Fuji FinePix 3800 Digital Camera
|User Level||Novice – Amateur|
|Product Uses||Family / Travel / Special Events|
|Digicam Design||Point and Shoot|
|Picture Quality||High, 3.2-megapixel CCD|
|Print Sizes||Up to 8×10|
|Suggested Retail Price||$449.95|
Fujifilm produces a wide range of digicam models, from bare-bones entry-level models up to and including a high-end digital SLR. To my mind though, their greatest success has been in creating good-quality midrange cameras that sell at very competitive prices. Their FinePix 2800 Zoom was one of the best deals on the market last year (this review is being written in January, 2003), featuring a 6x zoom lens and two-megapixel CCD for only $399. That was a great bargain for a camera with a nice complement of features, very good photo quality, and a long zoom lens. Now, the FinePix 3800 goes a step further with a 3.2-megapixel CCD for only $50 more. Additionally, the 3800 has an Aperture Priority exposure mode, and a longer exposure time (maximum three seconds), increasing the camera’s flexibility. It also accepts the new xD-Picture Card. Just like the 2800 before it, the FinePix 3800 offers excellent value for the money.
Almost a mirror image of the earlier Fuji FinePix 2800, the FinePix 3800 updates the model with a larger CCD, partial manual exposure control, and a slightly improved user interface. This new model also uses the new xD-Picture Card memory format, rather than the SmartMedia of its predecessor. To accommodate the camera’s 6x zoom lens, the 3800’s body is slightly bulky, but still compact compared to many long-zoom digicams. Highly portable and lightweight, the 3800 will definitely come along for the ride. Too large for a standard shirt pocket, the 3800 should fit into larger coat pockets and purses, and comes with a shoulder strap to make carrying it easier. Measuring 3.9 x 3.0 x 2.7 inches (99 x 77 x 69 millimeters), the 3800 weighs 10 ounces (294 grams with batteries and xD-Picture Card) and fits well in one hand. A substantial handgrip provides a very firm hold, nicely balancing out the weight of the lens barrel. The 3800 offers a 3.2-megapixel CCD, which delivers clear, sharp images as large as 2,048 x 1,536 pixels, suitable for printing as large as 8×10 inches with great detail. (A lower resolution is also available for more email-friendly file sizes.)
The 3800’s Fujinon 6x, 6-36mm lens is the equivalent of a 38-228mm zoom on a 35mm camera. A small, plastic lens cap protects the lens when not in use, and tethers to the camera so you don’t have to worry about losing it. The telescoping lens extends about an inch from the camera when powered on, and promptly retracts when the camera is shut off. Apertures range from f/2.8 to f/8.2, and can be manually set through the Record menu (in Manual mode only). Focus remains under automatic control at all times, with a focal range from 2.6 feet (0.8 meters) to infinity in normal mode, and from 3.9 to 31.5 inches (10 to 80 centimeters) in Macro mode. In addition to the 6x optical zoom, the 3800 also offers as much as 2.5x digital enlargement, depending on the image size selected. However, I always point out here that digital zoom compromises image quality in that it simply enlarges the center pixels of the CCD, resulting in less detail and higher image noise. Packaged with the 3800 is a lens adapter ring, which screws into filter threads on the inside lip of the lens barrel. The ring protects the lens when it’s extended and accommodates Fuji’s wide angle, telephoto, and macro lens adapters, which extend the camera’s zoom capabilities. The 3800 offers both a TTL electronic optical viewfinder (EVF) and a 1.8-inch, D-TFT color LCD monitor. The viewfinder display switches between the EVF and LCD monitor via a button on the rear panel, which means that the complete display is available on the EVF, including the settings menus. The viewfinder’s information display reports various camera settings, and an optional framing guide display divides the image into thirds horizontally and vertically for more accurate framing.
Though the camera offers Automatic and Manual exposure modes, exposure control is mainly automatic. The Mode dial on top of the camera puts the camera into Manual, Scene, Auto, or Movie modes. Auto mode determines the entire exposure automatically, with the user able to adjust the zoom, flash mode, and image size and quality settings only. Manual exposure mode expands user options to include white balance, exposure compensation, sharpness, flash power and aperture settings. Shutter speeds range from 1/1,500 to three seconds, but are not reported on the LCD display. The Aperture Priority option under the settings menu offers three apertures and an Auto setting. The 3800 uses a 64-zone metering system to determine exposure, placing the greatest emphasis on the center portion of the image area. Light sensitivity is rated as equivalent to ISO 100, and is not adjustable. When shooting in Manual exposure mode, exposure compensation is adjustable from -2.1 to +1.5 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. White Balance offers seven settings, including Auto, Daylight, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, and Incandescent. The 3800’s Scene mode offers four preset “scenes” for shooting in potentially tricky situations, and includes Portrait, Scene (Landscape), Sport, and Night Scene modes.
The 3800’s built-in, pop-up flash operates in one of five modes, which include Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, and Slow Synchro modes. Through the settings menu, flash power is adjustable from -0.6 to +0.6 EV values in one-third-step increments. For self-portraits or those times when pressing the shutter button might result in camera movement, the 3800 features a Self-Timer that delays the shutter release until 10 seconds after the shutter button is fully pressed. The 3800 can also capture movies with sound for a maximum of 200 seconds at the smaller resolution setting or 60 seconds at higher resolution, while in Movie capture mode. Movie files are saved in the Motion JPEG format, at either 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 pixels. A Voice Caption option allows you to record as much as 30 seconds of audio to attach to an image, post-capture. For capturing a quick series of shots, the Continuous Shooting mode captures as many as two images at approximately 0.5-second intervals (depending on resolution settings and memory card space).
Images captured by the 3800 are saved to xD-Picture Cards, and a 16MB card comes with the camera. In addition to the 2,048 x 1,536-pixel resolution size, the 3800 also offers 1,600 x 1,200; 1,280 x 960; and 640 x 480-pixel resolutions. Two JPEG compression ratios are available, including Fine and Normal. The Playback menu offers DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) settings for printing images on a compatible device. A USB cable and software CD accompany the camera, allowing for high-speed connection to a computer. The software CD contains Fuji’s FinePix Viewer software, which organizes and displays downloaded images, and provides printing and minor editing capabilities. Windows users can take advantage of PictureHello, which turns the 3800 into a videoconferencing tool.