Fujifilm FinePix 2650 / Fujifilm FinePix A204 review
My first digital camera and still in regular use since buying it late 2002. My reasons for continuing to use it (as a sidekick to my S5600 and as a general use camera instead of the S5600) are simple - it is robust, relatively knock proof and produces a crystal clear image at 2 MP that is superior to images produced by many high megapixel cameras. I've even managed to get some relatively high A4 prints from photos done with this camera and within it's limitations (less zoom at 3x, fewer megapixels), produces better images than my 5 MP, 10x zoom S5600 in good light.
The menus are easy to use, easier than on later Fuji cameras where the clearer menus of the A204 (and cameras such as the S5000 and S7000) were replaced by a nested menu system (S5600, F10 and S9500). Shame on Fuji for changing the menu design. Digital zoom is only available at lower resolutions, but does not use interpolation (again a bugbear introduced onto later Fuji cameras), allowing for a clear image.
In lower light, image quality can degrade without the flash, however, the shutter can be slowed using the night time / low light setting and keeping the camera stationary to avoid image shake - images are still relatively noise free in moderately low light. The images produced seem more tolerant to correcting and lightening on computer later, also offsetting any problems at low light.
One thing I especially like is the ability to pull across a shield in front of the lens when not actually taking photos. In addition, the camera is of sturdy design. These two factors make the A204 fairly robust to knocks and bumps.
The payback for this robustness is that it's not quite as compact as more modern designs, thus it's a tighter squeeze getting it into your trouser or jeans pocket (hence I give it 4.5 for construction rather than 5). Also, you have to get into the habit of remembering to pull the shield across when you turn the camera on and off - the shield is not automatically powered.
Some will complain about the camera not being packed with features, however, the A204 was only meant as a beginner's camera (having features that reflect this) and general snapshot camera. This is excels at and I have no hesitation in recommending it, even as a second hand device.
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