Not so long ago I reviewed the Fujifilm FinePix A400, and was not all that impressed. However, the sharp eyed amongst you may have noticed that on one or two occasions elsewhere I *have* praised this camera, the A350. It may surprise you that two quite similar cameras could get such differing assessments, and in truth it surprised me when I tested the A400 to find how (relatively) poor it was. If you're in the market for a basic camera that produces nice snaps and is very easy to use, then the A350 is probably the preferable choice.
This is a five-megapixel camera, in resolution terms at the top of the A3xx range. (In spite of their names, the A360 is a 4 mp model and the A370 another 5 mp one.) This is actually quite a nice resolution for the cost-conscious; 6 mp seems to be the point at which many consumers think of a camera as "modern", yet a well made 5 mp model is very much capable of taking good-looking snaps under most ordinary conditions. Of course, if you're after blowing your photos up to wall size then you should look elsewhere, but the Fujifilm A-series has never been about niche markets anyway. This is a snapshot camera plain and simple - and indeed those two words sum up the A350's approach very well.
The camera looks reasonably attractive to me, though rather nicer from the front than round the back. Even though it's a little chunkier than the self-consciously slim digicams of today, it will happily sit in a jacket pocket without causing any discomfort. It's only available in silver as far as I know, but it's not trying to look particularly stylish, and I don't think I'd call it ugly even as it is. There's a reasonable grip, partly thanks to the raised "FinePix" logo on the front, and it feels fairly comfortable and reassuringly steady in my hand, despite not being a very heavy camera. Overall, little special here but not much to complain about either.
This is an extremely easy camera to use; it would make an excellent introduction for someone who had never used a digital camera before. It's about as "point and click" as you can get, and the simplicity means that a complete newcomer can be taking nice-looking photos within a few minutes of opening the box. It helps that the documentation is pretty good, with a relatively clear Quick Start guide to get you going as well as a more in-depth full manual, which very pleasingly contains lots of step-by-step guides to doing various things, all of which boast clear diagrams as well as text instructions.
The flip side of that ease of use is that there aren't many features to play around with. In particular, even in the dubiously-named "Manual" mode you can't alter the ISO. This is undeniably a disappointment (and one area where the A400 does beat this model) but the camera makes a better job than some of selecting the automatic setting appropriately. The real difference between Manual and Automatic is that in the former you can set white balance and exposure compensation; interestingly the range for the latter is -2.1 to +1.5 (so allowing photos to be pushed further to the dark side than to the light) rather than the equal +/- range usually found.
There are a couple of other features on the A350 that are worth mentioning. Although you don't get the wide array of scene modes that buyers of new digicams have now come to expect, you do still have the basics: Portrait, Landscape, Sports and Night. There's a self-timer (2 or 10 seconds) and a simple continuous shooting option, which at the best resolution can take five or so photos in a row before the camera's memory buffer becomes full. There's also a good macro mode, which can go in to about 6 cm before focusing becomes impossible: not class-leading, but ahead of the pack for this class of camera; and crucially it's reliable. I hate it when the camera won't focus down the first time, and the butterfly (for example) that I wanted to photograph then flies away!
The camera's controls are adequate for the job it does, though they can't be called outstanding. It is a bit disappointing that it doesn't have a proper four-way pad, and I can't claim to like the slightly awkward zoom control whereby you have to click a little ridge up and down; a simple rocker switch would have been better. Once you get used to it, you can navigate around the menus okay, though as they look very basic indeed you probably won't be doing that for fun! There is a simple optical viewfinder, but you'll probably stick to using the LCD screen. This isn't huge (1.7 inches) but is of slightly better resolution than I had expected from such a simple camera, and it doesn't cause many problems except in direct sunlight.
It was pleasing to see that Fujifilm had not gone down the path of giving a simple camera a sub-par lens. You get a straightforward 3x optical zoom, with a straight-down-the-middle equivalent range of 35 mm to 105 mm. It's not too slow, either (f/2.8 at wide and f/4.7 at telephoto) and awkward button or not, the actual zoom does its job without any fuss at all. The lens barrel itself doesn't seem too fragile, and it's nice to see a lens where I think it should be: in the middle of the camera face! Note, though, that you can't use the zoom in the bare-bones movie mode (320 x 240, 15 fps, unlimited length).
Although it would be untrue to say that the A350 produces the best 5 mp photos I have seen, it is certainly not among the stragglers either. As is usual with Fujifilm cameras, it does very well indeed with colour, which appears natural and bright without being overdone; I am very happy with my results on that score. Detail and sharpness seem okay without being excellent, but should be fine for most purposes. That's for outdoor photos in daylight, however; the lack of an autofocus assist lamp does mean that this camera has a pretty hard time focusing when light levels are low. Some Fujifilms are excellent in such conditions, but not this one. With the flash on, of course, this isn't a big problem, though I did find that this resulted in pretty obvious image noise.
Summing up a few other points: I have seen one or two reviews of this camera that suggest it has dreadful shutter lag, but that hasn't been my experience. It's no Usain Bolt in that department, but I don't think it's all that much worse than many other similar cameras. Build quality is on the plasticky side of acceptable, but it'll do. The A350 takes xD memory cards up to 1 GB, but happily it *does* accept the faster H and M types as well as the original versions. It is powered by the expected pair of AA batteries; if you use decent NiMH cells (as you should) their life is hearteningly good, and unless you're snapping away like a mad thing you won't have to change them too often.
Whether it's that initial 3 in the camera's number that makes people believe it's older than it really is (five years), I don't know, but it can act to your advantage as a buyer. This camera can be picked up for very little money on eBay - finding a boxed example with all the accessories (including a starter 16 MB xD card) for £20 isn't unheard of, and for the camera alone you can go much lower; mine cost me £9.99, which was a pretty good deal but not startling. Yes, it has its flaws, and it's far from being a five-star model, but unless low-light photography is important to you the A350 is a fair choice for those who don't need or want lots of bells and whistles. It really deserves three and a half stars, but I have to choose three or four. Its good colour and very useful macro bump it up to the higher rating.
I purchased my Fujifilm Finepix A350 from Ebay last summer. I'm always slow to catch up on technology, and I had finally decided that it was time to give up on my Kodak Advantix camera and move with the times. Slowly of course - I didn't want to spend a lot, and all I wanted was a camera that would take reasonable quality photos.
As I browsed Ebay, I decided that I wanted a small but slightly chunky silver camera. I don't like the super-slim ones, I wanted something which would feel secure in my hands. And I think the silver ones are classier looking!
Eventually I won the A350, I think for £18 plus postage, it totalled £24, which seemed like a bargain to me. I also bought a brand new case on Ebay for £3, and a memory card from Amazon for I think around £7 - so a total cost of approximately £34.
The A350 is a nice looking little camera, silver and quite small, although not too slim and not overly heavy although I do notice the difference when I have it in my handbag as to when I don't. It is an ideal size for me, it fits in all my bags and it also fits in coat pockets with ease. I have had it in my jeans pocket but it's not so comfy there.
It is easy to grip, with a finger grip down the right hand side of the front of the camera and a small thumb sized depression with little raised grippy dots on the rear, corresponding to the grip on the front. When I hold it to take a photo it feels secure in my hand, and although for steadiness I prefer to use both hands, holding it with one hand doesn't feel like I am in danger of dropping it.
On the top of the camera is the power button and the shutter button - is that what you would call the press-this-to-take-a-photo button?? Both work easily, but in my opinion putting them side by side is a design flaw - I have switched the camera off instead of taking a photo on several occasions, which is rather annoying.
The rear of the camera has the LCD screen and the other controls. The LCD screen is quite small compared to most cameras now, at around 1 inch wide. The screen does its job, but I sometimes find that photos which look dark and illegible on the screen turn out fine once I get them onto my computer. You can use the LCD screen while take photos or you can look through the viewfinder, something which I have started doing more as I realised how hard it can be to position some things correctly when looking at the LCD screen.
The controls on the back of the camera are an up and down arrow, used for zoom and to move around menu functions, right and left arrows for controlling the flash and moving around the menu, and MENU/OK and BACK buttons for using in the menu. There is also a slider switch for moving between different camera functions.
The menu is easy to navigate, although it seems a little primitive. From here you can delete photos, individually or the whole lot, set the date and time and other functions which I rarely use.
The slider switch on the back of the camera is easy to use, but not overly loose so you don't accidentally change function. Its position determines whether you are in photo or video mode, or view mode to look through the photos/videos you have shot.
I find using the camera for photos and videos to be very easy. When you switch the camera on there is a delay of a couple of seconds before it is ready to take photos, and the same is true after you have taken one - this is not a camera which allows fast clicking. You click to take a photo, it does it and displays on the LCD screen, and then you can't take another until it has gone and the LCD screen is back to acting as viewfinder.
Using the zoom for still photos is easy and straightforward. Not quite so much for videos however. You cannot adjust the zoom while filming, so you have to set it before starting. This is a nuisance if you forget or get it wrong, or simply that what you are filming changes and so you want to adjust.
As I said, this is my first digital camera. I've used cameras on my mobile before, but was hoping this would be better quality. It is slightly better, certainly better than my current mobile for zoom, but at 5MP it's not brilliant. Photos come out well but not crystal clear, and they never look quite as sleek as I would hope - but that is perhaps more down to the photographer than the camera!
Videos are reasonable, but again far from brilliant. I have found with every video I have shot that I have to zoom in fully (this has been of waves in the sea, planes and concerts) in order to get a decent shot, as otherwise the subject seems too far away. This means it comes out a little blurred. Full zoom like this does not have the same effect on photos. The audio on the videos is reasonable. I used the A350 to film a gig recently, and the audio came out well enough.
The A350 takes two AA batteries, which is a bit of a nuisance but the cheaper cameras usually do. I've now had the camera close to a year. On a week's holiday last September, I used two lots of batteries. However, on a week's holiday a month ago, I took 300 photos and had to change the batteries every day. I used a variety of brands, so I'm now thinking that there's something wrong with the camera, presumably down to age. It's quite annoying. The last time I used the camera was to film the gig I mentioned above, which was I think a little over an hour long - I put in new batteries and the low battery symbol was flashing by the end.
I have a 1GB memory card, which is the maximum the camera will take, although you can get smaller. The A350 needs an xD memory card with adaptor. I'm still not sure how much the memory card will hold. I took 300 photos and had plenty of space left, and that 1 hour video took about a third of the memory.
I use a USB cable to transfer my photos and videos onto my laptop, and while plugged into the laptop I can add other photos from files or I can delete them from the camera.
My dad recently told me that the various whirring noises the camera makes when starting up and zooming sound like I have a small bird trapped inside it. Then I told him that his super fancy Canon SLR makes the same noises, that shut him up. So although there is noticeable whirring, I expect it is much the same as most other digital cameras.
I was absolutely delighted with my purchase of the Fujifilm Finepix A350 at the time I bought it, and I'm still happy with it now, given the price I paid. I'm a bit confused by the battery problems I have been having recently, and if this continues I'll probably have to give up and replace the camera. Still, it was cheap and I like it, so I'm not unhappy. This is a great little camera for those like me, who just want something to take reasonable quality snaps with. I believe this kind of camera is known as "point and click" or something similar - which is exactly what I did when I got it, with no instruction manual.
Up until the beginning of December 2005 I had been using a Fuji 2300 digital camera but unfortunately it became faulty and was beyond economical repair so I had to buy a new camera.
**What I was looking for? **
I had a budget of £200 to buy a half decent camera that would provide me with excellent quality pictures. Now it had to be easy to use, light weight and of course it had to be manufactured by the one and only Fuji. I wanted a camera that had a high pixel than 4 million as after reading many reviews that seems to be where the quality is better. Now the search began.
*Choosing the camera?
I got the good old faithful Argos book out and had a look through not convinced that I was getting the best deal and the fact that I was not able to see the camera for real before buying it I decided to forget about Argos. I went to my local boots store which has all the cameras on display and they allow you to handle them before buying. After spending the best part of an hour looking at two different camera one being this one and the other being the Fuji A345 which has a lesser specification, I decided to buy the Fuji A350 digital camera mainly because of the specification.
*Why I really bought this model over the others?
I loved the small sleek look that this camera was offering it look very modern it comparison to many other on the market. Full coated in a smooth silver finish I thought it looked the part. Not to mention the fact that it had one of the best specifications available within my budget of £200. The final decider for me was the fact it was produced by Fuji and of course that's who I wanted.
**Cost and availably
I bought mines from the boots shop at Edinburgh's Craig Leith retail park. Now boots was not the cheapest in pounds for the camera but due to the fact I got triple advantage points on that day made it very beneficial that I but it from them. I paid £149.99 for the camera and received triple points so I got 1800 points. The following places sell this camera too.
www.boots.com Brand new at £89.99(saving £33)
www.ebay.co.uk Brand New £110.00 and second hand from £69.99
**What's in the box?
Being a small camera the box is very small too, I was surprised how much was packed in to the box. Don't worry its not one of these boxes that when you take it out of the box you can't get all the bits back in. Obviously the camera comes in the box wrapped in a small plastic bag to keep in clean whilst in the box and of course placed in the right part of the egg box (inside) to stop it moving and getting damaged, you also have a superb instruction booklet which provides you with all the details and help you would ever need to know about the camera. You also have your software disk that you can't install in to your computer if required (I have not installed this), Usb cable that connects the camera direct to your pc which allows you to transfer pictures from the camera to the pc. You also have a quick start guide that consists of very basic instructions this will allow you to get the camera working real quick. In addition to the above you have a 16Mb XD memory card supplied with the camera, 2 AA batteries and a handy wrist strap. To summit all up you get everything that one shall need to get started.
This was made easy for me as I had a Fuji camera last time too but I am sure if you where using Fuji for the first time you would find it easy to set up for the very first time. After installing my batteries and memory card all what was left for me to do is select the quality required and set the time and date. Once these two things are done you are free to take pictures until your wee heart desires.
I was a little miffed to begin with as I could not find the slot for the memory card on the camera, I was convinced that Fuji had made a mistake and they had forget to add the sot to the camera during the manufacturing process. How wrong was I?? I know you think Robert wrong!! Never lol. Well the slot for the memory card is neatly positioned right next to the batteries which are enclosed under a little cover. Well done Fuji great idea.
Setting the time and date is very simple as you have a great large but clear LCD display to do it on, nice easy controls make the task even easier as all you need to do is scroll up and down until your happy with the dates/times then press menu/ok to save details.
As I mentioned above I have not installed the software that Fuji provided with this camera only because I have windows that allow me to transfer any pictures via USB without having to install any additional software.
I have covered the basic's of this camera when it comes to setting up but I can assure you that the setting up process is very easy in deed and I can say that Fuji have really made this camera user friendly.
I just about died when I first used this camera as I had only taken about 10 pictures and it said that the memory was full. I was like no this can't be the case, I was like how the hell can this camera only store 10 or so pictures on it. I soon realised that I was taking pictures on the highest setting being 5.2million pixels and of course I was using the memory card that Fuji provided with the camera which was only 16MB. I soon realised that I was going to have to spend more money and get another memory card for the camera. Forgetting about the memory problem that I now had I decided to transfer the pictures that I had taken on to my PC I was immediately surprised with the quality. It was super sharp and the detail to attention was just amazing, the pure quality of the first ever picture that I had taken on the camera had to be possibly the best I have ever taken with any camera I have had in the past. Now I know that this was on the highest setting but I thought I will definitely be taking pictures on the highest setting all the time. Ok now that I have taken a few pictures and even uploaded them to my PC I thought I should spend some time reading about the features and benefits (FAB).
Ok I know I have spoken about taken pictures in the above paragraph but I have to explain in a little more detail. As soon as you switch on the camera the lens will automatically come out of the camera and that's you basically ready to take pictures. Well you can either use the viewfinder which I think can be a little hard sometimes and the fact that the camera is really small I think I look silly holding it to my eye, I know I am mad. On the other hand you have a superb LCD display which is a good size and the fact that it is crystal clear, I am still amazed with the large, bright LCD screen that this camera has. Any way back to taken picture obviously you can just get the object in sight and then click and hey presto your pictures taken and stored. But if you're like me and you often cut heads off or miss half the people out of the picture. Well this wee camera has a lovely option which will allow you to place a grid over the LCD, doing this show you where the centre of the picture is. Don't worry the grid will not show up on your picture when you print them out? It's as easy at point and shoot. Now I love the fact that you can review the pictures you have taken at any time before spending time uploading them. If you should decide you don't want to keep any of the pictures on the camera simply delete them.
This is something that I thought would take a long time especially given the superb quality of the camera, how wrong was I. I uploaded 156 pictures to my computer in less than two minutes which I think is really good considering all these pictures were taken on the highest quality possible.
O.k. you are supplied with two AA batteries with the camera but I am sure that they are test batteries. I had to replace the batteries within a couple of uses. I replaced them with Panasonic Extreme Power AA which has lasted until now and I have taken over 3000 pictures. I use the LCD display on every picture taken .
There are so many features on this camera to which I will try and cover here~
Autos flash ~ the setting that I always have on as I am never sure when to use a flash or not.
Red-eye Reduction ~ Switch it on once and that's it done no more red eyes or that's what the instructions says. I can say that I have had a few pictures still come out with red eyes and NO that is not the morning after the night before.
Self timer~ used this a few times and been very happy with it, all I had to do was set the camera up in the correct position press the self timer and bobs your uncle you have a self portrait. 2 or 10 seconds options
Movie recording~ found this in error actually but I was really happy with the quality of the recording. I recorded 23 seconds with sound. At this point I am not sure the max time allowed to record a video clip.
640 x 480
File Formats~ Jpeg
Memory Cards~ xD Picture Card
Sutter Speed~ 2 to 1/2000 seconds
White Balance~ Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight),
Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White) and Incandescent light
Shooting Modes~ Portrait, Landscape, Sports and Night modes
Dimensions~ 90.0 x 60.0 x 30.3mm
I have to say that I would certainly recommend this camera to anyone at all; it's a lovely looking camera that is small in size but offers good value for money. I have been using the camera for a little over 1 month at the date of this review and I don't believe there is one thing I could fault on this camera. It's clear that Fuji rules the camera industry and I am certain that if Fuji continues to produce such a wonderful camera I will continue to recommend them. The LCD display on this camera is superb and the overall quality of the pictures is a little short of unbelievable. Go on go and buy it now. Picture below were all taken on this camera. Picture was taken outside and the lights on the christmas items are all flashing.... and moving
*A few extras I recommend to but these are in addition to the camera.
256 MB available from many outlets
Camera case to protect the camera whilst out and about.
Panasonic AA batteries
Thanks for reading
©Marcellep Dooyoo December 2006