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Fujifilm Finepix S304

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£37.00 Best Offer by: amazon.co.uk Marketplace See more offers
2 Reviews
  • manual pop up flash and not "pocketable"
  • manual pop up flash and not "pocketable"
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    2 Reviews
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    • More +
      12.08.2003 22:11
      Very helpful
      (Rating)
      7 Comments

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      • "manual pop up flash and not "pocketable""

      This op is the same as the Fuji s304, so if you have read that op there is no need to proceed any further....... this was my first serious foray into the digital camera arena, as my minolta 505si had proved to be such a reliable piece of kit. i had liked the style of the 2 megapixel 2800 the predecessor to the s304 with its 6x zoom lens, therefore it seems strange for fuji to name its successor the s304 in europe as the 3800 would be a more appropriate name as in the usa and asia, as it is a 3 megapixel model. package ------------ the package is reasonable and includes: 16mb xd-picture card 4 x aa type alkaline batteries neck strap adapter ring & lens cap usb cable cd-rom ? usb driver, finepix viewer, dp editor, apple quicktime?5.0, imagemixer vcd for finepix the s304 is part of the new range of models that use the xd picture card format and are the size of a postage stamp. whether yet another new format is required is debatable, but this has been designed to replace smartmedia and will go up to much higher capacities with much better performance. the small size means that new models can be much smaller too, but it also means the cards themselves are much easier to loose as well. a higher memory card is an essential first purchase as the supplied card only stores a small number of images at the highest quality. another essential purchase is quality high capacity aa ni-mh rechargeable batteries as alkaline batteries do not last as long and are not economical in the long run. unlike other models though, the use of aa batteries means that if your ever caught short of battery juice, normal aa batteries can be purchased, and is much better than having to buy additional expensive propriety rechargeable batteries. the adapter ring helps protect the lens and also allows filters and additional fuji?s telephoto and wide angle lenses to be attached to the camera, which is welcoming as this is an additional pu
      rchase on fuji?s other models. the lens cap however seems to need a better design and could also be poor qc on fuji?s part. On my first model, (more of which later) the lens cap does not stay on at all, falling off at the slightest touch. On my second model the cap seems to stay on much better but still detaches too easily. This problem seems to be fairly common to owners of this model. The USB cable allows the camera to be connected to the computer. However the cable does not supply power to the camera and therefore an AC adapter or a card reader could be a good investment to conserve the battery life. More xD card readers are now becoming available. The software package is reasonable, and installation is easy but could be more simpler and quicker. For some reason the Finepix viewer runs very slowly in Windows ME but fine in other versions of windows and other PCs, so this problem is probably down to my faulty Dell laptop (see op). The software allows the basic operations such as viewing and rotating to be performed though a dedicated imaging editor is an essential purchase to get the most of the camera. The viewer is very easy to use, and also allows VCDs to be burned as well, so that your pictures can be viewed on DVD players. I haven?t used the webcam function so this can be considered an added bonus. Features The camera is very similar in style to the 2800. The S304 has a rubberised looking grip which aids in the grip of the camera compared to the 2800. The flash on the s304 is a pop up type but is of the manual release variety. The s304 has a 3.24 million effective pixel CCD but is not of the super CCD type that Fuji uses in their advanced models, so the camera does not use interpolation to increase the resolution of the image. Unlike the 3x lens found on most digital cameras the s304 has a sizeable 6X optical zoom lens (38 ? 228mm, 35mm equivalent) though again is not wide as lens found on their non digital counterparts
      . There is a large 1.8 inch TFT (62,000 pixel) LCD screen, though it is not as detailed as smaller LCD screens on other cameras. There is no optical viewfinder, due to the 6x optical lens and to avoid framing problems. Instead there is an electronic viewfinder (EVF), in effect a mini low resolution LCD. This means you get to see the same view as that of the larger LCD screen, and enables more accurate framing of pictures like that of SLRs. However I?m not a fan of the one used here, as I find it a bit too dark and grainy, but it enables longer battery life than if the larger screen was used and you also get to see all the relevant information without having to resort to the larger LCD screen as there is no additional smaller LCD screen that gives these details like SLR cameras. The camera also features: Programmed auto exposure and aperture-priority auto modes, but no full manual mode, which is a shame for those looking to be more creative. Auto, red-eye, forced, suppressed and slow sync flash modes, and the intensity of the flash can also be adjusted though I find it can be a bit overwhelming especially in close up photography. There is also a movie capture mode recording at 320 x 240 pixels: 10 frames / sec, up to 60 sec or 160 x 120 pixels: 10 frames / sec, up to 200 sec with monaural sound though it can?t record until the memory card is full like that of Canon and Sony models. The voice memo feature allows you to record a message to attach to a photo. The Webcam facility does as it says, but I haven?t used. Also Exif are recorded in the JPEG files so that compatible printers and software can make more accurate outputs of your image taken by the s304 and also record additional information such as shutter speed as well. S304 dimensions are 99.7 (W) x 77.3 (H) x 69.3 (D) mm and weighs 295g and feels quite hefty initially considering its size but once you get used to it, it seems quite light. Howe
      ver unlike the similar priced Sony models it does seem more plasticky and lacks the build quality finish. Operation -------------- The s304 is easy to operate, and startup time is quick, considering that 6x lens has to be moved out. However the lens cap has to be manually removed, and you know when its still on. The camera is ready to take a picture in 3 seconds or so. The menu is very easy to navigate and use, and the buttons double up depending on the function. The large LCD screen makes it easy to frame the picture and refreshes quickly. In bright sunlight it can be difficult to see though so the EVF comes into play. The following shooting modes can be selected: 3.15 million pixels (2,048 x 1,536) 1.9 million pixels (1,600 x 1,200) 1.2 million pixels (1,280 x 960) 0.35 million pixels (640 x 480) At the top resolution the compression can be chosen from either fine or normal, though this is not available at the lower resolutions. The digital zoom is also variable depending on the resolution, a feature found in the new Sony?s model. So at the highest resolution, you only get the 6x optical zoom and no digital zoom, though the usefulness and quality of digital zoom is somewhat debatable. The relevant details, such as flash mode, number of images that can be saved on the card, shooting mode, and other settings are displayed. Curiously the battery level indicator is not shown, and only appears when the batteries are getting low, which can be annoying as it does tell you the state of the batteries, because by the time the warning appears it can be too late to take any more pictures, so always carry an extra set of batteries with you, or have some cash ready to buy some Duracell! Warning indicators such as camera shake, autofocus problems also appears in the screen. By default in recording mode the EVF is chosen, and the LCD button needs to be pressed to use the LCD. The LCD is default when using in pl
      ayback mode. Results --------- The initial test shots indoors showed good accurate exposures, with the image sharp and colourful, which are typical of Fuji. However after closer examinations of the images on the PC it was noticed that white dots were present in the images. Thinking these were dirt on the lens, the lens was cleaned and more shots were taken. The white dots remained and more test shots showed the same. After contacting Fuji technical support, which answer the phone call very quickly and they asked for images to be emailed to them. After a week and several emails later they eventually concluded that there were dead pixels on the CCD and that it should be sent back for a replacement. InternetCamerasDirect promptly replaced it very quickly. Thankfully the replacement showed none of these white dots. The images were sharp and the colours very natural looking. Using either of the compression options at the maximum resolution produced very little artefact and the lower resolution pictures were also clean though not as detailed as expected. The images were sent to InternetcamerasDirect?s online printing service (operated by Photobox) to produce 7?x5? prints and the results were stunning. To be honest it was very hard to distinguish the prints from the digital camera from that taken by a film camera, though closer inspection show that subtle colour graduations and greater details are obtained on film. Since the images sent were direct from the camera, no image editing was performed so great looking images can be obtained without much more required effort. Obviously editing the image could improve the quality further, but this may not appeal to the mass public or those wanting to replace their film cameras with a digital one and use it in the same way. The macro function is ok, but does not go close up as other models and can only be used at the wide angle. The flash can sometimes be too intense on close up shots and cau
      se details to be missed. However this is a manual pop up flash, it does not appear automatically when needed. This is good when you don?t the flash to appear, but this can be set using the flash mode button. It seems more of a nuisance for the camera shake warning indicator to appear, as longer exposures are required. A tripod mount is present underneath the camera for this purpose. Trying to shoot without the flash, usually means a blurred image due to camera shake and I?ve noticed the white balance settings is fooled in auto mode, with the colours having a cast to them, though the white balance can be selected in a partial manual mode. Red- eye reduction is reasonably effective too. A way round this is to pop flash up a the start of any shoot and let the camera decide when it is needed or not to get quicker shots. This is the main weakness of digital cameras is the shutter lag, that is the time taken for the picture to be taken once the shutter button is pressed. The s304 is no exception with a second or two wait before the image is captured, and thus that instant shot to capture that moment can be missed. This requires for greater anticipation to capture that shot, pressing the button a few seconds earlier to overcome this problem, and seems a shame since armed with that massive zoom lens, better use could be made of it. There is a sport mode but this does not reduce the shutter lag at all, and just makes the shutter speed a lot quicker. Having a big zoom lens often means blurred pictures at the telephoto end, especially without image stabilisation, though this does not seem to affect the s304 significantly. Shot to shot speed is also average, that is the time you have to wait before the next shot is taken, as the image is written to the card. It takes a few seconds before the camera is ready to shoot again. Using the burst mode allows 2 pictures to be taken before it is saved. Overall ---------- The s304 is a good performe
      r and produces good images with lots of pleasing colour and detail. Hopefully the problems encountered in the first model was a one off but the lens cap issue suggests Fuji?s QC may not be as strict as it should be. It packs a useful long optical zoom and is better than any digital zoom facility which I avoid. The camera shows you when you are about to use digital zoom. This is a long term test and the s304 has performed well. Hopefully Fuji could fix some of the s304?s inadequacies in a future firmware update, such as battery level indicator, shutter lag and the flash issues. Overall this is a good purchase considering prices have fallen since my purchase. The camera is fairly stylish but not pocketable and with the zoom lens certainly ensures it should be a candidate to try out. It has proved itself to earn its place in my camera kit, but my film based SLR is still my first choice especially for those critical moments, until digital cameras can reduce that shutter lag.

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      • More +
        11.08.2003 21:00
        Very helpful
        (Rating)
        8 Comments

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        • "manual pop up flash and not "pocketable" "

        This was my first serious foray into the digital camera arena, as my Minolta 505si had proved to be such a reliable piece of kit. I had liked the style of the 2 megapixel 2800 the predecessor to the s304 with its 6x zoom lens, therefore it seems strange for Fuji to name its successor the S304 in Europe as the 3800 would be a more appropriate name as in the USA and Asia, as it is a 3 Megapixel model. Package ------------ The package is reasonable and includes: 16Mb xD-Picture Card 4 x AA type alkaline batteries Neck strap Adapter ring & lens cap USB cable CD-ROM ? USB driver, FinePix Viewer, DP Editor, Apple QuickTime?5.0, ImageMixer VCD for FinePix The S304 is part of the new range of models that use the xD picture card format and are the size of a postage stamp. Whether yet another new format is required is debatable, but this has been designed to replace smartmedia and will go up to much higher capacities with much better performance. The small size means that new models can be much smaller too, but it also means the cards themselves are much easier to loose as well. A higher memory card is an essential first purchase as the supplied card only stores a small number of images at the highest quality. Another essential purchase is quality high capacity AA Ni-Mh rechargeable batteries as Alkaline batteries do not last as long and are not economical in the long run. Unlike other models though, the use of AA batteries means that if your ever caught short of battery juice, normal AA batteries can be purchased, and is much better than having to buy additional expensive propriety rechargeable batteries. The adapter ring helps protect the lens and also allows filters and additional Fuji?s telephoto and wide angle lenses to be attached to the camera, which is welcoming as this is an additional purchase on Fuji?s other models. The lens cap however seems to need a better design and could also be poor QC on Fuji?s
        part. On my first model, (more of which later) the lens cap does not stay on at all, falling off at the slightest touch. On my second model the cap seems to stay on much better but still detaches too easily. This problem seems to be fairly common to owners of this model. The USB cable allows the camera to be connected to the computer. However the cable does not supply power to the camera and therefore an AC adapter or a card reader could be a good investment to conserve the battery life. More xD card readers are now becoming available. The software package is reasonable, and installation is easy but could be more simpler and quicker. For some reason the Finepix viewer runs very slowly in Windows ME but fine in other versions of windows and other PCs, so this problem is probably down to my faulty Dell laptop (see op). The software allows the basic operations such as viewing and rotating to be performed though a dedicated imaging editor is an essential purchase to get the most of the camera. The viewer is very easy to use, and also allows VCDs to be burned as well, so that your pictures can be viewed on DVD players. I haven?t used the webcam function so this can be considered an added bonus. Features The camera is very similar in style to the 2800. The S304 has a rubberised looking grip which aids in the grip of the camera compared to the 2800. The flash on the s304 is a pop up type but is of the manual release variety. The s304 has a 3.24 million effective pixel CCD but is not of the super CCD type that Fuji uses in their advanced models, so the camera does not use interpolation to increase the resolution of the image. Unlike the 3x lens found on most digital cameras the s304 has a sizeable 6X optical zoom lens (38 ? 228mm, 35mm equivalent) though again is not wide as lens found on their non digital counterparts. There is a large 1.8 inch TFT (62,000 pixel) LCD screen, though it is not as detailed as
        smaller LCD screens on other cameras. There is no optical viewfinder, due to the 6x optical lens and to avoid framing problems. Instead there is an electronic viewfinder (EVF), in effect a mini low resolution LCD. This means you get to see the same view as that of the larger LCD screen, and enables more accurate framing of pictures like that of SLRs. However I?m not a fan of the one used here, as I find it a bit too dark and grainy, but it enables longer battery life than if the larger screen was used and you also get to see all the relevant information without having to resort to the larger LCD screen as there is no additional smaller LCD screen that gives these details like SLR cameras. The camera also features: Programmed auto exposure and aperture-priority auto modes, but no full manual mode, which is a shame for those looking to be more creative. Auto, red-eye, forced, suppressed and slow sync flash modes, and the intensity of the flash can also be adjusted though I find it can be a bit overwhelming especially in close up photography. There is also a movie capture mode recording at 320 x 240 pixels: 10 frames / sec, up to 60 sec or 160 x 120 pixels: 10 frames / sec, up to 200 sec with monaural sound though it can?t record until the memory card is full like that of Canon and Sony models. The voice memo feature allows you to record a message to attach to a photo. The Webcam facility does as it says, but I haven?t used. Also Exif are recorded in the JPEG files so that compatible printers and software can make more accurate outputs of your image taken by the s304 and also record additional information such as shutter speed as well. S304 dimensions are 99.7 (W) x 77.3 (H) x 69.3 (D) mm and weighs 295g and feels quite hefty initially considering its size but once you get used to it, it seems quite light. However unlike the similar priced Sony models it does seem more plasticky and lacks the build qual
        ity finish. Operation -------------- The s304 is easy to operate, and startup time is quick, considering that 6x lens has to be moved out. However the lens cap has to be manually removed, and you know when its still on. The camera is ready to take a picture in 3 seconds or so. The menu is very easy to navigate and use, and the buttons double up depending on the function. The large LCD screen makes it easy to frame the picture and refreshes quickly. In bright sunlight it can be difficult to see though so the EVF comes into play. The following shooting modes can be selected: 3.15 million pixels (2,048 x 1,536) 1.9 million pixels (1,600 x 1,200) 1.2 million pixels (1,280 x 960) 0.35 million pixels (640 x 480) At the top resolution the compression can be chosen from either fine or normal, though this is not available at the lower resolutions. The digital zoom is also variable depending on the resolution, a feature found in the new Sony?s model. So at the highest resolution, you only get the 6x optical zoom and no digital zoom, though the usefulness and quality of digital zoom is somewhat debatable. The relevant details, such as flash mode, number of images that can be saved on the card, shooting mode, and other settings are displayed. Curiously the battery level indicator is not shown, and only appears when the batteries are getting low, which can be annoying as it does tell you the state of the batteries, because by the time the warning appears it can be too late to take any more pictures, so always carry an extra set of batteries with you, or have some cash ready to buy some Duracell! Warning indicators such as camera shake, autofocus problems also appears in the screen. By default in recording mode the EVF is chosen, and the LCD button needs to be pressed to use the LCD. The LCD is default when using in playback mode. Results --------- The initial test shots indoors sho
        wed good accurate exposures, with the image sharp and colourful, which are typical of Fuji. However after closer examinations of the images on the PC it was noticed that white dots were present in the images. Thinking these were dirt on the lens, the lens was cleaned and more shots were taken. The white dots remained and more test shots showed the same. After contacting Fuji technical support, which answer the phone call very quickly and they asked for images to be emailed to them. After a week and several emails later they eventually concluded that there were dead pixels on the CCD and that it should be sent back for a replacement. InternetCamerasDirect promptly replaced it very quickly. Thankfully the replacement showed none of these white dots. The images were sharp and the colours very natural looking. Using either of the compression options at the maximum resolution produced very little artefact and the lower resolution pictures were also clean though not as detailed as expected. The images were sent to InternetcamerasDirect?s online printing service (operated by Photobox) to produce 7?x5? prints and the results were stunning. To be honest it was very hard to distinguish the prints from the digital camera from that taken by a film camera, though closer inspection show that subtle colour graduations and greater details are obtained on film. Since the images sent were direct from the camera, no image editing was performed so great looking images can be obtained without much more required effort. Obviously editing the image could improve the quality further, but this may not appeal to the mass public or those wanting to replace their film cameras with a digital one and use it in the same way. The macro function is ok, but does not go close up as other models and can only be used at the wide angle. The flash can sometimes be too intense on close up shots and cause details to be missed. However this is a manual pop up flash, it do
        es not appear automatically when needed. This is good when you don?t the flash to appear, but this can be set using the flash mode button. It seems more of a nuisance for the camera shake warning indicator to appear, as longer exposures are required. A tripod mount is present underneath the camera for this purpose. Trying to shoot without the flash, usually means a blurred image due to camera shake and I?ve noticed the white balance settings is fooled in auto mode, with the colours having a cast to them, though the white balance can be selected in a partial manual mode. Red- eye reduction is reasonably effective too. A way round this is to pop flash up a the start of any shoot and let the camera decide when it is needed or not to get quicker shots. This is the main weakness of digital cameras is the shutter lag, that is the time taken for the picture to be taken once the shutter button is pressed. The s304 is no exception with a second or two wait before the image is captured, and thus that instant shot to capture that moment can be missed. This requires for greater anticipation to capture that shot, pressing the button a few seconds earlier to overcome this problem, and seems a shame since armed with that massive zoom lens, better use could be made of it. There is a sport mode but this does not reduce the shutter lag at all, and just makes the shutter speed a lot quicker. Having a big zoom lens often means blurred pictures at the telephoto end, especially without image stabilisation, though this does not seem to affect the s304 significantly. Shot to shot speed is also average, that is the time you have to wait before the next shot is taken, as the image is written to the card. It takes a few seconds before the camera is ready to shoot again. Using the burst mode allows 2 pictures to be taken before it is saved. Overall ---------- The s304 is a good performer and produces good images with lots of pleasing colour and
        detail. Hopefully the problems encountered in the first model was a one off but the lens cap issue suggests Fuji?s QC may not be as strict as it should be. It packs a useful long optical zoom and is better than any digital zoom facility which I avoid. The camera shows you when you are about to use digital zoom. This is a long term test and the s304 has performed well. Hopefully Fuji could fix some of the s304?s inadequacies in a future firmware update, such as battery level indicator, shutter lag and the flash issues. Overall this is a good purchase considering prices have fallen since my purchase. The camera is fairly stylish but not pocketable and with the zoom lens certainly ensures it should be a candidate to try out. It has proved itself to earn its place in my camera kit, but my film based SLR is still my first choice especially for those critical moments, until digital cameras can reduce that shutter lag.

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      • Product Details

        The FinePix tradition is all about great looks and superb digital photo performance. Now meet its best statement in style: the FinePix S304. Silvery and futuristic, its compact body fits your hands perfectly. And within those small dimensions you'll find a host of high-performance features, including a razor-sharp 65 optical zoom, an easy-to-use electronic viewfinder, and even the ability to record movies with sound.

        Your creativity is further enhanced by the impressive 6X zoom lens (38 - 228mm 35mm-equivalent), multiple flash modes and a movie mode that enables clips of up to 60 seconds (at 320 x 240 pixels) to be recorded with sound. The xD-Picture Card memory delivers fast image storage and replay.