The Fuji FinePix F800EXR is their newest camera in the "f" series cameras. This line is known for its long zoom and compact shape. Fuji kept many features the same as the rest of this line. It has a 16 Megapixel EXR CMOS sensor, 20x zoom and 3 inch LCD screen just like the rest of the line. But Fuji decided to add a Wireless Image Transfer System feature to the F800 in hopes to keep up with everchanging wireless technology. On the flipside, though, Fuji removed the built-in GPS that the rest of the cameras in this line retain. Will this camera be able to stand up to our tests as a great travel camera? The F800EXR is available for around $300.
I've been a photographer for a long time; long enough to see photography/imaging technology evolve through more than four decades of unrelenting change, refinement, and improvement. I love the changes introduced by the digital imaging revolution, especially being able to review each image immediately after I shoot it, rather than having to wait from two hours to two weeks (depending on what variety of slide film I was shooting that day) before being able to see whether I got the shot. I have been reviewing SLRs since 1994 and I wrote my first digital camera review in 2000. My latest camera reviewing adventure stars the new Fujifilm Finepix F800 EXR, a compact P&S digicam with 16 megapixel resolution that attempts to create a seamless integration between your smart phone and this smart camera.
The Fuji F800EXR is available for around $300.
Build and Design
The F800 EXR is a prime example of a relatively new digital camera genre; the Travel Zoom digicam. Cameras in this class are designed primarily for travelers who want a compact camera, a long zoom, tons of useful features, HD video capture, and lots of user input into the exposure process. The people who buy travel zoom style P&S digicams are often photography enthusiasts, but they are travelers first -- so most of them are reluctant to carry a heavy DSLR and an a bulky assortment of interchangeable lenses along on their trips. For those who believe that the journey is the destination, travel zooms are a cheaper and much more compact alternative to carrying a heavy DSLR or even a much lighter CILC (compact interchangeable lens camera - also called mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras). The F800EXR could be the poster child for this demographic; it combines the convenience of a compact P&S digital camera (a large LCD screen, Auto mode ease of use, 1080p HD video, and lots of popular consumer features) with most of the creative potential of an interchangeable lens DSLR or CILC including a real wide-angle to long telephoto 20x optical zoom, direct access controls (photography enthusiasts rarely like touch screens), and full manual exposure capability.
The F800EXR's body construction uses a durable polycarbonate outer shell over a metal alloy frame; tough enough for most travelers and its dust/moisture seals are more than adequate for this camera's target audience. The F800 EXR is compact (although not quite compact enough to slip in the back pocket of your jeans), but it is still small and light enough to drop in a jacket pocket or purse so that you will have it with you whenever a Kodak moment occurs. After more than 170 years of camera development there is still no genuine bridge camera, the mythical all-in-one imaging device that does everything for everyone, so serious shooters must continue to accept compromises. The primary concern here is whether Fuji was actually able to stuff a truly useful and dependable device with an impressive level of creative capability into such a small camera.
Ergonomics and Controls
The F800EXR is an attractively understated, well designed, precision built and robustly constructed imaging tool that was obviously designed by photographers, for photographers. This camera is an update of the F770EXR, but the F770's GPS receiver was eliminated in favor of Wi-Fi connectivity in the F800EXR. For Wireless Image Transfer - users will need to download the Fujifilm Photo Receiver app for their smartphone or tablet, because the F800EXR can't communicate directly with the World Wide Web. Using the free Photo Receiver app allows users to download images in batches of up to thirty, to a smartphone or tablet, and from there to the internet for use on social networking sites, etc. Using another free app (FUJIFILM Camera Application) allows users to view and then tag them with their capture location, using the phone or tablet's GPS receiver. Since the camera has no built-in GPS receiver, images not transferred in this way at capture can't be geotagged later.
South Americans, Europeans, Asians, and Australians have a choice of four body colors: gold, black, red, and white, but in the North American market - black is the only option. Unlike many recent P&S digicams, the F800 provides a full complement of traditional dials, switches, and buttons. The F800's handgrip is small and fairly shallow, but it is a handgrip and it is more than consumers get with many compact P&S digicams. The F800 EXR feels substantial and it fits nicely in the hands. Weather seals and dust-proofing appear to be first rate. The F800EXR is unapologetically practical and utilitarian, so it doesn't seem strange that it would be built to old-school standards. In my opinion the F800EXR is tough enough to go just about anywhere -- including extreme environments. The F800EXR's user interface is logical and uncomplicated. All controls are clearly marked, sensibly placed and easily accessed by right handed shooters. The F800EXR's shutter button is fairly large and surrounded by a standard back-and-forth zoom tab. While the zoom tab is quite small, zooming from wide-angle to telephoto and back is smooth, easy, and fairly precise.
Menus and Modes
The Fujifilm FinePix F800EXR's menus are straightforward, logical, comprehensive, and easily navigated. Menus are unavoidably a bit complex, but they aren't counter-intuitive and due to the large font size they are easy to read. Shooting modes are a fairly typical compact digital camera mix of fully automatic modes, scene modes, full manual control and a useful panorama capture mode.
Shooting modes include:
Like most currently available digicams the F800EXR doesn't provide an optical viewfinder so the LCD screen must be used for all framing/composition, image review, WiFi, and menu access chores. The F800EXR may lack an optical viewfinder, but it makes up for this omission (somewhat) by featuring a large 3.0 inch LCD screen with twice the 230K resolution that was the industry standard LCD resolution just a couple of years ago. The F800EXR's wide-viewing angle (160 degrees) 3.0 inch TFT LCD is bright and quite sharp (460,000 pixels), hue (color) accurate, fluid, and the info display provides all the information this camera's target audience is likely to need. The LCD gains up (automatically increases brightness) in dim lighting and brightness can also be adjusted to the individual shooter's preferences via the set-up menu. The F800's 3.0 inch LCD screen does not feature either touchscreen controls or the ability to tilt and/or swivel. Some earlier Fuji digicams featured LCDs that were too shiny, making them almost useless in bright outdoor lighting. The F800EXR shows marked improvement over its predecessors in this area -- the anti-glare/anti-reflection LCD coating is noticeably better than average for digicams in this class.
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