Fujifilm Finepix 30i review

Started Jun 24, 2002 | User reviews thread
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Alex Fong
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Fujifilm Finepix 30i review
Jun 24, 2002

This camera is good and horrible both at the same time.

GENERAL
+ It's incredibly compact, meaning I can take this practically everywhere (the size is fantastic). I can take pictures of many things (note MANY, not almost anything, read on).
+ The multi-function aspect makes it quite "useful" in taking pictures, recording short video and audio clips, playing MP3s, and acting as a webcam as a toy...
+ Remote is really nice, works in camera, recorder, and MP3 mode.
+ Very attractive design, nifty looking gadget. You might not have even thought it was a camera at first glance if it didn't have a flash.
+ Windows XP support.
+ I suppose they saw the shortcomings of this and changed the 16 MB SmartCard with a 32 MB one now (bought May 27-02).
- If you're an image quality freak, stop, this camera BLOWS, look for another one (preferably > 4Mpixel :).
- The multi-function component makes it appealing to gadget freaks, however, it really FAILS as a multi-function unit, largely because it's like a jack of all trades, master of none, really expensive on the wallet. AND, the batteries don't last long enough when you put it through all the modes. Do one, or the other, but don't expect to have any batteries for "other" if you do more than one thing.

MP3 player:
+ it's an integrated MP3 player
- two words: IT SUCKS. Why?
- You need to recompress whatever MP3 file you have using RealJukebox into an encrypted SQV file using the ID on your SmartCard as an encryption key. If your SmartCard doesn't support ID, then you can't use it to play MP3s (though the card supplied does have ID, fortunately). This is the most WORTHLESS type of "copyright" protection I've ever seen. NOBODY is going to copy the music from your card, more likely download MP3s from the 'net or some other source. Anyway, this means the player has to DECRYPT it to play it, WASTING battery power. Only specific bitrates and frequencies are allowed, though this problem is eliminated in the inherent need for conversion regardless of the MP3.
- If you need space on the card in a hurry, you CANNOT delete songs through the camera . You need to mount the card and delete the file from the card, via the OS or RealJukebox, so if you're in the field without a computer and your wire or a card reader, you're somewhat stuck. (UPDATE: scratch that, it's in the picture viewer, but it's in the last place you'd expect it...)
- Sometimes skips and clicks, though this might be the MP3 conversion process itself being messed.
- This mode burns batteries like they're nothing.

Photo camera:
+ under sunny, bright conditions or when indoors where it's well-lit or you're within 2 meters of your target, it takes very nice to mediocre pictures (depends on the conditions).
- it takes mediocre pictures on average.
- automatic is only optimized for optimal conditions, after that, manual or crap.
-- This camera REALLY BLOWS in low light conditions (seems worse than others) no thanks to the not-so-great shutter speed. If you don't have a VERY steady hand when there isn't sun out after say 6 pm in the summer or on a cloudy day during the afternoon and you're not forcing manual, expect big smudges for pictures (it won't look like it on the LCD, nice nasty surprise when you get home).
- No optical zoom, though that was expected for a camera this compact. I didn't think this would be an issue, but you'll REALLY want optical zoom after this.
- The digital zoom is mostly worthless on the best mode, simply takes a piece of the picture and crops the rest, and hence, only works under lower than 2Mpixel mode.
- Fiddling through the menus is somewhat irritating due to the large number of button pushes to get to some settings (no PAGEUP, PAGEDOWN, or anything like that). All the junk is menu-driven, meaning if you want to take a quick snap of something and don't have time to set it up, then you're screwed (they went cheap, more switches -> more pins on the chips required -> more cost, but are better than having to go through semi-frustrating menus, fine, so sue me, maybe an SLR camera might've been better).
- Isn't the point of this camera for catching "those moments"? Not too nice when it's just a big smudge, since the camera is only ISO 100 (probably less due to the shutter speed) and a nice picture has to be under very stringent "ideal" conditions.
- On best mode (ie: 2Mpixel, Fine), the camera spits out files of about 500-900k. Not too bad if you have a 128 MB card or even a 32 MB card, horrible if you have only a 16 MB card (which is probably why they now give a 32 MB card).

Movie clip camera:
+ it does short video clips
- I don't know WHY they cut down the time to 20 seconds and 320x240x10 fps, but compared to the 40i, I don't see why they cut it down from 60. The output is MJPEG, for those wondering. The average output file is about a little less than 3 MB.

Audio clip recorder:
+ it does audio recording
- it does CRAPPY audio recording. I was told this camera does MP3. Sure, it PLAYS BACK MP3, but it DOES NOT NOT NOT RECORD MP3. It only records 8000Hz mono 8 BIT audio PCM UNCOMPRESSED. Pretty "modern" if you're using an antique Sun workstation with the .au audio format. Not that we need overkill 44100Hz stereo 16 bit audio that most people are used to, but 11025Hz 16-bit mono would've been FAR more audible. Though the integrated microphone is on the front and picks up a lot of ambient noise, voice is still somewhat intelligible.
- No mic input jack.
- 128 MB card can hold about 4.5 hours of this sort of data. Not much for how much power you'd expect from a 128 MB card.

Web cam:
Haven't used it yet.

Verdict:
Like they say, jack of all trades, master of none. I'm somewhat pleased and somewhat annoyed with the camera. I'm happy that it does all the things it does and that it goes everywhere I go and is quite stylish. BUT, pictures at night almost never come out without a steady hand and a solid light source (don't count on the flash, it's pretty weak), no optical zoom (the new F401Z looks kinda nice in terms of features, but kinda ugly in terms of design) and lack of battery efficiency. But, for the nice 599$ CDN I paid for this, as a camera, it barely meets expectations.

Problems:

Auto really sucks at guessing what the EV and white balance should when it isn't a nice sunny day or indoors with lots of light more than other cameras seem to.

Low light conditions make nice smudges of pictures.

Really bright light sources (ex: the sun) occasionally cause weird lines on the LCD (not in the picture, so it's not really a big issue).

Alex Fong's score
3.3
Average community score
4.1
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