Fujifilm Finepix J15

Cheap ultra-compact digital camera with an 8.2-megapixel sensor.

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Fujifilm Finepix J15
  • Fujifilm Finepix J15
  • Fujifilm Finepix J15
  • Fujifilm Finepix J15

Pros

  • Cheap as chips, compact body, easy to use

Cons

  • Below average image performance, it’s the same camera as the Finepix J10

Bottom Line

For a sub-$200 camera, the FujiFilm Finepix J15 does about a good a job as can be expected. However, there’s no getting past the fact that the image quality suffers as a result of the cheap price tag. Still worth a look.

Would you buy this?

The FujiFilm Finepix J15 is the mid-range offering in the company’s J Series of cheap digital cameras. Slotting snugly between the FujiFilm Finepix J10 and the Finepix J100, it’s a bare-bones point-and-shoot model aimed primarily at casual users. With an 8.2-megapixel CCD sensor and 3x optical zoom, it’s not the most robust entry-level compact camera on the market, though its performance is reasonable for the asking price. That said, it’s certainly not without its faults, and fails spectacularly to stand out from the crowd. In other words, it lives up to its middle-child status with aplomb.

At first — and indeed, second — glance, the FujiFilm Finepix J15 looks no different to the FinePix J10. For starters, its appearance is literally identical (and when we say literally, we literally mean it). It also sports the same 1/2.5in 8.2-megapixel (Mp) CCD sensor, Fujinon 3x optical zoom lens and most of the same features. In fact, the only significant difference we could find is the addition of face-detection technology. (Shockingly, FujiFilm neglected to include this function on the Finepix J10, despite it being a major drawcard for entry-level compacts). Otherwise, this is pretty much the same exact camera we reviewed last year; right down to the ‘8.2MP’ sticker and unburnished silver finish. We think it deserves some kind of medal for being the least ambitious upgrade ever.

So how much is FujiFilm charging for this solitary extra feature? Well, that’s the weird part. On FujiFilm’s Web site, both models are currently listed at exactly the same price ($199). That means you’re getting face-detection at no extra charge — go figure. Despite this incentive, the FujiFilm Finepix J15 is still a decidedly mediocre product. It shares all the same flaws as its J10 sibling, including over-sharpening, patchy exposure and significant detail loss at higher ISO settings. Also, despite the addition of face detection, its feature set remains paltry at best. But it’s not all doom and gloom: on the plus side, it is an exceptionally small device that’s cheap and very easy to use. This makes it a worthy option for novice happy-snappers — particularly if their photos are destined for social networking sites, rather than living room walls.

These days, most camera buyers are looking for a pixel count of 10Mp or more, which puts this model in an unenviable position. At 8.2Mp, it fails to break the magic double-digit barrier so beloved by PR spokespeople and casual shoppers. (By contrast, the Canon PowerShot A480 comes equipped with a 10.1Mp sensor and is also $20 cheaper.)

During testing, the FujiFilm Finepix J15 performed slightly below average. While pictures generally remained crisp, we noticed significant digital smearing in complex areas. We also encountered occasional over-sharpening, which led to unsightly jagged edges. Image noise was a mite higher than we’re typically used to, too; anything above ISO 400 was all but unusable. You probably won’t want to enlarge images beyond standard-sized prints anyway, as the graininess becomes all too obvious at higher magnifications.

We also weren’t impressed by the camera’s auto-exposure. Sunny outdoor photos were often blown out with too much light and significant detail loss. Meanwhile, dark areas had a distinct lack of detail. On the plus side, colours were vibrant and eye-catching, which should doubtlessly please the J15’s target audience of casual users. Fans of accuracy are out of luck though, as there are no options to manually adjust colours.

As mentioned earlier, FujiFilm has skimped out on extras with this camera. There’s a video recording function and 15 scene modes, but advanced manual features are nowhere to be found. You get a few white balance presets, a burst mode, adjustable ISO sensitivity, and that’s about it. There’s also no optical image stabiliser, with an inferior electronic variant offered instead.

Nevertheless, the Fujifilm Finepix J15 remains an acceptable option for cash-strapped social butterflies. What it lacks in image quality it makes up for in size and ease of use. We only wish FujiFilm had added a few more bells-and-whistles to distinguish this model from its identikit brothers and rivals.

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