The Bottom Line
Just a few years ago, an extremely thin camera with a 10X zoom lens and a 3.0-inch LCD would've commanded a high price, if it even existed. Now, Fujifilm has hit the sub-$200 price point with its impressive FinePix T300 model.
This camera has some quirks, including suffering from a bit of camera shake at the maximum zoom and a very odd menu structure. However, its overall image quality is really good for a camera in this price range, and its autofocus mechanism produces really sharp images.
The T300 has a really nice feature, where it shoots back-to-back photos, one with a flash and one without, which is great for beginners, just learning about exposure. Overall, this camera is among the better ones you'll find in the market right now in this price range.
Having a 10X optical zoom available with the FinePix T300 is great, especially considering this camera's size. The zoom lens tends to move pretty fast and smoothly throughout the zoom range, which I like.
The image quality with the T300 is well above average. The autofocus is extremely sharp the majority of the time, and colors are pretty realistic. With some outdoor photos, you could have some overexposure on occasion, and you will notice a few camera shake issues when operating at the maximum zoom.
Overall, though, you'll be very pleased with the image quality of the T300, especially for a camera that costs around $200.
Fujifilm included an average number of resolutions and aspect ratios with the T300. You can shoot at seven total different resolutions, spread among standard 4:3, 16:9, and 3:2. A few more options would have been nice.
One feature that a few different Fujifilm cameras offer, and that I really like, is the "two-image" mode. The T300 will shoot back to back photos, one with a flash and one without a flash. This is an especially great mode for photos where you just aren't quite sure whether to use the flash, and it gives you a much better chance of having the correct exposure.
The T300's panoramic mode is easy to use and works pretty well, too. However, you will really notice shot to shot delays when using these two modes, as the camera must perform some processing on these types of images.
The T300's movie mode can shoot at up to 720p HD video, and you select the movie function using the mode dial. Only a 3X zoom is available when shooting a movie, and the zoom does not move smoothly, which will cause some image quality problems. Just avoid using the zoom, and the movie quality will be good.
I thought the shutter lag with this camera was a little below average, especially when shooting indoors, when using the flash, or when using the zoom's maximum range. You will miss some photos of moving subjects because of the shutter lag. One of the reasons for the T300's shutter lag problems is that the autofocus mechanism works a little slow over the maximum zoom.
Startup is pretty fast with the T300, and the shot to shot delays are minimal, so the camera's other response times are pretty good.
Most of the camera's shooting features are available through the mode dial, and, as you turn the mode dial, an explanation of the feature appears on the LCD, which is nice.
However, the T300's menu structure is really weird, which, unfortunately, seems to be the case with many Fujifilm cameras this year. Some of the basic menu choices are not available when you're in certain modes. For example, the T300 has 11 different LCD brightness settings available, but you cannot adjust the brightness of the LCD when shooting in automatic mode. You only can adjust the LCD in program mode. This is especially unfortunate, because the screen is a little tough to see in direct sunlight, thanks to screen glare. A brighter screen would be handy.
Perhaps the T300's strangest menu problem, however, is the fact that you cannot use the flash when you're operating the camera in silent mode. So, if you want to use the flash, you have to put up with the camera's beeps. However, the flash will work in silent mode if you're in the "two-shot" mode I described earlier.
It's very odd.
The T300 is a thin camera, measuring only 0.9 inches in thickness. The lens housing, which is just off center to the right, extends beyond the camera body by a fraction of an inch, so the overall thickness is a little more than an inch. Fujifilm included a couple of raised areas on the camera body, making it easier to hold and use this model.
The flash unit is built into the upper right corner, and you can block it with your finger, if you aren't careful.
I reviewed the black model, which contains a little silver trim. The T300 offers a pretty typical look for a Fujifilm point and shoot camera.
Fujifilm has left the design pretty simple and easy to use. The only buttons on the camera's top panel are the power button and the zoom ring. The back panel contains the mode dial and a few other buttons.