BUILD AND DESIGN
The F600EXR is a sturdy, well-designed camera, although it's not particularly stylish. It has a largely metal and plastic construction. It's about the same size as most compact ultrazooms, at 4.0 inches (103.5mm) wide, 2.4 inches (62.5mm) high and 1.2 inches (32.6mm) thick and weighs in at 220 grams, including memory card and battery.
The camera comes with a lithium-ion battery, battery charger, wrist strap, USB cable, A/V cable, a brief owner's manual and a CD which contains the full version of the manual as well as My Finepix Studio for organizing and viewing photos. It's available in four colors - black, the color of the camera I used, red, champagne gold and white. At the time of this review it can be purchased in the U.S. at a price of under $250.
Ergonomics and Controls
The F600EXR feels good in the hand. It's easy to hold and use thanks to a rubber coated strip at the front of the camera and a protruding area at the rear that can be used as a thumb rest. The front plate of the camera is dominated by the 15x Fujinon lens, which, when fully retracted, still protrudes about 1/2 inch from the camera body. The lens zooms smoothly, with only a hint of hesitation. To the upper left of the lens are a combination auto focus assist illuminator/self-timer lamp and a stereo microphone. On one side of the camera there's a compartment with ports for USB and HDMI cables, which is covered by a thin, plastic door.
A pop-up flash is located at the top of the camera. The flash must be raised by pressing a button - it does not come up automatically. Toward the camera's middle there's a bulge for the GPS, an on/off button and a shutter button with a zoom control lever. A circular mode selector is situated at about a 45 degree angle between the camera's top and rear sections. The mode selector contains settings for some of the camera's shooting modes - EXR, auto, advanced, scene position, manual, aperture priority, shutter priority and program. The bottom of the camera contains a speaker, a metal tripod socket and a battery/memory card compartment covered by a sturdy plastic latch. The camera has 33MB of internal memory and can use SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards.
The camera's rear contains a 3.0-inch diagonal, 460,000 pixel LCD monitor in a 4:3 aspect ratio. To the right of the monitor there's a playback button, a large dedicated movie button, a circular four-way control dial for accessing the camera's menu, a display/back button and an F button. The F button is a standard feature on Fuji cameras and is a short-cut to certain shooting modes. In the F600EXR it also permits the user to access the GPS setup menu. The control dial allows selection of macro, self-timer, flash and trash/exposure compensation. The dial has a movable ring around it for navigating through the menu functions.
The controls on the F600EXR seem well-constructed, though the play, display/back and F buttons are quite small.
Menus and Modes
The menu system used by the F600EXR is divided into two basic sections - shooting and setup. There are many different selections in each section and most of the selections have submenus, which makes the system a challenge to learn. This is unavoidable to a large degree because of the many options included in the F600EXR. It will be important for users to spend time with the full version of the owner's manual to fully understand all the camera has to offer.
Here are the camera's shooting modes:
Black & White
The F600EXR has a nice LCD monitor with a 3.0 inch diagonal in a 4:3 aspect ratio and a 460,000 pixel resolution. The monitor provides 100% coverage. The monitor can be adjusted among 11 brightness settings, though increasing the brightness will result in a shorter battery-life.
DCR tests cameras for LCD screen quality, measuring for contrast ratio and brightness. The best LCD monitors have a contrast ratio above 500:1 and brightness of at least 500 nits. Lab tests showed the F600EXR's contrast ratio as 1000:1, which is superb, but a peak brightness score of only 280 nits, with a black luminescence score of only 0.28 nits. However, probably due to its excellent contrast ratio, the camera's LCD monitor looks good and worked well under most lighting conditions, though I had trouble viewing it in bright sunshine.
As is the case with almost all point-and-shoot cameras, the F600EXR does not have a viewfinder.
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