Fuji FinePix F810; Get The Wider View

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All Photos © 2004, George Schaub, All Rights Reserved

Further Information
Fuji FinePix F810
www.fujifilm.com

There's something about a wide angle view that attracts the eye. Wide screen TVs, the continued popularity of panorama images (and their attempted resuscitation every few years in popular film cameras, such as the ill-fated APS models) and the big screen we sit in front of in movie theaters all speak to the seduction of an image that goes beyond "golden rectangle" proportions. That appeal is what caught our eye about the new Fujifilm FinePix F810 digital camera. You can use the F810 to get a "normal" (4:3) view, but there's also a switch that allows you to shoot and view images in a different and, for digicams, unique aspect ratio, 16:9. Those proportions are pretty magical when it comes to scenics, although we're sure that it would be a ball for use with group photos as well.

(Above, left): Two shots of the Palace of Fine Arts were made during our digital photo workshop in San Francisco, where we tried out a vertical stitch for fun. The exposure was locked on the upper frame and used for the base to eliminate any possibility of the shadow area causing burnt-out highlights in the overall reading. (Above, right): Although the widest focal length is equivalent to 35mm (on a 35mm format camera) we always felt like we were shooting wide when working in the 16:9 format, and we got the benefit of lots of information and subject matter into the frame without the potential of distortion that might occur with a very wide angle lens. Shooting with the F810 certainly changes your sense of perspective.

The F810 is not just a one-trick pony, however, as it produces some of the sharpest and most colorful image files we've seen from any digicam. It sports 6.3-megapixel resolution, a 4x 35-142mm (35mm equivalent) optical zoom lens, focuses normally from 2 ft to infinity and at macro as close as 3" and has a fast f/2.8-8 lens. ISO on auto goes from 80-640, with 800 there if you need it, and the shutter speed ranges from 3-1/2000 sec. The body is solid and the screen is viewable, being a 2.1" monitor that lets you see the normal or wide view, your choice. It does use those tiny xD cards, and a handy cradle can be used for downloading and charging its long-lasting lithium ion battery.

Even single frames show off how much fun you can have with the 16:9 aspect ratio. This frieze at the base of a column at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco was made at ISO 80, and the color and sharpness are first rate.

Priced at about $499 street, this is a great camera for those who want to get it all in on their travels, and especially for those who like to stitch together their images for some fun, extra-wide panorama views.

Three shots made outside world headquarters in Titusville, Florida yielded a 27MB file and a wide view of the local flora. The combo shot was made in Photoshop Elements' PhotoMerge and cropped to eliminate the overrides on the horizontal stitch.

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