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Digital Cameras - Fuji FinePix A303 Test Images

(Posted: 12/03/02)

 

I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for the 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:

Good color and resolution, though contrast is high. (Likely to be very pleasing to the average consumer's eye, though.)

The extreme tonal range of this image makes it a tough shot for many digicams, which is precisely why I set it up this way, and why I shoot it with no fill flash or reflector to open the shadows. The object is to hold both highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors, and the A303 did a good job, though with high contrast.

The shot at right was taken with a +0.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment, which results in slightly dark midtones. Increasing the exposure compensation to +0.7 EV brightens midtone values but loses too much highlight detail in the process. I chose the Daylight white balance for the main shot, though the Auto setting produced similar results (just a hint cooler).

Marti's skin tones are a little warm here, but the blue flowers in the bouquet are nearly right. (This is a very difficult blue for many digicams to get right, and the A303 produces slightly purplish tints in them. For reference, the flowers are a fairly pure light navy blue.) The A303 had a hard time with the strong red flowers though, oversaturating them quite a bit. Resolution is very good, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame, and moderate detail in the shadows. Details are reasonably sharp, and image noise in the shadows is moderately low. Overall, a nice job, with the bright, snappy color that most consumers like.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files A303OUTDP0.HTM through A303OUTDP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.


 

Closer Portrait:

Great resolution and detail, but high contrast, and somewhat pink/orange skin tones.

Overall results are similar to the wider shot above, and the A303's 3x zoom lens helps prevent distortion of Marti's features. Visible fine detail increases dramatically in her face and hair, with good sharpness. The shot at right was taken +0.3EV of exposure compensation, and the A303 again produces a very contrasty photo in response to the harsh lighting. Shadow detail is moderate, with low noise.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files A303FACDP0.HTM through A303FACDP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.


 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:
Normal Flash
Slow-Sync Flash

Somewhat underexposed, but the built-in flash does at least provide even coverage.

The A303's built-in flash illuminated the subject fairly well at its normal setting, but its overall intensity was rather low. The background incandescent lighting results in an orange cast on the back wall, coloring Marti and the flower bouquet as well. I also shot with the camera's Slow-Sync flash mode, which combines the flash with a longer exposure time to allow more ambient light into the image. Though the resulting image is brighter, the orange cast is stronger as well. (Use the slow-sync mode at night, to get brighter backgrounds in your flash photos.)


 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance

Pronounced color casts with both Auto and Incandescent white balances.

This shot is always a very tough test of a camera's white balance capability, given the strong, yellowish color cast of the household incandescent bulbs used for the lighting. The A303's Auto white balance option produced a pinkish color cast, while the Incandescent setting resulted in a warm, sepia-like cast. The A303's white balance system doesn't seem to handle household incandescent lighting very well...


 

House Shot:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Great resolution and detail, slight warm cast, but excellent color otherwise.

The A303's Auto and Daylight white balance settings both resulted in similar images, with good color but a very slightly warm cast. I chose the Daylight setting for the main image, feeling that it was slightly more neutral. Resolution is high, as the tree limbs and shrubbery show good detail. Details are very slightly soft, but well-defined throughout the frame. There's some softness in the top right corner of the frame, and just a little in the other corners as well. All in all though, the A303 performed well here.


 

Far-Field Test

Great resolution and detail, but limited dynamic range.

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 my ultimate "resolution shot," given the infinite range of detail in a natural scene like this, and the A303 picks up a lot of fine detail in the tree limbs over the roof and fine foliage in front of the house. Details are reasonably sharp, with good definition. Corner softness is less visible in this shot as well. The camera loses most of the highlight detail in the bright white paint surrounding the bay window, a trouble spot for many digicams. Detail is moderate in the shadow area above the front door, demonstrating the A303's limited dynamic range. Overall color looks good, and exposure is about right, though contrast is high. The table below shows a standard resolution and quality series.

Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
2,048 x 1,536
A303FARLF
A303FARLN
1,600 x 1,200
A303FARMF
N/A
1,280 x 960
A303FARSF
N/A
640 x 480
A303FARTF
N/A



 

Lens Zoom Range

A typical 3x zoom range.

I routinely shoot this series of images to show the field of view for each camera, with the lens at full wide angle, at maximum telephoto (3x, in this case), and at full telephoto with the digital zoom enabled. The A303's lens is equivalent to a 38-114mm zoom on a 35mm camera. The A303's digital zoom works in the way that I think makes most sense, in that it doesn't attempt to resample the images after cropping them. Thus, the amount of digital zoom available depends on the currently selected image size. Digital zoom isn't available at the maximum resolution of 3 megapixels, but it is enabled and increases steadily as you drop to smaller and smaller image sizes. Following are the results at each zoom setting.

Wide Angle
3x Telephoto
Digital Telephoto 1,600 x 1,200
Digital Telephoto
640 x 480


 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Slightly warm color balance, but good color otherwise, and good detail and resolution.

This shot is often a tough test for digicams, as the abundance of blue in the composition frequently tricks white balance systems into producing a warm color balance. Again, the A303's Auto and Daylight white balance settings resulted in similar images, both with slightly warm, yellow casts. The blue background has purplish tints that aren't in the original poster, though they aren't overly strong. The blue robe is a little greenish from the warm cast, with only faint purple tints in the shadow areas. Skin tones look good as well, although a little warm. Resolution is high, with good detail in the embroidery of the blue robe.


 

Macro Shot
Standard Macro Shot
Macro with Flash

Average macro area, but very good detail.

The A303 performed about average in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 4 x 3 inches (101 x 76 millimeters). Resolution is high, with strong detail in the dollar bill, coins, and brooch. The corners are much softer in this closeup shot, with the strongest evidence in the lower left corner. (This is a very common failing of digicam lenses in macro shots, most likely caused by the optical phenomena called "curvature of field.") The A303's flash had some trouble when shooting this close, it's location on the right side of the lens creating a dark spot on the left side of the frame.


 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance

Generally good color. Slightly high contrast and warm color balance, but good tonal range and saturation.

The Auto white balance setting again produced a similar image to the Daylight white balance, but the Daylight image is just a hint warmer. Exposure looks about right, though the A303 produces slightly high contrast. The A303 does distinguish the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target well. Colors are bright and vibrant in the large color blocks, though fairly warm, and the additive primary colors (red, green, and blue) are a bit oversaturated. Detail is good in the shadow area of the charcoal briquettes, with low noise, and the last steps of both gray scales are just visible.


 

Low-Light Tests

Very limited low-light capabilities, plan on an additional light source, or the flash, for dark shooting conditions.

The A303 operates strictly under automatic exposure control, and doesn't feature any manual ISO adjustment to help it out in low light. With an ISO equivalent of 100 and a maximum shutter time of 1/2 second, the A303 really isn't suited for low-light shooting.

The A303 produced clear, bright, usable images at light levels only as low as two foot-candles (22 lux), which is about one stop (a factor of two) brighter than average city street lighting at night (one foot-candle, 11 lux). Though slightly warm, color was good with the Auto white balance setting, and image noise was very low. The table below shows the best exposure I was 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.

 

  2fc
22 lux
1fc
11 lux
1/2fc
5.5 lux
1/4fc
2.7 lux
1/8fc
1.3 lux
1/16fc
0.67 lux
ISO
100
Click to see A303LL02.JPG
1/2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see A303LL03.JPG
1/2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see A303LL04.JPG
1/2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see A303LL05.JPG
1/2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see A303LL06.JPG
1/2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100
Click to see A303LL07.JPG
1/2 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100


 

Flash Range Test

Flash range of 8 feet, but usable beyond that.

In my testing, the A303's flash illuminated the test target all the way out to 14 feet, although it was pretty dim at the furthest distances. The flash is brightest at the eight foot distance, and intensity decreases a small amount with each foot beyond that, so I'd rate its range as 8 feet. Below is the flash range series, with distances from eight to 14 feet from the target.

 

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see A303FL08.JPG

1/60 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see A303FL09.JPG

1/60 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see A303FL10.JPG

1/60 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see A303FL11.JPG

1/60 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see A303FL12.JPG

1/60 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see A303FL13.JPG

1/60 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100

Click to see A303FL14.JPG

1/60 sec
F/2.8
ISO: 100



 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

High resolution but slightly soft, 1,000 lines of "strong detail." About average barrel distortion, no pincushion distortion.

The A303 performed pretty well on our "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height vertically, and around 500 lines horizontally. I found "strong detail" out to at least 1,000 lines horizontally, although artifacts in the vertical direction could be considered to limit its resolution in along that axis to 900 lines or so. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred at about 1,100 lines. The image is slightly soft though, despite the good detail, and a lot of artifacts are visible in the vertical direction.

Optical distortion on the A303 is a good bit lower than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.4 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared even better, as I measured only a half-pixel of barrel distortion there. Chromatic aberration is higher than average, showing about 5 or 6 pixels of faint coloration on either side of the target lines. (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 extent of the chromatic aberration is exaggerated somewhat though by the "coma" or flare around the target elements in the corners of the frame.

Resolution Series, Wide Angle
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
2,048 x 1,536
A303RESWLF
1,600 x 1,200
A303RESWMF
1,280 x 960
A303RESWSF
640 x 480
A303RESWTF

 

Resolution Test, Telephoto
2,048 x 1,536
(Fine, Tele)
A303RESTLF



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

A very tight optical viewfinder, but more accurate LCD monitor.

The A303's optical viewfinder is quite tight, showing approximately 84 percent of the final frame at wide angle and approximately 79 percent at the telephoto zoom setting. The LCD monitor is much more accurate, showing about 95 percent of the frame at wide angle, and about 92 percent of the frame at telephoto. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the A303's LCD monitor falls just a little short, though results are still good. I'd really like to see a more accurate optical viewfinder though. Flash distribution is uneven at wide angle, with falloff at the corners and edges of the frame. At telephoto, flash distribution is even and more uniform.

 


Wide Angle, Optical

Telephoto, Optical

Wide Angle, LCD

Telephoto, LCD


 

A303 Review
A303 Test Images
A303 Specifications
A303 "Picky Details"
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