Fuji Finepix 1400
This camera was recommended to me by my friend Marty Frankel who has had one for some months. Less than a year ago this camera was selling for about $340 but Fuji launched a new improved model, the 2400, and this one dropped sharply in price. I got mine on ebay in early August 2001 for $200 and I am very happy with it so far. In this page I will provide some information which may be useful to owners of this model camera.
Some points that inclined me in favor of this camera:
One point against it, which I discovered after I got it, is that it does not come with an AC power adapter which you need to buy separately. This accessory is very needed and should be included as it is a pain to go around shopping for it. The original Fuji adapter is about $40 and you can buy a no-name replacement on ebay for about $30, including shipping. I still thought this was too much. (more on this below)
- 1.3 Mpix is enough for normal amateur use
- 3x optical zoom allows user to come up close and frame the subject without need to crop later and lose definition. Add a 2x digital zoom and you really have a lot of zoom power.
- Uses regular AA batteries, not proprietary expensive batteries.
- USB transfer to computer makes it easy and fast
It comes with a 4 MB smartmedia card which holds about 44 photos in medium resolution or about 12 in high resolution. This is enough if you have ready access to your computer as you can just copy the photos to your disk, but I bought a 64MB card for only $35 (also on ebay) just because it was so cheap. It will hold about 660 photos in medium resolution or 220 in high resolution.
It uses four AA batteries. You can use alkalines or rechargeables. For now I am still using non-rechargeable alkalines but at the rate they go I am looking at other options. I measured the current consumption:
First observation: the camera still consumes some power when off. This power only serves to maintain the date so you can take the batteries out if you will not be using the camera in some time and later reset the date when you put them in again. Taking into account the power used to set the date, my calculation is that it still makes sense to take the batteries out if the camera will not be used in more than 12 hours. I estimate the camera in the "off" position would exhaust a new set of alkaline batteries in about three months, at a cost of about a dollar a month, so you really should take the batteries out if you will not be using the camera in a few days. The alternative is to leave it connected to the AC adapter (more later). Be careful with the battery cover as it requires care or may break.
- Off: 0.4 ma,
- Camera ON: 70 ma,
- LCD display ON: 610 ma,
- Display ON & Zoom moving: 800 ma
Second observation: the camera uses nine times more power with the display on than with the display off. Use of the optical viewfinder rather than the LCD display will make your batteries last a lot longer.
To make consumer electronics attractive to the buyer, manufacturers always put battery sizes which are really too small. It is true in laptop computers and it is true in this camera. AA size batteries should not be powering something which requires 600 - 800 ma as the voltage soon drops too low. I have found that when you start getting a low battery warning with the LCD display on, the batteries will still power the camera well enough with the LCD off.
As soon as I realized how much power this thing uses I started looking for alternatives as I hate to waste money on batteries. The first thing I looked at was getting an AC power adapter which I could use when downloading photos and doing other editing things which require the display to be on. The "official" Fuji power adapter is nominally 5 volts 1.6 amps and it has a plug with an outside diameter of 4 mm which is not the most common. This plug is known in Radio Shack as "type B" and can be purchased at $1.99 for a set of two.
As my luck would have it, they were out of them at my store and, as my impatience would have it, I wasted too many hours making one with a piece of plastic from a pen and some metal from a can.
Disclaimer: This page describes what I have done and what has worked for me. Use the information at your own risk. If you know what you are doing you may find something useful. If you don't, then you will probably fry your camera and start a fire which will burn down your house causing your family to die terrible deaths. Don't say I didn't warn you. Now eat your vegetables.
For a couple of weeks I supplied 5V from the computer to the camera and it worked fine. But I got suspicious. The Fuji power supply is nominally 5V but the camera uses 4 AA batteries which give about 6V. I tested and found out the batteries and the external AC adapter input the power to the same place, so it's not like they go to different circuits. If the 6V from the batteries are OK, then 6V from an AC adapter should be OK. BUT, a word of caution: Unregulated power adapters of nominally 6V can put out quite a bit more, up to 8 volts, which could damage the camera. In my experience the camera works fine between 5 and 6.3 volts but I am not going to take the risk of going any further. A regulated power supply of 6V should be OK, even though the Fuji one says nominally 5V. A generic, unregulated, power adapter of nominally 5V should be OK as it would probably not go over 6.5 with no load but I recommend you measure first. This would be the cheapest option but I wanted a switching type AC adapter which could use any input voltage so I could use it when I travel. This is the Fuji type and the output is regulated. The Fuji AC adapter says 1.6 amps but in my measurements the camera never pulled more than .9 amps. It could be that surges not indicated by my instrument went beyond that but not on average.
At Radio Shack I found "international series" AC adapter 273-1762 ($22) which is nominally 6V - 1 amp. It is of the switching type, accepts input voltages from 100 to 240 VAC and is truly tiny: 3" x 1-3/4" x 7/8" and weighs 3.5 oz. You can choose the plug so I chose the type B which the camera uses (make sure you get the polarity right).
Before plugging it into the camera I tested it and it gives about 6.2 volts at no load and about 6.0 at .8 amps. This is a tad on the high side as I do not know how far the camera can stand, but 6.2 is the voltage of a new set of batteries so I plugged it in and it works great. I am truly happy I got this, smaller, AC adapter for $22 rather than the ones they sell specifically for the camera which are bigger and more expensive.