Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR review
The Fujifilm’s ‘EXR’ suffix denotes the souped up sensor at the heart of the F300 – its metal-build, high-gloss finish almost looks like it should have a sports car logo. Its Super CCD EXR chip is unique because, claims Fujifilm, it can be utilised in three separate ways by the user.
One can opt to shoot at full 12-megapixel resolution (HR mode), sacrifice pixels for better dynamic range (DR mode), or opt for Low Noise (SN mode) to avoid grain when shooting in dim conditions without flash. If you can’t decide which is best for any given scene, there’s an Auto EXR setting to fall back on. It’s a ‘smart auto’-type mode that compares the subject with preset parameters governing landscapes, portraits, macro, night scene, portraits at night and backlit portrait settings, with a 15x optical zoom providing plenty of framing options.
In truth, we found it difficult to spot clear differences between results when shooting in HR and DR modes, so opted to stick with shooting at full resolution in the main. The other main point of note is Fujifilm’s introduction of phase-detection autofocus, technology that has trickled down from DSLRs allowing for near-instantaneous capture speed.
This being a Fujifilm camera we also get the film simulation modes that run throughout the Finepix range. These offer a choice of the well-saturated colours of Velvia mode, the default natural-looking Provia, or the soft and gentle Astia. Additional features that put more of a focus on fun include: a 360° motion panorama mode, which encourages photographers to spin around on the spot to capture a seamless elongated shot; face detection/recognition that can now pick out furry friends as well as human; tracking auto focus; the DSLR-like background blurring Pro Focus mode seen on prior EXR compacts; plus a further Pro Low Light mode for less noisy images without the flash. That last one requires a tripod to avoid blur.
Though both price and spec list are impressive, the images the F300EXR produces are its weakest aspect. It struggled under bright conditions, with burnt out highlights and pixel fringing evident between areas of high contrast. The colours were also a little flat. This prevents us from giving an otherwise attractive model unequivocal approval.