Fuji FinePix A205 Digital Camera
|Family, entry-level camera|
|Point and Shoot|
|Good, 2.0-megapixel CCD|
|Decent prints to 8×10|
Suggested Retail Price
Universally known for great color and performance, Fuji has also carved out a niche for itself by consistently providing, good-quality consumer digicams at rock-bottom prices. The latest in Fuji’s line of bargain-priced cameras is the FinePix A205, the 2-megapixel twin to the three-megapixel FinePix A210. The FinePix A205 carries on the value-leading tradition of Fuji digital cameras by offering a 2.0 megapixel CCD and 3x optical zoom lens at a price lower than those of many competing two megapixel models. As you’d expect, the FinePix A205 trades off a few features and capabilities to achieve its remarkably low cost, but the camera still takes good-looking pictures in daylight conditions, and is simple enough for even rank beginners to get started with. Read on for all the details, or check out my review of the to see a three-megapixel Fuji digital camera with essentially the same feature set.
(If you’ve already read the A210’s review, you may want to just skip to the conclusions section here, as the features and operation of the A205 are virtually identical to its higher-resolution sibling.)
Increasing the point-and-shoot options of Fuji’s FinePix line of digicams, the FinePix A205 is an affordable entry-level digicam that offers good quality and value. Small, compact, and very lightweight, the A205 offers the same, 2.0-megapixel CCD as its predecessor, along with a Fujinon 3x optical zoom lens, but a few more features. Exposure control, however, remains automatic, with the convenience of point-and-shoot control. The A205’s CCD captures high enough resolution for printing images with decent detail as large as 8×10 inches, and offers a lower-resolution setting for email attachments. Like its “big brother” the A210, the A205 sports a 3x optical zoom lens that increases the camera’s flexibility. The camera’s dimensions are just a little too large for most shirt pockets at 3.9 x 2.6 x 2.1 inches (99 x 65 x 53 millimeters), although you could feasibly stow the camera in a larger coat pocket or an average-sized purse. Despite its size, the all-plastic body is extremely lightweight at just 7.9 ounces (225 grams), including batteries and memory card. A sliding, built-in lens cover keeps the A205’s front panel nearly flat when closed, allowing the camera to easily slip into a pocket or purse without snagging.
The A205 is equipped with a 3x, Fujinon 5.5-16.5mm lens, equivalent to a 36-108mm lens on a 35mm camera. Aperture is automatically controlled from f/3 to f/10.8, with actual values depending on the zoom position of the lens. Focus also remains under automatic control, ranging from 2.6 feet (80 centimeters) to infinity in normal mode, with a Macro setting ranging from 3.9 inches to 3.3 feet (10 centimeters to 1 meter). The camera also offers as much as 3.2x digital zoom, but keep in mind that digital zoom decreases the overall image quality, since it only enlarges the center pixels of the CCD image. For framing shots, the A205 offers both a real-image optical viewfinder and a 1.5-inch color LCD monitor. The LCD monitor reports some camera settings, and can overlay 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 A205’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 1/2,000 to 1/2 second, but the LCD display doesn’t report it or the lens aperture setting. To determine the best exposure, the A205 employs a TTL (through-the-lens), 64-zone metering system, which averages readings taken throughout the frame for the best overall exposure. The camera’s Exposure Compensation setting lets you increase or decrease the overall exposure from -2.1 to +1.5 in one-third-step increments. White balance options include an Auto setting, as well as Outdoors, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, and Incandescent presets, to match most common light sources. Although it’s not adjustable, the A205’s sensitivity is equivalent to ISO 100, good for most average shooting conditions.
The A205’s built-in flash is effective from 2.6 to 11.5 feet (0.8 to 3.5 meters) depending on the zoom setting, and operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, or Slow-Synchro modes. In Manual mode, the flash also offers a Red-Eye Reduction with Slow-Synchro combination mode. A Self-Timer mode provides a 10-second delay between a full press of the Shutter button and the time that the shutter actually opens, helpful in self-portraits or group photos. The A205 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 60 seconds per clip at 320 x 240 pixels, and a maximum of 240 seconds at 160 x 120 pixels (although actual movie lengths will depend on the available memory card space).
The A205 stores image files on xD-Picture Cards, and comes with a 16MB starter card. You’ll want to purchase a larger size fairly soon, given the A205’s maximum 2,048 x 1,536-pixel resolution. (The xD-Picture Card itself is very tiny, rivaling the popular SD memory cards in size.) The A205 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. to read my “battery shootout” page to see which batteries currently on the market are best, for my review of the Maha C-204F charger, my long-time favorite. The A205 also comes with an adaptor for use with the separate accessory PictureCradle, which allows quick image downloading when connected to a computer. (The camera actually fits into the cradle sideways, lining up the USB/Digital jack with the cradle’s jack.)
- 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.
- Fujinon 3x, 36-108mm (35mm equivalent) lens.
- 3.2x digital zoom.
- Automatic exposure control.
- Adjustable white balance with seven settings.
- Sensitivity equivalent to ISO 100.
- Apertures from f/3 to f/10.8.
- Shutter speeds from 1/2,000 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.
- 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).
Lightweight, portable, and easy to use, the Fuji’s FinePix A205 offers the point-and-shoot convenience that novices enjoy, with the benefit of a 3.2-megapixel CCD and 3x optical zoom lens. Although exposure remains under automatic control, you can adjust Exposure Compensation and White Balance if needed. A simple, straightforward user interface means little or no downtime spent learning, and makes the A205 adept at shooting on the fly. For under $300, you get the color and clarity on which Fuji has built such a strong reputation, with the convenience of a very user-friendly camera design.
Measuring 3.9 x 2.6 x 2.1 inches (99 x 65 x 53 millimeters), the A205 is better-suited for average coat pockets than most shirt pockets, but fits easily into most average purses and comes with a wrist strap for a little extra security. Loaded with batteries and memory card, the A205 weighs a mere 7.9 ounces (225 grams), thanks in part to the all-plastic camera body. Because of the A205’s straightforward design, external controls are limited and the LCD menu system is short and quick to navigate.
The A205’s front panel curves gently from top to bottom without any large protrusions to snag on pockets. A sliding lens cover protects the lens when not in use, and keeps the front panel fairly smooth when the camera is off. When powered on, the lens extends about three-quarters of an inch from the front panel, and likewise retracts when the camera is turned off. Also on the front panel are the flash, flash sensor, self-timer lamp, and the optical viewfinder window. The sculpted surface of the lens cover provides a very slight finger grip, reinforced by a series of raised bumps on the rear panel which serve as a thumb grip.
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, DC In, and Video Out connector terminals, all uncovered.
On the A205’s top panel are the Shutter button, Power switch, and a small Mode dial.
The few remaining camera controls are on the rear panel, sharing space with the optical viewfinder and LCD monitor. The Display button crowns the top of the LCD monitor, while the Menu/OK and Back buttons line the right side. The Zoom rocker button in the top right corner controls optical and digital zoom and navigates up and down through the LCD menu. On either side of the Zoom rocker button are two arrow keys, which also navigate menu options. The left arrow toggles Macro mode on or off while the right arrow steps through the flash modes.
Finally, the A205’s bottom panel is nice and flat, with the plastic, threaded tripod mount right about 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 A205, given its portable nature and point-and-shoot design.