The Disposable Fuji: Fujifilm A900 Review

Fujifilm FinePix A900

I blame it on the Coronavirus induced boredom. With all this extra time and not a whole lot to do, I was browsing used cameras online. Bad idea. I’ve been on a Fujifilm kick lately buying a couple of used APS-C X-cameras last year, and the GFX 50R medium-format beast this year. I found a prehistoric Fuji digital point and shoot that attracted my attention. After a few lame excuses, I bought it. And, here it is, the FinePix A900 point and shoot. A truly modest device and potentially one of the worst cameras I own — from that era — out of my collection of 50 plus. However, I’m glad that I got it.

Fujifilm has an outstanding reputation and a very devoted group of fans. I suppose I’m one of them. However, Fuji’s outsized reputation with enthusiasts is a relatively recent phenomenon. One that started with the unexpected FinePix X100 in 2010, which shifted the trajectory of the company. The X100, the first X-camera, changed everything, This A900, from 2007, is a Fuji from a different era. A really cheap and plastic era.

The shiny silver A900 is rather homely and deceptive. What looks like solid metal is almost entirely plastic. It zooms slow, focuses slow, and uses two AA batteries. All of this can be forgiven since it was an entry-level model that sold in 2007 for $200. It was built to a modest budget, and it shows.

Luckily, it can use the SD cards, in addition to the now defunct XD format. A 4GB card didn’t work — its capacity and file format were not compatible. I managed to find a 2GB card. At 9MP, it more than enough for casual snapshots, even today.

As expected, as an entry-level model, there is no RAW — just JPEG. For the most part, I like the colors and even prefer it to the JPEGs from my other recent purchase, the Panasonic GM1. While the GM1 outclasses the A900 in every conceivable way, interestingly, the Fuji JPEGs shined. Perhaps, given Fuji’s history and experience with film, it had superior color science even back then.

Beyond the excusable modest build and performance, it has two significant weaknesses — low dynamic range and poor optics. Despite the highly marketed Super CCD sensor, the camera easily blows out highlights. Of course, without RAW, there are many limitations to post-processing.

The biggest weakness is the lens. I can live with the odd 39mm to 156mm equivalent 4x zoom. Photos at the not-very-wide 39mm end are adequately sharp. Zoomed out, however, and it looks like something from a children’s plastic toy telescope. But, my biggest disappointment is the purple fringing — the dreadful bluish-purple haze that surrounds brighter areas.

What is this camera good for? Snapshots of people, I think. Even at night, with flash on, you get that characteristic party-snap look that oddly seems to have become popular. Is this camera truly as bad as I say? Yes, but I’m analyzing this as a serious photo enthusiast spoiled by current technology. Putting on my novice hat and teleporting back to 2007, the A900 is probably acceptable, especially given the price.

So why am I glad I got this camera? Because I see it as a challenge. As a serious photographer, with hopefully some level of skill, I should be able to make great pictures with this thing. I need to prove that adage that it’s the photographer and not the camera that matters. To that end, you’ll see some A900 photographs over the next several posts.

How much did I pay for this astonishing bit of retro-digital tech? A hefty $22 including tax and shipping. Yes, truly disposable in today’s dollars, though I’ll probably hang on to it. Great photos from this Fuji will mean much more. Because I’ll need to push myself much more. I suppose that’s a great way to combat boredom.

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7 thoughts on “The Disposable Fuji: Fujifilm A900 Review

  1. I always like those “how much camera you can buy for less than $XX” challenges. I was recently looking for something similar to throw in my backpack (something that does not drain my cell phone batteries in sub-10F weather). You did not exactly sell this one well!!! lol

    1. Hi Laurent, Yes, LOL. The A900 is not necessarily recommended for everyone. But, take a look at the pictures I made with it, on upcoming posts.

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