The F100fd ushers in yet another new generation of Fujifilm's Super CCD HR sensor, now in its eighth incarnation.
This is backed up by Fujifilm's latest RPT (Real Photo Technology), a system that tweaks settings automatically to give you natural-looking digital images 'as the human eye sees them'.
Photographing people is simplified with new, improved Face Detection 3.0, which detects up to ten faces in a scene and adjusts focus accordingly, all in the blink of an eye.
Further luxury comes in the form of two Portrait modes (one to additionally smooth out wrinkles and blemishes), and there are facilities to remove red-eye at the reviewing stage or as you shoot, in which case both the original and the corrected versions are saved to the memory card.
Throughout our tests, images were remarkably noise-free all the way up to ISO 800 and still only moderate at ISO 1600, although some fine detail was progressively lost as we went up the sensitivity scale, suggesting that the smoothing section of the camera's image-processing system was working overtime.
If you're willing to drop to 3MP image sizes, you can take the sensitivity all the way up to a staggering ISO 12800 but noise runs rampant as a result.
Some old favourites from the F50fd have been retained, like the trick Natural Light mode for making the most of gloomy conditions without resorting to flash, as well as a Natural & Flash mode, which takes two shots in quick succession, delivering flash and non-flash images.
Sadly, other features have been dropped. For example, there's no separate mode dial, so you have to access all the shooting and scene modes through the four-way thumb pad and menu button, which can be a bit of a time-waster. Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes have been stripped out altogether.
As with so many compact cameras, the so-called Manual mode gives no control over aperture or shutter speed, in this case merely allowing access to somewhat fundamental photographic choices like alternative metering and autofocus modes, white balance settings and exposure compensation.
What's a real pain is that these basic controls aren't available in other shooting and scene modes. For example, why shouldn't you be able to apply exposure bias while also making use of Portrait mode for improved skin tones?
Getting back to the good stuff, one excellent new addition is the Dynamic Range function.
This works in a similar way to Active D-Lighting on some of Nikon's latest cameras, 'intelligently' interpreting the contrast in a scene and adjusting the dynamic range so that highlights aren't blown and dark, low-lights don't turn into black holes. Manual mode brings the extra bonus of enabling you to dial in varying amounts of dynamic range control.
The lens is super-sharp and resistant to ghosting, flare and chromatic aberration, while offering a generous 5x zoom range, equivalent to 28-140mm.
Barrel distortion is pronounced towards the wide-angle end but there's almost no distortion from mid-zoom onwards, while telephoto usefulness is extended by a dual image-stabilisation system. This combines a CCD-shift anti-shake system with auto ISO adjustment to great effect.
In a nutshell, it's hard to get a blurred picture out of the F100fd.
Typical of Fujifilm's newer cameras, colour rendition is beautifully natural in standard colour mode and richly vibrant at the Chrome setting.
Couple this with generally faultless matrix metering and the F100fd's smart range of image processing features, and you're assured of consistently fabulous picture quality, straight off the camera.