I'm a bit puzzled as to just who the F70EXR's target audience is. The camera is very compact, easy to use, features a 10x zoom, and at least some of the time generates 10 megapixel images - so clearly it should appeal to casual photographers and snapshooters.
The F70EXR also provides some impressive usability and an astonishing level of personal input into the photographic process for more serious shooters, but it lacks the higher resolution of the competition, doesn't have an optical viewfinder, there's no RAW file option, and the 10x zoom is not as good as a shorter, less complex lens might have been. It seems that Fuji tried to please everyone and ended up creating a very interesting camera that provides a little something nice for everyone, but not quite enough substance for anyone.
The F70EXR is pretty quick across the board - it beats the average in shutter lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused) at 0.01 seconds. AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus) is a bit slower than average at 0.42 seconds. In continuous shooting mode the F70EXR is quicker than most of the competition at 2.6 fps.
Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP8||0.01|
|Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR||0.01|
|Canon PowerShot SD940 IS||0.03|
|Olympus Stylus 7010||0.03|
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP8||0.27|
|Canon PowerShot SD940 IS||0.34|
|Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR||0.42|
|Olympus Stylus 7010||0.45|
|Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR||3||2.6|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP8||3||2.2|
|Olympus Stylus 7010||2||1.7|
|Canon PowerShot SD940 IS||∞||0.9|
The F70EXR's TTL Contrast Detection AF system provides both center and multi AF point Auto Focus. AF is fairly quick and dependably accurate - in face detection mode the F70EXR's AF system can track up to 10 faces. The AF system works nicely in decent (outdoor) lighting, but it often has difficulty locking focus in dimmer (indoor) lighting. Focusing is also noticeably slower in poor light.
The F70EXR's Auto White Balance setting did a consistently good job outside, but it struggled to get the hues right indoors. White balance options include - Auto WB, Automatic scene recognition, Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm white), Fluorescent light (Cool white), Incandescent light, and Custom.
The F70EXR features a Dual Image Stabilization system that provides both mechanical sensor shift to counter camera movement during exposure and a digital Image Stabilization system that boosts ISO and increases shutter speeds to help counter shooter instability and to compensate for minor subject movement.The camera also provides 47MB of internal memory and also stores images to external SD and SDHC memory media.
The F70EXR draws its power from a proprietary NP-50 3.6V - 1000mAh - Li-Ion rechargeable battery. Fuji claims up to 230 images with a fully charged battery- which is a bit less than most of the competition. It's difficult for me to keep track of exposures because I do a lot of shoot, review, delete, and re-shoot, though Fuji's figures seem to be fairly accurate based on my experiences with the camera.
The F70EXR's built-in multi-mode "Super Intelligent" flash sounds more impressive than it actually is - the super intelligence may be a bit of hyperbole - what "super intelligent" really means is that the flash automatically scales back its output as it gets closer to the subject. The F70EXR's flash provides what is actually a fairly standard set of external lighting options including Auto, Forced On, Forced Off, Slow Synch, and Red-Eye Reduction. Fuji claims the maximum flash range is almost 14 feet at ISO 800. The flash is positioned right in front of and just below the shutter button/zoom controller which results in an occasional stray finger blocking the flash.
The F70EXR features a Fujinon 10x, f3.3-f5.6/5mm-50mm (27-270mm equivalent) optical zoom lens with super EBC coating to reduce ghosting and flare. Close focusing (macro mode) is 2.0 inches.
When the F70EXR is powered up the zoom extends automatically and when the camera is powered down the zoom is fully retracted into the camera body and a built-in iris style lens cover closes to protect the front element. Zooming is smooth and fairly quiet. The F70EXR's zoom performance is pretty good, but images do display noticeable corner softness and some minor vignetting (dark corners). Barrel distortion (at the wide-angle end of the zoom range) is noticeably higher than average, but pincushion distortion is essentially invisible at the telephoto end of the zoom. Chromatic aberration is slightly above average - purple fringing is visible in high contrast areas and to a somewhat lesser degree in color transition areas - especially where foreground objects (like trees) subjects meet the open sky.
The F70EXR provides a fairly unexciting 30 fps VGA (640X480) or QVGA (320X240) movie mode with monaural sound. This certainly won't compete with a dedicated video camera or the HD video offered by some of the F70EXR's competition, but it will work well enough for generating e-mail video attachments for friends and family. Video duration is limited only by the 2GB maximum file size. Unlike many other digicams, the F70EXR permits aspiring directors to use the 10x zoom while recording.
Image quality is where the F70EXR really shines - this camera offers an unprecedented level of individual tweakability and personal flexibility in terms of color palette, noise management, and dynamic range. Most P&S digicams boost color saturation because amateurs and casual shooters like bold bright hues and harder contrast - veteran shooters call this "consumer color". Unlike most of its competition the F70EXR's default color is actually pretty close to neutral, but with color saturation choices based on well known Fuji 35mm slide films like Velvia, Provia, and Astia the F70EXR eschews the boosted saturation and hard contrast consumer color of its competition and instead allows each individual shooter to custom tailor hue and dynamic range to genuinely reflect their own personal photographic vision.
Outdoors, in good light, image quality is dependably very good. Exposures are consistently accurate although there is a very slight tendency toward overexposure and highlights are sometimes burned out. Set the mode dial to EXR and the whole world changes. Image quality can be tailored to produce high-resolution 10 megapixel images with the vibrant colors and precise detail that look like Provia slides, or high ISO low noise natural light images that look like Astia slide film available light shots, or wide dynamic range landscapes that glow with light and exuberant colors like Velvia slides.
ISO 100, 100% crop
ISO 200, 100% crop
ISO 400, 100% crop
ISO 800, 100% crop
ISO 1600, 100% crop
Indoor image quality is noticeably better than average, but as sensitivity automatically rises to overcome lower levels of ambient lighting, noise rises exponentially and color accuracy suffers a bit. Noise levels are quite low, well below average up to ISO 400. Noise becomes more obvious at ISO 800 and 1600 in the images cropped at 100%.
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