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Fuji FinePix 2800 Zoom

Two megapixels, a 6x zoom lens, great pictures, and a bargain price: Another great "value leader" from Fuji!

Review First Posted: 02/06/2002




MSRP $449 US

 

*
2-megapixel CCD for 1,600 x 1,200 pixel images
*
6x, 38-228mm equivalent optical zoom lens
*
Movie mode (with sound)
*
Continuous Shooting mode for capturing fast action.


Manufacturer Overview
Fujifilm produces a wide range of digicam models from bare-bones entry-level models up to and including a high-end digital SLR. To my mind though, where they've really had their greatest success has been in creating good-quality midrange cameras that sell at very competitive prices. Their FinePix 2600 Zoom was arguably the best buy in the entire digicam market in the 2001 Christmas season, offering great pictures, a full set of features, and even a bundled set of batteries and charger for an exceptional price. Building on the same core electronics as the 2600, the FinePix 2800 Zoom has the same 2 megapixel CCD, but adds a 6x zoom lens to really reach out for distant subjects. At only $399, the 2800 Zoom is the best deal currently on the market (this review was written in late January, 2002) for a camera with that long a zoom ratio. This is a great bargain, for a camera with a nice complement of features and very good photo quality. Just like the the 2600 before it, the FinePix 2800 zoom offers excellent value for the money.


High Points


Executive Overview
The FinePix 2800 Zoom is the latest in Fuji's line of compact digicams, but this most recent addition features a slightly bulkier body, to accommodate the 6x zoom lens. Highly portable and lightweight, the 2800 Zoom can go just about anywhere, though it won't fit into a standard shirt pocket. It should, however, fit into a larger coat pocket or purse, and comes with a neck/shoulder strap to make carrying it easier. Measuring 3.7 x 3.0 x 2.8 inches (95 x 77 x 71 millimeters), the 2800 Zoom weighs 12.9 ounces (370 grams with batteries and SmartMedia card) and fits well into one hand. The 2800 Zoom offers a two-megapixel CCD, which delivers clear, sharp images as large as 1,600 x 1,200 pixels.

A 6x, 6-36mm lens is built into the 2800 Zoom, which is equivalent to a 38-228mm zoom on a 35mm camera. A small, plastic lens cap protects the lens when not in use, and tethers to the camera so you don't have to worry about losing it. The telescoping lens extends from the camera when powered on, and retracts when the camera is shut off. Apertures are automatically controlled, but range from f/2.8 to f/8.2. Focus is also automatically controlled at all times, with a focal range from 2.6 feet (0.8 meters) to infinity in normal mode, and from 3.9 to 31.5 inches (10 to 80 centimeters) in Macro mode. In addition to the 6x optical zoom, the 2800 Zoom also offers as much as 2.5x digital enlargement, depending on the image size selected. For composing images, the 2800 Zoom offers both a TTL electronic optical viewfinder and a 1.8-inch, D-TFT color LCD monitor. The LCD monitor has a limited information display, reporting various camera settings, as well as an optional framing guide display, which divides the image into thirds horizontally and vertically.

Though the camera offers Automatic and Manual exposure modes, the camera remains in control of aperture and shutter speed at all times. "Manual" exposure mode simply lets the user adjust the camera's white balance and exposure compensation settings. Shutter speeds range from 1/1,500 to 1/2-second, but are not reported on the LCD display. The 2800 Zoom uses a 64-zone metering system to determine exposure, placing the greatest emphasis on the center portion of the image area. Light sensitivity is rated as equivalent to ISO 100, and is not adjustable. When shooting in Manual exposure mode, exposure compensation is adjustable from -1.5 to +1.5 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. White balance offers seven settings, including Auto, Daylight, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, and Incandescent.

The 2800 Zoom's built-in flash operates in your choice of five modes, which include Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, and Slow Synchro modes. A 10-second self-timer is available in Automatic exposure mode only, and is activated via the LCD menu system. The 2800 Zoom can also capture movies (with sound) as long as 60 seconds each, while in Movie capture mode. Movie files are saved in the Motion JPEG format, at a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. A Voice Caption option allows you to record as much as 30 seconds of audio to attach to an image. For capturing a quick series of shots, the Continuous Shooting mode captures as many as four images at approximately 0.5-second intervals (depending on resolution settings and SmartMedia space).

Images captured by the 2800 Zoom are saved to SmartMedia cards, and a 16MB card comes with the camera. (A fairly generous card size for an inexpensive camera.) In addition to the 1,600 x 1,200-pixel resolution size, the 2800 Zoom also offers 1,280 x 960- and 640 x 480-pixel resolution sizes. Three JPEG compression ratios are available, including Fine, Normal, and Economy. The Playback menu offers DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) settings for printing images on a compatible device. A USB cable and software CD accompany the camera, allowing for high-speed connection to a computer. The software CD is loaded with Fuji's FinePix Viewer software, which organizes and displays downloaded images, as well as provides printing and minor editing capabilities. Windows users can take advantage of PictureHello, which turns the 2800 Zoom into a videoconferencing tool.

The 2800 Zoom utilizes four AA batteries for power, and a set of alkaline cells accompanies the camera. As always, I recommend getting a couple of sets of high-capacity rechargeable NiMH batteries and a good-quality charger: You'll quickly go broke trying to keep a digicam fed with disposable alkalines! An AC adapter is also a separate accessory, but is helpful for saving battery power while reviewing and downloading images (as well as using the camera as a videoconferencing webcam). Unless you're taking advantage of the camera's webcam capability though, rechargeable batteries would eliminate the need for the AC adapter.

With its compact and lightweight body, the convenience of full automatic exposure control, two-megapixel CCD, and impressive 6x zoom lens, the 2800 Zoom is a good choice for consumers looking for portable, affordable, easy to use digicam that takes good pictures. The 2800 Zoom offers a basic level of exposure control when you want it, and a Movie mode for capturing quick bits of action. All in all, one of the better bargains in the digicam market today.


Design
Small and lightweight, the Fuji FinePix 2800 Zoom adds to Fuji's growing line of very portable digicams. The 2800 Zoom easily fits into one hand, but is a little too chubby for most shirt pockets. Still, the 2800 Zoom could easily find its way into larger coat pockets and purses, and the accompanying neck strap provides some extra security. Measuring 3.7 x 3.0 x 2.8 inches (95 x 77 x 71 millimeters), the camera's all-plastic body keeps it fairly light weight at 12.9 ounces (370 grams, with batteries and SmartMedia). With only a handful of control buttons, the 2800 Zoom's silver exterior is very curvy, with smoothly sculpted protrusions for the handgrip and optical viewfinder mechanism.

Built into the 2800 Zoom is a two-megapixel CCD, which produces image resolutions as large as 1,600 x 1,200 pixels. Camera controls are somewhat sparse, as the majority of features are automatically controlled by the camera. This keeps the user interface uncluttered and clean, as well as simple to operate, but doesn't present the sophisticated exposure controls "enthusiasts" look for. With that in mind, let's take our virtual walk around the camera.

The front of the 2800 Zoom is sleek and stylish, with shiny silver highlights on a matte silver body. The lens barrel protrudes from the camera front about an inch or so, and features the same matte silver finish as the rest of the camera body. When the camera is powered on, the lens telescopes a little further from the camera body. A plastic lens cap protects the lens from scratches when not in use, and tethers to the camera body to prevent it from being lost. The lens shares the front panel with the flash control sensor, flash, microphone, and self-timer LED (the small, red LED just above the lens). The bulky handgrip on the left side of the front panel ensures a secure hold on the camera, is bulky enough to be useful without detracting from the camera's portable size.

The right side of the camera (viewed looking from the back) is pretty empty, showing only a neck strap attachment eyelet.

The DC In and USB connection jacks are on the opposite side of the camera, and lack any protective covering. I generally like to see some type of covering over these terminals, as dust and dirt can easily find their way into these small openings, especially on a highly portable camera such as this one. (A minor design strike against the 2800.) Also on this side of the camera is the second neck strap attachment eyelet, speaker, and SmartMedia slot. The card slot is protected by a hinged, plastic door, which snaps firmly into place.

The 2800 Zoom's top panel features the Mode dial, Shutter button, and Power button.

The remaining camera controls are on the back panel, along with the LCD monitor and TTL viewfinder eyepiece. Positioned on the right side are the zoom controls and arrow buttons, as well as the Display, Menu/OK, and Back buttons. A sculpted thumb rest on the right side of the back panel facilitates a tight grip on the camera, reinforced by the bulky hand grip on the front. Beneath the optical viewfinder eyepiece is a small LED, which reports the camera's current status (such as when focus is set, flash is charging, etc.).

The 2800 Zoom's bottom panel is nice and flat, though a series of raised bumps gives your fingers something to grip when opening the battery compartment cover. This sliding cover protects the battery compartment, and slides outward (toward the side of the camera) before opening on a hinge to reveal the compartment. This is a great design for maximizing the camera's space, but bad for tripod work as you have to dismount from the tripod to change batteries. I suspect this won't be much of an issue for users of this camera however, as its designers were clearly intending it for on-the-go use, not studio shooting. The tripod mount features plastic threads and is a bit off center from the lens. The off-center mount is awkward for shooting panorama photos (a fairly arcane practice, I suspect), but the position places it close to the camera's center of balance, increasing stability and reducing strain on the tripod threads.


Viewfinder
The FinePix 2800 Zoom offers both a TTL electronic optical viewfinder and an LCD monitor for composing images. The eyelevel viewfinder actually features a 0.55-inch, 110,000-pixel LCD display that shows the view through the lens. Though there is no diopter adjustment dial for the 2800 Zoom's viewfinder, it does have a fairly high eyepoint, and I had no trouble seeing the full frame with my eyeglasses on. Most eyeglass lenses shouldn't pose a problem. Electronic viewfinders like the 2800's are almost mandatory on digicams with zoom ratios longer than about 4x, as viewfinder zoom optics with a 6x zoom ratio would be prohibitively bulky and expensive. The drawback of electronic viewfinders though, is that they don't work well at all in dim lighting conditions: To keep the display "live", the camera has to use a relatively short exposure time on the CCD to generate the viewfinder image. This means that the camera can generally capture usable images in much dimmer conditions than the viewfinder will work in. The 2800 falls prey to this, as it's viewfinder isn't usable at light levels much below that of average residential interiors at night.(It really isn't usable for outdoor night scenes, even under fairly bright street lighting.) Still, under normal shooting conditions, the 2800's electronic viewfinder display is bright and quite sharp.

A small LED lamp beneath the viewfinder reports the camera's status, lighting a solid green when the camera is switched on. The LED flashes green and then lights solid when focus and exposure are set (if the LED continues flashing green, it means the camera cannot focus). The LED glows orange when images are being recorded to the SmartMedia card, and flashes orange when the flash is charging. The LED flashes red whenever the camera is warning of an error (the error message is reported on the LCD monitor).

The 1.8-inch, D-TFT color LCD monitor is activated by pressing the EVF/LCD button on the back panel, which directs the display to the eyelevel viewfinder or LCD monitor. An information display shows details about the number of available images for the SmartMedia card, the resolution and quality settings, flash mode, and exposure mode. (The display would also include any features set through the Record menu, such as Macro mode, the self-timer, etc.) Pressing the Display button cycles through information display modes, showing the image with no information, the image with information, and finally an alignment grid, which divides the image area into thirds horizontally and vertically. (I really like alignment grids like this when I'm shooting buildings or other subjects where a slight tilt would be visible. Having horizontal and vertical references other than the edges of the frame really helps line things up.)

In Playback mode, the LCD monitor displays limited image information, such as the file number and date the image was captured. An index display mode shows as many as nine thumbnail-sized images on the screen at once, and a Playback zoom feature enlarges captured images as much as 5x letting you check on fine details and framing.


Optics
Built into the FinePix 2800 Zoom is a Fujinon 6x, 6-36mm lens, the equivalent of a 38-228mm zoom lens on a 35mm camera. This is an unusually wide zoom range for an inexpensive digicam, and the range it covers is very useful photographically. Although the lens opening is automatically controlled at all times, the 2800 Zoom's lens provides an aperture range from f/2.8 to f/8.2. Focus is also fully automatic, with a working distance that ranges from 2.6 feet (0.8 meters) to infinity in normal mode. Enabling the Macro mode changes the focal range to 3.9 inches to 2.6 feet (10 to 80 centimeters). Macro performance is better than average, with a minimum coverage area of just 3.8 x 2.8 inches (96 x 72 millimeters). A plastic lens cap protects the 2800 Zoom's lens, and attaches to the camera body so it won't get lost.

In addition to the 2800 Zoom's 6x optical zoom capabilities, the camera also offers up to 2.5x digital zoom. The amount of digital zoom available depends on the current resolution setting. At the 1,280 x 960-pixel size, only 1.25x of digital zoom is available; the full 2.5x digital zoom is only available at the 640 x 480-pixel still image size or in Movie mode. (No digital enlargement is possible at the 1,600 x 1,200-pixel resolution size.) Keep in mind that digital zoom merely enlarges the center portion of the CCD image, and so lowers image quality by decreasing resolution.

The 2800's lens does pretty well for such a long zoom ratio, although the distortion figures are higher than you'd generally find on cameras equipped with 3x zoom lenses. The 2800's lens shows slightly higher than average barrel distortion (0.8%, average is about 0.7%) at wide angle, and more pincushion distortion than average at full telephoto (0.6%, average is about 0.1%). Surprisingly though, chromatic aberration is lower than average, with just a few pixels of fairly weak color appearing around the edges of high-contrast objects in the corners of the frame.


Exposure
Exposure control on the 2800 Zoom is very straightforward, thanks to the camera's automatic-only operation. Though the Record menu offers "Automatic" and "Manual" exposure modes, "Manual" mode in this case simply allows the user to adjust the white balance and exposure compensation settings, as well as select the flash mode and macro option: There's no provision for the user to directly affect the aperture and shutter time. The 2800 Zoom employs a 64-zone TTL (Through The Lens) metering system to determine the exposure, dividing the image area into 64 zones that are independently metered and averaged for the best exposure. One note here is that the greatest weight of the exposure is placed on the center of the frame. You can thus use the exposure lock feature to tailor the exposure to a specific subject. To lock exposure (and focus as well), position the part of the subject you want to expose for in the center of the frame and half press the Shutter button. Then, keeping the Shutter button halfway pressed, reframe the subject to the original composition and fire the shutter.

Though you cannot adjust either the shutter speed or aperture settings, you can "tweak" the exposure when shooting in Manual mode. Exposure compensation is adjustable from -1.5 to +1.5 exposure equivalents (EV) in one-third-step increments. Shutter speeds on the 2800 Zoom range from 1/1,500 to 1/2-second. The 1/1,500 second top speed is very good, but the 1/2 second maximum shutter time severely limits the camera's low-light shooting capabilities. Sensitivity is equivalent to ISO 100, and is not adjustable. Manual mode also allows you to adjust the White Balance setting, with choices of Auto, Daylight, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, and Incandescent.

The 10-second Self-Timer option is only available in Automatic exposure mode (the option disappears from the menu in Manual mode). We found this rather puzzling, as the self-timer would be equally useful in either Auto or Manual mode. When in Self-Timer mode, a full press of the Shutter button activates the timer, which counts down from 10 seconds before the shutter is opened. A digital timer appears in the LCD monitor and the self-timer LED lamp lights on the front of the camera. The LED actually lights solid for the first five seconds, then flashes for the remaining five. The mode is automatically disabled after each shot, so you'll have to reset it explicitly if you want to shoot more than one self-timer photo in a row.


Flash
The 2800 Zoom features a built-in flash that operates in five different modes: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, and Slow Synchro. In Auto mode, the camera chooses when to fire the flash, based on the current lighting conditions and whether or not the subject is backlit. In Red-Eye Reduction mode, the camera fires a small pre-flash before firing the flash at full power, to reduce the occurrence of the Red-Eye Effect (caused by light reflecting off of an enlarged eye pupil). Forced mode simply activates the flash to fire with each shot, regardless of the exposure conditions, while Suppressed mode completely disables the flash. Finally, Slow Synchro mode times the flash with a slower shutter speed, which allows more ambient light into the image. Slow Synchro mode is good for night shots in front of skylines or sunsets, or indoor shots where you want more of the background to be visible, as the slower exposure allows more of the background color into the image. Fuji estimates the 2800 Zoom's flash power as effective to about 11.5 feet (3.5 meters), which agrees well my own test results.

Movie Mode
Activated by turning the Mode dial to the movie camera icon, Movie mode allows you to capture up to 60 seconds of video at a time, with sound. Movie files are captured at 320 x 240-pixel resolution, at approximately 10 frames per second. Actual shooting time will vary depending on the amount of SmartMedia space available. (That is, it will never be longer than 60 seconds, but could be less, if your card is nearly full.) Once in Movie mode, a full press of the Shutter button both starts and stops the recording. The number of seconds of available recording time appears in the LCD display. The lens is locked in the wide angle position in Movie mode, but digital zoom is available, up to 2.5x. (Given the low resolution of the movie files, digital zoom is actually quite effective for Movie mode recordings.) No other exposure options are available in this mode.

Audio Recording
A Voice Caption option under the record menu (in Auto mode only) allows you to record up to 30 seconds of sound to accompany a still image. Recording starts and stops when the Menu/OK button is pressed, and the amount of available recording time is reported on the LCD screen.

Continuous Shooting
Available through the Setup sub-menu, Continuous Shooting mode captures as many as four consecutive frames at approximately 0.5-second intervals. (The average interval was 0.39 seconds in my own testing.) Actual cycle times will vary depending on the image resolution and quality settings, and the maximum number of shots in the series depends on the amount of available memory. After the series, the camera displays a thumbnail index of all four frames shot, allowing you to review them as the camera records them to the memory card. This review cannot be canceled, nor does it allow you to delete any of the images in the series.


Shutter Lag / Cycle Times
When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a delay or lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time allows the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms time to do their work and can amount to a fairly long delay in some situations. Since this number is almost never reported on, and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, I now routinely measure it using a custom-designed electronic test setup.

 

Fuji FinePix 2800 Zoom Timings
Operation
Time (secs)
Notes
Power On -> First shot
2.9
A bit faster than average for a camera with a telescoping lens design.
Shutdown
3.6
About average for a camera with telescoping lens.
Play to Record, first shot
1.7
Time to first shot when switching from playback mode. Fairly fast.
Record to play
1.2
Time to display captured image, large/fine mode. Fairly fast.
Shutter lag, full autofocus
0.64-1.12
First time is with lens set at wide angle, second with lens at telephoto. First time is quite fast, second is slightly slower than average.
Shutter lag, prefocus
0.25
Delay with shutter button half-pressed before exposure. About average.
Cycle Time (shot to shot delay)
3.2
No buffer memory, but pretty good cycle time nonetheless. No limit on number of shots at this speed other than card capacity.
Cycle Time, continuous mode
0.38
(2.63 frames/sec.)
Pretty fast - bursts of four frames, then wait 8 seconds for photos to be written to the memory card.

 

Overall, the FinePix 2800 Zoom is a pretty responsive camera. In particular, its shutter delay with the lens set to its wide angle position is quite a bit less than even some much more expensive models, and its shot to shot "cycle times" are pretty good as well. (It doesn't appear to make use of "buffer" memory to get very fast cycle times for a limited number of shots, but rather will snap a picture every 3.2 seconds all day long (or until your card fills up). With very fast-paced action, you'll still want to "prefocus" the camera by half-pressing and holding the shutter button prior to the exposure itself, but even without that, the 2800 is faster than average in most situations.


Operation and User Interface
With only a few controls, the 2800 Zoom's user interface is very straightforward. Settings like flash, exposure compensation, white balance, etc. are all adjusted through the (likewise uncomplicated) LCD menu. Because the 2800 Zoom operates mainly under automatic control, the user need only worry about a few adjustments. Navigating the LCD menu system is no problem, as there's only one page of options for the Record menu, the options there changing slightly depending on whether the camera is in Auto or Manual mode. The Setup menu is accessed as an option on the Record menu, and also offers only one page of options. The camera's small size and few controls also makes it easy to operate one-handed. All things considered, I suspect you may not even need to read the manual to operate this one. Following is our standard list of controls and functions, as well as camera modes and menus.

Control Enumeration


Shutter Button: Located on top of the camera, this button sets focus and exposure when pressed halfway. A full press fires the shutter.


Mode Dial: Surrounding the Power button on the top panel, this dial selects the camera's operating mode. Three choices are available:

Power Button: In the center of the Mode dial on top of the camera, this button powers the camera on and off.


Zoom Rocker Control: In the top right corner of the back panel, this rocker control is flanked by two arrow keys. In Record mode, this button controls the optical and digital zoom. This control also doubles as the up and down arrow keys when navigating the LCD menu system. In Playback mode, the up and down button controls the digital enlargement. Once playback zoom is activated, this button also moves up and down within the enlarged image.


Right and Left Arrow Buttons: Located on either side of the Zoom Rocker button, these buttons navigate left and right through settings menus. In playback mode, these buttons scroll left and right within an enlarged image.


EVF/LCD Button: Diagonally to the lower left of the Zoom Rocker button, this button alternates the viewfinder display between the eyelevel viewfinder and the rear-panel LCD monitor.


Display Button: Located just off the top right corner of the LCD monitor, this button cycles through several LCD display modes. The first press enables the image and information display, while the second press disables the information display. A third press activates a framing grid. In Playback mode, this button alternates between an image information overlay and no image information at all. When playback zoom is enabled, this button toggles between zoom and panning modes.


Menu / OK Button: Just below the Display button, the Menu / OK button activates the settings menu in any mode. This button also serves as the OK to confirm menu selections.


Back Button: Directly below the Menu / OK button, this button backs out of menus and menu selections.


Camera Modes and Menus

Record Mode, Auto: Marked on the mode dial with a red camera symbol, this mode allows you to capture still images. Two "exposure" modes are available: Automatic and Manual. Depending on the mode, different menu options are available in the Record menu. Here are the options presented when the camera is in Automatic mode:

Record Mode, Manual: The "Manual" recording mode offers the following options on its menu screen:

 

 

Playback Mode: The traditional playback symbol (a green arrow within a rectangular outline) designates this mode on the Mode dial. Here, the user can review captured images, enlarge them, delete them, or set them up for printing on a DPOF-compatible output device (Digital Print Order Format). Pressing the Menu button pulls up the following options:

Movie Mode: The final option on the Mode dial, this mode is designated by a red movie camera symbol. Movie mode sets the camera to capture moving images for a maximum of 60 seconds per movie (or as long as the SmartMedia card has available space). Pressing the Menu button in this mode simply allows the user to adjust the LCD brightness and access the same Setup menu as in Playback and Record modes.


Image Storage and Interface
The 2800 Zoom stores images to a SmartMedia card, and a 16-megabyte card is included with the camera. Additional SmartMedia cards are available as optional accessories, with capacities as large as 128 megabytes. SmartMedia cards can be individually write-protected by placing a small sticker over the designated area on the card. A set of stickers comes with the card, and stickers can only be used once (they must be clean to be effective). Write-protecting the entire SmartMedia card prevents anything from being written to or deleted from the card. Interestingly, the 2800 Zoom does not provide an option to write-protect individual images through the Playback menu. This is a feature that has become standard on most digicams, but that doesn't appear here. The only downside of this is that you can only write-protect the entire card instead of just one image.

The 2800 Zoom offers three image sizes, 1,600 x 1,200; 1,280 x 960; and 640 x 480 pixels for still images. Three JPEG compression levels are also available, Fine, Normal, and Economy, though the 1,600 x 1,200-pixel size is the only size option to offer all three quality settings. Movie files are captured at a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels.

Following are the approximate number of recordable images and the compression ratios used, for the included 16-megabyte SmartMedia card:

Image Capacity vs.
Resolution/Quality
Fine
Normal
Economy
High Resolution 1600x1200 Images 20 39 75
Approx.
Compression
7:1 14:1 27:1
Standard Resolution 1280x960 Images
25
49
-
Approx.
Compression
6:1
11:1
-
Low Resolution 640x480
Images
-
122
-
Approx.
Compression
-
7:1
-

The 2800 Zoom is accompanied by a USB cable and interface software for connecting to a PC or Macintosh. (Macs running OS 8.6 or later, and PCs with Windows 2000, Me or XP should need no additional driver software to connect to the camera.) Here again, the FinePix 2800 Zoom proved itself to be quite fast, downloading files to my G4 Mac host computer at a speed of 487 KB/second. This isn't the very fastest USB-connected camera I've tested, but it's faster than many. (No need for a card reader with this camera!)


Video Out
The 2800 Zoom does not offer a Video Out jack.


Power
For power, the 2800 Zoom utilizes four AA batteries, and comes with a set of alkaline batteries. I highly recommend picking up a couple of sets of NiMH rechargeable batteries and a battery charger, and keeping a set freshly charged. (Get high-power NiMH cells, like the Maha PowerEx1700 mAh ones.) An AC adapter is available as a separate accessory, useful during image playback and downloading, and essential if you plan to use the camera as a "web cam." Fuji estimates that a fully charged set of NiMH batteries should provide about 270 frames with the LCD monitor on, and about 350 frames with LCD monitor switched off. This seems reasonable, based on my own measurements.


Operating Mode
Power
(@5v)
Est. Minutes
(1600 mAh AAs)
Capture Mode, w/LCD
520
177
Capture Mode, no LCD
380
242
Half-pressed shutter w/LCD
520
177
Half-pressed w/o LCD
380
242
Flash Recharge (transient)
610
n/a
Image Playback
430
214

 

Although I still recommend a good charger and two sets of batteries to pack along with you, battery life on the FinePix 2800 Zoom is really pretty good. In its worst-case power drain mode (capture mode, rear-panel LCD in use, a set of 1600 mAh NiMH cells should last almost 3 hours. Using the rear-panel LCD, you should be able to get upwards of four hours of use. Continuous image playback time is a bit over 3 hours as well.

About Batteries
I've gotten so many emails about power issues for digicams, that I'm now inserting this standard notice in the reviews of all AA-powered cameras on our site: Don't even *think* about using alkaline AA batteries in a digicam! Despite their being packed in the box with many cameras, they simply don't have the juice to handle typical digicam demands. (Even the "high power" ones the battery manufacturers say are designed for devices like digital cameras.) Spend the $35-40 or so it takes to get a set (or two) of high-capacity NiMH rechargeable batteries and a good charger! The few dollars up front will save you literally hundreds of dollars in the long run, not to mention the hassle of wimpy batteries running out in the middle of the action. We suggest you buy two sets of batteries, so one can always be in the charger, ready to go, and so have two sets available for longer excursions. Good brands of batteries include Maha (my favorite), Rayovac, GP, and Kodak. Also, buy the highest capacity AAs the manufacturer makes, the few extra dollars for the extra capacity is usually well worth it. Getting a good charger is critical though, almost more so than buying good batteries. I recommend the Maha C-204F (see the photo at right), the charger we use the most in our own studio. - Read my review of it for all the details. Or, just click here to buy one, you won't regret it.


Included Software
Both a USB cable and software CD accompany the 2800 Zoom, allowing for quick connection to a PC or Macintosh. The CD is loaded with FinePix Viewer, Exif Launcher, and VideoImpression, as well as USB drivers and Apple QuickTime. FinePix Viewer displays thumbnail lists of images stored on the computer and allows you to organize them into groups. You can also print images and perform minor corrections. Exif Launcher is the utility that launches FinePix Viewer whenever the camera is connected to the computer. Included with FinePix Viewer (on Windows machines only) is PictureHello, which allows you to use the 2800 Zoom as a videoconferencing tool. The PC Cam USB mode on the camera lets the camera be controlled through the computer, like a webcam. For processing movies, VideoImpression provides minor editing utilities, allowing you to delete frames or add music to your captured movies.


In the Box
Packaged with the 2800 Zoom are the following items:


Test Results
Throughout my testing, the 2800 Zoom produced accurate color with good saturation. The camera's White Balance system handled most of our test lighting well, though I often noticed a warm cast in the studio shots. I generally chose the Auto setting as the most accurate, but noticed a slight warm cast in many images. The tough incandescent lighting of our Indoor Portrait (without flash) did give the 2800 a hard time though, as both the Auto and Incandescent white balance settings resulted in warm, yellowish images. The 2800 Zoom had no problem distinguishing the tough tonal variations of the Davebox target, and reproduced the large color blocks with good saturation. Skin tones looked very good, and even the tough blue flowers in our "outdoor portrait" shot came out nice and blue, with only a hint of the purple coloration that's a common problem among digicams with this color.

The 2800 Zoom performed well on the "laboratory" resolution test chart for its two-megapixel class. I found "strong detail" out to at least 800 lines, although there were very strong artifacts in the vertical direction as far down as 600-700 lines.

Optical distortion on the 2800 Zoom is about average at the wide-angle end, where I measured an approximate 0.8 percent barrel distortion. (This is "average", since many cameras produce about this much barrel distortion. It's really too high though, and I'd really like to see digicam makers come out with lens designs with less than half this distortion.) The telephoto end fared slightly better, though I measured approximately 0.6 pincushion distortion. (Most lower-zoom cameras have only about 0.1-0.2 pincushion distortion at their telephoto settings. Still, for such a long-ratio zoom, the lens on the 2800 does a pretty good job. Chromatic aberration is very low, showing only about two or three faint red pixels of coloration on one side of the target lines.

The 2800 Zoom features full automatic exposure control and a maximum shutter duration of one-half-second, which limits its low-light shooting capabilities quite a bit. The camera captured bright, clear images at light levels only as low as four foot-candles (44 lux) during my testing, which is about two stops brighter than average city street lighting at night. Though slightly dim, the test target was still quite visible at the two-foot-candle light level (22 lux). Thus, you'll really need to use the flash to shoot under conditions any darker than twilight. Color looked good in the low-light shots, though I again noticed a slightly warm color balance. Image noise was very low, also likely due to the rather short maximum shutter time.

The 2800 Zoom's electronic optical viewfinder and LCD monitor showed great accuracy, with identical results. I measured approximately 92.5 percent frame accuracy at wide angle, and about 95 percent at telephoto, with both viewfinders. Since I normally prefer to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the 2800 Zoom performed well in this respect.

In the Macro category, the 2800 Zoom turned in about an average performance, capturing a minimum area of 3.8 x 2.8 inches (96 x 72 millimeters). Resolution was high, with a lot of fine detail visible throughout the frame. Color was also good, though the Auto white balance produced a warm cast. I did notice some softness in all four corners of the frame though, as well as some barrel distortion. The 2800 Zoom's flash throttled down for the macro area nicely, actually overcompensating slightly, producing a darker image.

Given the 2800 Zoom's fully automatic exposure control, the camera performed well throughout my testing. I'd like to see more a more accurate white balance system (for indoor shots under incandescent lighting) and extended low-light shooting capabilities though. That aside, the 2800 Zoom produced good color and image quality, with high resolution in most cases. Overall, I think the 2800 Zoom will do well in typical "consumer" shooting situations. Considering its low price and full 6x optical zoom, the 2800 Zoom's performance was really excellent.


Conclusion
When I tested the 2800's "little brother" the 3x zoom-equipped FinePix 2600 Zoom, I found it to be an exceptional value for the money. It's no suprise then, that the 2800 Zoom follows suit, since it's based on the same chipset and CCD. The 2800's image quality is great for a budget-priced digicam, and its 6x optical zoom is great for reaching out for distant subjects. It lacks "enthusiast" features such as flexible exposure modes and manual options, but would be an excellent choice for the "point & shoot" user who wants a bit more in the lens department than other inexpensive 2 megapixel cameras offer. Overall, a nice feature set, a long lens, and very good picture quality at a real bargain price!

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