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===Point and Click, Click, Click===
I am a terrible amateur. Possibly even a complete voyeur in that I love to watch things and take pictures. Everything needs recorded. This probably stems from loving the giant grey suitcase full of old photographs that my family kept. It was carted out on a rare occasion and we'd all have a rake through it. I always found it fascinating. I also remember both my parents constantly wishing they had kept and took more photos. I'm assuming this rubbed off on me. Photos are important for me. I fully expect one day I will lose my mind completely and photos will be mostly all I have to remind me of all the amazing things I have forgotten. As such I started taking a million and ten photos on disposable cameras any time I went anywhere
In 2009 I planned a holiday to Sri-Lanka and decided that I would be taking up far too much suitcase space if I were to take a handful of disposables with me. This was the first time I took the dive into buying my own digital camera. I started off with a 10 mega-pixel Fujifilm Finepix that I basically fell in love with. I could point and click a million times and not need to worry about using up valuable space on the camera. Not only that but every single photo I took (not taking into account those accidental pocket shots) turned out amazingly well. Clear, well lit, and pixel perfect. I began taking all my photos with it and it enabled me to take hundreds more than even I imagined possible. I was the designated photographer for anything my friends wanted to do for a long while. This made me very happy.
===A series of unfortunate events...===
Why upgrade you ask? At the beginning of last year I had a very unfortunate accident. I came home drunk and put my coat and my camera on the floor next to the bed. When I got up the next morning I felt a horrible cracking under my foot coming from my camera case. The screen had caved in completely and the LCD crystals were leaking everywhere. Distraught I went straight down to Jessops to buy the newer version of the camera: Fujifilm Finepix JV200. At the time I had to shell out £90 for it, currently you can pick the same camera up for about £56. I've had it for over a year now so, hold tight, I'm about to throw some information your way.
===In the box===
Your box comes with most things you need. The camera, charger and battery are all included. It also comes with a hand strap for the camera and a USB wire for transferring pictures to your computer. There is a CD-ROM which I never, ever use when I'm hooking my cameras up to my computers and an owners manual to guide you through setting things up.
===Power me up, Scottie===
The battery does not come charged so you will need to set up the charger and plug the battery in straight away. Not too much of a hassle at all. The camera comes with a fairly compact charging unit that the battery clips into. A small indicator LED will light up orange when the battery is charging and green when it's charged which takes about two hours When you pop the battery into the camera it is held in a little spring hinged compartment on the bottom right hand side of the camera (when looking at it from the back) right next to the memory card. It's a NP-45A lithium ion battery, similar to those used in mobile phones. This means it's fairly small and rechargeable.. I've found that the battery life is really great on the camera, and I've been able to get a few full days worth of taking photos with a flash out of it before having to recharge it. There is an on screen indicator so as long as you pay attention you shouldn't be caught short. The only downside of this battery is that if you are going on a trip and won't have access to charging facilities (aka, a plug) you can't just carry extra batteries. Well... you probably could but they'll cost between ten and thirty quid for each battery. Not like the days when you could buy a pack of AA batteries for fairly cheap.
The Fujifilm Finepix JV200 comes in a range of colours to suit your needs (Blue, red, black, silver and pink. I went for silver as the only other available one at the time I bought it was pink) and offers you 14 Megapixels of photo shaped joy. Generally this means that your pictures will be mega-detailed. The more mega-pixels you have in your pictures the more you can zoom or enlarge the picture without loosing the picture quality. This comes in handy more and more now-a-days where you can transfer your pictures onto huge-screen TV's and computers. It also comes in really handy if you did want to get a professional print done of something you've snapped. Pictures of the kids wouldn't need to be just 6 x 4, you could make them a focal point on a large wall. That is obviously all up to the individual user. This does mean that storage will be used up a bit quicker than cameras with lower mega-pixels. I would say, however, that if you have a 4gb memory card it will still hold hundreds of photos.
===Buttons, buttons, who's got the buttons?===
As with most digital cameras, the back of the JV comes with a 2.7 inch screen on which to view your photographs and navigate through any menus. Setting the camera up is simple and fairly user friendly, stick the battery in, give it a charge and off you go. The "power" button is on the top of the camera and clearly marked "on/off) and the big round button next to it is your clicker button.
On the back of the camera, down the right hand side of the screen you will find most of your buttons. The top two half circle buttons are your zoom in button, which has a T on it standing for Telephoto - the posh way of saying zoom in - and zoom out button; this has a W standing for Wide Angle, the posh way of saying zoomed out. If you are taking a photo, these buttons will allow you to set up your zoom before snapping. If you are viewing photos, they will allow you to zoom in and out from the picture you are looking at. The box tells me that this camera has a 3x optical zoom which I think means that the computer parts inside can make it zoom in without the nose of the camera sticking out any further. The zoom function works quite well and it doesn't make it photos grainy like the zoom function on my phone does.
As well as setting up your photo's you can zoom in and out for videos too. This is the one thing that it beats its predecessor on as you can happily zoom in and out while you are recording whereas on the older version you had to set your zoom and then stick with it for the length of the video you were taking.
===Jagged Little Pill===
The next button down is a little pill shaped button with a play sign in a box on it. This button is your quick button for viewing your photos and videos. If you hold this button when the camera is off it will automatically turn the camera on in the gallery setting so you can flick through your photos / videos. If you already have the camera on, a quick push of this button will take it from displaying what you are pointing at to displaying your gallery again.
Next one down is the Disp/back button. This does a few little things. If you are pointing your camera at something, pushing this button will change how much information is displayed on your screen. You can have your screen completely clear, showing what lens and flash settings you have on or all of that plus a grid on screen, presumably so you can line your photos up a bit neater. When you are in gallery mode, the options are similar, you can either have all the photo information such as date and time displayed, a clear view of your photos or another option which allows you to rate your photos so as to bring up your favourite ones quicker. Personally I've never found that option very useful.
===Circle of Trust===
The last set of buttons is at the bottom. There is a circular button in the middle with another button surrounding it, looking a bit like a polo with the hole still in it. The little button that makes up your polo hole is the Menu/OK button. Hitting this when in point n click mode will take you into your extensive menus for how you want your camera to react to what it's taking a picture of. I'll go through those menus in a bit.
To navigate through these menu's you use the outer ring (or the polo section of the button). The menu's run top to bottom so the top side of the polo will move up, the bottom side will move you down. To select a certain part you push the right hand side when what you want is selected and you'll be met with the sub-options. To back out of it, you hit the left hand side. It's a lot simpler when it's in front of you, I promise.
If you are in the gallery mode you use the left and right sides of the polo shaped buttons to move through the photos you have taken. Generally the last photo you have taken will be the first one displayed so pushing left will move you through the photos last to first, right will move you first to last. When you're in this mode the top of the outer ring is used to enter the "Delete" menu. It's got a little trash can symbol on it to draw your attention to that fact. Everything else about navigating is really quite simple and self explanatory.
===Use and abuse===
Now that you know how to get around, lets get down to the nitty gritty. As an amature user there are a few bug-bears I have with this camera. The first thing I will say is that in sunlight it's nigh on impossible to see what you are shooting. As there is no viewfinder either it makes taking the perfect picture a bit of a game of chance. The only saving grace is that as it is a digital you can take a few photos and you'll have a good chance that one of them will come out alright. I have had a few occasions where I've had what should have been a good shot ruined because I couldn't see what I was shooting. It doesn't even have to be the brightest day either. If you are inside, you won't have this issue.
The next rather annoying thing is that a lot of the time photos look fine when they are displayed on the small screen on the back of the camera, but as soon as you put them onto a device with a bigger screen, you can start to see blurring and the photos are essentially pants. Even with the anti blur option on, it doesn't really do much.
My biggest criticism of the camera is that it just isn't up to standard in the lighting department. My old camera (god rest it's soul) happily took pictures with the flash on or off and everything looked natural. This camera tends to make the background look really dark and the subject of the photo really bright. Any other camera I've had has only really done that if the subject of the photo was too close. I have played around with the settings constantly and can't get it to just filter the light normally unless you take the flash off, at which point your photo is blurred. Not only that but if you are inside even with the flash on, there is a LOT of blurring that goes on anyway. Any slight movement and your picture tends to be a little bit ruined. This, to be quite honest, pi**es me off to no end.
If, on the flipside, you are outside during the day the camera works perfectly, flash on or off. I've had some fantastic photos from it in the right conditions. Surely I should just work harder to make the conditions right? Hell no. My old camera worked perfectly in any condition I could point click, run around like an idiot, on a bouncy castle, whatever, and the photos would always be great. Why, oh WHY does it's newer, younger brother seem to have lost out on this talent? You're guess is as good as mine.
===Rat-a-tat-boom and such noises===
Another thing I have an issue with is the firework setting. Between pushing the button and the photo actually being taken you will wait about 3 or four seconds. This means that if you want a picture of a firework using the firework setting, you pretty much need to be clairvoyant. I took this camera to a display last year and had to basically just keep pushing the button in hope that I'd catch a few good ones. Out of more than 100 photos I got maybe 4 decent shots using the firework setting. I was not happy.
There are a range of other photo settings that you can use such as blink detection and smile and shoot which I never really found overly handy and having played around with a lot of the different scene settings I still cant seem to get a decent photo in a lot of instances.
My last irritation with this camera is that the buttons make noises. You have an option to turn the button noises off if you want. If, however, you then want to take a picture, you will get a warning saying that you can't POSSIBLY take a picture when the sound is turned off. I mean that makes perfect sense right? I can totally understand why you'd want to have your buttons make noises when taking a picture, it's just impossible to get a good shot otherwise... Oh...wait... that's complete twaddle. Who'd have thought.
===Who's been framed?===
Hit the menu button when in point and click mode and you will be greeted with a menu, at the top of which is "shooting mode". Within this menu you can choose from a plethora of settings from the aforementioned firework setting, panoramic setting, sport, night etc. Personally I think there are too many different options to play around with in this section and a lot of them don't really give the results I would expect from the on screen description. This is the same menu that you can access the video mode from.
The video function visually is not bad (in good light) but in dimmer lighting it's a bit crap. The sound isn't really up to anything. To test just how bad it is I recorded a clip of a TV programme and played it back. Less than five feet away with the sound turned up and you can't hear anything. I then whistled gently as I held the camera (less than a foot away from my face) and that was picked up but still only very faintly. I'd not think it would be any use for anything unless whatever you were recording was very loud. There is no filming light either so if it's dark, you're pretty much screwed. The video camera on my phone is actually better.
If you want to attach the camera to a tripod of any sort it also comes with a screw hole that most (if not all) tripods will screw into. I got one for Christmas but it doesn't do anything to tackle the poor photo quality.
===I will remember you...===
Memory cards are getting cheaper every day, which is great. I have a 4GB memory card and I can get around 400 photos on it before it starts to complain. You can get another bigger memory card for fairly cheap too. Video wise it does only give you about 10 minutes worth of recording when the camera is empty of pictures as the video is such high definition. I have found that the photos being 14 mega-pixels does mean they take a lot longer to upload to things like Facebook and photobucket which is a bit of a pain, but it also means they are slightly better quality.
There is one worrying problem I have come across is with the transfer of photos onto the computer. You can do this via the cable that comes with the camera, or by taking the card out and plugging it into your card slot on your computer (which most modern computers will have). If you use the wire it will take a lot longer and will use your camera's battery to power it, meaning you may have to recharge a lot more often. If you decide to take the card out I've noticed that it seems to damage the card. I can't say if this is a problem with my computers or with the camera but I can tell you that there was never an issue with my old camera when transferring by pushing the card into the slot. This has meant that I've had to buy a new memory card every six months or so as something is damaging it to the point it can't be used. I'm putting my money on it being the camera.
The cameras ISO setting goes as high as 3200 which I was told from someone was quite a high setting and something that a lot of photo buffs like to know about. It controls how sensitive your camera is to light. So, the lower the light, the higher the ISO should be set to. More light and you can whap the ISO right down. A high ISO can effect the quality of your photos, giving it more interference so be aware of that if you are fiddling with that setting. Most shooting modes automatically set your ISO so its not something that you need to worry about too much. It is something that hasn't improved (or worsened) the quality of the photos from this camera for me.
14 mega-pixels is grand... if you can get it to work. Photos taken outside tend to turn out brilliantly, however, anything inside tends to just be ruined. If I could go back to my old camera I would happily do it. £90 was not worth it, £56 is still not worth it. I give it two stars for the photos taken outside and the high megapixels. The poor quality of photos taken inside unfortunately means that there are no more stars given for this camera. It's an incredibly disappointing offering from Fujifilm Finepix and while you should never blame your tools, I've had other cameras that took my shoddy workmanship and made it look amazing.
FinePix JV200 / JV205
I've owned this camera for about five months now and I bought it from Dixon's for £59.99 which is a reasonable price for a digital camera. It comes in five different colour choices and there are blue, red, black, white, silver and pink. These are all nice metallic colours but I chose the blue one as it's my favourite colour.
The camera comes boxed and with an instruction leaflet which is full of information and good to look at if you get stuck on how to use a certain function, I usually just play with a new camera until I get the hang of it then look at the booklet if I can't work something out, so it's handy to have this information at hand but the camera is pretty straight forward and easy to get used to.
It has a 2.7 inch monitor so you get a good view of what you are photographing making taking a video of. It also has 3.0times zoom on it so you can get close ups but to be honest this is one function that I hardly ever use but looking at it the focus is good on zoom and not a fuzzy or faded picture it is still clear on full zoom function. It has 14.0 mega pixels so you do get a good picture quality, clear and in focus.
I also like the fact that it has face detection, this is one function I love as before I had a digital camera I was a nightmare at taking photo's of family and friends as I would nine times out of ten end up taking a photo and chopping the top of heads off due to not getting the person in frame correctly or jolting the camera, but with the face detection you just aim and click and the camera gets them in frame.
It has an automatic flash function too and has a self timer with two seconds delay if you want to set it up on a stand and jump in the shot.
I also like the red eye function which stops you taking a great picture and looking at it to see that it's been ruined by the flash lighting up the person's eyes so that the photo comes out with them having red eyes. This can be eliminated by just putting it in red eye removal mode.
You can record video's too and these can be in zoom but it doesn't record the sound if you have it on zoom . Other photographic functions are :-
SR AUTO, Face Detection, Auto red-eye removal, Blink detection, Framing guideline, Automatic LCD brightness adjustment, Frame No. memory
It comes with a USB lead , battery charger, battery, CD rom for computer , memory card , instruction manual and a strap that fits on the handle but I don't have mine on I just pop it in my handbag as it's quite slim line and light to carry around.
You can also take panoramic views and it has a night shooting function if you are outside at night taking someone's picture as a party or function.
All in all I like this camera, it's a reasonable price, nice and modern and the battery lasts a few hours before needing to be charged up again. It's simple to operate and the pictures and video's can be put onto your computer via the USB post as it's a simple drag and drop function for you to store, the CD rom has the programme you need to upload your photo's and you just follow the on screen instructions to be able to do this.
I would be happy to recommend this camera to you as I'm happy with it.