The F600EXR is Fuji's latest version of its premier compact digital camera using EXR technology, in which the sensor employs pixel binning - combining two adjacent pixels to create larger pixels with decreased noise. As with the previous camera in the series, the F550EXR, the sensor is also a back-illuminated CMOS, which allows for faster performance and better low light ability.
The F600EXR is very similar to the F550EXR. Both use a 1/2.0 inch, 16 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS EXR sensor. They each have a 15x optical zoom lens with a focal range of 24 through 360mm (35mm film camera equivalent). They can take HD movies at 1080p resolution and have a built-in GPS. They both can shoot in RAW mode. The F600EXR does add a few useful features - a motion detection capability in Auto EXR mode to reduce blur, a Landmark Navigator feature to improve the functionality of the GPS, and a new intelligent digital zoom which effectively doubles the telephoto range of the 15x optical zoom lens.
The F600EXR is somewhat large and heavy for a compact point & shoot camera, weighing in at approximately 220 grams, including its lithium-ion rechargeable battery and memory card. It measures about 4-inches (103.5mm) wide, 2.4-inches (62.5mm) high and 1.2-inches (32.6mm) thick, or approximately the size of a bar of soap. The camera feels solid, with a largely plastic body on top of a metal frame. To help the user grip the camera, there's a rubberized strip at its front as well as a rubber coating surrounding the large 3.0-inch diagonal LCD screen.
My initial impressions of the camera are positive. The controls are well-placed and easy to use, except for the dedicated movie button, which is set at an odd angle. The menus are colorful, logical and easy to view on the large LCD. The camera seems fairly quick, though there's a two to three second delay between successive shots without the flash - not the fastest performance but not bad either.
Image quality is very good, with bright colors and dependable auto-focusing. Using EXR mode halves the camera's maximum resolution to 8 megapixels, due to the pixel binning process, but images still seem highly detailed. Chromatic aberration (fringing) is well controlled. While taking movies, I appreciated the ability to zoom while recording as well as the camera's continuous adjustment of focus, exposure and white balance.
While I'm impressed with the F600EXR's outdoor image quality, I'm curious whether its relatively large sensor, use of EXR technology and back-illuminated CMOS sensor can consistently produce good looking images indoors, at higher ISOs, that are superior to those of most point and shoot cameras. Thus far, I'm pleased with my high ISO results.
I'm looking forward to exploring the F600EXR's many features. All of that will be detailed in my upcoming full review. Meanwhile, here are some colorful outdoor images.