FujiFilm FinePix A920 Review
By Movable Type Admin
The FinePix A920 is yet another "A" series model from FujiFilm this year (2007). When compared to the A900 from earlier this year, the specs look almost identical. The only difference between these two models is the A920 offers a larger 2.7-inch LCD. This an entry-level camera that includes a Fujinon 4x optical zoom lens and 9-megapixel imager. Other features include an array of user-friendly scene modes as well as a very "Cool" IR Communication mode in playback, that allows you to transfer images to other Fuji cameras that have this feature, using wireless Infrared technology.
Designed for the beginning photographer, there are very few "Manual" features, however, the A920 does offers several pre-programmed scene modes that will help users capture great photos in many different shooting situations. Then there's "Auto", which allows the camera to be used by just about anyone, regardless of their photographic experience. The "Manual" mode is more like the typical Program AE mode found on many consumer models. It allows the user to adjust settings like ISO, White Balance, Exposure Compensation, etc.
The A920 and A900's dimensions is identical. This is a what we consider a compact model that can be tucked away in a pants pocket or purse, making it easy and convenient to have around. The thicker, heavier body also makes it a more comfortable camera to handle than smaller ultra-compact models. Controls on the back are very simple and well placed. The zoom control is located around the shutter release, which allows for effortless zooming. Since there are not very many manual settings, the camera menus are very easy to navigate.
The only upgrade to this model was the improved 2.7-inch LCD screen. While this screen is larger than the 2.5-inch display on the A900, they share the same resolution (115K pixels). I found the LCD was a bit grainy, however worked very well in most lighting conditions. Thanks to the anti-reflective coating, it was usable outdoors in the bright sunlight, and the display also gains up in marginal lighting to help aid in framing your subject.
The A920 features the Fujinon 4x optical zoom, with a 39-156mm (35mm equivalent) focal length range. This offers a bit more versatility over the typical 3x range found on many consumer cameras in this class. The wide angle end has enough field of view for landscapes and average interior shots, while the telephoto magnification is good for close-up portraits or macro shots. The lens produces adequately sharp results throughout the entire focal range, with only some barrel distortion at extreme wide angle and slight pin cushioning at full telephoto. Chromatic aberrations are well controlled, with only very slight purple fringing in areas of very high contrast.
Our shooting performance results were slightly better than the A900, but still average for camera in this class. From pressing the power button to capturing the first picture is approx. 2.8 seconds. The shutter lag was less than 1/10 of a second when pre-focused and almost 5/10 of a second including autofocus. There is no continuous shooting mode on this camera, and the shot to shot delay averaged 3 seconds between frames without the flash. With the flash on, it slowed to about 5.1 seconds. The fact that you can not turn off the image preview function (1.5 seconds is the shortest setting), contributes to these slow timings. Our tests were done using an FujiFilm M 512MB xD-Picture card, 9M/Fine size/quality, flash off, and all other settings at default (unless otherwise noted.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
Image quality when using the 9M Fine mode was good for an entry-level digicam. Outdoors, it captures nice images with beautiful colors and good exposure. Images are sharp too, however, I did notice a bit of edge softness. The image noise was low on outdoor shots, however like the A900, there was still a significant amount in our indoor portraits (where the camera selected a higher ISO setting). The noise in these photographs is not enough to show up in smaller prints, like your typical 4x6, but will be noticeable in larger 8x10-inch and up prints. The flash works well within it's range of 12.8 ft., but don't expect it to cover anything past that. The camera also controls the flash well in macro mode, throttling down the output so it does not overexpose the subject. This is a plus if you're one who lists items online for auction.
Like the A900, the A920 lacks in the Movie mode department. While the quality of these movies is good, they are behind the rest of the market, where the standard is at least 640x480 resolution. You can record video at 320x240 (30fps), with the recording time being limited to the amount of available memory. Our movies show some compression noise, but do run smoothly, thanks to the faster frame rate. File sizes are also still smaller than most because of the resolution, which saves space on your memory card and works out well for sharing through email, websites, etc.
The A920 is powered by standard AA type batteries, that can be found at almost anywhere. Fuji claims off the shelf alkalines will let you capture up to 100 pictures, while 2500mAh NiMH cells deliver as many as 350 pictures per charge. I found that the battery life was average, using a single pair of AA NiMH 2500mAh rechargeable batteries, I was not able to conclude the test and take only took 70 pictures and several short movie clips before a low battery warning occurred. We always recommend using NiMH batteries, they last longer and will save you money in the long run.
Bottom line - as stated before, the A920 and A900 are virtually the same camera, with the exception of the larger LCD. Like the previous model, we have mixed feelings about the Fuji FinePix A920. While it produced nice 9-megapixel images, and the larger 2.7-inc display is a welcomed addition, the slower shooting performance times, and sub VGA movie mode bring it's appeal down a bit. Even at the low price of $199 or less, there are plenty of compact models out there that offer equal if not better image quality, performance, and at least VGA resolution movies.
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