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Fuji FinePix A330 Digital Camera@DASHING THING REVIEW

11 Jul

Fuji FinePix A330 Digital Camera

Camera QuickLook
Review Date
1/12/2005
User Level
Novice
Product Uses
Family, entry-level camera
Digicam Design
Point and Shoot
Picture Quality
Good, 3.2-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes
Up to 8×10
Availability
Now
Suggested Retail Price
(at time of introduction)
$199

 

Introduction


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 their line of bargain-priced cameras is the Fuji FinePix A330, a 3.2-megapixel digital camera. The Fuji A330 carries on the value-leading tradition of Fuji digital cameras by offering a 3.2-megapixel CCD and 3x optical zoom lens at a low price, and including a longer maximum exposure time of two seconds and four preset scene modes. As you’d expect, the Fuji FinePix A330 trades off a few features and capabilities to achieve its remarkably low cost, but the camera still takes reasonably good-looking pictures in daylight conditions, and is simple enough for even rank beginners to get started with.

 

Camera Overview

Updating the popular point-and-shoot options of Fuji’s FinePix line of digicams, the FinePix A330 is an affordable entry-level digicam that offers good quality and value. Small, compact, and very lightweight, the A330 offers a 3.2-megapixel CCD, along with a Fujinon 3x optical zoom lens. Exposure control remains automatic, with the convenience of point-and-shoot control. However, the Fuji A330 does offer four preset scene shooting modes, for capturing good images in common, yet tricky, shooting conditions. The A330’s CCD captures high enough resolution for printing images with nice detail as large as 8×10 inches. Lower-resolution settings are available for email attachments. The Fuji A330 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 4.09 x 2.42 x 1.23 inches (104 x 62 x 31 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 7.2 ounces (204 grams), including batteries and memory card. A sliding, built-in lens cover keeps the Fuji A330’s front panel nearly flat when closed, allowing the camera to easily slip into a pocket or purse without snagging.

The Fuji FinePix A330 is equipped with a 3x, Fujinon lens equivalent to a 38-114mm lens on a 35mm camera. Aperture is automatically controlled from f/2.8 to f/9.5, with actual values depending on the zoom position of the lens. Focus also remains under automatic control, ranging from 2.0 feet (60 centimeters) to infinity in normal mode, with a Macro setting ranging from 3.9 inches to 2.6 feet (10 centimeters to 80 centimeters). The camera also offers up to 1.6x digital zoom when in 2 or 1 megapixel mode, 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 Fuji A330 offers both a real-image optical viewfinder and a 1.5-inch color, amorphous, silicon TFT 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 Fuji FinePix A330’s selection of Auto and Manual exposure modes. (The “Manual” setting simply expands the Record menu to include Exposure Compensation and White Balance options.) Four preset Scene modes optimize the camera for common, yet special, shooting situations, and include Portrait, Night, Sports, and Landscape settings. Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to two seconds (extending the camera’s low-light shooting capabilities slightly), but the LCD display doesn’t report it or the lens aperture setting. To determine the best exposure, the A330 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 to +2 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 Fuji A330’s sensitivity is equivalent to ISO 100, good for most average shooting conditions.

The Fuji FinePix A330’s built-in flash is effective from 2.0 to 11.5 feet (0.6 to 3.5 meters) depending on the zoom setting, and operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, or Slow-Synchro. 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 A330 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 size of the card, but recording can commence until the card is full.

The Fuji A330 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 A330’s maximum 2,016 x 1,512-pixel resolution. (The xD-Picture Card itself is very tiny, rivaling the popular SD memory cards in size.) The Fuji A330 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.  See my “” page to see which batteries currently on the market are best, or read my review of the  my long-time favorite. The A330 is compatible with Fuji’s 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.)

Basic Features

  • 3.2-megapixel CCD delivering image resolutions as high as 2,016 x 1,512 pixels.
  • Real-image optical viewfinder.
  • 1.5-inch color LCD monitor.
  • Fujinon 3x, 38-114mm (35mm equivalent) lens.
  • 1.6x digital zoom.
  • Automatic exposure control, plus four preset “scene” modes.
  • Adjustable white balance with seven settings.
  • Sensitivity equivalent to ISO 100.
  • Apertures from f/2.8 to f/9.5.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to two seconds.
  • Built-in flash with six 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 A330 digital camera offers the point-and-shoot convenience that novices enjoy, with the benefit of a 3.2-megapixel CCD and 3x optical zoom lens for good resolution and sharpness. Although exposure remains under automatic control, you can adjust Exposure Compensation and White Balance if needed, and the four scene modes are useful under common conditions. A simple, straightforward user interface means little or no downtime spent learning, and makes the Fuji A330 adept at shooting on the fly. For (well) under $200, 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. Its simplicity and ease of use make this a good choice for a low-end “family” digital camera, or for any novices looking for a true “point & shoot” digital camera. (For just slightly more money though, the offers a bit more resolution, and slightly better color rendition.)

 

Design

Measuring 4.09 x 2.42 x 1.23 inches (104 x 62 x 31 millimeters), the Fuji FinePix A330 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 A330 weighs a mere 7.2 ounces (204 grams), thanks in part to the all-plastic camera body. Because of the A330’s straightforward design, external controls are limited and the LCD menu system is short and quick to navigate.

The Fuji A330’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. Unlike other sliding door designs, the door of the FinePix A330 can hit the lens before the lens retracts, so caution is advised. Otherwise, I prefer sliding lens door designs like this, because they make accidental activation of the camera while in a bag or pocket less likely.

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 Fuji A330’s top panel is simple, with only the Shutter button.

The few remaining camera controls are on the rear panel, sharing space with the optical viewfinder and LCD monitor. Fuji did away with the mode dial previously offered on the A210 and A205 models, opting for less external control and a sleeker body style. The three main control buttons line the right side of the LCD monitor, and include the Playback / On, Menu / OK, and Display / Back buttons. 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.

The Fuji FinePix A330’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 A330, given its portable nature and point-and-shoot design.

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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in cameras

 

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