Despite its low price, few corners have been cut in build quality or finish. The A700 has a part metal, part plastic case in a matt silver colour that doesn’t show up finger marks, with some shiny chrome parts that do, but it is well made and feels solid and robust. Measuring 93 x 60 x 30mm it’s not a particularly small camera, and weighing approximately 190g including two AA batteries it’s none too light either, so it’s not really one to carry in your shirt pocket. However the lens has an automatic cover and folds flush with the body, while the minimal controls are all smoothly rounded, so it’ll live comfortably in a coat pocket or handbag.
Just make sure you don’t have too much pocket lint in there too though, because the USB, mains adapter and A/V out sockets on the side of the camera are uncovered, making them vulnerable to dust and dirt.
With such a simple specification the controls are of course very limited. However this doesn’t excuse the awful combined zoom and menu navigation control, something which I had hoped Fuji had abandoned several years ago. The zoom lever is nothing more than a rocker switch, and the zoom action is stepped in nine increments from wide to telephoto. The left and right controls on either side of it control the macro and flash modes, but the left-hand one (macro) is awkwardly positioned against the monitor surround, and is difficult to press.
Not surprisingly for such a budget-priced camera, the A700 isn’t exactly bursting with features. Even in the ironically-named “manual” mode, the menu options consist of only shooting mode (full auto, portrait, landscape, spot or night), image quality (6 choices), self timer (10 or 2 secs), ISO (100-400), exposure compensation and white balance. In auto mode this choice is even more limited, since white balance and exposure compensation are not available. There is the usual selection of flash modes, with red-eye reduction and slow sync for night shooting, and a slightly lacklustre macro focusing mode with a range of 10cm at wide angle. The movie mode is extremely poor, offering a maximum of 320 x 240 pixels at a slow and jerky 10 frames a second, with mono audio.
In playback mode there are some limited image editing options, including cropping, voice memo and DPOF printing, and the ability to view pictures as a slideshow, but that’s pretty much your lot. To be fair this specification is enough to cope with most everyday casual photography, but it really is the very barest of minimums.
Performance is also rather notable by its absence. The camera takes a sluggish four seconds to start up and another three to shut down again. There is no continuous shooting mode, but firing single shots at maximum resolution it could only manage an average of one shot every four seconds, which is very slow indeed. Image playback is also slow, taking around two seconds to flip from one image to the next.