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I purchased my Fuji FinePix 4800 around a year ago after doing a lot of research into what the best digital camera for me would be. I eventually settled on the 4800 due to excellent reviews I had read, its stunning looks and the great deal I found on it (£200 from a small camera dealer). The camera arrived; I was immediately struck by its beautiful design. Smooth and sleek with excellent textures, all of the controls look like they belong exactly where they're placed and the whole thing is extremely tactile. It?s just the right weight so that it feels solid but not too chunky. It just about goes in my pocket but perhaps it could have doe with being a little smaller. All of the camera's extremities are concealed within the camera while its off, turning power on for the first time is a great surprise. The inch or so long zoom lens comes sliding smoothly out of the front panel and adjusts itself, the small mono LCD with controls on it light up green for playback mode or red for recording mode and the main colour LCD springs brightly and colourfully into life. Its a pro sequence, the main screen oozes class with an excellent operating system. It is unusually large (2") and very bright. It performs well in most conditions and has a fast refresh rate. Believe me, this is nothing like the sort of dreadful quality 'colour LCD screens' that some budget cameras are now coming up with. Initial set-up is easy, the on-screen menus are intuitive and I did not need to refer to the manual at all. The flash hides under a panel on the top and is released with a button on the back, NP-90 battery loads at the bottom and smartmedia card at the side. The camera comes complete with a 16mb Smartmedia card, about enough for 40 pics at decent quality so you'll probably want to buy som
e bigger ones - they go up to 128mb (I have 2 of these for it - more on this later). It also comes with a carry case, strap, quality rechargeable battery and all the software and cables you'll need. Most interestingly, a Fuji PictureCradle is also included, this superb little docking station makes downloading pictures and charging a doddle. Using the camera to take pictures is very simple, set it to auto and it sorts absolutely everything out for you, usually with stunning results. You could be a really bad photographer and this camera would make you look great. However, other members of my family have commented that they find it difficult to hold when compared to other cameras - I personally find it easy with thumb in the indented mono LCD, fingers curled round the front (where there's a slight ridge) and finger on the shutter - but this point is worth bearing in mind as you have to hold the camera pretty still to avoid blurring (especially in low light). I usually use the camera in 2.2mp Basic mode - this produces beautiful results worthy of full A4 prints - the cam goes up to 4.2mp but I very rarely use it. It goes to show that the raw megapixel value of a digital camera is by no means an accurate measure of its quality - it is the optics that count for a lot too and this cam's are excellent. The cam also takes sound clips and short videos (max 80s) in avi format. Whilst these are fun the quality is pretty poor so by no means buy this as a digital camcorder. The camera will also output to your TV via an AV cable however the quality of this is also disappointing. The camera can also be used in full manual mode so experts can tweak to their hearts content as well as macro mode for close up shots (which provide great results). There is also the obligatory webcam function which works just as well as any other
in practice. The supplied software is pretty poor to be honest, perhaps more hassle than its worth - if you've got XP then the camera will show up as a USB drive when you drop it into its cradle and you can yet at your pictures easy as that. You may also want to invest in a better photo editing suite to prat about with them but in my experience I rarely need to do anything with them! As I've said over and over again, the cam produces brilliant results, the pictures are full of life and vibrance, highly detailed with no faults or obvious inadequacies - as you should be able to see from some of the sample pics I have provided. Do of course remember that if you want hard copies of your pics you'll need a good printer like the Canon i560 which I use (also reviewed). One slight problem I ran into was with 128mb smartmedia cards - smartmedia isn't really the best camera format out there now, although the cards are tiny, the chips are exposed which makes them very easy to damage. I found that my camera began producing 'card not initialised' errors with them, losing my pictures. At first a thought it was the cards but after a chat with the very helpful and efficient Fuji support staff I sent the camera in for them to look at. It was back a week later with a new mainboard, this seems to have sorted out the problem. Overall, this is one of the greatest gadgets I have ever used and totally transformed my picture-taking life. It has provided many excellent shots of my passion - rollercoasters and thrill rides as well as capturing family events, holidays and much more. I just can't recommend this camera, or indeed the more recent Fuji cameras enough.