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Fuji FinePix A200 Digital Camera@DASHING THING REVIEW

11 Jul

Fuji FinePix A200 Digital Camera

Camera QuickLook
Review Date
04/22/03
User Level
Novice to experienced amateur
Product Uses
Family / Travel / Special Events
Digicam Design
Point and Shoot
Picture Quality
High, 2.0-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes
Good prints to 5×7, adequate 8x10s
Availability
Now
Suggested Retail Price
$149

 


Introduction


Universally known for great color and performance, Fuji has also made a name for itself in the digicam arena by offering consumers digicams of consistently good quality at very affordable prices. Maintaining a good balance between quality and portability, Fuji’s FinePix digicam line is populated with compact, travel-worthy digicams that take great pictures. The new A200, positioned at the entry level point-and-shoot end of the FinePix line, features a 2.0-megapixel CCD and a pared-down user interface perfect for novices. Although the A200 has only a fixed-focal-length lens and less image control than many of the FinePix digicams, its point-and-shoot simplicity will appeal to a wide audience of consumers, especially at its very low retail price.

Camera Overview

With a suggested retail price of $149 (even cheaper at some discount Internet sites), the Fuji FinePix A200 is definitely a bargain for an entry-level digicam. Small, compact, and very lightweight, the A200 features a 2.0-megapixel CCD, full automatic exposure control, and point-and-shoot simplicity. The A200’s CCD captures enough information to print photos as large as 5×7 inches with nice detail and 8×10 inches with acceptable detail. At the same time, lower-resolution settings are available for email attachments or online image use. The camera’s dimensions are small enough for larger shirt pockets, at 3.9 x 2.5 x 1.6 inches (99 x 65 x 41 millimeters), and the all-plastic body is very lightweight at just 6.7 ounces (190 grams), including batteries and memory card. The fixed-focal-length lens and built-in lens cover keep the A200’s front panel fairly smooth, allowing the camera to easily slip into a pocket or purse.

The A200 features a 5.5mm fixed focal length lens (equivalent to a standard wide-angle 36mm lens on a 35mm camera). Aperture is automatically controlled, with settings of f/4.6 or f/9.5. Focus is also fixed, ranging from 2.6 feet (80 centimeters) to infinity, in normal mode, with a Macro setting ranging from 3.1 to 5.1 inches (8 to 13 centimeters). The camera does offer as much as 2.5x digital “zoom,” but keep in mind that digital zoom decreases the overall image quality, since it only records the center pixels of the CCD image. (Fuji’s approach makes more sense to me than most, as they simply limit the amount of digital zoom that’s available based on the current resolution setting. The camera never resizes the image, but rather lets you “zoom” until the area that’s cropped from the CCD array matches the currently selected image resolution. Thus, no digital zoom is available at maximum image size, and the maximum 2.5x zoom is only available at the smallest resolution setting.) For framing shots, the A200 offers both a real-image optical viewfinder and a 1.5-inch color LCD monitor. (As is often the case, the optical viewfinder is rather tight, showing only 82% of the final frame, while the LCD is very accurate.) A limited information display reports camera settings on the LCD monitor, and a framing guideline option displays an alignment grid. The grid divides the image area into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, making it easier to line up tricky subjects.

Exposure is automatically controlled at all times, despite the A200’s selection of Auto and Manual exposure modes. The “Manual” setting simply expands the Record menu to include Exposure Compensation and White Balance options. Shutter speeds range from 1/1,000 to 1/2 second, but the LCD display shows reports neither the shutter speed nor the lens aperture setting. To determine exposure, the A200 employs a TTL (through-the-lens), 64-zone metering system, which evaluates readings taken throughout the frame to calculate exposure. The camera’s Exposure Compensation setting lets you increase or decrease the overall exposure from -2.1 to +1.5 EV units in one-third-step increments. (Each full EV unit corresponds to a doubling or halving of the exposure.) White balance options include an Auto setting, as well as Outdoors, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, and Incandescent presets. Although it’s not adjustable, the A200’s sensitivity is equivalent to ISO 100, sufficient for most situations.

The A200’s built-in flash is rated as effective from 2.6 to 9.8 feet (0.8 to 3.0 meters), a range that was validated by my own tests. The flash operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, or Slow-Synchro modes. A Self-Timer mode provides a 10-second delay between a full press of the Shutter button and the actual opening of the shutter, helpful in self-portraits or group photos. The A200 also features a Movie mode, which captures movies without sound at either 320 x 240- or 160 x 120-pixel resolutions. Maximum recording times vary, depending on the resolution and amount of available memory space, with a maximum of 20 seconds at 320 x 240 pixels, and a maximum of 80 seconds at 160 x 120 pixels.

The A200 stores image files on an xD-Picture Card, and comes with a 16MB starter card. You’ll want to purchase a larger size fairly soon, given the A200’s maximum 1,600 x 1,200-pixel resolution. (The xD-Picture Card itself is very tiny, rivaling the popular SD memory cards in size.) The A200 uses two AA-type batteries for power, either alkaline or NiMH, and an optional AC adapter is available. A set of single-use AA alkaline batteries comes with the camera, but I strongly recommend purchasing a couple of sets of high-capacity NiMH batteries and a good charger, and keeping a spare set of batteries charged at all times. ntly on the market are best,  for my review of the Maha C-204F charger, my longtime favorite. The A200’s power consumption is lower than many competing models, and a freshly charged set of high-capacity NiMH batteries should give you two and a half to three hours of operating time, even in the camera’s highest power drain mode.

Although basic in its offerings, the A200 is an excellent option for novice users who want to try digital imaging without investing a lot of money. The 2.0-megapixel CCD is great for printing snapshots and slightly larger photos, and the Fuji name ensures good color and quality.

Basic Features

  • 2.0-megapixel CCD delivering image resolutions as high as 1,600 x 1,200 pixels.
  • Real-image optical viewfinder.
  • 1.5-inch color LCD monitor.
  • 36mm (35mm equivalent) fixed-focus lens.
  • 2.5x digital zoom.
  • Automatic exposure control.
  • Adjustable white balance with seven settings.
  • Sensitivity equivalent to ISO 100.
  • Apertures from f/4.6 to f/9.5.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/1,000 to 1/2 second.
  • Built-in flash with five modes.
  • xD-Picture Card storage (16MB card included).
  • Power supplied by two AA-type batteries or optional AC adapter.
  • Interface software and USB drivers included for Windows and Macintosh computers.

Special Features

  • Movie mode (without sound).
  • 10-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included).

Recommendation
Lightweight, portable, and easy to use, the Fuji’s FinePix A200 is an excellent point-and-shoot digicam for novices just getting their feet wet in digital photography. Although exposure remains under automatic control at all times, you can adjust Exposure Compensation and White Balance. A simple, straightforward user interface means little or no downtime for learning, and makes the A200 good for shooting on the fly. Its 2.0-megapixel CCD captures good-quality images (for printing as large as 5×7 inches) with nice color and clarity. With a list price under $150, it’s one of the most affordable cameras out there that’s still capable of delivering good-quality photos.

 

Design
Measuring 3.9 x 2.5 x 1.6 inches (99 x 65 x 41 millimeters), the A200 is small enough for most larger shirt pockets and fits easily into most purses. Although compact, the A200 fits into the hand well, and the included wrist strap provides some extra security. Loaded up with batteries and memory card, the A200 weighs a mere 6.7 ounces (190 grams), thanks in part to the all-plastic camera body and uncomplicated lens design. Because of the A200’s straightforward design, external controls are limited and the LCD menu system is short and sweet.

The A200’s front panel has gentle curves with no real protrusions to snag on pockets. Because the lens is fixed, the front panel remains smooth even while the camera is powered on. A shutter-like lens cover protects the front of the lens when closed, and quickly retracts when the camera is powered on. (The sliding Power switch is connected directly to the sliding lens.) Also on the front panel are the flash, flash sensor, self-timer lamp, optical viewfinder window, and the Macro/Infinity focus switch. A slight, sculpted ridge provides a finger grip on the far side of the front panel, with a shiny silver finish.

The right side of the camera (as viewed from the rear) holds only the eyelet for the wrist strap. At the very bottom of the right panel, the edge of the memory card and battery compartment door is visible.

The opposite side of the camera features the USB and DC In connector terminals, both uncovered. (I have to say that I’m always a little nervous when I see open connector sockets like this, concerned that dirt and/or moisture could enter the camera body through them.)

On the A200’s top panel are the Power switch and Shutter button, the latter ringed by a small Mode dial.

The few remaining camera controls are on the rear panel, sharing space with the optical viewfinder, an LED status light, and the LCD monitor. The Display, Menu/OK, and Back buttons line the right side of the LCD monitor. A Four-Way Arrow pad just above these controls digital zoom and navigates through the LCD menu.

Finally, the A200’s bottom panel is nice and flat, with the plastic, threaded tripod mount just off-center. The shared xD-Picture Card and battery compartment is adjacent, with a hinged door that slides out before opening. Although I typically prefer to have access to the battery and memory card compartments while a camera is mounted to a tripod, I doubt this issue will come into play much on the A200, given its portable nature.

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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in cameras

 

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