Fuji FinePix A201
|We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!|
|Outdoor Portrait: (730 k)
Very nice colors, decent tonal range, but it needed a lot of exposure compensation. Very good results for a low-end camera though.
The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why we set it up this way. (And also why we don't use any fill-flash.) The object is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the A201 performed well. The shot at right has a +1.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment. We shot with the Auto (727 k) and Daylight (736 k) white balance settings, choosing the Auto setting for our main shot (Daylight produced very similar results). Overall color looks good, though skin tones are slightly magenta. The blue flowers also look very good (these blues are often difficult for digicams to reproduce correctly and often have a strong purple tint). Resolution and detail both look nice, with strong detail and moderate noise in the shadows.
To see the results of a range of exposure settings, see files A21OUTAP0.HTM through A21OUTAP5.HTM on the thumbnail index page. These show a range from +0 to +1.7 EV exposure compensation.
|Closer Portrait: (730 k)
Again, very nice colors, decent tonal range. The short focal-length lens distorts the models features this close though. Get a zoom-equipped camera if you plan a lot of closeup portraits like this.
Results are similar to the shot above, in terms of color and quality, though the A201's fixed focal length lens distorted the model's features slightly. Resolution is higher in this closer shot, with clearer details in the face and hair. The shadows again show good detail with moderate noise. Our main shot was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure adjustment.
To see the results of a range of exposure settings, see files A21FACAP0.HTM through A21FACAP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page. These show a range from +0 to +1.0 EV exposure compensation.
|Indoor Portrait, Flash: (735 k)
A good result for an entry-level camera.
The A201 did a pretty good job with the indoor flash test, leaving a little pink in the image from the warm-toned room lighting. Still, a good result, given that there's no adjustment options for flash brightness.
Portrait, No Flash: (736 k)
Too much yellow left in the image, regardless of white balance setting.
Although it shows excellent color elsewhere, the A201 really falls down on the indoor portrait test. For whatever reason, Fuji's cameras tend not to do a good job with household incandescent lighting. (We recommend QBeo's PhotoGenetics as a fast, inexpensive way of dealing with this sort of problem. - Read our review of it.)
To see the results of a range of exposure settings, see files A21INTP0.HTM through A21INTP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page. These show a range from +0 to +1.0 EV exposure compensation.
|House Shot: (751 k)
White balance a little off, good detail but slightly soft. Very soft in the far corners.
We chose the Daylight (751 k) white balance setting for our main selection, though both it and the Auto (761 k) setting produced slight color casts. The Daylight setting resulted in a greenish image, while the Auto setting produced reddish results, but we liked the look of the Daylight version better. Resolution and detail both look good, though details are just slightly soft. We also noticed severe corner softness in all four corners of the frame.
|Far-Field Test (740 k)
Good color, but loses some highlight detail. Far corners are soft.
This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows.
This is our ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this. The A201 captured a lot of fine detail throughout the frame, with a nice level of sharpness. We again noticed some corner softness in the image. The fine foliage details are slightly soft, but the linear details of the house front are fairly crisp. We also measure a camera's dynamic range here, and noticed that the A201 lost all but the strongest details of the bright bay window. Alternatively, the shadow areas under the porch and in the shade of the tree (at right) show better detail, with clearer brick and shrubbery patterns.
|Lens Zoom Range
A fixed focal-length lens (no optical zoom). Digital zoom is of limited usefulness.
We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following shots, showing the field of view with the lens at full wide angle and with digital zoom enabled. The A201's lens is equivalent to a 36mm lens on a 35mm film camera. Following are the results at each zoom setting.
Good color, good detail...
For this test, we shot with the Auto (745 k) and Daylight (743 k) white balance settings, choosing Daylight for our main selection (Auto white balance was too warm). Color is good, though a touch warm with the Auto setting, with a nearly accurate blue on the Oriental model's robe (this is a tough blue for many digicams to get right, and often has a purplish tint). Resolution and detail are both good as well.
Surprisingly good macro performance from a fixed focal length lens.
The A201 performed nicely in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.39 x 2.54 inches (86.03 x 64.52 millimeters). Color, resolution, and detail are good, though the Auto white balance produced a warm color balance. The A201's flash (752 k) did a good job throttling down for the macro area, though coverage is slightly uneven, and the brooch and large coin produce a strong reflection.
|"Davebox" Test Target
Pretty good color. Yellow is a bit muddy, but other colors are very good.
We shot samples of this target using the Auto (722 k), Daylight (722 k), and Fluorescent 2 (739 k) white balance settings, choosing the Auto setting for our main shot. Because both the Auto and Daylight settings produced slightly warm images, we tried the Fluorescent 2 setting, which produced a brighter white value as well as a magenta color cast. Exposure is about right, as the Q60 target shows nice tonal distribution and there's good detail in the highlights. Though slightly warm, color looks good in the large color blocks, with the exception of the yellow one, which appears a bit muddy.
Very limited for low light shooting without flash. Plan on using flash, or get a different camera for night shots.
The A201's full automatic exposure control limited the camera's low-light shooting capabilities a great deal, as the camera only captured clear, bright, usable images at light levels as low as eight foot-candles (or 88 lux). The target remained visible as low as one foot-candle (equivalent to average city streetlighting at night), but is extremely dark. The camera's Auto white balance had some trouble with these dark shots, producing a warm color balance that increased with the lower light levels. Noise is very low in all shots. The table below shows the best exposure we were able to obtain for each of a range of illumination levels. Images in this table (like all of our sample photos) are untouched, exactly as they came from the camera.
|Flash Range Test
Surprisingly good flash range, probably about 10 feet in most conditions.
In our testing, we found the A201's flash remained effective as far as 14 feet from the test target, though with low intensity. (We'd rate it somewhere around 10 feet in typical usage.) Flash power was brightest at the eight foot distance, and decreased incrementally from there on out. Below is our complete flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.
(WG-18) Resolution Test (756 k)
Resolution is a bit low for a 2 megapixel camera, but not bad. Very low distortion, but extreme corners are very soft.
The A201 performed moderately well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 500 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. We found "strong detail" out to at least 700 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 950 lines.
Optical distortion on the A201 was very slight, as we measured only one pixel of barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration is moderately high, showing about five or six pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines, which is exaggerated by the severe corner softness. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.) The corner softness is among the most severe that we've seen but actually affects only a very small portion of the image area, stopping just a little ways in from the extreme corners.
Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity
Optical viewfinder is a bit too tight, LCD is quite accurate. Flash coverage is good.
The A201's optical viewfinder was very tight, showing approximately 81 percent frame accuracy. The LCD monitor fared much better, showing approximately 95 percent accuracy. Given that we generally prefer LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the A201 has some room for improvement, but still did a good job. Flash distribution is fairly even in the center of the target, with some falloff in the corners and at the edges of the frame.
Questions, comments or controversy on this article? Click this link to see what other Imaging Resource readers have had to say about Fuji FinePix A201, or add comments of your own!
1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate
2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate
3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate