DigitalCameraReview.com
Fujifilm Finepix A820 Review
by Ben Stafford -  8/13/2007

The Fujifilm Finepix A820 is an entry level, compact point and shoot digital camera.  While it doesn't have the price tag that the Fujifilm F series does, it does have the Super CCD sensor that is used in those more expensive models.  The F models are known for their low noise levels at higher sensitivities (ISO).  Let's see if the A820 can fill the shadow cast by the F models.

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The A820 is a 8.3 megapixel camera with a 4x optical zoom and 2.5 inch LCD.  It's able to shoot at up to ISO 800, is powered by 2 AA batteries and has a memory card slot that will accept SD or xD-Picture Card media.

NUTS & BOLTS

Viewfinder/LCD

The 2.5 inch LCD has 115K pixels of resolution.  With the lower pixel count, the image is pretty grainy, but still serviceable.  The refresh rate is fast enough to provide a smooth image and colors look good on the screen.  Outdoors, in bright sunlight, the LCD does a fair job.

There is no optical viewfinder on the A820.

Lens/Zoom

The Fujinon lens provides a 4x optical zoom and maximum apertures of f2.9 - f6.3.  While the camera is powered off, the front element of the lens is protected by a built-in lens cover.  On power-up, the lens extends from the camera body.

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In normal focus mode, you can focus on subjects as close as 2 feet.  In macro mode, at wide angle, you can focus between 0.3 and 2.6 feet away from the lens.  In macro, telephoto, this range is 0.9 - 2.6 feet.  The A820 has a single focus area mode - a center area mode.

Flash

You can use the built-in flash in a few different modes.  The flash can be set on auto, red-eye reduction, forced flash, disabled, and slow synchro.

The flash range, with ISO on auto, at wide angle is between 2 feet and 5.9 feet.  At telephoto, the flash is most effective between 2 feet and 12.8 feet.  At macro, you can use the flash between 1 and 2.6 feet.

Memory Media

The A820 has approximately 10 MB of internal memory, but can also accept SD or xD-Picture Card media.  The addition of the combo media slot is a great feature as it removes another hurdle that people may have had when considering which camera to buy.  Since most people buying cameras now are upgrading, there can be some resistance to purchase if another memory media type has to be acquired.

Image/Movie File Format(s)

Images are stored as JPEG only and movies are recorded as AVI files.

Connectivity

The A820 has separate jacks for the USB 2.0 connection, AV out, and a DC in jack that can be used with an optional power adapter.

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Power

The camera is powered by 2 AA batteries.  The batteries can be either standard alkaline or rechargeable NiMH batteries.  I highly recommend the latter since you will get much better life.  During my review, I used high capacity (2500 mAh) rechargeable NiMH batteries and got plenty of battery life (well over 200 shots and battery was still going strong).

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EXPOSURE  

As the A820 is considered an entry-level digital camera, it gets a pretty straightforward feature set, with no manual exposure modes.  On the mode dial, you'll find the auto mode, movie mode, SP mode, portrait, digital zoom, red-eye reduction, digital image stabilization mode, and baby mode.  The SP position on the mode dial lets you use "manual" mode, which is essentially a program auto mode where you can change the ISO, white balance, etc.  You can also choose the other scene modes while in SP mode: landscape, sport, night, natural light, beach, snow, fireworks, sunset, underwater, flower, party, museum, and text.

Movie Mode

The movie mode on the A820 allows you to capture movies at a resolution of 320x240 pixels at 30fps.  The movies are recorded with mono sound and the optical zoom is not available during movie capture.

Metering

A 256-zone metering system takes care of exposure.

White Balance

The white balance can be left in auto, but there are a couple other presets.  You can choose from fine, shade, daylight fluorescent, warm white fluorescent, cool white fluorescent, and incandescent.

Sensitivity

In addition to auto ISO, you can also select ISO 100, 200, 400, and 800 while in program auto mode.


ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

In-Camera Image Adjustment

There are no image adjustment options, other than the exposure controls.

During image playback, you can crop or trim your images, but that's it.

CONTROLS, DESIGN, ENGINEERING, & ERGONOMICS

The Finepix A820 is compact and sturdy.  It makes me think of a bar of soap, with its rounded corners.  It won't win any thin contests, but it's still pocketable.  It measures 3.8  x 2.4 x 1.3 in.  Build quality is good, with plenty of metal to give it more of a solid feel.

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The controls are laid out well.  A recessed power button minimizes any accidental power button bumps and the zoom is operated by a ring around the shutter button.  On the back of the camera, the mode dial is easy to operate and the 5-way control pad gives you short cuts to common settings (flash, timer, macro, etc).

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Included

In the box along with the camera, you'll find 2 alkaline AA batteries, a hand strap, AV cable, USB cable, CD of software, and the owner's manual.

PERFORMANCE

The A820 is a very easy to use camera.  Fujifilm has included a redesigned user interface that is easy to navigate and provides plenty of context sensitive help and mode descriptions.

A small feature that turns out to be pretty useful is a button (up on the control pad) that boosts the LCD brightness for a few seconds.  Since the camera doesn't have an optical viewfinder, the increased brightness can help you get your shot in less than optimal viewing conditions.  The fact that you don't have to dig through the camera menus to change the brightness is a welcome feature.

Despite the somewhat limited flash range, I was pretty impressed with the flash shots.  I attribute a lot of this to the better ISO performance of the sensor.

Image Quality

I was impressed with the camera's image quality overall.  Colors were very nice, exposure was good but with a tendency for slight overexposure.  At wide angle, I did notice just a bit of corner softness and barrel distortion (straight lines bow away from the center).  At the telephoto end, shots were reasonably sharp at the corners, and pincushion distortion was not that noticeable.  Chromatic aberration was well controlled and only visible at magnifications greater than 100% and in extreme contrast boundaries.

I was impressed with the noise performance as well. Shots were acceptable up to ISO 400, with ISO 800 not a bad option when it's needed.

Timing/Shutter Lag

I was also pleasantly surprised at the camera's performance, especially for an entry-level camera.  While startup times, shot to shot times, and flash cycle times were average, the shutter lag was very good.  With a full press of the shutter (without a pre-focus lock), I was seeing shutter lag of 0.3-0.4 seconds.  If you get a focus lock first, with a partial press of the shutter, the shutter lag was less than 0.1 seconds.  I did experience some pretty slow shot to shot times, but I think that was related to my slower memory card (a Fujifilm Type M xD-Picture Card).

Sample Images

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fujifilm finepix a820 sample image
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fujifilm finepix a820 sample image
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fujifilm finepix a820 sample image
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fujifilm finepix a820 sample image
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fujifilm finepix a820 sample image
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fujifilm finepix a820 sample image
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fujifilm finepix a820 sample image
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Conclusion

The Fujifilm Finepix A820 is a solid little camera. With its current price point of between $150 and $200 and the low noise performance of the 1/1.6" Super CCD sensor, the camera is a great value. Good image quality, good battery life, quality construction, and minimal shutter lag also tip the scales in the favor of the Finepix A820. I would have loved to see other features, like more focus area and metering options, image stabilization, and a higher ISO possibility, but you have to keep in mind that this is an entry-level camera and you'll get entry-level features. Regardless, the A820 is a good value.

Pros

Cons