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Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR Review
Date: Mar 28, 2009
Category: Beginner Amateur
Photoxels Editor's Choice Award - Beginner Compact
Wednesday, Mar 11, 2009 - Here's what you can expect to find in
- FinePix F200EXR
- No memory card [Fujifilm sent me a 1GB Fujifilm SD
Card for the review]
- Li-ion Battery NP-50 3.6V 1000mAh
- Battery Charger BC-45W
- Wrist Strap
- USB and A/V Cables
- Printed Documentation: Basic Manual
- Software CD: Software for FinePix BZ Version
5.41 for Windows and Macintosh; Owner's Manual
There are encouraging signs that digital camera manufacturers are quietly deemphasizing the megapixel race and instead concentrating on improving the performance of the image sensor. The Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR leads in this endeavor and stands apart from its competitors. For years now, the FinePix F series have stood as the best low light compact digital cameras on the market and the F200EXR raises the bar once more with the addition of wide dynamic range.
The FinePix F200EXR uses a new image sensor that can be optimized to record three different kind of scenes: highest resolution possible using all 12M in good lighting (RESOLUTION PRIORITY); high ISO and low noise at 6M resolution in low light (HIGH ISO & LOW NOISE); and wide dynamic range at 6M in scenes that incorporate both dark areas and bright highlights (D-RANGE PRIORITY). The F200EXR even makes it easy for the photographer by providing an EXR AUTO shooting mode that will analyze the scene and select the right EXR mode. Our tests show that D-Range Priority works quite well, even allowing you to specify the percentage (from 100% to 800%) of dynamic range enhancement you desire.
The Fujifilm F200EXR is still a very good low-light digital camera though not as good as the previous F30 and F31 models. You get excellent quality low-light shots
at ISO 100 and 200, and usable shots at ISO 400 and 800. D-RANGE PRIORITY now allows images to be captured with a wide dynamic range, perhaps putting an end to blown highlights forever.
The Fujifilm F200EXR's audience will undoubtedly
still be mainly the Point-and-Shoot (P&S)
and beginner amateur photographers. There are Aperture-Priority and Manual modes but only two aperture settings are available at any focal length, limiting exposure flexibility somewhat for the advanced photographer.
I used the Fujifilm F200EXR almost exclusively in
the EXR AUTO mode, letting the camera decide the appropriate scene mode as well as EXR mode. Note that in EXR AUTO mode, the camera focuses continuously, which drains the battery; the constant whirring noise can be a distraction in certain venues where quiet is required.
All this added technology in the F200EXR probably explains why overall performance seems to have slightly decreased. Startup and shutdown times are good but at 2+ sec., it just borders on the slow side. Do not expect to whip out the F200EXR and capture a fleeting moment. Also, I find that I have to wait patiently for the lens to fully retract before shoving the camera back into my pocket so as not to risk damaging the retracting lens. After every shot, you do not have to wait for the picture to finish writing to memory card before taking the next shot (@ 1.5 sec.), but you won't be able to access the Menu until the picture has completely finished writing to memory card (@ 3 sec.).
Since there is no AF Area mode that allows you to select where on the screen you want the camera to focus on, I find that I rely a lot more on Face-Prority AF to ensure focus is on the subject's face and eyes. Face-Priority AF detects and locks focus fast and precise in good lighting. However, in low light, though it will detect and lock AF properly on a face when you half-press the shutter release button, it will restart the face detection all over again as you finish depressing the shutter release button fully to take the picture. This would not be a problem except that at times it detects the face but then fails to lock on it, resulting in a picture where the focus is somewhere other than the face. What it should do is that once the shutter release button is half pressed, the AF (whichever AF mode is chosen) should lock -- and stay locked at that focus point. [I've noticed a few other digital cameras where Face-Priority AF suffers from this problem. Maybe a firmware patch can fix this behavior.]
Selecting the EXR option in the Menu annoyingly does not follow the same convention as the other options do. For all other options, you select a choice, use Left Arrow to navigate back and make any other selections you want. When you're done, you press OK to leave the Menu and return immediately to Shooting mode. With EXR options, you can only press OK, which immediately throws you out of the Menu; you then have to go back into Menu and select any other options.
Of course, these few niggles do not impact the quality of the images the F200EXR captures. Leave it on EXR AUTO and you have an excellent point-and-shoot digital camera that you can use in all lighting situations.
The FinePixViewer software is one of my favorite
because all the information is contained in one
screen. Each image's filename is clearly visible
and you do not need to launch another window to
view the EXIF info. You can also do basic image
editing, re: auto adjust, manual adjust of brightness, saturation, hue, contrast, sharpness, sepia, B&W, correct red-eye.
A Basic Manual in how to setup and operate your camera is provided in print. The Owner's Manual is now on the CD, which means you can't carry it with you, but on the other hand it is easily searchable.
The Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR is once again the compact consumer camera to beat. Not only is it a very good low light compact digital camera, it now adds the ability to capture images with a wide dynamic range. It gives excellent image quality
shot after shot with point-and-shoot simplicity in all lighting situations.