Product Type: Fujifilm digital cameras
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THE best sub-£300 digital camera
Fujifilm Finepix 2800 Zoom
Member Name: stark99
Fujifilm Finepix 2800 Zoom
Date: 02/08/02, updated on 04/04/03 (2506 review reads)
Advantages: Excellent value for money, 6x optical zoom, Solidly built, good warranty
Disadvantages: Poor battery life, Digital viewfinder is difficult to use in poor light
When the time came that I needed to join the digital camera revolution, I found myself not really knowing anything about what features to look for, how much to spend or which cameras I should be focusing on (pardon the pun!). Rather than spend a whole day trawling through "What Digital Camera?", "Which Digital Camera?" or "This, That and the Other Digital Camera? and in the absence of any magazines entitled "How to choose your first digital camera without actually knowing a great deal about them and only wanting to spend about £300", I decided to use a consumer review site (before I'd come across DooYoo). The Fuji FinePix 2800z had glowing reviews and along with knowing people who'd bought other Fuji models (and were very happy), I took the plunge and ordered one.
It may sound pathetic, (and believe me, I'm no technophobe or fuddy duddy), but the main reason I went for the 2800z is that it actually looks like a real camera. I simply didn't want something that looked like a pack of cards or box of matches, thank you very much. The other feature that attracted me to the 2800z is the 6x optical zoom; one of the very few digital cameras that has this level of optical magnification for the price.
I decided to buy a 64Mb card (SmartMedia) with the camera which, at the lowest quality setting (which is still 640x480 and not exactly what I'd call low quality), allows me to store over 400 pictures. More than enough for your trip to the seaside or
even 2 week holiday. I think you'll agree. Along with the image quality settings (3 size settings and 3 'quality' controls -
the latter must merely be different compression ratios, as I can't really tell the difference between an identical shot taken at all 3 quality settings...and yes, I have tried this...just think of me as inquisitive, the consummate professional reviewer or just....er.....sad) there are a host of other options
that let you turn taking snaps from "point and click" to something entirely more deliberate. There are manual flash modes, a macro mode (works very well for seeing the grain of denim on your jeans...and yes, I have tried this too...see above) and various different lighting modes that once set correctly, can make your resulting image look surprisingly more like the actual scene it depicts than by just using the standard settings. All of
these are a bit daunting at first but the advantage of being digital is that you can experiment as much as you like without
ever having to worry about wasting film! Every option I've just mentioned is accessible from the very easy to use and
friendly menu system which appears either through the viewfinder or via the small LCD on the back of the unit, depending on
what your looking through/at at the time. The buttons used to navigate the menu system are designed in such a way that you're able to recognise each one by touch alone - this means you don't have to continually keep looking up from the viewfinder to check what your fingers are about to do.
Physically, the 2800z feels solidly built, is compact, but you're never going to be able to fit it into your pocket (I suggest
looking at another model if that's something you need). At the risk of contradicting myself, I'm actually on to my second
2800z. I had the first one for a couple of weeks and trying to remove the lens cap one day, the entire lens assembly just
came away in my hand (honest!). I sent it back to the retailer, who sent it to Fuji and a couple of weeks later I'd received
a brand spanking new camera - and I mean it was replaced, not repaired. Yeah, sure, I would have preferred if it hadn't happened at all but you really can't argue with a warranty service like that, can you? At the back of the camera live the viewfinder, LCD screen and menu navigation buttons. Th
ter are also used to control other features such as the zoom and on-screen information display (how many pictures can be stored at the current quality settings, flash mode, etc.). The LCD is nice and bright and large enough for it to do the job, instead of just sitting there as a gimmick. It's difficult to use in the brightest of sunlight (and hey, how often does that happen in good old Blighty?), but at this point I just switch to the viewfinder.
Briefly, the FinePix 2800z has 3 modes (switchable by a dial on top of the camera). One for taking pictures, where looking through the viewfinder or at the LCD screen gives you its digital interpretation of the real world (OK, I'm a Matrix fan, so
sue me!). Another mode for reviewing photos already taken; here you can look at your masterpieces one at a time or in a 3x3 grid, delete them individually or, if you're as talented with a camera as I am, delete the whole lot. The final mode is for taking movies...yes, this thing doubles up as a camcorder too! OK, OK, so that's not exactly true, but what it can do is take
short (up to 60 seconds at a time), low(ish) quality video clips. These are stored in AVI format and are downloaded to your desktop in the same way as the individual images. In addition, and something which I don't actually use, the 2800z can be used as a webcam. Because the viewfinder is digital and NOT optical (more about this later), I've found the webcam setting will only give a good image in the brightest of rooms and only then with directional light (as opposed to ambient). My advice is that if you want a webcam and a digital camera, buy them individually...the phrase "Jack of all trades, master of none" springs to mind!
Connecting the camera to your PC with the supplied USB cable is a piece of cake. As long as you load the drivers and software in the order that the manual tells you to, you shouldn't have any problems (I&
ted it with WinME and XP). The software supplied is pretty basic but does exactly what it says on the tin, as it were. There's an app. for viewing and downloading your photos along with some video editing software. To be honest, I don't use any of the supplied software because once connected to your PC (running Windows) it will appear as a USB removable disk...this way (top tip coming up), you can simply use Windows Explorer to drag and drop the images from the camera to your hard disk.
At this point, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I might own shares in Fuji but there are actually a couple of things I don't like about this camera. The first, and to be fair isn't something indicative of just the 2800z, is the battery life. Using the viewfinder instead of the LCD massively increases the life of your 4 x AA's but even then, you're pushing it if you get a whole weekend of taking pictures out of them. The best single piece of advice I can give anybody considering buying this or any other digital camera, is buy a set of rechargeable batteries! I keep a set of rechargeables AND a regular set for backup - I was without this system a couple of weeks ago when trying to take a picture of a hot air balloon and just before it disappeared behind some houses (and before I'd actually taken the shot) the batteries failed. I also find that the battery indicator doesn't really give you that much warning before the batteries actually fail completely. Invariably, the symbol will flash for a few seconds and then the camera will just die.
The second thing on my hit list is the digital viewfinder (DVF). As I mentioned earlier, by its very nature it doesn't function very well in badly lit conditions. To put this another way, a semi-darkened room (or street-lit road, back garden at
night...you get the picture (pardon another pun!)) will show through the DVF/LCD as almost or completely black, but tak
ing the picture
will result in a perfectly lit image (assuming you've set the correct flash). Taking photos of subjects you can't actually see through the viewfinder just takes some getting used to..."Use the force Luke!".
OK, I think I've prattled on long enough and I've still only skimmed through the main functions of what is an extremely fully
featured camera. The current street price for the 2800z is now under £300, which represents remarkable value for money - you really would be hard pushed finding something as solidly built, easy to use and with as many features, for a similar price.
If I had to replace my digital camera tomorrow, I can't see why I wouldn't simply buy another FinePix 2800z.....and that?s the strongest recommendation I can give it.
*** LONG TERM UPDATE ***
OK, so I've had this camera for the best part of a year and it's still doing everything it should in the way that it should. In short, I've had absolutely no problems with it whatsoever.
The only thing I'm a bit miffed about is that the Fuji model I wanted when choosing a digital camera, but couldn't afford at the time, now actually costs less than what I originally paid for the 2800z! Ah well, that's technology for you...
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