Fuji FinePix 1300Review by: Ted Felix
In November 2000, I finally caved in and bought a decent quality digicam.
How could I possibly justify this purchase? I figured the best approach was to measure the cost of film and processing that could be saved by using a digital camera. Eventually, the camera should pay for itself in this way. I had to look no further than my JamCam 2.0. Yeah, it's a fairly lousy camera, but the kids had taken 315 photographs with the thing. With an estimate of $.68 per image for film and Kodak Photo CD processing, that comes to $213. That savings pays for the JamCam ($90), and goes an extra $123 toward the purchase of something else. Sounds like workable logic to me.
My search criteria was as follows. This was to be a step up camera from the $90 JamCam, so I wanted a price in the $200 to $300 neighborhood. I was looking for a new model, figuring all the latest advancements would be there. Digital Photography Review's timeline was very helpful in finding out when cameras had been released. The camera had to have a USB interface. I like USB, it's real easy to set up and use. The only contenders after all this weeding out were the HPs (C215 and C315), the Fuji FinePix 1300 and 1400, and the Polaroid PDC 1100. I couldn't find a lot of info on the Polaroid PDC 1100, so I eliminated it as well.
At this point I decided to stick to the low end, non-zoom models to keep things simple for the kids. This reduced the field to the HP c215 and the Fuji FinePix 1300. The HP is cheaper than the Fuji, but I decided to give Fuji a shot.
This was a very pleasant surprise. After loading the drivers, I plugged the camera into the computer, and an "F:" drive appeared in Windows Explorer. I copied the image files from the camera to the computer just like I would normally copy files around with Windows Explorer, and that was it. Wow. This will be the standard by which I measure all digital cameras.
For composition, the LCD viewfinder is just as good as an SLR. For focusing, the LCD display is way too small. As is the case with most digicam LCD displays, you can't see it in bright sunlight. Unfortunately, it's also difficult to see in low light. For well lit indoor scenes, or overcast days, it is workable, although overcast days can be a little too bright. When you can see it, judging exposure in the LCD display is usually pretty accurate.
Optical viewfinder parallax errors require some compensation at the close end of the camera's focus range (2.5 feet). There are no markings in the viewfinder to help compose when close up. Oddly, the optical viewfinder doesn't work in low light because the green LED right next to it is way too bright.
Shutter lag and recycle time really do have an effect on your ability to capture the right moment. My shooting style has changed dramatically. For moving subjects, I just shoot, hope I got something, and shoot again. I caught myself doing this with my film camera too. It will probably take some time before I can go between the two successfully.
Auto-exposure metering is supposedly a pattern approach, but it sure acts a lot like center-weighted averaging if you ask me. I don't really see the difference. My bet is that it is only a subtle difference that matters for a limited range of subjects. That might explain why some cameras have nothing more than center weighted average, and spot modes. That seems to be all that is really needed.
Flash works very well. Noticed interesting dust "bubbles" due to flash being so close to the lens. Can't adjust the flash exposure. Flash works fine all the way down to macro distances although Fuji claims only down to 2.3 feet.
The focus switch trick.
Fuji claims the camera can focus down to 2.3 feet. I've found this to be more like 3 feet or maybe more. But that's ok. Fortunately the infinity/macro focus switch can be moved to points in between infinity and macro to give you critical focus at distances less than 3 feet (see the picture). The flash also works great at these closer distances. Unfortunately, I keep forgetting to set the switch back to infinity.
Macro focus distance is 5 inches. +/- 1.5 inches will also be in
focus for the most part. Throw a five inch piece of string in your
camera bag. Or find a 5 inch body part (!?).
The lens is fairly slow, f/4.8 with CCD speed at ASA 125 frequently gives the slowest shutter speed (1/2 second) in available light. Shooting people in available light becomes interesting if they are moving.
The lens location is a bit awkward. It is too close to the side of the camera. Kids have trouble keeping their fingers off (as do I). Fortunately the real lens is protected by a piece of "window plastic" that is easy to clean.
Resolution is great. JPEG artifacts apparent in NORMAL compression mode. Not as bad in "FINE" mode. Color aliasing apparent in fine detail, but if you get in a little too close, the softness of the focus fixes it. This technique works well with portraits, even though the lens isn't really suited to portraits. If you want sharp focus, you can remove the color aliasing in Photoshop.
Like most digicams, the FinePix 1300 is very capable when it comes to shooting infrared. Although the aperture and shutter speed will limit you to shooting in direct sun, you can still get some decent results.
Since you can't actually mount filters on the camera, you'll have to hold the filter carefully over the lens while shooting. Make sure you shade the lens from stray sunlight from above, and keep very still for the 1/2 second exposure to prevent motion blur. As always with IR, use the timer and a tripod to help keep the camera steady (and wait for the wind to calm).
Infrared Digital Photography page
goes into more detail. I wouldn't
suggest using a stronger IR filter beyond the Hoya R72 since that's already
pushing the camera's low-light abilities.
I'm hooked. I've added this camera to my arsenal of photographic tools. It is perfect for learning, shooting test shots, scouting locations, and informal snapshots where a 35mm lens would work well. And with all the money I'm saving on film and processing (sorry Kodak), I can buy another one real soon!
January 1, 2001: Fuji has released the
which is essentially the FinePix
1300 body with a new higher resolution (1600x1200) CCD. Those who have used it are very
impressed. Since the 1300 is surprisingly good, I would expect no less
from its successor. Definitely a camera to consider.
Imaging Resource Review
This reviewer liked the macro performance.
Digital Camera Resource Page Review
This reviewer didn't like the macro performance. May have been a bad camera. I've found the macro mode to work very well, just like the reviewer at Imaging Resource.
I ordered one of their 64MB SmartMedia cards (STI-SM3/64) to go with the camera. It was the cheapest and it worked perfectly straight out of the box.
I ordered the Maha MH-C204F charger and two sets of PowerEx 1600mAh NiMH AA batteries from Thomas Distributing. Highly recommended.
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Disclaimers: I am not affiliated with Fuji in any way other than as a customer. All trademarks are owned by their respective owners. There are no ads on this page, and there never will be. Use this information at your own risk. I won't be held responsible for anything that happens to you as a result of reading this. Shake well before serving. The contents of this page are Copyright ©2001, with all rights reserved by me, Ted Felix.Copyright ©2001, Ted Felix