The A700 is by no means a new camera, having been launched in October 2006. It is currently available at a very good price point, however - around £80/119Eur/$157.
The A700 is aimed at the home/first time user, and for this user the camera is good. However if you are looking for a camera to compliment your DSLR then this is probably not the camera you are looking for. I’ll explain why, but first some specifications:
Sensor : 1/1.6-inch Super CCD HR at 7.3MP
Resolution Support : 3,072 x 2,304 (7.3M) /3,264 x 2,176 (3:2) / 2,304 x 1,728 (4M)/ 1,600 X 1,200 (2M)/ 640 X 480 (0.3)
Video Resolution : 320 x 240 pixels ( 10 frames/sec.), 160 x 120 pixels ( 10 frames/sec.)
Lens : Fujinon 3.0x Optical zoom lens, F2.8 – F5.2 – 8- 24mm (Equivalent to 36-108mm on a 35mm camera)
ISO Speeds : 100/200/400 via an Auto mode
Flash : Internal flash. Wide angle (Approx.1.6 -12.5ft.), Telephoto (Approx. 2.0-6.6ft), Macro (Approx.1.0 – 2.6ft).
Flash modes : Auto, Red-eye Reduction, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro, Red-eye Reduction + Slow Synchro.
Display : 2.4" 112000 pixel Amorphous silicon TFT (around 91% scene coverage)
Storage : Internal 12Mb plus xD Card (16Mb one supplied)
Power : 2xAA
The reason I mentioned that this camera is more suited to the home or first time users, is that this camera takes the concept of KISS ("Keep It Simple, Stupid") to a whole new level.
The Camera has no ‘manual’ modes to speak of, and in its default power up state uses a quite competent auto mode. This can be overridden, however it looks like the Fuji engineers believed that end users wouldn’t be messing about in the menus, and as such have spent very little time on their design and layout.
The point and shoot concepts of the camera work well; the zoom is easy to use, as is the display on the rear.
The camera is a little large in comparison to some of the other devices on the market (for example the Optio A20 which I reviewed earlier in the year).
The pictures the camera produces are a little hit and miss. In good lighting, or under ideal conditions for the flash, the camera produces photos that are at least on a par with more expensive equipment. Its abilities under extreme lighting conditions are not so good.
As you can see from the two pictures here (the right being the cleaned version), the photos do show improvement with just a little touching up. This however does not help in dark conditions. The camera just does not seem to pick up enough information for you to touch things up later.
The camera ’s macro mode is also a little hit and miss. If you get the distance from the object just right, it produces some good quality shots (under good lighting). There is very little noise to be seen in the photos, even when zooming in on the image after it’s been taken. This shows that the CCD of the device is quite good. It seems that the downside to the device is probably due to the lens and software.
The lens issue also shows itself on shots where the lens is at its widest zoom, with a noticeable ‘fish eye’ effect seeming to happen, however the usual bugbear with cheap lenses is the corners, and this shows very little chromatic aberration.
The camera is certainly not the best of the current breed, but it’s not the worst either. It’s certainly very week on the features list, but some novice users will see this as a positive rather than a negative.
Framing of full frame shots could be an issue as the LCD display clips the edges, however this is not uncommon, and it seems to be the fashion to not put a proper view finder on compact cameras nowadays.
The flash is powerful enough for snap shot use, but can be a bit of a demon when it comes to red eye.
Photos, for the most part, are acceptable and after a little "photoshopping" look fine for most uses.
This camera would have been better if a little more thought was put into the design of its various sections. The case should be a little slimmer, the software a little more grown up, and the lens perhaps a little more in tune with the CCD.
That said, if these things were done I doubt the price would be as low as it is for this camera. Direct competitors are few and far between at this price point, the closest being the Pentax Optio E-20 or the Sony DSC-S600, however both of these are 6MP cameras and not 7MP, so not directly comparable.
If you are new to digital cameras, or need a compact and already own xD Cards then you could do worse than the Fuji A700.
However, I suspect you’ll outgrow it quite quickly, so it may be worth saving up and getting one of the newer 9 or 10 Mega Pixel compacts that are now available.
It would be an ideal kids first camera as it is built well, relatively light and requires no setup whatsoever.
If you cannot stretch the extra 60 pounds or so for the next level up, then this is certainly better than the ‘no-name’ cameras out there; although the lens is not perfect, and the software and features lack, it is still a decent ‘bang for the buck’ camera from a reputable manufacturer.
Author’s note - The thumbnail images link to the bigger original which are around the 5mb mark. Some of the photos have been touched up in PhotoShop.