When it comes to simplicity the Fuji Finepix A700 is just about top of the list. In fact the entire Fuji A range of digital cameras are aimed at anyone who is looking for the most straightforward digital camera you can think of. Buttons are kept to a minimum and the menu system is stripped down to just a handful of basic options. With a low number of features on offer the Finepix A700 is also one of the cheapest seven megapixel cameras you will find on the market.
93 x 60 x 30.1mm
On the whole I was surprised at the quality I was able to produce with the Finepix A700. As you would expect it is not one of the very best cameras I have every tested, but I was still happy enough with the overall picture quality.
Outdoor shots are sharp and the colours look good too. The main problem area for the camera is that it finds difficulty when the sun is shining on light coloured objects. This problem is noticeable in both the first and third outdoor shots. In each instance detail is lost from areas of the boats. This is likely to be an issue whenever you are out in the sun and you are taking photos of reflective objects.
My second outdoor test shot finds out how the camera fares when the zoom lens is not in use. There is often a loss of sharpness either in the overall photo or towards the edges of this shot. Taking a look at the photo produced by the Finepix A700 I think it handles this test well.
Likewise many digital cameras struggle with my third outdoor test shot. This is where the zoom is fully extended. Again the Finepix A700 does a more than acceptable job in terms of sharpness.
Throughout the outdoor tests the colours the camera produced had a natural feel to them. The special test for colours shows the camera copes with all the main colours well and manages to balance out the colours well too.
There was one shot that I was not happy with and that was the outdoor portrait. I retook this photo a number of times and tried different settings as well. The result was always a grainy photo showing levels of noise. In fact I would go as far as to say this is one of the worst outdoor portraits I have ever taken. I cannot offer any explanation as to why the camera struggles with this relatively straightforward test.
The most surprising photo is the indoor portrait. I would have been pleased to take this photo with a far more expensive camera. It is taken under artificial light in a darkened room. The Finepix A700 has handled this test well and outperforms many cameras. The photo is sharply focused and I also like the levels of brightness in the shot.
Once the light gets lower as in my photo of beer bottles the focusing unit of the Finepix A700 is overwhelmed. In these more challenging conditions the quality of the photo is poor.
If you are outside the range of the flash unit or wish to give the camera a helping hand in lower light you can adjust the ISO setting. With this camera the maximum is ISO 400. At this level the Finepix A700 once again performs very well and underlines the fact that Fuji are ahead of the market when it comes to this area.
My final test shot is how the camera works in macro mode. In my view the camera managed a good quality photo. I would not go as far to say it is the best you will ever see, but again taking the price tag of the camera into account it is a solid effort.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
When it comes to shutter lag I was able to take a single photo in a very respectable 0.25 seconds. This is quicker than many more up market digital cameras. Five photos took longer at 16.35 seconds. Turning on the flash increased the response time for a single photo to 0.47 seconds and five photos to 19.58 seconds. The time for a single photo is still a good time, but the camera is on the slow side if you are planning to reel off a number of quick photos.
You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.
The 3x optical zoom lens has a focal length equivalent to 36 - 108mm in 35mm format. There is also a 6.3x digital zoom option. For close up work the camera can focus from 10cm away from the subject.
For lining up shots there is a 2.4" LCD screen.
To help take better pictures there are a limited selection of scene modes. These are Portrait, Landscape, Sport and Night Scene. When you select a scene the camera attempts to match its settings to the type of shot you are about to take.
The flash unit works up to 3.8m. This falls to 2m when the zoom lens is in use. Flash modes are Flash mode: Auto, Red-eye Reduction, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro, Red-eye Reduction + Slow Synchro.
Useful features include a self timer that can be set to a two or ten second delay. There is also a 3:2 aspect ratio. This allows you to produce 4 x 6" prints without the need to trim a photo to fit onto the paper. All the cables and software you require to connect the camera to a computer, compatible printer and television set are supplied as standard.
Aperture sizes and shutter speeds are controlled automatically by the Finepix A700. The aperture works in the range F2.8 - F8 (wide) and F5.2 - F14 (tele). Shutter speeds work between 2 seconds and 1/1600 seconds.
One of the few advanced features you have access to is White Balance. You can select from the following settings: Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light. You can also set the ISO level to 100, 200 or 400.
I guess you cannot have everything and one area where this camera is weak is with its movie mode. The maximum resolution is 320 x 240 pixels. The maximum length of movie you can shoot at this resolution is one minute. You can shoot three minute movies at a resolution of 160 x 120 pixels. The speed a movie can be captured at is 10 frames per second. Most digital cameras are capable of 30 frames per second. This has a major impact on video quality. Sound can be recorded, but zoom cannot be used.
Ease of Use
As I mentioned at the top of the page ease of use is probably the greatest attraction of this camera. There are very few buttons and very few menu options. Therefore you should be up and running with this camera in no time at all.
You can pick up the Finepix A700 for £100. Other similar cameras to compare it against are the Pentax Optio E30 (£95) the Olympus FE-210 (£95) and the Sony DSC S650 (£105).
It may not be the most stylish digital camera I have ever come across and perhaps it is a functional model rather than having any real sense of beauty. Even so it looks and feels well made.
The Finepix A700 weighs 139g and has dimensions of 93 x 60 x 30.1mm.
Two AA batteries are required to run the camera. A couple of alkaline batteries come with the camera and you may consider picking up some rechargeable batteries to keep running costs down.
Memory Cards and Storage
There are 12mb of memory built into the camera. Therefore a memory card is not supplied with the camera. Seven megapixel photos take up a fair amount of space and I was only able to take six shots before the memory became full. Therefore before you can really get shooting with this camera you will need to pick up a high capacity memory card. It is compatible with xD Picture cards.
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Points I like:
Ease of use
Low price tag
Overall picture quality
Where it is not so hot:
Outdoor portrait problem
Problem with sun glare
Limited movie mode
One of the most important points for me when judging a digital camera is whether or not it offers good value for money. In this instance I would say it does. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of my test photos and the fact that the Fuji Finepix A700 is so easy to use is a big advantage.
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