The other red camera icon with the "M" next to it is the Manual record mode.
In this mode the camera will let you access the various advanced features
that we'll go into more detail on the following screen shots.
If you're looking for a digital camera capable of surviving the worst of what Mother Nature can throw at you -- it's the Fujifilm DS-260HD. The "HD" stands for Heavy Duty and they're not kidding. This camera is built like an M1-A1 battle tank and even though the case is plastic, it's very thick, impact resistant plastic. Quite a bit of the case is covered with a rubberized material which makes it easy to handle even while wearing gloves.
The DS-260 is not an underwater camera but it is extremely water resistant if it has been properly maintained. The three doors that allow access to the SmartMedia card slot, the I/O ports and the battery compartment all have O-ring seals around them. You need to be careful not to get dirt or sand on those seals and to apply a coat of silicon grease on them from time to time. They also need to be periodically replaced to insure maximum integrity.
You can safely take this camera to the beach, out in the boat, into a dust storm in the Sahara or most any other place that you'd NEVER take any other digicam. That said this is a megapixel resolution camera that takes excellent pictures even in the worst of conditions. If you're familiar with Fuji's MX-600 or the Toshiba PDR-M3 (OEM MX-600), then you'll know what to expect from the DS-260. Other than the weather proof case with its special knobs and buttons, they're exactly the same camera.
The D-260HD has an accessory shoe on top to accomodate external flash units like Fuji's GA-645 but it must have a slave trigger built into it, the shoe does not have an electrical contact to fire the flash. The lens does not come with a cap but it is well protected behind a weatherized "snout." It is threaded and will accept filters and add-on lenses with 43mm threads. Fuji has a 0.8x wideangle adapter (WL-260HD) lens that converts the camera's lens to 28mm (35mm equivalent.)
In actual use I found the DS-260HD to be very easy to operate except that it takes a extra firm push on the shutter button to perform the autofocus and an even firmer push to take the picture. Several times my finger did not hold the button down far enough and I had to half-press and autofocus again before taking the picture. This is just a matter of getting used to the tactile feedback from that rubberized shutter button.
The overall image quality is very good and typical of the one megapixel Fuji cameras. Color balance was excellent and I was more than pleased with the exposure range the camera chose in automatic mode. Battery life is good, if the LCD useage is kept to a minimum you can easily shoot a hundred or more shots per charge. I'd still recommend having a spare NP-100 battery, there's nothing worse than having the camera go dead when you have more pictures to take.
The bottom line is that this camera does exactly what it was designed to do, survive in the worst weather conditions and still take great pictures. The Fuji DS-260HD and DS-250HD are the only cameras of their kind currently in production.
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