The A920’s overall performance is actually pretty good for a budget-priced camera. It starts up in approximately 2.8 seconds, which is not too shabby, and shuts down again promptly in 1.9 seconds. There is no continuous shooting mode, but the shot-to-shot cycle time is 3.2 seconds, which is a little slow but not appallingly so. The AF system is a little on the slow side by recent standards, but it is solidly reliable and works well in low light. Flash performance is also good, with a range of 3.9m at wide angle, good close-range exposure and excellent frame coverage. Flash cycle time is also reasonably quick at approximately five seconds, although I did notice that this got a bit slower as the batteries ran down. Battery duration will obviously depend on the type of AA batteries used, but with high-power alkaline cells I took around 120 shots before the charge level indicator dropped to two bars.
With many budget cameras, the corner-cutting that keeps the price down results in inferior image quality, but this is certainly not the case with the A920. In fact I was pleasantly surprised by the generally excellent image quality, and especially its low-light performance. The lens is very good, producing virtually no distortion at either end of the zoom range, with very good centre sharpness and only a little blurring in the corners of the frame. The overall level of fine detail was also very good, but the lack of manual control over the ISO setting means that some detail can be lost when shooting in low light. Noise control is very good however, and even in shots where the automatic metering had selected the maximum 800 ISO there was no real problem with noise apart from a slight blurring of fine detail. Colour rendition is superb, and the large SuperCCD HR sensor provides excellent dynamic range with plenty of shadow detail.
Considering its low price, the FinePix A920 is remarkably good value. It is a very simple snapshot camera with few manual options, but the wider than usual zoom range gives it a bit of extra versatility. Picture quality is very good by any standard, and overall performance isn’t too shabby either. If you want a good, cheap, simple snapshot camera you won’t find many better.
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