In addition to my S304 Zoom I recently felt the need to invest in a smaller instamatic digital camera. The S304 can be quite bulky so whilst it’s always been part of my fishing gear there are times when a smaller instamatic version would be more preferable for those occasions where you just require a simple trophy shot or landscape shot. In addition the wife has been listing a load of items on eBay of late and I was getting sick of having to delve through my tackle bag under the stairs every few days for her to use it.
After a little bit of searching on the net I decided to purchase a second hand FinePix A204 as this was the first point and click type camera available from Fuji that used the same xD memory card as my S304, which Fuji developed with Olympus. The camera was released in 2003 and at the time was advertised as an ‘entry level’ digital camera and came out quite favourably in digital camera reviews of the period. However, in the short time I’ve had it, I’ve found it to be much more than the simple ‘point and click’ specimen I was expecting.
The camera features 3x optical zoom lens (38 - 114mm, 35mm equivalent) and takes some excellent images. In fact, when using the optical zoom some of the images are as good a quality as my S304. Power wise it takes just two AA batteries (which can be rechargeable) and they last for ages, even when using the LCD screen. There are several flash modes which enable you to get the best out of night time photography and the 1.5 inch (55,000 pixels) LCD screen means you can easily frame the shot you are taking. You can alter the quality of the image you are taking with ease (0.3, 1.3, 2.0, and 2.0 meg) and the sharpness and quality of shots is fantastic for a supposed entry level camera. It has a Macro mode for close up work and also has a self timer facility. The controls are some of the simplest I’ve seen and almost any feature or setting can be accessed with just a couple of clicks from the menu screen so a great camera for beginners/children.
It has a movie capture facility (320 x 240 pixels) but unless I’m missing something there is no sound. However, it’s not something that I’d ever use so not really much of a bad point. My S304 has a simple on/off button whereas the 204 also has a sliding lens cover, so to switch on and take a shot you have to switch it on and slide the lens cover over – I would have thought a Fuji boffin would have been able to make it so the whole process was all automatic, but then again I suppose it would be just another thing to go wrong! Also, having a protective cover over the lens is a good idea and there are many instamatics out there which don’t have one.
All in all this little camera has vastly exceed my expectations and will now be used for much more than the simple little jobs I initially had in mind. Although not as small as some of the latest pocket cameras; at just 6cm x 9cm x 4cm it can easily be slipped into a coat pocket so there’s no excuse for missing that shot!
Not sure if this model is still available to buy, but there are plenty of good condition second hand examples being sold on eBay (where I got mine). You can expect to pay between £40.00 and £50.00 – a real bargain in my opinion.
You can compare Fujifilm camera prices by clicking here. You can find out more about this camera by clicking Here.