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I chose this camera initially because of the weight. I looked around at different cameras in the below £150 section on a nuber of websites, paying particular attention to John Lewis (one of my favourite stores), and this one was simply the lightest. I ventured further in my research before deciding to definitely purchase, however, only to discover that everything else the camera offered ticked my boxes too!
I bought the camera in the end from John Lewis for £130 though you can find it cheaper elsewhere, for example I saw on Amazon it was £105. I try to buy from John Lewis though as I like dealing with them as a shop, they are always helpful and with more expensive items I like to buy from a physical place, to feel I have somewhere to go should anything go wrong, someone to talk to etc. who is an expert. Also there was a three year guarentee attached, and a free picture XD memory card. The camera itself does come with an internal memory of about 10 pictures so you can get started straight away even if you haven't got a memory card yet.
Firstly, aside from already knowing this camera was a wonderfully light 105 grams (others are more like 130g and often more) and weighs less than your full purse or wallet, it is also very small and thin, which was another concern for fitting into small, slim bags. It measures less than 3.5 inches (9cm) wide/long and 2.5cm deep, by 5.5cm high. Overall size and weight are excellent meaning you can take it anywhere in nearly all bags and not feel it an incumberence. In fact, I bought a slim little case to go along with it to take advantage further of its tiny size, so it can fit in my smallest handbag even in its case.
The looks on the whole are very attractive. The neat shape and size are complimented by the sleek silver design with all the buttons fitting gently in place and nothing sticking out. Of course when you turn it on the lens comes out a little, and more so if you use the zoom function, but it is very sleek and could not look any better in my opinion. The big 2.5 inch screen also makes it easier to see and display your pictures
Specification wise the Fe-230 is an impressive little character. It has 7.1 megapixels, which the photographers at my office were excited about! They tend to say to go for anything more than 4 as this means the pictures are of better quality than with a lower pixel camera. The zoom lens give x3 close up and there is a macro facitilty too, as well as a super macro, which lets you get even closer and still retain sharp focus, up to just a few centimetres away.
There are lots of facilities on the camera including time delay shooting, different range close up photography, red eye reduction as part of the flash adjustment function (very useful I find), and maual adjustments to exposure if required.
You can use the camera as a video camera if you like and take a moving image with sound. This does use up more memory however. I used it to record the best man's speech at my cousin's wedding!
There are also special set ups for different 'scenes' such as 'sport' which is designed to capture movement scenes whilse reducing blur; 'indoor'; 'candle'; self portrait; sunset are also options. The other speciality settings are night portrait, landscape, regular portrait and 'dis mode' which is for movement shots specifically to reduce blur ( similar to the 'sport' one from the 'scene' selection.) You can take underwater shots with theis camera but you need to get an additional case.
All these different modes allow various speciality settings for the camera to get the best out of your particular needs for that shot. I tend to keep it on auto which does the job perfectly for all basic requirements. Indeed, I have found the camera is high spec enough pretty much everyone, including those with a passion for photography like my brother who borrows it a lot (grrr!) to take on his city travel ventures as it is much lighter than his, and fine also for those that aren't too sure what they are doing and just want to point and click (i.e. auto setting!).
Another great touch is the small 'guide' that is included in the menu so you can get tips as you go along at a time convenient for you without having to always get the handbook out.
All these functions are very easy to use and to find on the camera itself. There is a little wheel to turn to the appropriate setting such as 'auto' or 'landscape' and a separate keypad (like on your ps2!) with the zoom super close up functions and time delay etc. So your scenes/modes are on the wheel, and the functions by which to shoot those scenes are on the keypad.
Taking the photos is easy, just click the biggest button on top. the only other button on top is the on/off button which is depressed so you can't press it accidentally! The only criticism I have of this camera, and it is a minor one, is the tiny delay from pressing the button to take a picture and the picture actually being taken. It means your subject might have moved slightly, it is not instantaneaous. But then mostly they aren't. It is worth a mention though as I have been frustrated by this on one occasion, (a secret shot of a precise moment that got spoiled when he lifted his hand to shield his face on hearing my click!!)
Looking through the pictures after you have taken them is easy because of the big 2.5 inch screen. You just change the setting from 'taking pictures' (press the red camera sign button) to 'play back' (the green play button), then move along with the arrows on your keypad to look through them all. If you want to keep a picture just move along again, if you want to delete just press the delete button, then confirm the selection with the OK button in the centre of your keypad. It is all very easy and obvious you can get to grips with it so quickly. I read through the handbook in one go and it only took half an hour to aquaint myself thouroughly.
The camera itself comes complete with instruction booklet, guide, software, recharger, cable to link to computer (USB), cable to link to TV (AV) so you can play back on the big screen if you have shot a home movie (great!) also an extra two pin style European recharger so good for taking abroad.
I got a 2gb memory XD card to go with this camera and can take about 1000 shots with that to store on the card. It is very easy to attach this camera to your computer so you can download them, just plug in and follow the instructions that come up on the screen on both camera and computer. You are supplied with the correct software that you load onto your computer first so it recognises your camera. all of this is straight forward and explained step by step in the handbook.
The camera takes about 5 .5 hours to fully charge and I can get about 300 images taken before it needs recharging. The charger itself charges the little battery and not the camera itself which is a bit novel, but works just the same, it means you don't have to have the whole camera lying around recharging, just the little battery in the holder.
Overall a smart, great looking, great quality little camera. The only negatives (ho ho!) I can find are the tiny delay when pressing the button to take the picture, and the fact it takes XD memory cards which are slightly more expensive. But this is a small price to pay for such a fantastic camera. Truly great value. What is it they say about the best things coming in small packages?!!