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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR

Fuji Digital Cameras

   

Fujifilm S200EXR Review

Review Date: Oct 19, 2009

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2009 - Super Zoom
Photoxels Editor's Choice 2009 - Super Zoom

HANDLING & FEEL

The Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR has the looks of a traditional digital SLR camera, handles like one and comes closest to performing like one, too. It has a deep rubber-coated molded handgrip that is very comfortable to hold and a 14.3x wide-angle optical zoom (30.5-436mm equiv.) that it hopes will satisfy the wide-angle as well as the telephoto needs of most enthusiasts. The lens has a large manual zoom ring and a thinner fly-by-wire manual focus ring.

Construction and build is excellent and the camera looks very profesional in its black high-impact polycarbonate body. The Fujifilm S200EXR uses the SD/SDHC memory card.

Camera W
(mm)
H
(mm)
D
(mm)
Weight
(g)
Nikon D5000 127 104 80 560
Fujifilm S200EXR
(with 14.3x lens)
133.4 93.6 145 820
Canon T1i/500D 128.8 97.5 61.9 480
Olympus E-620 130 94 60 475
Sony A-380 128 97 71.4 490
Pentax K-x 122.5 91.5 67.5 515
Olympus E-P1 120.5 70 35 335
Panasonic GF1 119 71 36.3 285

Olympus SP-590UZ
(with 26x lens)

110 89 98 435
Panasonic FZ35
(with 18x lens)
117.6 75.8 88.9 367

As you can see from the table above, the Fujifilm S200EXR is quite a big camera, in fact even bigger than many of the entry-level and enthusiast DSLRs! It bucks the current trend toward smaller DSLRs and is even bigger and heavier than the other ultra zoom digital cameras that sport higher zoom power. The extra size and weight are probably due to the extra construction necessary to implement the manual zoom ring and manual focus ring of the zoom lens.

Performance is good. Startup time is about 2.5 sec. (from Power ON to LCD ready for capture, i.e. time-to-first-shot) which is quite good for a super zoom but not instant as on a DSLR (unless Dust Reduction on the DSLR kicks in at start up). Shot to shot time is approx. 1.6 sec. (6 shots in 10 sec. in M mode, 1/125sec.) for about 6 shots, when the buffer gets full and needs to start writing out the images onto the memory card. Write time is about 3 sec.

Autofocus is fast and precise in good light and low light with the help of the AF-assist illuminator, and there is no practical shutter lag.

Included in the box is a rechargeable Li-ion battery NP-140 that can take about 370 shots (CIPA standard) on a fresh charge. A battery charger BC-140 recharges a depleted battery in approx. 110 min.

The circular projection between the flash and the handgrip is the AF-assist illuminator (which also does double duty as Self-timer lamp). The AF-assist illuminator (white light) is very effective, allowing focus even in near complete darkness. You have to remember not to get your fingers in the way; also, the relatively long lens barrel can be in the way of the AF-assist light illuminating a subject that is very close (e.g. in macro photography). The AF-assist illuminator is quite strong so be careful not to aim it at your subject's eyes.

Below it, near the bottom, is a vestige of what used to be the Flash Synchronizing Terminal on the FinePix S100FS. Now, it's just plugged up.

Fujifilm S200EXR Top View
Mouseover image for close up view of controls

Viewing the camera from the top with the lens fully extended gives a sense of the size of the camera. The top of the camera has, from right to left, the large Shutter Release Button with the Power Switch around it, the ISO button, the Exposure Compensation / INFO button, the Mode Dial and the Command Dial. The two little holes to the left of the Mode Dial are the microphone. A hot shoe is available for use of an external flash unit [but no TTL mode]. Note how the strap eyelets are conveniently inset (recessed into the camera body).

The FinePix S200EXR does not have a sleep mode: the camera turns off after a set specified time (Menu - SET-UP - AUTO POWER OFF - 2 min or 5 min), but you cannot touch the shutter release button to go back into shooting mode immediately. You have to turn the Power Switch OFF and then ON again.

Since the zoom is manual, you can zoom in and out as slow or as fast as you want, as well as control exactly where you want to stop. If you have never used manual zoom before, you're in for a treat! There is no zoom creep.

There are lots of control buttons. The Mode Dial has the standard AUTO, PSAM (Programmed Auto, Shutter-Priority, Aperture-Priority and Manual) modes, 2 customizable modes (C1 and C2), Movie mode, Scene Position (SP), FSB (Film Simulation Mode), and EXR (Extended Dynamic Range).

The Mode Dial is rotated with the thumb and has a positive locking click to it. You'll be glad to know that it rotates freely both clockwise and anti-clockwise. The Command Dial works in conjunction with the ISO button and the Exposure Compensation button: press and hold a button down, then rotate the Command Dial with your thumb to dial in a value.

Beginners can park the Mode Dial on EXR and select AUTO in the menu (3 other options are: Resolution Priority, High ISO & Low Noise, D-Range Priority).

C1 and C2 allow you to save 2 favorite customized settings. The way you set each is quite easy. First, select one of the PSAM modes, press the MENU/OK button and customize the settings to your liking. Then, go to Shooting Menu 3 - Custom Set - select C1 or C2 - OK. Since RAW is buried deep down in the Menu, I customize C1 as RAW.

Similarly, SP allows you to save/default a favorite Scene Mode. To set SP, rotate to SP. Then press the MENU/OK button. Go to Scene Position - select a scene mode for SP - OK. From then on, when you rotate the Mode Dial to SP, the selected scene mode will be defaulted. Of course, you can always press MENU/OK to bring up the Scene Mode menu and select another scene mode. Whichever scene mode you select then becomes the new default for SP.

FSB stands for Film Simulation Bracketing and allows you to take 3 shots with one shutter click at PROVIA (standard colors and tones), Velvia (high brightness and sharp tone) and SOFT (soft tone with muted color) modes.

You can record movies with monaural sound at 640 x 480 pixels @ 30fps. Since the zoom is manual, you can zoom during recording and without any annoying zoom motor noise.

TOP OF CAMERA
- Shutter release button with power switch around it
- Mode Dial (Auto, PSAM, C1, C2, Movie, SP, FSB, EXR)
- ISO
- Exposure Compensation / INFO
- Command Dial
- Hot Shoe accepts ordinary external flash units (with some exceptions)
   
ISO
- 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, AUTO 400, AUTO 800, AUTO 1600, AUTO 3200
- Press and hold down ISO button, then rotate Command Dial
- The selected ISO value displays on screen
   
EXPOSURE COMPENSATION / HISTOGRAM / PLAYBACK INFO
- Press and hold down Exp. Comp. button, then rotate Command Dial
- Range: -2 EV to +2 EV (13 steps in 1/3 EV increments)
- Once set, the Exposure Compensation Indicator conveniently stays displayed on screen until it is reset to "0"
- A Live Histogram displays as long as you hold down the Exposure Compensation button
- The screen brightness will increase or decrease to reflect the value you use
- Note: the exposure compensation value selected is retained even when mode is changed or camera is turned off (so remember to reset to "0" after using it or the next time you turn the camera on, your shots may be over- or under-exposed.)
- The button also doubles as the Playback INFO button, displaying exposure info as long as you hold down this INFO button
   

Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR Back View
Fujifilm S200EXR Back View

 

BACK OF CAMERA
- Photometry (Light Metering) Selector Dial (a bit difficult to turn) with AE-Lock button in the middle: Center-Weighted Average, Multi-Pattern and Spot; also doubles as the ERASE button in Playback mode
- EVF/LCD monitor selector
- Playback [when in Playback mode, touch shutter release button to immediately return to Shooting mode]
- Intelligent Face Detection/Red-Eye Removal
- 4 Way Arrows: UP (Playback Digital Zoom); RIGHT: Flash; DOWN: Self-timer; LEFT: Macro/Super Macro
- MENU/OK
- DISP/Back / Silent bitton
- Diopter Adjustment Control besides EVF
   

There is an electronic viewfinder (EVF) with a large eyepiece and diopter correction. The eyepiece juts out of the body so you don't have to squish your nose against the LCD. A rubber guard around the viewfinder helps protect your eyeglass and ensures a more comfortable fit. The diopter adjustment dial works very well and is extremely easy to rotate and adjust (which cannot be said for many cameras).

A large 2.7 in. wide-viewing LCD monitor has a standard 230,000 pixels resolution and approximately 100% coverage. Unlike on the S100FS which had a 2.5-in. tiltable LCD, the LCD on the S200EXR is fixed. The LCD has a fast refresh rate (selectable between 50fps and 30fps) for a smooth display. The center of the screen enlarges only when the refresh rate is set to 30fps. The brightness can be adjusted in SETUP.

The LCD gains up extremely well in low-light situations (even better than my trusty FinePix F30!).

Though I am not a fan of fly-by-wire manual focus (preferring true mechanical manual focus), the manual focus works well and is certainly much better and faster than pressing a button to manual focus. I find it easier to focus using the 50fps setting even though the screen does not enlarge. A manual focus indicator displays on screen with a yellow bar to indicate where the focus should be. You can also press the focus mode selector button to do a quick autofocus and then use the manual focus ring to finesse the focus. However, improvement suggestion is definitely the need of a higher resolution LCD screen for even more precise manual focusing. If you intend to do a lot of manual focusing, then be sure to set image stabilization to Continuous [Menu - SET-UP - DUAL IS MODE - CONTINUOUS] to make the best use of the optical image stabilization.

The Photometry Selector Dial definitely needs to be improved. It's too small and too stiff to turn comfortably.

One cool feature is the DISP/BACK button that does triple duty as a SILENT button: press and hold for about 2 seconds and the camera goes immediately into SILENT MODE.

The memory card compartment door can also be glimpsed on the right side of the camera.

SIDE VIEW
- Flash (manual pop-up button)
- Continuous Shooting
- WB
- Focus Mode Selector Switch (C-AF, S-AF, MF) with One-Touch AF button in the middle
- Speaker
- Rubber Terminal Cover for access to DC IN, A/V, USB
- Focus Ring (thin, closer to the body) is fly-by-wire
- Zoom Ring
   

CONTINUOUS SHOOTING
(BURST MODE)

- Top 6 (RAW 3): allows you to shoot up to 6 JPEG [12M] (or 3 RAW) frames at max. 1.6fps
-

Last 6 (RAW 3): This is an incredibly useful feature for increasing your chances of catching action at just the right moment. Press and hold the shutter release button down as the action nears the point where you want to take the shot. The camera will take up to 40 shots as you follow the action. When you let go of the shutter release button at the right moment (say, as the puck or soccer ball goes into the goal), the camera retains the last 6 JPEG [12M] (or 3 RAW) shots at max. 1.6fps.

- Top 24: High speed shooting at max. 5fps [at 3M, min. ISO 400]
- Last 24: High speed shooting at max. 5fps; camera takes up to 40 images but saves only last 24 [at 3M, min. ISO 400]
- AE Bracketing: takes 3 shots of the same image with different exposure settings (correctly exposed, over-exposed, under-exposed). The Auto bracketing settings can be specified in the MENU as ±1/3 EV, ±2/3 EV, or ±1 EV; available only in PASM modes
- FS Bracketing: Film Simulation Bracketing
- DR Bracketing: Dynamic Range Bracketing
   

The Flash popup button pops up the flash with a loud thunk and the flash closes equally loudly. Put a finger over the flash as it pops up to silence the noise. The flash opens up quite high to lessen the risk of red-eye. When closed and facing downward, you'll notice, if you peer up at it, that the flash head is still exposed, though it will not fire. When closed, the flash juts out quite a bit over the lens barrel, and your fingers may bump it when you rotate the zoom ring. To avoid this, hold the zoom lens at the front edge.

Depending on the Continuous Shooting option you select, the ISO and/or Image Size may change. As is the case with all digital cameras using the LCD or EVF, the screen displays an image only after it is taken, so you won't be able to really follow the action in Continuous Shooting mode.

Note that WB now has a dedicated button and is therefore directly accessible.

One of my favorite feature on any camera is the AF Area focusing mode. The S200EXR has (7 horizontal x 7 vertical =) 49 positions. You can move the AF target point to any of these 49 positions and the camera will focus where the AF target point has been moved. The target points go almost to the edges of the screen so there is almost no point on screen where you cannot focus on. This is helpful whenever the subject is off-center. Select AF Area mode in the MENU to turn this feature on. When you want to move the AF frame around, depress and hold down the One-Touch AF button and use the arrow keys to move it around the screen. Note that, unfortunately, Spot AF metering is not available and exposure is always set using the area in the center of the screen.

But AF Area is not necessarily as useful as it could have been on the S200EXR. Usually prefocusing easily takes care of a subject not in the center of the screen (i.e. AF Area is just a convenience); but in macro photography where any slight repositioning of the camera can cause an out of focus situation, prefocusing is not practical and AF Area is most useful. However, in macro mode, the S200EXR will always focus on the subject in the center of the monitor, ignoring the AF Area frame you've selected.

It is possible to save images in the CCD-RAW file format. You have to set CCD-RAW in SETUP (you can select RAW or RAW+JPEG), which can take up to 13 button presses to do so. If you take a RAW image and wait for it to finish writing to memory card, it takes about 7 sec. to save. There is thankfully a shooting buffer and you can take up to 3 RAW images in quick succession, wait about 6 sec. then take another one and so on. Continuous Shooting allows you to take 3 RAW at 1.6fps. You can specify resolution for the JPEG and file size for a RAW file is about 25MB.

The Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR has aspirations to be a DSLR replacement for those who desire a package that is versatile and includes a long zoom lens. All in all, a very well designed and thought-out digital camera with excellent proportions and that successfully captures the DSLR-like handling.

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