Fujifilm FinePix A303 Review
The FinePix A303 is designed as an entry level "I just want to take pictures" camera and is an excellent example of just how far the digital camera world has come. For $349 (10/2002) you can now have a relatively compact, 3.2-megapixel digital camera with a 3X optical zoom lens. This is Fuji's first of many cameras that will use the new storage media card. The xD- Picture Card is in response to the needs of consumers using today's high resolution digital still cameras that require greater memory capacity. Initial sizes are from 16 to 128 megabytes at introduction, followed by 256 megabytes by the end of 2002 and larger sizes up to 8 gigabytes in the future. The image quality of the FinePix A303 is impressive and will easily compete many other 3.2-megapixel cameras.
The A303 is designed at the Point N Shoot user and its user controls are adequately minimal, well labelled and logical. The Mode Dial on the back switches between the Still Record, Movie and Playback modes plus gives direct access to macro and self timer. The camera is an automatic exposure type with quasi Manual. The Manual mode is not a true manual mode but it does let the user set an exposure compensation value (+1.5 to - 2.1 EV) or select a specific white balance setting other than Automatic. From power up to capturing your first frame is a under 4 seconds and frame to frame capture rate is a little over 3 seconds. There is no continuous drive mode. These times are based on 2048 x 1536 3MP fine quality images w/o the monitor or flash on. For flash pictures add a second or two. Playback of images is also just as robust. The only thing missing is a Video Out feature for viewing on a TV, something that should be easy to implement seeing as how it outputs the signal to the 1.5- inch color LCD on the back.
Still images can be captured at 2048 x 1536 - Fine compression, 2048 x 1536 - Normal compression, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960 or 640 x 480 (Email) resolution and stored as standard JPEG format. Up to 60 seconds of 320 x 240 or up to 240 sec's of 160 x 120 motion video without audio can be captured per clip in standard Windows AVI format. Optical zooming is enabled during movie recording.
The xD Picture card is going to be, if not already, widely available and should not be a concern in the least as to its availability. The power source is two AA batteries and they are available everywhere. NiMh batteries are the best choice as they have more current and are not thrown away after just one use - more environmentally and pocket book friendly.
We've said it before and it's always worth repeating ... the bottom line for any digicam is the image quality. The FinePix A303 consistently delivers sharp and colorful images. The $349 price (10/2002) is right for a camera with this resolution, feature set and, most importantly, picture quality. It's a perfect choice for a beginner or anyone looking for a small camera with good picture capability. So, if you just want to take a good picture, jot a holiday wish list note - the Fujifilm FinePix A303.
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