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February 8, 2005– Today, Fujifilm announced two new models to its FinePix A-line: the Fujifilm FinePix A350 and the Fujifilm FinePix A345. These two cameras replace the A330 and A340, both announced in October 2004. The new models have larger LCD screens, improved video capabilities, and better zoom lenses with built-in lens covers rather than the sliding mechanism.
"The cameras are designed to be taken out of your pocket and be ready to shoot," said Andrew LaGuardia, Fujifilm’s Senior Manager for Corporate Communications. "The cameras have been updated and improved to be more compact, easier to use, brighter LCD, and include a new zoom lens designed for this camera to be more compact and stylish."
The FinePix A350 will have 5.2 megapixels and an improved 3x optical zoom lens. The new lens is designed to be compact and stylish while reaching a zoom equivalent to 35-105mm in 35mm format. The new zoom lens was formed from 7 elements in 7 groups. 3 of the elements are aspherical, which is an improvement from the lens on the A340. The newer A350 also improves upon the older model with a larger LCD screen. The A350 replaces the 1.5-inch 65,000-pixel screen with a 1.7-inch LCD screen with 115,000 pixels. The resolution of the screen has improved dramatically, but users may have problems with glare; to keep this FinePix model at a low price, Fujifilm has left out the glare reduction technology employed on their higher end digital cameras.
The design of the Fujifilm FinePix A350 is essentially a facelift. From extensive market research, the company found that consumers shied away from moving parts such as flashes and lenses, fearing they would break. As a solution, Fujifilm made some structural modifications to the new cameras. Instead of a sliding lens cover, the A350 uses a lens cap that automatically closes when the camera is shut off, and instead of a pop-up flash, the flash on the new FinePix A-series is built-in. The newer models also provide a video-out port and slightly improved movie mode. The FinePix A350 will retail for $299 (USD) when it hits stores in March 2005. This is a slight price increase from the earlier $199 (USD) 4-megapixel A340.
The Fujifilm FinePix A345 appears to be a carbon copy of the A350 except for the megapixel count and price tag. The A345 has 4.1 megapixels and the same improved 3x optical zoom lens for $249.95 (USD). The menus and features on the plastic-bodied cameras are the same. The A345 greatly improves upon its predecessor, the A330. For $179 (USD), the 3.2-megapixel A330 has a 3x optical zoom, 1.5-inch LCD screen and a fixed ISO speed of 100. Luckily, the ISO range has improved on for model. The camera automatically adjusts the ISO speed between 64-400.
Both cameras will come with an improved version of the FinePix Viewer software. Fujifilm’s downloading process, which previously took four steps, has been simplified to a "no click" process. When the cameras are connected to a computer, the downloading process begins automatically based on defaults set by the user during the software’s initial installation. Besides the faster downloading time, the software offers an easier interface that is much more intuitive to navigate and maintain.
Both new A-series cameras should grace retail shelves in March 2005. The A345 is expected to sell for $249.95 (USD), while the A350 will go for $299 (USD).