By Chris Jager PC World Australia | on May 21, 2009
Pros: EXR modes hugely beneficial; D-range Priority mode impressive; sharp, vibrant photos.
Cons: Some minor coloured fringing evident in complex areas; SN and DR modes only capture images at half the camera’s resolution.
The FujiFilm FinePix F200EXR is a 12-megapixel compact camera equipped with the company’s new Super CCD EXR chipset.
The 1/1.6in CCD sensor comes with three built-in EXR modes – HR/Resolution Priority (which captures images at the maximum resolution of 12 megapixels), SN/High ISO & Low Noise (which fuses pixels to reduce graininess) and DR/D-Range Priority (a dual-capture mode that increases the amount of detail visible in highlights).
While they may sound gimmicky, we found the EXR modes hugely useful. The HR/Resolution Priority mode is self-explanatory – it’s a superfine quality mode, as found on most compact cameras. We were impressed by the results. When we used the HR mode in sunshine, our photos were among the sharpest and most vibrant we’ve seen from a camera in this price range. Our test shots struck a balance between crisp details and image softness.
No doubt these impressive results were helped by the F200’s enlarged sensor. At 1/1.6 inches, it is nearly twice the size of the average compact camera’s CCD. The 28mm wide-angle lens does a fair job of fitting everything into the frame, though we did encounter significant barrel distortion at the wide end. Coloured fringing was evident in complex areas (such as the leaves on interlocking tree branches), though this was only noticeable when we zoomed in on the affected area.
The F200EXR’s SN mode is also useful. By fusing pixels together, it effectively doubles the camera’s maximum sensitivity level, which translates to less noise when shooting in dim lighting. It won’t work miracles, but the EXR sensor definitely produced better results at higher ISO settings than other compact cameras.
It’s important to note that both the SN and DR modes only capture images at half the camera’s resolution (i.e. 6 megapixels). However, in both cases the trade-off is definitely worth it. The improved noise reduction and dynamic range that these modes offer far outweigh any perceived losses in fine detail. As long as you don’t severely crop photos or make poster-sized prints, the difference is tiny.
In contrast to its specifications, the camera’s appearance is disappointingly pedestrian. It’s not ugly exactly, but it’s big, bland and boring. We also weren’t fond of the user interface, which suffers from a complicated menu layout and undersized directional pad. Still, if you want great-looking photos with a minimum of fuss, the FujiFilm FinePix F200EXR is worthy of consideration.