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There are a lot of budget-priced cameras on the market; you see them in supermarkets and mail-order catalogues all the time, and if you're sensible you'll avoid them, or at least the vast majority of them. Most of them are cheap plastic tat, manufactured in some anonymous Chinese factory and imported under any one of half-a-dozen brand names. However there are a couple of exceptions: some of the big-name manufacturers also have budget-priced ranges to cater to the supermarket and catalogue trade, and one or two of these cameras are not too bad.
One such manufacturer is Fujifilm, which along with its professional DSLRs, feature-packed super-zoom bridge cameras and advanced compacts also has its J-series of stripped-down, cut-priced compact cameras. The last one I looked at was the FinePix J10, back in May of last year. The J10 is still available, but Fujifilm has nonetheless launched the J12, which I'm looking at today.
The J12 is very similar to the J10 in many ways. It is exactly the same weight and virtually the same size. As far as I can tell it shares exactly the same body, although according to the spec sheet the J12 is actually 3mm thicker. Unfortunately I don't have the J10 around for a direct comparison, so I'll have to take their word for it.
For such a cheap camera the J12 is surprisingly well made, and certainly looks more expensive than it actually is. The body is all aluminium, and feels solid and reasonably robust. It is available in two colours, either the metallic blue shown here, or a bright metallic pink. It only has the bare minimum of controls, but they are sensibly laid out and despite its small size the camera handles reasonably well. Some sort of textured thumb-grip area would be an improvement, but would probably push the price up by 12p.
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