Pros: EXR modes for dynamic range and low noise; 14.3x optical zoom with manual focus ring.
Cons: EXR modes reduce image size.
It may not be a digital SLR, but the FinePix S200EXR is the sort of advanced point-and-shoot that’s many a creative’s dream. It offers superb handling, megazoom reach, and advanced exposure control.
There’s a 14.3x, optically stabilised zoom lens (30.5mm to 436mm). The 12-megapixel EXR sensor can also combine sensor sites to create six-megapixel images that have low-light sensitivity with reduced noise, or high dynamic range (HDR) images using alternating sensor sites to capture shadow and highlight detail.
EXR mode gave subtle but clear improvements. Low-light photos had less digital noise; HDR mode gave detailed highlights and shadows.
Almost everything about the S200EXR seems snappy – except the time between shots, which is around two seconds. The body is about the same size and heft as a small digital SLR, and it feels moulded to the hands.
More controls spill onto the side: use the camera for even a short time, and you’ll quickly appreciate the fact that you’ll rarely need to fiddle with on-screen menus.
More worrying is the EXR’s headline feature, the sensor. Yes, it provides some interesting exposure options and takes good images, but it takes six-megapixel photos – far smaller than what you’d get from rival models. You can avoid the EXR settings to get the full 12 megapixels, but then you miss out on the camera’s main selling point.
Otherwise, the muscular zoom, controls, smart layout, and battery life make the S200EXR a strong contender for a spot in your camera bag.