Fujifilm FinePix A340 Review
The latest addition to Fujifilm's "A" series camera line, the FinePix A340 is equipped with a 4.0 megapixel imager and a 3X optical zoom lens. This is a simple point-n-shoot that allows the beginner to obtain good results, while offering several appealing features to the intermediate user, including four scene modes and a 320x240 (10fps) movie mode. And for those who want a bit more control over the exposure process, the Manual mode offers settings for Exposure Compensation (±2 EV), and White Balance (Auto, plus 6 presets.)
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 A340's shooting performance is good. From power up to first image captured averaged about 3 seconds. Shutter lag, the delay between pressing the shutter release and capturing the image, measured a respectable 1/10 of a second when pre-focused and 5/10 of a second including autofocus. Shot-to-shot delay averaged 2 seconds without use of the flash and 3.6 seconds with the flash. Unfortunately the A340 does not offer a continuous mode. The A340 is responsive enough for you to capture many unposed moments and images of your children's activities. Our tests were done using a Fujifilm 512MB xD-Picture card, 4M/Fine size/quality, preview off, flash off (unless other wise noted), and all other settings at default. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
I was pleased with our outdoors test results, the majority of our samples were well-exposed, nicely saturated, and the sky detail was beautiful. The 3X optical zoom lens has enough range to provide flexibility in composing your shots and is sharp enough to produce pleasing 8x10-inch prints. The LCD viewfinder has no anti-reflective coating, and even though its brightness can be adjusted, we found it to be almost useless in outdoor shooting situations, when using it to frame our samples, we had to cup our hand around it in order to see; in these situations you'll be forced to use the zoom-coupled optical viewfinder.
When shooting indoors you will have to work within the range of the flash (about 11.5 ft. @ wide angle) and 38mm wide angle focal length, its sufficient for portraits of individuals or small groups, but does not have to power to illuminate large open rooms. You'll be able to include yourself in group portraits thanks to the A340's tripod socket and self-timer. The autofocus system would greatly benefit from a focus-assist lamp. I was disappointed with its low-light abilities, it often failed to lock the focus. Although the LCD's brightness can be adjusted, it produced poor results in these conditions as well. On a better note, the A340 did a good job of squelching its flash during macro-photography, and would make an acceptable camera for online auction product shots. When using the Macro focus mode, the optical zoom is disabled and only digital zoom can be used, which we recommend not using as it degrades image quality.
The A340's battery life is good. Using a single pair of AA NiMH 2400mAh rechargeable batteries, I was able to capture all of our sample images (about 150 shots) and complete other tests before a low battery warning occurred. We always recommend using NiMH batteries when possible, they last longer, save you money, and you should always carry at least one extra (freshly-charged) set with you into the field.
Bottom line - the A340 will make a good choice for those who want an inexpensive 4.0 megapixel camera that performs well outdoor -- however we can't recommend it as an indoor/flash camera. Its 4M/Fine images can produce high-quality 8x10-inch prints. If you don't need 4.0 megapixels of resolution, take a look at the A330, it's physically and functionally identical, but offers 3.2 megapixels for about $50 less.
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