The good news is that digital cameras seem to get cheaper every day. The even better news is that most camera manufacturers are adding more and more useful features, even in their lower-priced cameras. We took at look at the FujiFilm FinePix A150 to see what you can get in an entry level digital camera. The US retail price of the A150 is USD 129.95. Street prices are considerably lower.
The A150 digital camera which comes packed in an attractive black box, shown in Figure 1. Inside the box, as shown in Figure 2, you find two small user guides, a connection cable, a wrist strap, two software disks; one holding the owner’s manual and the other containing the camera’s software, and the camera itself.
Kudos to Fujifilm for including the manual on a disk. Other manufacturers should take note. This is a nice feature rather than having to search through the manufacturer’s website to find owner’s manual. Also, the owner’s manual is well-laid out and easy to navigate. It shows exactly what each icon on the screen means. This is something that we have had to search for with some other cameras. The manual contains explicit information on everything from attaching the wrist strap to using the camera’s self-timer. It is good documentation for both beginner and advanced users.
As shown in Figure 3, the camera itself is a compact point-and-shoot camera with a pleasing brushed silver finish that doesn’t show fingerprints. At approximately 4.3 oz (130 g) and 3.6” (92 mm) x 2.4” (61 mm) x 1.1” (22 mm), it is comparable to many other point-and-shoot cameras of this type. But at only 1.1” (22 mm) thick, it is one of the slimmest, making it is small enough to easily fit in a shirt pocket. Yet it has just hefty enough to feel substantial in the hand. As a matter of fact, the whole camera is a solid, substantial build.
[nextpage title=”The Hardware”]
The A150 is a 10 megapixel camera that uses a 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor. It has a 3x optical zoom and a large 3” display. As it should be in an entry-level camera, the controls are easy to use.
As shown in Figure 4, the top of the camera sports the round on/off button and the larger shutter release. The on/off button is very small and flush to the surface. You have to press at exactly the right spot to turn it on and off. While this is sometimes an inconvenience, it does prevent the camera from being inadvertently turned on when in a pocket or purse.
On the back of the camera, as shown in Figure 5, is the 3” screen. Just to right of the screen are the main camera controls. At the top is the button marked W and T. A press on either side of the button allows you to zoom in and out. The zoom button also works in playback mode so you can zoom into any part of a picture that you took.
Under the Zoom button is an indicator lamp which has three different colors, green, orange, and red. This indicates when the focus is locked, when a picture is being taken, when the flash is charging, or when there is an error.
Under the indicator lights there is a button to the left marked DISP/Back. This turns the screen display on and off and also functions as a back button. On the right is a Playback button.
Under that is a Selector button surrounded by a circular 4-way button. The center selector brings up the menu and is also used as the “okay” button. Press the top of the circular button to send a photo to the trash. Press it to the left for the Macro mode, to the right for the Flash mode, and to the bottom for the Timer mode.
The circular button is also used to move up and down or left and right to make selections on the screen.
The bottom of the camera, shown in Figure 6, has small holes for the speaker. Next to that is the tripod mount. And next to that is a thick, substantial door that covers the battery/media card compartment. Unfortunately, the tripod mount is placed too close to the door, so that when the tripod mount is attached, the battery door cannot be opened.
The A150 uses four standard AA batteries. Many camera novices will appreciate the fact that a fresh set of batteries is as close as the nearest store, even in foreign countries.
The right side of the camera, shown in Figure 7, has only two openings. One is for the mini-USB adapter that is used to connect the camera to the computer. With an addition cable (not included), this can also be used to hook the camera up to a television. The other opening is for attaching the included wrist strap.
The A150 has an in-built memory of 20 MB. The camera accepts SD or MMC memory cards. For an introductory camera, it offers a high light sensitivity factor of ISO 1600. This makes it better in low light situations making it a good all around camera. The focal length of this camera is in the range of 6.3 – 18.9mm. There are 5 preset white balance settings.
The shutter speed ranges between 8 to 1/2000 seconds. In use, the camera has a slight shutter lag so it won’t perform too well when photographing fast-moving babies or sports events. Yet the lag time isn’t enough to frustrate when taking average pictures. Also, the camera has a continuous shooting mode which is admirable in an entry-level camera. In this mode it can take three pictures in a row when you press and hold the shutter. So you can use it for action shot as long as you remember to put it in the continuous mode before you shoot.
The Micro Thumbnail View displays 100 shots simultan
eously (albeit very, very small) for selection and viewing.
As with most cameras of this type, there is no viewfinder. Although the LCD screen is bright and clear, it can be difficult to see in bright sunlight.
For a simple camera, the A150 takes very good photos. The color representation is good and the low light photos are excellent for a camera of this type.
[nextpage title=”Additional Features”]
This camera focuses on ease of use, but also has good functionality. The FinePix A150 includes a Face Detection technology that track faces and adjusts the focus and exposure settings to feature the face. It also does a good job of erasing red eye in your pictures automatically.
The A150 also features Picture Stabilization. This stabilization works well to correct light sensitivity and shutter speeds, but it doesn’t do much for a shaky hand.
You can choose to shoot at the full 10-megepixels, or at several smaller image sizes.
This camera has fourteen scene positions for various shooting situations. They are: Natural Light, Baby, Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Museum, Party, Night, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Flower, and Text. The A150 also has an automatic scene selection, but we found this to be occasionally inaccurate. It may be better to set the scene yourself. The scene positions can be set with a few button presses. The on-screen scene menu can be seen in Figure 8. Once the scene is chosen the camera automatically selects the appropriate shutter speed, exposure, and white balance to suit the scene.
Besides the 3x optical zoom, the A150 also has a 5.7x digital zoom. As you may know from previous reviews, we find digital zoom a negligible feature and usually turn it off since the optical zoom provides much clearer pictures.
In addition to stills, you can also create your own movies with sound with this camera. The QVGA Movie Mode takes video clips at 30 frames per second. Video resolution ranges between 640 x 480 pixels, 320 x 240 pixels. You won’t be showing high def movies with this camera, but you will be able to take simple videos for thing like posting online. We were impressed with the audio quality of the videos. Also the fact that when you play a slide show of your photos on the camera, the videos play as well. This can be a nice feature when previewing (or showing off) your work.
The camera’s macro mode is quite good allowing you to take a picture of objects or subjects as close as 4" (10 cm).
With higher end cameras, the software that comes with the camera is relatively unimportant because most seasoned photographers have their own favorite photo editing software. However, with an entry level camera, the software that comes with the camera plays a vital role in that it may be the first, or the only software that the new photographer will use.
This FinePix camera comes with a proprietary software program called FinePixViewer. It helps the user download, save and organize their photos. As shown in Figure 9, the interface is very easy to use.
The software lets you edit, frame, and print the photos and also lets you print an index with thumbnail versions of multiple images. You can print the photos in various sizes, email photos to friends and family, and create a slide show. There is also a FinePix Image Net Service that lets you order prints over the Internet. It uses Windows Media Player for playing back movies.
The editing and organizing capabilities are rudimentary, so you may outgrow the software after awhile, but it will suffice for simple downloading and editing. And you can always move up to a free photo editing program like Picasa for better editing and organizing in the future.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
Fujifilm A150 digital camera main specifications are:
- Dimensions: 3.6” x 2.4” x 1.1” (92 x 61 x 22 mm)
- Weight: 4.3 oz (130 g)
- Resolution: 10 Megapixels
- Zoom: 3x zoom and 5.7 digital zoom
- Face Detection technology with automatic red-eye removal
- ISO 1600 sensitivity
- Picture Stabilization mode
- Movie Mode with sound
- Powered by two AA batteries
- 14 scene modes
- A150 – 3” LCD screen
- 23mm thin
- More information: https://www.fujifilmusa.com
- MSRP in the US: USD 129.95
The Fujifilm A150 is a good compact camera for a first time user or for anyone who just wants a basic point-and-shoot camera. The documentation offers an excellent overview of the camera as well as details on how it functions. The camera itself is easy to use. With features like continuous shooting, a self-timer, face recognition, macro mode, image stabilization and a video mode, this camera offers good functionality. The 10 megapixels and high ISO result in good images. All-in-all the A150 is a good choice for a basic camera.
- Sturdy, attractive build
- Large, clear screen
- Much added functionality
- The ability to shoot videos with sound
- Easy to use controls
- Excellent documentation including owner’s manual on disk
- Tripod mount poorly placed
- No viewfinder
- Screen fades out in bright sunlight