. Image quality is very good, with accurate color and fine detail; the F10’s clarity score of 2.1 is average for a six-megapixel camera.

For more control, switch into manual mode and use the “F” and “menu” buttons on the camera’s back to adjust film-speed equivalent (there’s a wide range, from ISO 80 to ISO 1600), exposure compensation, and so on. The menus are very easy to use, in combination with Fujifilm’s intuitive onscreen display. Strangely, there’s no autobracketing option for taking three shots in quick succession with different exposures.

In movie mode, the camera shoots videos that, at 640 x 480 pixels and 30 frames per second, look as good as anything you’re likely to see from a pocket still camera.

It’s hard to find fault with the Finepix F10. Its use of xD cards, instead of the more common (and somewhat cheaper) SD cards, is annoying, and we’d like a macro capability that would let us get closer than 3 inches. But overall, the FinePix F10 is an excellent, flexible companion that’s willing to go anywhere with you and won’t put you in the poorhouse. We wish we could say the same about our Reno friends. -Dylan Tweney

Best Feature: Easy to use, even in manual mode
Worst Feature: LCD easily washed out in bright light

Fujifilm FinePix F10
Price: $366
Weight: 7 ounces
Size: 3.8 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches
Specs: 6.3 megapixels; 3x optical zoom; 2.4-inch LCD; 640 x 480-pixel, 30-fps AVI video recording; xD card slot (32MB card included)

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