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Quick Review

Fuji FinePix A340 Digital Camera

Camera QuickLook
Review Date
12/22/2004
User Level
Novice
Product Uses
Family, entry-level camera
Digicam Design
Point and Shoot
Picture Quality
Good, 4.0-megapixel CCD
Print Sizes
11x14 or 8x10s with some cropping
Availability
Now
Suggested Retail Price
(at time of introduction)
$199

 

Introduction

Fuji FinePix A340 Review Links
Overview
Picky
Details
Design
Operation
Recommended Accessories
Sample Pictures
Specifications
Conclusion
Known for great color and performance, Fuji has also carved out a niche for itself by consistently providing good-quality consumer digicams at rock-bottom prices. The latest in their line of bargain-priced cameras is the Fuji FinePix A340, a 4-megapixel digital camera. The Fuji A340 carries on the value-leading tradition of Fuji digital cameras by offering a 4.0-megapixel CCD and 3x optical zoom lens at a low price, and including a longer maximum exposure time of two seconds and four preset scene modes. As you'd expect, the Fuji FinePix A340 trades off a few features and capabilities to achieve its remarkably low cost, but the camera still takes good-looking pictures in daylight conditions, and is simple enough for even rank beginners to get started with.

 

Camera Overview

Updating the popular point-and-shoot options of Fuji's FinePix line of digicams, the FinePix A340 is an affordable entry-level digicam that offers good quality and value. Small, compact, and very lightweight, the A340 offers a larger, 4.0-megapixel CCD than its predecessors, along with a Fujinon 3x optical zoom lens. Exposure control remains automatic, with the convenience of point-and-shoot control. However, the Fuji A340 does offer four preset scene shooting modes, for capturing good images in common, yet tricky, shooting conditions. The A340's CCD captures high enough resolution for printing images with nice detail as large as 11x14 inches, or as large as 8x10 inches with some cropping. Lower-resolution settings are available for email attachments. The Fuji A340 sports a 3x optical zoom lens that increases the camera's flexibility. The camera's dimensions are just a little too large for most shirt pockets at 4.09 x 2.42 x 1.23 inches (104 x 62 x 31 millimeters), although you could feasibly stow the camera in a larger coat pocket or an average-sized purse. Despite its size, the all-plastic body is extremely lightweight at just 6.9 ounces (198 grams), including batteries and memory card. A sliding, built-in lens cover keeps the Fuji A340's front panel nearly flat when closed, allowing the camera to easily slip into a pocket or purse without snagging.

The Fuji FinePix A340 is equipped with a 3x, Fujinon lens equivalent to a 38-114mm lens on a 35mm camera. Aperture is automatically controlled from f/2.8 to f/9.5, with actual values depending on the zoom position of the lens. Focus also remains under automatic control, ranging from 2.0 feet (60 centimeters) to infinity in normal mode, with a Macro setting ranging from 3.9 inches to 2.6 feet (10 centimeters to 80 centimeters). The camera also offers up to 1.7x digital zoom when in 2 or 1 megapixel mode, but keep in mind that digital zoom decreases the overall image quality, since it only enlarges the center pixels of the CCD image. For framing shots, the Fuji A340 offers both a real-image optical viewfinder and a 1.5-inch color, amorphous, silicon TFT LCD monitor. The LCD monitor reports some camera settings, and can overlay an alignment grid. The grid divides the image area into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, making it easier to line up tricky subjects.

Exposure is automatically controlled at all times, despite the Fuji FinePix A340's selection of Auto and Manual exposure modes. (The "Manual" setting simply expands the Record menu to include Exposure Compensation and White Balance options.) Four preset Scene modes optimize the camera for common, yet special, shooting situations, and include Portrait, Night, Sports, and Landscape settings. Shutter speeds range from 1/2,000 to two seconds (extending the camera's low-light shooting capabilities slightly), but the LCD display doesn't report it or the lens aperture setting. To determine the best exposure, the A340 employs a TTL (through-the-lens), 64-zone metering system, which averages readings taken throughout the frame for the best overall exposure. The camera's Exposure Compensation setting lets you increase or decrease the overall exposure from -2 to +2 in one-third-step increments. White balance options include an Auto setting, as well as Outdoors, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, and Incandescent presets, to match most common light sources. Although it's not adjustable, the Fuji A340's sensitivity is equivalent to ISO 100, good for most average shooting conditions.

The Fuji FinePix A340's built-in flash is effective from 2.0 to 11.5 feet (0.6 to 3.5 meters) depending on the zoom setting, and operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, or Slow-Synchro. In Manual mode, the flash also offers a Red-Eye Reduction with Slow-Synchro combination mode. A Self-Timer mode provides a 10-second delay between a full press of the Shutter button and the time that the shutter actually opens, helpful in self-portraits or group photos. The A340 also features a Movie mode, which captures movies without sound at either 320 x 240- or 160 x 120-pixel resolutions. Maximum recording times vary depending on the size of the card, but recording can commence until the card is full.

The Fuji A340 stores image files on xD-Picture Cards, and comes with a 16MB starter card. You'll want to purchase a larger size fairly soon, given the A340's maximum 2,272 x 1,704-pixel resolution. (The xD-Picture Card itself is very tiny, rivaling the popular SD memory cards in size.) The Fuji A340 uses two AA-type batteries for power, either alkaline or NiMH, and an optional AC adapter is available. A set of single-use AA alkaline batteries comes with the camera, but I strongly recommend purchasing a couple of sets of high-capacity NiMH batteries and a good charger, and keeping a spare set of batteries charged at all times. Click here See my "NiMH battery shootout" page to see which batteries currently on the market are best, or read my review of the Maha C-204F NiMH battery charger, my long-time favorite. The A340 is compatible with Fuji's separate accessory PictureCradle, which allows quick image downloading when connected to a computer. (The camera actually fits into the cradle sideways, lining up the USB/Digital jack with the cradle's jack.)

Basic Features

  • 4.0-megapixel CCD delivering image resolutions as high as 2,272 x 1,704 pixels.
  • Real-image optical viewfinder.
  • 1.5-inch color LCD monitor.
  • Fujinon 3x, 38-114mm (35mm equivalent) lens.
  • 1.7x digital zoom.
  • Automatic exposure control, plus four preset "scene" modes.
  • Adjustable white balance with seven settings.
  • Sensitivity equivalent to ISO 100.
  • Apertures from f/2.8 to f/9.5.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to two seconds.
  • Built-in flash with six modes.
  • xD-Picture Card storage (16MB card included).
  • Power supplied by two AA-type batteries or optional AC adapter.
  • Interface software and USB drivers included for Windows and Macintosh computers.

Special Features

  • Movie mode (without sound).
  • 10-second Self-Timer for delayed shutter release.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatibility.
  • USB cable for connection to a computer (driver software included).

Recommendation
Lightweight, portable, and easy to use, the Fuji's FinePix A340 digital camera offers the point-and-shoot convenience that novices enjoy, with the benefit of a 4.0-megapixel CCD and 3x optical zoom lens for good resolution and sharpness. Although exposure remains under automatic control, you can adjust Exposure Compensation and White Balance if needed, and the four scene modes are useful under common conditions. A simple, straightforward user interface means little or no downtime spent learning, and makes the Fuji A340 adept at shooting on the fly. For (well) under $300, you get the color and clarity on which Fuji has built such a strong reputation, with the convenience of a very user-friendly camera design. It's simplicity and ease of use make this a good choice for a low-end "family" digital camera, or for any novices looking for a true "point & shoot" digital camera.

 

Design

Measuring 4.09 x 2.42 x 1.23 inches (104 x 62 x 31 millimeters), the Fuji FinePix A340 is better-suited for average coat pockets than most shirt pockets, but fits easily into most average purses and comes with a wrist strap for a little extra security. Loaded with batteries and memory card, the A340 weighs a mere 6.9 ounces (198 grams), thanks in part to the all-plastic camera body. Because of the A340's straightforward design, external controls are limited and the LCD menu system is short and quick to navigate.

The Fuji A340's front panel curves gently from top to bottom without any large protrusions to snag on pockets. A sliding lens cover protects the lens when not in use, and keeps the front panel fairly smooth when the camera is off. When powered on, the lens extends about three-quarters of an inch from the front panel, and likewise retracts when the camera is turned off. Also on the front panel are the flash, flash sensor, self-timer lamp, and the optical viewfinder window. The sculpted surface of the lens cover provides a very slight finger grip, reinforced by a series of raised bumps on the rear panel which serve as a thumb grip. Unlike other sliding door designs, the door of the FinePix A340 can hit the lens before the lens retracts, so caution is advised. Otherwise, I prefer sliding lens door designs like this, because they make accidental activation of the camera while in a bag or pocket less likely.

The right side of the camera (as viewed from the rear) holds only the eyelet for the wrist strap. At the very bottom of the right panel, the edge of the memory card and battery compartment door is visible.

The opposite side of the camera features the USB, DC In, and Video Out connector terminals, all uncovered.

On the Fuji A340's top panel is simple, with only the Shutter button.

The few remaining camera controls are on the rear panel, sharing space with the optical viewfinder and LCD monitor. Fuji did away with the mode dial previously offered on the A210 and A205 models, opting for less external control and a sleeker body style. The three main control buttons line the right side of the LCD monitor, and include the Playback / On, Menu / OK, and Display / Back buttons. The Zoom rocker button in the top right corner controls optical and digital zoom and navigates up and down through the LCD menu. On either side of the Zoom rocker button are two arrow keys, which also navigate menu options. The left arrow toggles Macro mode on or off while the right arrow steps through the flash modes.

The Fuji FinePix A340's bottom panel is nice and flat, with the plastic, threaded tripod mount right about center. The shared xD-Picture Card and battery compartment is adjacent, with a hinged door that slides out before opening. Although I typically prefer to have access to the battery and memory card compartments while a camera is mounted to a tripod, I doubt this issue will come into play much on the A340, given its portable nature and point-and-shoot design.

 

Camera Operation

With full automatic exposure control and only a couple of manual adjustments available, the Fuji FinePix A340's user interface is very straightforward and quick to grasp. The Mode dial control used on some earlier models has been replaced with a very simple menu driven system viewed in the LCD monitor. With the camera turned on, a single push of the Menu/Ok button brings up the four-option menu, which is fairly limited and quick to navigate using the combination of arrow and zoom rocker buttons. In Manual shooting mode, the settings menu expands slightly to include additional basic exposure settings, though you still don't have access to aperture or shutter speed. All camera controls other than basic Flash and Macro mode selections are accessed through the LCD menu system, so you should be able to start shooting with the camera right out of the box.

Record Mode Display: The LCD monitor reports very basic information in Record mode, including the shooting mode, resolution setting, number of available images, and a central autofocus target. It also reports the flash mode, and macro and self-timer settings when activated. Pressing the Display button enables an alignment grid, which divides the image area into thirds vertically and horizontally, for better framing of linear subjects. A third press disables the LCD monitor entirely.


Playback Mode Display
: In Playback mode, the main LCD display shows the file number and capture date for a few seconds. Pressing the Display button pulls up the nine-image index display. Using the Zoom rocker button, you can enlarge captured images as much as 14x, depending on the resolution they were shot at.

 

External Controls


Lens Cover
: Located on the front of the camera, this sliding cover controls camera power. When slid open, the lens extends forward into its operating position. Slightly closing the cover triggers the lens to retract and shuts off the camera, so that you can close the cover.


Shutter Button
: Located on the camera's top panel. This button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed, and fires the shutter when fully pressed.


On/Play Button
: Adjacent to the top right corner of the LCD monitor, this button activates Playback mode. If the camera is off and the lens cover closed, pressing this button turns on the camera and places it into Playback mode.


Menu/Ok Button
: Directly below the On / Play button, this button displays the settings menu in any camera mode, and acts as the "OK" to confirm menu selections.


Disp/Back Button
: Located on the bottom right of LCD monitor, this button controls the LCD monitor display, and activates the framing grid. It also disables the LCD monitor, so you can save battery power by framing images with the optical viewfinder. In Playback mode, this button also controls the information overlay, as well as enables a nine-image index display mode.


Zoom Rocker Button
: Tucked between two arrow keys in the upper right corner of the camera's rear panel, this two-way rocker button controls the optical and digital zoom. In any settings menu, this button navigates up and down through menu selections. In Playback mode, this button controls the Playback Zoom feature, which enlarges captured images as much as 13x.

Right and Left Arrow Keys: Flanking the Zoom rocker button in the top right corner of the rear panel, these arrow keys navigate through captured images in Playback mode, as well as through menu selections in any settings menu. When an image has been enlarged, these keys also move around within the view.

In Record mode, the left arrow accesses the Macro shooting mode, and the right arrow key cycles through the available flash modes.

 

Camera Modes and Menus

Still Image Record Mode: This mode allows the camera to capture still images. Exposure is automatically controlled, although a "Manual" option in the settings menu increases the menu selections to include Exposure Compensation and White Balance. Pressing the Menu button displays the following options:

  • Quality: Sets the image resolution and quality to 4M Fine (2,272 x 1704 pixels), 4M Normal (2,272 x 1,704 pixels), 2M (1,600 x 1,200 pixels), or 1M (1,280 x 960 pixels). Also shows how many frames can be captured at each resolution with the installed card's remaining space.
  • Self-Timer: Activates the 10-second Self-Timer, or disables the mode.
  • Shooting Mode: Puts the camera into Auto, Manual, Movie, Portrait, Scene (Landscape), Night, or Sports modes.
  • Set-Up/LCD Brightness: Adjusts the LCD brightness, and offers a variety of setup menu options (see below).
  • Exposure Compensation: (Manual mode only) Adjusts the overall exposure from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments.
  • White Balance: (Manual mode only) Sets the white balance to Auto, Outdoors, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, or Incandescent.

Set-Up Menu: Accessible from either the record or playback menus, the Setup menu offers the following options:
  • Image Display: Turns the post-image capture review screen on or off.
  • Power Save: Turns the power save option on or off. If on, you have the choice of a two- or five-minute delay before the camera automatically shuts off due to inactivity.
  • Format: Formats the xD-Picture Card, erasing all files (even protected ones).
  • Beep: Enables the camera's beep sounds, with options for Low, High, or Off.
  • Date/Time: Sets the camera's internal clock and calendar.
  • Time Difference: This option lets you set the time for another time zone. For example, when traveling, you can specify the time at home and for where you are, and the time difference is applied to captured images.
  • LCD: Turns the LCD monitor on or off. If on, the LCD monitor automatically comes on whenever the camera is set to the Still Image Record position. If off, you must enable the display via the Display button.
  • Frame Number: Sets the camera to number each successive image continuously from memory card to memory card, or to reset numbering with each new memory card.
  • USB Mode: Sets the USB mode to DSC or PC Cam. PC Cam mode lets Windows users use the Fuji A340 as a webcam.
  • Language: Sets the menu language to one of five languages.
  • Video System: Assigns the video signal as PAL or NTSC.
  • Discharge: Discharges rechargeable batteries fully, so that they can be recharged from the base level. (Not recommended for alkaline batteries, as this will eliminate the charge entirely.)
  • Reset: Resets all camera settings to their defaults.

Playback Mode: The traditional green playback symbol is located with the "ON" button located with the LCD panel, which accesses Playback mode at any time with a one second press (even if the camera is powered off). Here, you can review captured images and movies, as well as manage files and set up images for printing. Pressing the Menu button displays the following options:

  • Erase: Deletes the current frame, or all frames on the memory card.
  • DPOF: Marks/unmarks frames for printing on DPOF devices, with an option to include a date and time overlay.
  • Protect: Write-protects the displayed image, preventing it from being accidentally erased or manipulated (except via card formatting). Also removes protection, and offers options to protect or unprotect all images on the card.
  • Set-Up/LCD: Displays the same settings as under the Record menu.
  • Playback: Enables an automated slide show of all the captured images on the memory card, with options for transition styles.
  • Trimming: Lets you crop an image and save it separately as a 1,280 x 960-pixel file.


Movie Mode: Accessed through the main record menu, Movie mode records movies without sound. Pressing the Menu button after you've selected Movie mode lets you adjust the resolution setting (either 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 pixels), and provides access to the camera's main Setup menu.

 

In the Box

In the box are the following items:

  • Fuji FinePix A340 digital camera.
  • 16MB xD-Picture Card.
  • Two single-use, AA-type alkaline batteries.
  • Wrist strap.
  • USB cable.
  • AV cable.
  • Software CD-ROM.
  • Instruction manual and registration card.

 

Recommended Accessories

  • (I recommend 64MB as a bare minimum, 128MB would be preferable.)
  • Two sets (four) NiMH rechargeable batteries and charger.
  • Soft camera case.
  • Fuji Picture Cradle for quick computer connection.

Recommended Software: Rescue your images!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. I get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A surprising number of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digicam reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

 

Specifications

See the specifications sheet here.

 

Picky Details

Information on shooting speed, battery life, etc. can be found here.

 

User Reviews

 

Sample Pictures

See our sample pictures and detailed analysis on the Fuji A340 sample pictures page. The thumbnails below show a subset of our test images. Click on a thumbnail to see the full-size photo.

"Sunlit"
Indoor Flash
Indoor
 

 

 

House
Musicians
Macro
 

 

 

Davebox
Resolution
Viewfinder Accuracy

 

 

Test Results

In keeping with my standard test policy, the comments given here summarize only my key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the Fuji FinePix A340's sample pictures page.

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Fuji A340 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

As with all Imaging Resource product tests, I encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the camera performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how the A340 Zoom's images compare to other cameras you may be considering.

  • Color: Significantly oversaturated color, but most likely appealing to entry-level consumers nonetheless. Decent white balance performance under incandescent lighting, too. While fairly hue-accurate, the Fuji A340's color is significantly oversaturated. (That is, colors are quite a bit more intense in its photos than they were in real life.) This may or may not be an issue for you though, as it's been pretty well demonstrated in the market that most consumers like digital camera photos that are brighter-looking than real life. Take a look at our sample pictures shot with the A340, and decide for yourself whether they fit your idea of what good color should look like. (My guess is that most consumers will like them just fine.) The A340's white balance system generally did a pretty good job, although it often left a very slight warm cast in the images. In the past, I've tended to give Fuji bad marks for their cameras' performance under incandescent lighting (the most common indoor lighting in US homes), but the A340 actually does an acceptable job there. (It's shots under incandescent lighting are a bit more yellow- or red-tinted than I'd prefer, but are within what I would consider an acceptable range.) Overall, very bright color, that'll probably be appealing to the A340's target market.

  • Exposure: Average exposure accuracy, but rather high contrast. The Fuji FinePix A340 Zoom's exposure system handled my test lighting quite well, though contrast was high in a few cases (particularly in the "Sunlit" Portrait). It underexposed the very high-key outdoor portrait shot at the default setting (requiring a +0.7 EV exposure compensation boost for brighter midtones), but this is quite typical among the digital cameras I test. Indoors, the camera required an average amount of positive exposure compensation, though flash exposures were dim and couldn't be adjusted. The A340 Zoom had no trouble with the subtle pastel tones on the Q60 target of the Davebox, and shadow detail was typically moderate.

  • Resolution/Sharpness: Good resolution for a four-megapixel camera, but a lot of subtle detail is traded away to achieve low noise levels. The Fuji FinePix A340 performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to about 1,200 lines. "Extinction" of the target patterns occurred around 1,350 lines. These are good numbers for an inexpensive 4-megapixel digital camera, but the A340 tends to lose detail in areas of subtle contrast (hair and foliage, for example), due to its somewhat over-aggressive noise reduction system. (It's unlikely you'll notice this detail loss in 4x6 prints though.)

  • Image Noise: Low image noise, but a heavy price paid to achieve it, in the form of reduced subject detail. As noted above, the Fuji A340's inherent resolution is good, and its images are generally clean and noise-free, but the camera trades away an awful lot of subject detail in areas of subtle contrast to achieve this. You can see this in my test photos, in areas of Marti's hair where the detail is just smudged over, and in areas on the front of the house in the House Poster and Far Field shots, where the bricks look like they were rendered with finger-paints. You probably won't notice this sort of thing if you're mainly making 4x6 prints from your A340's images, but it will stand out on 8x10 enlargements.

  • Closeups: About average macro performance, with good detail. Flash throttles down a bit too much. The Fuji FinePix A340 Zoom performed about average in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.13 x 2.35 inches (80 x 60 millimeters). Resolution is very high, and detail is strong in the dollar bill, brooch, and coins. Details are also sharp, with just a little softness in the corners of the frame. The A340 Zoom's flash throttled down a bit too much for the macro area (probably fooled by the reflection from the brooch), and creates an uneven exposure. - Plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots with the Fuji A340.

  • Night Shots: Limited low-light capabilities, but good enough results under light levels equivalent to average city street lighting at night. Very limited low-light autofocus ability though. The Fuji A340 Zoom produced clear, bright, usable images only down to the one foot-candle (11 lux) light level, a light level that corresponds to that of typical city street lighting at night. Color balance was warm with the Auto white balance setting, and became progressively warmer as the exposure lowered. Image noise is high, but the grain pattern is somewhat faint, causing it to be less noticeable. The most significant limitation for after-dark shooting with the A340 is probably its autofocus system though, which can't quite focus at the level of typical city street lighting at night. (Make sure you have a brighter object somewhere near the center of the frame, for the camera to focus on.)

  • Viewfinder Accuracy: A rather tight optical viewfinder, slightly tight LCD monitor. The A340 Zoom's optical viewfinder showed about 81 percent of the final image area at wide angle, and about 79 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor showed 91 percent of the frame at wide angle, and about 89 percent at telephoto.

  • Optical Distortion: Average barrel distortion, low pincushion. Low chromatic aberration, good corner to corner sharpness. Optical distortion on the A340 Zoom was about average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.7 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I measured only 0.04 percent barrel distortion (about one pixel) there. Chromatic aberration was fairly low, showing about three pixels of rather 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.) Sharpness in the corners of the frame was better than average.

  • Shutter Lag and Cycle Time: Better than average shutter lag, good cycle times. Provided it has enough light to focus with (see my comments above about night shooting), the Fuji FinePix A340 focuses and shoots a bit more quickly than most of the competition. With a full-autofocus shutter delay (the time between when you press the shutter button and when the shutter actually fires) of 0.68 - 0.83 second, it's just a bit faster than the average range of 0.8 - 1.0 second. While this still isn't fast enough to capture fast-breaking action, if you "prefocus" the camera by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the shot itself, the shutter delay drops to 0.19 second, a quite acceptable number. Shot to shot cycle times are decent if not blazing, at 2.2 seconds per shot for large/fine images. Overall, a surprisingly responsive camera, given the A340's entry-level pricing.

  • Battery Life: Good battery life. With a worst-case run time (capture mode, with the rear panel LCD turned on) of 124 minutes, the Fuji A340's battery life is on the good side of average, especially for a camera powered by only two AA cells. With the LCD off, run time stretches to just over 6 h ours, and is over four and a half hours in playback mode. (All times are based on the use of 1600 mAh NiMH batteries. With modern cells having true capacities of over 2000 mAh, your own run times should be longer.) I do still strongly recommend that you plan on purchasing a good-quality NiMH battery charger and a couple of sets of high-capacity NiMH rechargeable AA cells right along with the camera though. Read my review of the Maha C-204W to learn about my favorite charger, and check out my NiMH Battery Shootout page for actual performance data on a wide range of batteries.

 

Conclusion

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Fuji FinePix digital cameras have always been associated with good image quality and color, with solid performance even at the lower-end of the line. With a 4.0-megapixel CCD and 3x optical zoom lens, the Fuji A340 offers the same point-and-shoot convenience as Fuji's earlier entry-level models, but with greater flexibility from its four preset scene mode and longer maximum exposure time, as well as more resolution from its larger sensor. Its color is very bright and highly saturated, likely to be appealing to many consumers, even though it's not technically "accurate" color. Overall, it's a good entry-level digital, offering good resolution and an optical zoom lens at a very low price. (As I write this in mid-December 2004, it holds the distinction of being the least expensive 4-megapixel camera with a zoom lens on the market, based on current "street" prices.) Its combination of image quality and low price made it a Dave's pick as one of the best digital cameras in its entry-level price/performance bracket.


 

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