FujiFilm FinePix F200EXR review

The FujiFilm FinePix F200EXR is a 12Mp compact camera equipped with the company's new Super CCD EXR chipset. The plus-sized sensor has some very interesting tricks up its sleeve, including the ability to reduce noise by grouping pixels together, and a D-range Priority mode that captures the same image twice and then merges the results for improved dynamic range. What's more, all you have to do is press the shutter release button and the FinePix F200EXR will do the rest.

We were naturally expecting some teething issues with this new technology, but FujiFilm has managed to pull off a flawless debut.

The FujiFilm FinePix F200EXR's 1/1.6in CCD sensor comes with three inbuilt EXR modes - HR/Resolution Priority (which captures images at the maximum resolution of 12Mp), SN/High ISO & Low Noise (which fuses pixels to reduce graininess) and DR/D-Range Priority (a dual capture mode that increases the amount of detail visible in highlights). All three modes can be selected from the menu, or you can elect to keep the camera on auto, where it will attempt to choose the best EXR mode for a given situation. (Alternatively, you can also turn EXR off altogether.)

While they may sound gimmicky, we found the EXR modes to be hugely beneficial. The HR/Resolution Priority mode is pretty self-explanatory - it's in essence a superfine quality mode, as found on most compact cameras.

We were nevertheless impressed by the results. When we used the HR mode in a sunny outdoor environment, our photos were among the sharpest and most vibrant we've seen from a camera in this price range. Our test shots struck a nice balance between crisp details and image softness.

No doubt these impressive results were helped by the FujiFilm FinePix F200EXR's enlarged sensor. At 1/1.6 inches, it is nearly twice the size of the average compact camera's CCD. The 28mm wide-angle lens does a reasonable job of fitting everything into the frame, though we did encounter some significant barrel distortion at the wide end.

Coloured fringing was also evident in complex areas (such as the leaves on interlocking tree branches), though this was only noticeable when we zoomed into the affected area. Despite these minor issues, the FujiFilm FinePix F200EXR is easily one of the best point-and-shoot cameras we've tested.

The FujiFilm FinePix F200EXR's SN mode is also very useful. By fusing pixels together (and thus enhancing the colour signal) it effectively doubles the camera's maximum sensitivity level, which translates to less noise when shooting in dim lighting. This has allowed FujiFilm to extend the camera's ISO sensitivity to a frankly ridiculous ISO 12,800.

(Unsurprisingly, results were a featureless blizzard at this setting, which also suffered from a 3Mp resolution.) While it won't work miracles, the EXR sensor definitely produced better results at higher ISO settings than other compact cameras. This makes it an excellent choice for nocturnal socialities who want to chronicle their nightlife.

NEXT: FujiFilm FinePix F200EXR D-range Priority mode


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