Fujifilm FinePix A310 Review
Offered at an MSRP of $299.95, Fuji equipped the FinePix A310 with a 3.2 megapixel imager, 3X optical zoom lens, movie mode without sound, and webcam function. This automatic point-n-shoot is simple enough for a novice to obtain good results while offering several appealing features for the intermediate shooter, including four scene modes and a fast continuous shooting mode. Manual settings are also provided for Exposure Compensation (+1.5/-2.1EV), and White Balance.
The Fujinon 3X optical zoom lens produces sharp results throughout its range, with some barrel distortion at extreme wide angle and pincushioning at full telephoto. The operation of the optical zoom is smooth and quiet, but not continuous; it moves through its 38-114mm range in 10 distinct steps, more than adequate for composing most shots.
The FinePix A310's shooting performance is good. From power-on to the capture of your first image takes about three seconds. Shutter delay, the elapsed time between releasing the shutter and capturing the image, measured a respectable 2/10 second when pre-focused, or 8/10 second including autofocus time. Shot-to-shot took just over 4 seconds. In continuous shooting mode, the A310 captured four images in 1.1 seconds, but the LCD viewfinder went blank during the entire image capture process; you'll be happy that the A310 is equipped with an optical viewfinder so that you can follow the action while shooting in continuous mode. The A310 is responsive enough for you to capture many unposed moments and images of your children's sports activities. These above times are based on 2048 x 1536 images without the flash on.
Outdoors, the FinePix A310 produces good results, both well-exposed and nicely saturated. The 3X optical zoom lens has enough range, 38-114mm in 35mm equivalence, to provide flexibility in composing your shots and is sharp enough to produce pleasing 8X10-inch prints. Although the LCD viewfinder has no anti-reflective coating, its brightness can be adjusted and we found it to be usable in most outdoor shooting situations; you'll be forced to use the zoom-coupled optical viewfinder only on the brightest of days.
Because of its powerful flash and 38mm wide angle focal length, you'll find the FinePix A310 a pleasure to use indoors. It produces pleasing portraits of individuals through moderately large groups, but don't expect to illuminate the entire dance floor at your nephew's wedding. You'll be able to include yourself in group portraits because the FinePix A310 is equipped with both a tripod socket and self-timer. Although the FinePix A310 is not equipped with a focus-assist lamp, its autofocus was surprisingly effective in low ambient light, as was the LCD viewfinder. The A310 did a good job of squelching its flash during macro-photography, and would make an acceptable camera for online auction product shots. You should avoid using the zoom in macro mode; the optical zoom is disabled in macro and only digital zoom can be used, degrading image quality.
The A310's battery life was acceptable during our tests. Using a pair of AA NiMH 2000 mAh rechargeable batteries, we were able to capture over 100 images with the LCD on before a low battery warning occurred. We always recommend using NiMH batteries when possible, and you should have several charged pairs on hand.
A unique feature for a camera in this class is the A310's ability to produce interpolated 6-megapixel images from a 3-megapixel image sensor. Comparing equally-sized enlargements of segments from 3 and a 6-megapixel interpolated images, the interpolated image showed only minor degradation. This feature will be of most value to those desiring to make poster-size prints.
At an MSRP of only $20 more than the Fuji FinePix 210, the A310 offers a level of performance, features and quality that will please the intermediate photographer, yet remains easy enough for the novice to use. If you're looking for an under-$300 3-megapixel 3X zoom digicam that can produce pleasing 8X10 prints, you should seriously consider the Fuji FinePix A310.
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