DCRP Review: Fuji FinePix 2800 Zoom
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Friday, December 7, 2001
Last Updated: Monday, May 13, 2002

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There's a really hot camera this holiday season, and it's not the Nikon Coolpix 5000. In fact, it costs about 60% less, and it has a bigger zoom lens than the Coolpix. This camera is the Fuji FinePix 2800 Zoom, the first low cost camera to truly break the 3X optical zoom barrier. The FinePix 2800 is largely the same as the FinePix 2600 (see our review), except with a larger lens. Best of all, it only costs $399!

Read on to find out if this camera should be under your tree this year!

Since they are so similar, this review is largely based on the FinePix 2600 review.

What's in the Box?

The FinePix 2800 has a decent bundle. Here's what you'll find inside the box:

  • The 2.0 (effective) Mpixel Fuji FinePix 2800 Zoom camera
  • 16MB SmartMedia card
  • 4 AA-sized alkaline batteries (non-rechargeable)
  • Shoulder strap
  • Lens cap w/strap
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM featuring FinePix Viewer Software and drivers
  • 95 page manual plus software manual (printed)

Fuji has skimped a bit on the FinePix 2800, perhaps to get the price down. Where the FP2600 had rechargeable batteries included, the FP2800 gives you alkalines which will quickly be drained and end up in the landfill. My advice: buy some NiMH rechargeables -- it's good for your wallet and the environment.

Things are better on the memory front: Fuji includes a 16MB SmartMedia card, which is quite large for a 2 Megapixel camera. I won't mention a certain other manufacturer that includes the same sized card with a 5MP camera!

Fuji includes a lens cap and strap, to protect the "big" 6X optical zoom lens.

For those of you with Windows PCs, the FP2800 can also double as a "PC camera", for teleconferencing on the Internet. This feature isn't Mac compatible so I couldn't try it out.

The camera does work correctly with Mac OS X version 10.1.1. The Image Capture application starts right up. The camera is also WindowsXP compatible.

Fuji's FinePixViewer software is just average, and useful only for transferring, rotating, and resizing images. You'll want a more powerful photo editing suite if you need more than those features.

There aren't any lenses, filters, or flashes available for this point-and-shoot camera.

The manuals for Fuji cameras have always been better than average, and that's still the case here.

Look and Feel

The FinePix 2800 Zoom is an all-plastic camera, and I'd rate it above average in terms of build quality. The camera is fairly light, but it's a bit too large for your pockets. The camera is easy to operate with one hand or two.

The official dimensions of the camera are 3.7 x 3.0 x 2.8 inches (W x H x D) and it weighs 270 grams empty. Let's start our usual 360 degree tour of the FP2800 now.

Let's begin, as always, with the front of the camera.

The "big" attraction here is of course that 6X optical zoom lens. This F2.8 lens has a focal range of 6 - 36 mm, which is equivalent to 38 - 228 mm. The lens is not threaded.

Just north of the lens is the flash, which has a working range of 0.3 - 3.5 m at wide-angle, and 0.8-3.5 m at telephoto. (That's a bigger range than on the FinePix 2600.)

Between the lens and flash (to the right a bit) is the microphone. Unlike the FinePix 2600, this one can record sound (with movies, or attached to still photos).

There is no AF illuminator on this camera to help the camera focus in low light situations.

Now onto the back of the camera.

The keyword with the FinePix 2800 is simple. There aren't a lot of buttons and everything is easy to navigate. The 1.8" LCD is good-sized, but seems too dark to me, even after bumping up the brightness.

Like many "big zoom" cameras, including its cousin the FinePix 6900, the FP2800 uses an electronic viewfinder (EVF) rather than a traditional optical viewfinder. What this means is that instead of looking through glass (or plastic as the case may be), you're looking at a little LCD screen. The good news is that you can see what is normally seen on the LCD (such as settings, shots remaining). The bad news is that it's not always easy to see, and the resolution is nowhere near as good as an optical viewfinder. This is one of those things you have to try yourself, rather than take my word for it.

There is no diopter correction on the EVF, for those of you with glasses.

Between the LCD and EVF is a button which switches between the two. It's one or the other -- not both at the same time.

To the right of the LCD are three buttons: Disp(lay) toggles the LCD on and off. Menu invokes the menu, and doubles as the OK button while inside them. The back button does just as it sounds in the menu system.

Above those is the four-way switch. This is used in menu operation, as well as for controlling the zoom. The zoom mechanism is quiet and responsive.

Up on top of the camera you'll find the power switch, mode dial, and shutter release button. While I usually like an LCD info display to show current settings and shots remaining up here, the fact that you're using the EVF or the LCD kind of makes it unnecessary.

The choices on the mode dial are Record, Playback, and Movie. I'll have more about each of these later in the review.

On this side of the camera, there are two I/O ports as well as the SmartMedia slot. The I/O ports are for USB (top) and DC in (bottom, for optional AC adapter). There is no video output on this camera.

The SmartMedia slot is one of those "yank it out yourself" types (meaning non-spring-loaded). As of this writing, cards as large as 128MB are supported.

To the left of all these things is the speaker.

On the other side, the only item of note is the hook for the wrist strap.

Finally, here's the bottom of the camera, all opened up. If you open the plastic cover, you will find the battery compartment (which holds four AA batteries versus two on the FinePix 2600) as well as the SmartMedia slot. The door that covers these seems like it could bust off if too much force is applied, so be careful.

The other item on the bottom is the tripod mount, which is made of plastic.

Using the Fuji FinePix 2800 Zoom

Record Mode

The camera takes about three seconds to extend the lens and "warm up" before you can start taking photos. The LCD is off by default and there is no way to change that, so you have to hit Disp overtime you want to turn it on. Obviously, the EVF will be on.

When you depress the shutter release button halfway, the camera quickly locks focus in under a second. When you press it fully, the photo is taken after a noticeable lag of about half a second. Shot-to-shot speed is very good -- you'll wait about two seconds before you can take another photo, even at the highest quality setting.


LCD in record mode

There are many choices available for resolution and quality on the FP2800, as this table explains:

Resolution Quality Approx. File Size # photos on 16MB card (included) # photos on 64MB card (for reference)
2M
(1600 x 1200)
Fine 770 KB 20 82
Normal 390 KB 39 159
Basic 200 KB 75 306
1M
(1280 x 960)
Fine 620 KB 25 101
Normal 320 KB 49 198
VGA
(640 x 480)
Normal 130 KB 122 497

There is no TIFF or RAW mode on the FinePix 2800, which isn't surprising considering its cost.

The menu system on the FinePix 2800 is all new, and pretty colorful too. There are little tabs with different options, each with it's own color. There is a manual mode, which essentially unlocks some menu items. Strangely, manual mode locks out one useful option. Anyhow, here are the menu choices:

  • Flash (Auto, redeye reduction, forced flash, no flash, slow synchro)
  • Macro (on/off)
  • Self-timer (on/off) - 10 seconds - only in auto mode (!)
  • Voice caption (on/off) - only in auto mode
  • Exposure compensation (-1.5EV to +1.5EV in 0.3EV increments) - only in manual mode
  • White balance (auto, sunlight, shade, fluorescent x3, incandescent) - only in manual mode
  • Setup (LCD brightness, auto/manual mode, quality, continuous shooting)

A few additional details on two items there. The voice caption feature lets you add a 30 second sound clip (WAV format) to each image after it is taken.

Continuous shooting mode will take up to 4 images at a rate of 2 frames per second. The FinePix 2600 did not have this feature.

Let's take a look at our photo tests now.

The FinePix did quite well at our macro test. The subject is sharp and the color is accurate. The camera is locked at wide-angle while in macro mode. The focal range is 10 - 80 cm.

Considering that the FinePix 2800 doesn't have any manual controls, it did a decent job at the night shot test. You can tell what things are, but obviously if you could do a multi-second exposure here, it would look a lot better. There really isn't any noise to speak of, either.

The photo quality on the FinePix was very good. Keeping with Fuji tradition, the colors are accurate. I didn't notice any chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) either. Take a look at the photo gallery and decide for yourself.

Movie Mode

The FinePix 2800Z can record movies as long as 60 seconds, at 320 x 240 and 10 frames per second. Sound is recorded as well.

Compare this to the FinePix 2600 which recorded no sound, and could only record for 20 seconds.

When in movie mode, the camera is locked at wide-angle, and only the digital zoom can be used.

The camera can hold about 94 seconds of total video on the included 16MB card.

Here's a relatively interesting sample movie:


Click to play movie (AVI format, 1.2MB)

Playback Mode

The FinePix 2800's playback mode has all the basic features that you'd expect. That includes thumbnail mode, DPOF print marking, and zoom and scroll. One basic feature that I was surprised not to see is image protection so you don't accidentally delete important photos. Another feature that I would've liked is the ability to rotate photos in-camera.

The zoom and scroll feature, as I call it, lets you zoom in as much as 5X into your photo, and then scroll around in it.

Moving between photos takes just under two seconds. When you want to delete photos, you can do one at a time, or all. There is no way to delete a selected group of images.

In addition, there isn't any information about your photos, other than their number and time they were taken.

How Does it Compare?

For those looking for a lot of zoom for a little money, the FinePix 2800 Zoom is an excellent choice. It offers a 6X optical zoom, very good photo quality, and point-and-shoot ease of use. You won't find any manual controls or support for add-on lenses, but then again, most $399 cameras don't offer that. The only real downsides (for me) are the electronic viewfinder and LCD (I don't like EVF's as a rule, and the LCD is dark) and the lack of rechargeable batteries. If you like the FinePix 2800 but think 3X zoom is enough, also check out the FinePix 2600 Zoom for $100 less. Either way, you can't go wrong.

What I liked:

  • Very good photo quality
  • Good value - 6X optical zoom for under $400
  • Menu system intuitive, easy to use
  • Movie mode w/sound
  • Can be used for videoconferencing - though Windows only

What I didn't care for:

  • Electronic Viewfinder - I don't like them in general
  • LCD a little dark
  • Playback mode could have more features
  • A bit of shutter lag

Other "big zoom" cameras include the Canon PowerShot Pro90, Casio QV-2900UX, Fuji FinePix 6900 Zoom, Minolta DiMAGE 5 and 7, Olympus C-700UZ and C-2100UZ, and the Sony MVC-CD1000.

As always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out the FinePix 2800Z and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

So how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos in our photo gallery!

Want a second opinion?

Be sure to read Steves Digicams review of the FinePix 2800 Zoom.

Feedback

Jeff welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to jakeller@pair.com. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation.

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