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Fujifilm FinePix A310

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Fujifilm FinePix A310 Compact Camera

Fujifilm FinePix A310
Photograph: Rick Rizner
If you're shopping for an inexpensive digital camera, a good strategy is to put an optical zoom lens before resolution, because zooming in on a subject usually works better than magnifying and cropping a shot in software (and zoom lenses are usually of better quality than nonzooms). The FinePix A310 has a 3X optical zoom and 3.1-megapixel resolution--a good combination for a camera that costs less than $300. Fuji provides a lengthy, well-written manual and a small quick-start guide. The A310 lets you zoom in and out during movie capture, a capability not many cameras offer. The lens cover doubles as the power switch, so you can go from all off (which also protects the lens) to shooting mode quickly and easily.

While this camera is aimed at beginners, its controls layout would confuse just about anybody. The buttons controlling the flash and macro mode are located on either size of a small zoom button; it's easy to activate one or the other when you simply want to bring your subject in closer. To get into the menus, you press a tiny OK button and then use the zoom button or the macro and flash buttons to navigate them. To confirm a setting, you have to find the little OK button again, about an inch away, on a different plane from the other, recessed buttons. To change the resolution, ISO, or color mode, you must press yet another button (but still use the zoom, macro, and flash buttons to navigate). The LCD is grainy, and it freezes too long while the camera is trying to lock focus. We were able to take 207 shots over 72 minutes in our battery tests, well below the average for cameras we've tested.

The A310 did well for such an inexpensive camera in our output tests, outscoring even the Nikon Coolpix 3100. Our still life test looked quite sharp, though a little dim; colors in an outdoor shot looked accurate, although again, it could have been brighter. The optional FinePix Picture Cradle CP-FXA10 ($75) includes rechargeable Ni-MH batteries for the camera; you can use the cradle to transform the A310 into a PC Web camera. The A310 comes with a 16MB XD-Picture Card; that type of media is substantially more expensive than other types--something to consider if you're trying to save money on the camera.

The FinePix A310 takes good pictures for the money, but the controls layout may aggravate the very audience it's aimed at.

Alan Stafford

This story, "Fujifilm FinePix A310" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Fujifilm FinePix A310 Compact Camera

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