The Fujifilm FinePix with 58 MB flash memory and a long 18x optical zoom is available for $316.00 – $408.98. This mega zoom does away with the need for carrying large SLR lenses and can easily fit in group photographs and landscapes. It measures 4.4×3.1×3.1 inches and supports SD media card, XD picture card, and multimedia cards. The sensor resolution is eight mega pixels and there is a provision for both auto and manual focus.

The design is sleek with a grip offering a good level of control. There is a button for the flash on the right side of the camera and an F button that lets you access the ISO settings, color mode and the image size and quality. There is a 2.5-inch TFT screen and an optical CCD shift mechanism image stabilizer. The camera has a built-in red-eye reduction mechanism. There is an electronic viewfinder and the lens has a focus range of 27.6 inches. The lens covers an aperture range of f/2.8-to-f/4.5 .

The camera supports JPEG formats with eight options for ISO sensitivity ranging from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. Although sensor shift IS is not as good as optical IS, the FinePix can capture clear images with the maximum zoom of 486mm. However, the increasing ISO comes with an increasing level of noise. Even at low ISO, the images are not as sharp and become hazy at higher ISOs. For an optimum image sharpness and minimum shutter noise ISO 800 is most suitable.

The FinePix comes with face detection that can recognize even profiles. Upon finding a profile, the camera adjusts the focus and exposure to capture a clear image. There are ten options for manual exposure control and forty shutter speeds, which are a dream, come true for control freaks. However, tweaking the controls for these functions and replacing them with wheels would make it easier to operate them.

Coming to performance, the Fujifilm FinePix takes 3.1 seconds from the start to take the first image and 2.6 seconds between the next images. The shutter lag is 0.8 seconds for bright light and 2 seconds for dim lighting conditions that compares well with its competitors. However, the frame rates are disappointing at 0.5 frames per second for an 8-mega-pixel camera. The camera has automatic white balance that works well in all types of lighting conditions. The pictures are not as clear though the colors are true to life. There is some fringing, but only in extreme cases, that is acceptable.

The camera comes with four alkaline batteries and four NiMh rechargeable batteries. Overall, the Fujifilm FinePix is a good buy though it lacks RAW capture.

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