The Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR isn't your typical point-and-shoot digital camera. It offers a new Super CCD EXR sensor that boasts a higher dynamic range because of its unique design and capacity to change how it captures available light.
With this new sensor technology, the FinePix F200EXR offers the casual photographer a serious point-and-shoot camera at a reasonable price.
With a 12 megapixel Super CCD EXR sensor, 3.0 inch/230,000 dot LCD monitor, and a five frames-per-second continuous shooting mode (for up to 12 images at 3 megapixels before the buffer memory gets full), the real crux of the F200EXR is its ability to use its unique image sensor in three different ways. These include the Fine Capture Mode that uses all 12 million pixels for an image; the Pixel Fusion Mode that combines two adjacent pixels or photodiodes together to increase the size and sensitivity of the photosites (for a total capture of 6 megapixels); and Dual Capture mode, which takes two simultaneous images at different exposures (both at 6 megapixels) and meshes them together to get an image with more dynamic range (a final 12 megapixel image).
The F200EXR also comes with a powerful Fujinon 5x optical zoom lens that offers a wide-to-telephoto range of 28-140mm; manual shooting that allows control over aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation; and five classic Fuji Film Simulation modes including Provia for natural tones, Velvia for vivid color reproduction, Astia for smooth tonalities, and black and white and sepia modes. The F200EXR also features sensor-shift image stabilization, Fuji's Face Detection 3.0, some helpful shooting presets like landscape and portrait, Dynamic Range Bracketing, and sensitivity up to an unprecedented ISO 12800.
Here are some of the most notable features of the F200EXR:
Super CCD EXR: The first Super CCD technology was introduced in 1999 to increase dynamic range and usable sensitivity of DSLRs, and it has trickled down over the years into the point-and-shoot market as well. The F200EXR moves this existing sensor technology further with its new three-way function. Super CCD EXR has three shooting options (plus a default EXR Auto option, which automatically judges the scene and chooses the best EXR mode).
When manually selecting an EXR mode for a particular shooting situation, you'll have three options. The first, Fine Capture/Resolution Priority mode, uses the entire 12 megapixel chip for already well-exposed scenes to produce images with the best possible details.
The Pixel Fusion/High Sensitivity Priority mode uses what is called "pixel binning," which reads two photodiodes as one pixel. In this case, two adjacent photosites are combined to create a larger sensor that totals 6 megapixels. The idea here is to use more area on the sensor to collect more light than the original 12 megapixel chip, allowing for cleaner high-ISO shots.
The last of the EXR technologies is Dual Capture/Dynamic Range Priority, which is supposed to provide a wider dynamic range by taking two simultaneous images at different exposures and combining each of these 6 megapixel exposures into one 12 megapixel image. The outcome is similar to stacking images at different exposures (not unlike the process used in high dynamic range, or HDR, photography), but the F200EXR is combining shots in-camera instead of later in post-processing.
Film Simulation: For those of you that have had the opportunity to shoot with Fujifilm's actual film stocks in the past, terms like Velvia should really strike a chord, especially with nature enthusiasts. With five total film simulation modes, you can get the classic Fujifilm looks that were once a staple in the heyday of film photography, giving you smooth tones and gradations or vivid and saturated colors.
Manual Shooting: You can set the aperture and shutter speed on the F200EXR, as well as the exposure compensation; including shutter speed options from 8 seconds to 1/1000th of a second, and an aperture range from f/3.3-9.0.
Face Detection 3.0: The F200EXR features FufiFilm's current face detection technology, which uses 360 degree recognition to detect faces, no matter what slant or angle they are on. This technology can also detect up to 10 different faces and features Fuji's Ultra High-Speed Detection, which is designed to lock onto faces in motion (great for finicky and impatient children).
Super Intelligent Flash: Found in the Auto mode, this feature automatically determines the amount of flash and proper ISO setting to produce images with better detail and lighting. In practice, the system gave my flash images nice detail and a natural look without introducing too much fill into the frame.
Scene Positions: The F200EXR features several situation-specific preset shooting modes. Some of these include: Portrait, Portrait Enhancer to automatically adjust skin tones, Sport for adjusting the shutter speed to take action shots; all in all, a grand total of 17 different scene settings.
For a detailed listing of specifications and features, please refer to the specifications table found at the bottom of the review.
FORM, FIT, AND FEEL
Styling and Build Quality
After first unwrapping the F200EXR from the box, I appreciated its design right away. It sports a more traditional boxy construction and a concave curvature along the length of the camera. It measures 3.8 by 2.3 by 0.9 inches and weighs 6.8 ounces with the battery and memory card.
The build quality of the camera when I first picked it up felt a bit plastic-like, but upon further inspection it appeared to have an aluminum body enclosure (though it felt a little loose when I first picked it up). After using the camera, I found the body and strength of its build quality better than my initial impressions.
The F200EXR is a solidly built camera with stylish trimming, traditional point-and-shoot dials, and a large retractable lens that makes it portable and compact.
Ergonomics and Interface
The design and layout of the F200EXR is similar to most other Fujifilm cameras I have operated, including a typical shutter and zoom lever, power button, selector button, playback button, and also a few buttons that helped me access features without searching through the menus.
This includes the Intelligent Face Detection/red-eye removal button, which helps the shooter get better focus and exposure for portraits, and the F-mode button, which is helpful for changing the F200EXR's camera settings. Depending on what mode you are shooting in, the F-mode control provides access to ISO speed, dynamic range settings, the image size and aspect ratio (4:3, 3:2, and 16:9), image quality (fine or normal), white balance, and the aforementioned film simulation modes.
The menu button provides access to the shooting mode, continuous shooting, AF modes with center, multi and continuous autofocus, image stabilization, power management, and to the set-up menu where you can fine tune things like sounds, digital zoom, and other settings.
The user interface is typical and intuitive, as with most point-and-shoots, and access to different functions is streamlined so the user can change settings quickly. As to the placement of buttons and controls, they seem practical and easy to access.
Another nice feature of the F200EXR is the large 230,000 dot LCD, offering up a nice way to frame up and playback images. This 3.0 inch LCD offers the usual functions like playback and changing settings as well as a Micro Thumbnail View that opens up a window with a 10x10 array thumbnail view that lets you easily navigate, view and select from up to 100 photos. This function is similar to a mosaic view on a digital photo frame.
The image playback on the LCD was able to show similar details on the 3.0 inch screen as on the computer. You can also zoom in on the pictures by using the zoom lever to view images in more detail.
Timings and Shutter Lag
The Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR is a comparatively fast camera among its direct competitors.
Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W300||0.02|
|Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR||0.02|
|Canon PowerShot G10||0.03|
|Nikon Coolpix P6000||0.06|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3||0.08|
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3||0.46|
|Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR||0.49|
|Canon PowerShot G10||0.52|
|Nikon Coolpix P6000||0.61|
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W300||0.67|
The F200EXR was not the fastest off the blocks finding focus, but the shutter lag in between shots made it a fast camera. The lab results and the field-testing matched up well with my overall findings, giving the camera a fast focus to capture speed, making it consistently better than other cameras in its class.
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W300
|Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR
|Canon PowerShot G10
|Nikon Coolpix P6000
* Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera's fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). "Frames" notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.
Like all point-and-shoot cameras, a contrast-detection AF system is used in the FinePix F200EXR with three AF area mode options including center, multi and continuous. For concentrating focus to the middle of the frame, center mode allows you to give priority to this region, and works well with the widest aperture to give you a shallow depth of field for the subject you want to focus on.
The multi mode achieves focus throughout the entire frame, and does a good job of finding the contrast between different objects in a composition. For instance, I captured a scene where there were many different elements at different distances. By using the multi focusing mode, the camera closed the aperture down and was able to focus on all the subjects in the frame quite well.
The last AF mode is continuous, which like it sounds, works continuously. This system is a bit noisy but does its job (you can constantly hear the lens clicking and retracting to find focus in the frame). In testing this mode, the camera found focus quickly in well-lit scenes, but struggled in low-light conditions. For best results, and to save power (because continuous is quite a battery drainer), use center or multi and a half-press of the shutter to find focus.
Lens and Zoom
The F200EXR has a nice 5x Fujinon lens with a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 28-140mm. This is a very nice wide-angle at 28mm to a decently powerful 140mm telephoto range, giving this camera little bit more lens power than most compacts.
The lens also uses a variable aperture, with a wide-angle f-stop from f/3.3-9.0, and telephoto f/5.1-14, which often limits a compact camera's ability to take low-light shots. The F200EXR combats this limitation with the Super CCD EXR. By pixel binning to combine two photosites into one photodiode, the low-light capabilities of this camera have been enhanced more than a typical point-and-shoot. With more room on the sensor to absorb light because of this combining of forces, low-light photography with the F200EXR in theory should be better overall - and it is.
There are several flash options with the F200EXR. Intelligent Flash is used when shooting in automatic mode. Another flash mode on the mode dial called Natural Light & With Flash shoots two images, one with flash and one without simultaneously. There are also selectable flash modes you can change by using the four-way control dial, which has its own button on the right-hand side.
Options include auto, forced flash (good for filling in backlit subjects), suppressed flash, and slow synchro. When using the auto mode you get approximately 2 to 14.1 feet for wide-angle shots, 2.8 to 9.2 feet telephoto, and 1.0 to 2.6 feet for macro or close-up shots.
The F200EXR uses the CCD-shift Dual IS for image stabilization. The Dual IS system from Fujifilm is a combination of a shifting sensor and a high ISO setting used to achieve blur-free images.
As someone who is partial to in-lens IS, I found the F200EXR Dual IS system somewhat unreliable. Although there weren't definitive results using the Dual IS, some images still turned out blurry whether I used the IS or not. It was capable in most instances, but results varied with available light or focal length. Images at longer focal lengths suffered the most with the F200EXR's image stabilization system, while wide-angle shots worked quite well with Dual IS.
The F200EXR uses a NP-50 Lithium Ion battery with a rating of 230 pictures per charge. This number seemed accurate in field testing.
A discussion about the F200EXR's image quality should start with the innovative EXR sensor. This new technology was announced a few months ago, marking a step in a new direction for compact cameras and how they capture images. While compact cameras like the Sigma DP1 and DP2 have a much larger imager for improved sensitivity and dynamic range, the F200EXR keeps a more affordable small sensor while improving capture technologies.
The interaction of lens, sensor, and processor determines image quality. From the analog capture of light to the digital values computed during A/D conversion, it's a conglomeration of factors that dictate intricate detail and dynamic range. Improved dynamic range and high-sensitivity performance are what the F200EXR's EXR sensor is supposed to be known for. So does it live up the hype?
Whether combining two 6 megapixel exposures together in Dual Capture EXR, or making the photosites larger by combining the adjacent areas in the Pixel Fusion Mode, the dynamic range - and especially the high-ISO capabilities - achieved with EXR are vastly improved over other cameras with similar-sized sensors. The pixel binning mode, or the Pixel Fusion Mode, offered the most dramatic results, providing a superior (albeit smaller) image in low light. This is a significant feature, proving that more megapixels won't necessarily give you better detail; in the case of the F200EXR, this smaller image with larger photosites often showed as much or more fine detail than shots from any other mode - even when analyzing the images at more than 500 percent view. This is something I'm certainly not used to with a point-and-shoot camera.
The two other modes of EXR deserve some attention when it comes to image quality as well. In the Fine Capture mode, which employs all 12 megapixels, there should be a more intricate level of detail in well-lit scenes. Was this true? In a sense it was, but too much sharpening in this high-resolution mode also gets in the way at times. Upon close inspection of these images at high magnification, the pixel edges seemed to be oversharpened, with edge artifacts showing up in many cases.
So what about the two combined exposures in the Dual Capture mode? As noted, this mode combines two exposures by taking two simultaneous images at 6 megapixels and combining them, much like an HDR image. This EXR mode seemed to work well, but nothing was dramatic in the results, producing an image with noise, but also good exposure. Overall, the image quality of the EXR sensor provided me with new levels of detail I was only able to capture in post, not during camera processing.
Exposure, Processing, and Color
The F200EXR features many different exposure options, from the various EXR sensor settings to the ability to go manual and maintain more control over the final image. There are many different custom and automatic settings that play a part in the exposure, processing and final color reproduction, giving you the best of all worlds when trying to get the image you want.
Provia (default) film simulation mode
Images in the default setting were not overly saturated, but were neutral and faithful to what my eyes had seen. The standard mode, or film simulation setting, is called Provia, named for a film stock produced by Fujifilm. Velvia brings out a much more saturated level that is great for rich color reproduction, like foliage or other outdoor scenes. Astia is another Fujifilm stock that makes colors softer and provides less contrast. There are also sepia and black and white processing modes.
Velvia (vivid) film simulation mode
Astia (neutral) film simulation mode
For light metering, the F200EXR offers a multi-area setting, spot metering for judging light in the center of the frame, and a center-weighted average option as well.
The F200EXR offers nine different white balance settings, including Auto WB, a standard list of preset options, and Custom WB that allows the shooter to use a neutral color (usually a gray or white card) and create a unique WB profile.
F200EXR's Fujinon lens is large and recesses into the body when not in use. It's a nice lens that provides a great wide-to-telephoto range. Unfortunately, when using the longest focal range, the pincushion distortion and soft edges that often plague point-and-shoot compacts were evident. Also at longer focal lenghts, the Dual IS CCD shift sensor worked quite poorly, providing more blur than what would be considered acceptable. At wide-angle, the lens worked great, providing high image quality whether I was using the EXR modes or Auto.
Sensitivity and Noise
The F200EXR's ISO settings range from 100 to 3200 at the full 12 megapixel resolution, but the camera also offers two special settings including ISO 6400 for a medium- or small-sized JPEG, and ISO 12800 for a small JPEG only. These two special settings produced images with dramatic noise, and were mostly unusable.
ISO 100, 100% crop
ISO 200, 100% crop
ISO 400, 100% crop
ISO 800, 100% crop
ISO 1600, 100% crop
ISO 3200, 100% crop
The sensitivity to light performance is a solid performer from ISO 100, 200 and 400, but at 800 a rise in noise is evident. Even at ISO 1600 and 3200, you get a usable picture that looks pretty good, with acceptable levels of noise.
When using the different EXR modes in the different ISO choices, the images with the most noise were scenes with little available light, but when used with enough light the images turned out to be very good exposures. As an overall assessment, the ISO performance was above average for this class of camera, making the different light sensitivities good all the way up to ISO 400. And even when pushed past this threshold, the images still turned out well.
Additional Sample Images
The Super CCD EXR sensor alone is the F200EXR strongest selling point, and primary differentiator from the F100fd. With a broadened dynamic range that most digital compacts can't even touch, the technology behind the sensor is certainly innovative and worth trying for yourself. Today, Fujifilm and a few others are changing the way in which an image sensor is used in point-and-shoots, and it's an exciting time to be in the market with so many options available. As digital cameras have made leaps and bounds since the explosion in the late 90s, we are still making leaps and bounds today.
With a 12 megapixel 1/1.6-inch Super CCD EXR image sensor, flashy 3.0 inch LCD, and manual exposure control, the FinePix F200EXR could be accused of having too many bells and whistles. But in the field, Fujifilm's latest proves to be a capable camera with an array of attractive new features that are true assets to a photographer.
|Sensor||12.0 megapixel, 1/1.6" Fujifilm Super CCD EXR
|Zoom||5x (28-140mm) Fujinon zoom, f/3.3-5.1|
|LCD/Viewfinder||3.0", 230K-pixel TFT LCD|
|Sensitivity||ISO 100-3200 (ISO 6400-12800 at reduced resolution)
|Shutter Speed||8-1/1500 seconds
|Shooting Modes||Auto, Manual, Scene, Movie|
|Scene Presets||Natural Light, Natural Light with Flash, Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Underwater, Museum, Party, Flower, Text
|White Balance Settings||Auto, Fine, Shade, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3, Incandescent, Custom
|Metering Modes||Multi, Spot, Center-Weighted
|Focus Modes||Center AF, Multi AF, Area AF, Continuous AF, Macro
|Drive Modes||Normal, Top 3, Top 12, Final 3, Final 12, Continuous|
|Flash Modes||Auto, Forced On, Slow Synchro, Forced Off, Red-Eye Reduction, Slow Syncrho with Red-Eye Reduction|
|Self Timer Settings
||10 seconds, 2 seconds, Off
|Memory Formats||xD-Picture Card, SD, SDHC
|File Formats||JPEG, AVI, WAV
|Max. Image Size||4000x3000
|Max. Video Size
||640x480, 30 fps
|Zoom During Video||No|
|Connections|| USB 2.0, AV output, DC input
|Additional Features||Face Detection 3.0, Dual Image Stabilization, Continuous Shooting, Portrait Enhancer Mode, Dual Shot Mode, Slideshow|