Review: Fuji FinePix A101/A201
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Thursday, November 15, 2001
Thursday, November 15, 2001
FinePix A101 and A201 are essentially the same cameras, so I'm reviewing
them together. The major difference is that the A101 is 1.3 Megapixel,
and the A201 is 2.1 Megapixel.
product photos from here on will be of the A201 model.
are Fuji's new entry-level digital cameras. Both feature fixed focus
lenses with digital zoom, and very easy point-and-shoot action.
The A101 ($179) is 1.3 Megapixel, while the A201 ($249) is 2.0 Megapixel.
Are either of this cameras right for you? Read on...
in the Box?
FinePix A101/A201 have decent bundles. Inside the box, you'll find:
1.2/2.0 (effective) Mpixel Fuji FinePix A101/A201 camera
AA alkaline batteries
featuring Fuji FinePixViewer and drivers
page camera manual plus software manual (both printed)
includes two decent sized SmartMedia cards with the cameras. You
get 8MB on the A101, and 16MB on the A201 -- both are good sized
for a low resolution camera.
you're on your own when it comes to batteries. Fuji includes two
alkaline batteries that will end up in the trash after a few hours.
I suggest buying some NiMH rechargeables and a fast charger -- it's
good for your wallet and good for the environment.
alkaline batteries, Fuji says that you'll get about 140 photos before
the batteries die (50% LCD usage). Using NiMH batteries, you should
get 225 photos or more.
camera has a built-in lens cover, so you don't need to worry about
camera does work correctly with Mac OS X version 10.1 and above.
The Image Capture application starts right up.
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.
those of you with Windows PCs, the A101/A201 can also double as
a "PC camera", for videoconferencing on the Internet.
This feature isn't Mac compatible so I couldn't try it out.
manuals for Fuji cameras have always been better than average, and
that's still the case here.
FinePix A101 and A201 are small plastic cameras. I'd rate the build
quality as average for entry level cameras. The cameras are light
and easily fit into your pocket.
cameras are identical externally, except the A101 is darker in color.
official dimensions of the cameras are 3.9 x 2.5 x 1.6 inches, and
they weigh just 145 grams empty. Let's take a tour of these two
is the front of the camera (A201 shown in all product shots). The
lens is fixed-focus, and you can switch between regular and macro
mode using the switch on the front. The lens is equivalent to a
36mm lens on a film camera. As you might expect, the lens is not
below the lens is that switch I was telling you about. It moves
between macro and landscape mode.
flash on the camera has a working range of 0.8 - 3.0m.
the back of the camera. The 1.6" LCD has the same problem that
I mentioned in the FinePix
2600 review -- it's just too dark. If you turn up the brightness,
the image just washes out.
optical viewfinder just above the LCD covers 80% of the frame. There
is no diopter correction for those of you with glasses.
to the right, you can see the four-way switch as well as three other
buttons. Those three are for Display (LCD on/off), Menu/OK, and
addition to navigating the menus, the four-way switch is also for
operating the digital zoom. Do note that digital zoom only works
at the 1M and VGA settings on the A201, and VGA o the A101. Also,
using it will reduce the quality of your photos.
the top of the camera, you can see the power switch, mode dial,
and shutter release button. The power button mechanically opens
the lens cover, as well.
mode dial has three choices: record, playback, and movie mode. I'll
have more about each of these later in the review.
this side of the camera, you'll find the I/O ports. These include
USB and DC in (for an optional AC adapter).
on the other side, there's nothing except a spot to tie on the hand
here's the bottom of the camera. The battery and SmartMedia compartment
as at left, while the plastic tripod mount is towards the right.
What's under the plastic cover on the left?
where you will find the battery compartment, as well as the SmartMedia
slot. The slot is one of those grab it yourself types. Be careful
opening the cover on this compartment, as too much force could snap
it off, I fear.
the Fuji FinePix A101 and A201
cameras take less than two seconds to start up before you can take
photos. The LCD is off by default, so you'll need to press Display
to turn it on. Since the camera is fixed-focus, there is no autofocus
lag. There is, however, about one second of shutter lag before the
photo is taken. You have to be aware of this, otherwise you may
end up with blurry pictures. Shot-to-shot speed is good -- about
two seconds at the highest quality setting.
LCD in record mode (from the FinePix 2600 - the A201 LCD did not
are several resolution and quality choices available on these cameras:
photos on included card
(1600 x 1200)
(1280 x 960)
(640 x 480)
is no TIFF or RAW mode on the entry level FinePix cameras, which
isn't surprising considering their cost.
menu system on the FinePix A101/A201 is the same one that I saw
on the FinePix 2600. 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:
(Auto, redeye reduction, forced flash, no flash, slow synchro)
(on/off) - 10 seconds - only in auto mode (!)
compensation (-1.5EV to +1.5EV in 0.3EV increments) - only
in manual mode
balance (auto, sunlight, shade, fluorescent x3, incandescent)
- only in manual mode
Setup (LCD brightness, auto/manual mode, quality)
take a look at our photo tests now.
cameras did a decent job at the macro test. If you're thinking "gee,
he took that shot a lot closer than he usually does", you're
right. The cameras have a very limited macro range of 8 - 13 cm.
If you're not in that range, the subject will be blurry. If I took
the usual macro shot, it came out blurry.
photo shown - view
cameras did not perform well at the night shot test. With a slow
lens (I don't know the aperture) and no shutter speed controls,
this is expected. If you're looking for a camera capable of shots
like this, you'll have to spend more money. Cranking up the exposure
compensation did not help, either.
I'd rank the photo quality as average for an entry-level camera.
The colors were usually good, but photos often appeared either overexposed
or underexposed. Then again, it's been cloudy every time I went
out to take pictures. I also noticed chromatic aberrations (purple
fringing) in many of the photos I took. Take a gander at the A101
gallery or the A201 gallery
to see the photo samples for yourself.
FinePixes (is that what you call two of them?) can record movies
as long as 20 seconds, at 320 x 240 and 10 frames per second. No
sound is recorded during filming since the camera lacks a microphone.
camera can hold about 94 seconds of total video on the included
16MB card (A201) and 47 seconds on the 8MB card (A101).
a quick sample movie from each:
FinePix A101/A201 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.
zoom and scroll feature, as I call it, lets you zoom in as much
as 4X (A101) or 5X (A201) into your photo, and then scroll around
between photos takes just over 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.
addition, there isn't any information about your photos, other than
their number and time they were taken.
Does it Compare?
FinePix A101 and A201 are decent, but not great, entry-level cameras.
My personal rule is to skip over entry-level cameras, and get something
a little more "midrange". For a few dollars more ($279),
you can pick up Fuji's FinePix 2600 Zoom, which has the same feature
set, plus a real 3X optical zoom lens and better photo quality.
The A101/A201 take decent photos, though chromatic aberrations were
obvious in my test photos. Also, the LCD was quite dark and the
shutter lag frustrating. If you can afford another $100 or so, I'd
advise skipping over these two and getting a more advanced camera.
I think you'll be glad that you did.
easy to pocket
system intuitive, easy to use
be used for videoconferencing - though Windows only
I didn't care for:
aberrations (purple fringing) evident in many pictures
Playback mode could have more features
sound in movie mode
entry-level cameras worth looking at include the Canon PowerShot
Fuji FinePix 2600
Zoom and 2800
Zoom, Kodak DX3215
Olympus Brio D-100
and the Toshiba PDR-M21
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the FinePix A101/A201 and their competitors before you buy!
out the FinePix A101 and
a second opinion? How about a third?
Digicams has reviews of the A101
If you need another opinion, check out the Imaging Resource A201
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for
a personal recommendation.