Originally Posted: April 10, 2009
Last Updated: December 14, 2009
The Fuji FinePix F200EXR ($399) is a compact camera with a one-of-a-kind sensor. The SuperCCD EXR sensor found in the F200EXR allows the user to select what's most important in the photo they're taking: high resolution, high sensitivity and low noise, or wide dynamic range. Previous SuperCCD sensors have been better that the competition in terms of noise, and Fuji is looking to widen their lead in that area, while also improving dynamic range (which is never a strong point on compact cameras). I'll tell you more about the SuperCCD EXR later in the review.
The sensor isn't the only thing that's changed since the FinePix F100fd from last year. The F200EXR also features a larger LCD, manual controls, new film simulation modes, improved flash metering, and support for HD video output. Some things that haven't changed include its 5X, 28 - 140 mm lens, image stabilization, elaborate face detection system, and VGA movie mode.
Previous Fuji F-series developed a cult following for their low light shooting abilities. Will history repeat itself in 2009? Find out now in our review of the FInePix F200EXR!
What's in the Box?
The FinePix F200EXR has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
- The 12.0 effective Megapixel FinePix F200EXR digital camera
- NP-50 lithium-ion battery
- Battery charger
- Wrist strap
- USB + A/V cable
- CD-ROMs featuring FinePix software and camera manual
- 43 page basic manual (printed) + full manual on CD-ROM
Most cameras have built-in memory these days, and the FinePix F200EXR is no exception. It has 48MB of onboard memory, which is able to hold ten photos at the highest quality setting. That's not very many, so you'll want to buy a memory card right away. The camera supports SD, SDHC, and xD cards in its single slot, and I'd stick with the first two for maximum performance. Buying a 2GB, high speed card is what I'd recommend that most people start out with.
The F200EXR uses the same NP-50 lithium-ion battery as the FinePix F100fd that came before it. This battery holds 3.7 Wh of energy, which is average for this class. Here's how that translates into battery life:
All of the cameras on the above list are small, feature image stabilization and large LCDs, and generally have wide-angle lenses (the only one that doesn't is the Olympus). In this group, the FinePix F200EXR finds itself below average when it comes to battery life. That's too bad, since earlier F-series cameras used to be the best out there. Something else you can see in the table is that the F200's battery life is identical to that of its predecessor.
As with every other camera on the above list, the F200EXR uses a proprietary lithium-ion battery for power. This batteries tend to be expensive (a spare NP-50 will set you back at least $43), and you can't use an off-the-shelf battery in emergencies. That said, you won't find a camera this small that uses AAs.
When it's time to charge your battery, just pop into the included charger. The charger plugs directly into the wall, so there's no power cord to deal with. It takes approximately 150 minutes to fully charge the NP-50. By the way, this particular charger also works with the NP-45 battery, in case you have a Fuji camera that uses one of those.
As with all compact cameras, there's a built-in lens cover on the FinePix F200EXR, so there's no lens cap to deal with.
There are just a couple of accessories available for the FinePix F200EXR, with the most interesting being an underwater case. Here's the full list:
Unfortunately I couldn't find pricing (or availability) for the most interesting of those accessories. Even Fuji's own shopping site doesn't sell them -- at least, not yet.
FinePixViewer 3.6 for Mac
Fuji includes their FinePixViewer software with the F200EXR, which you can use to transfer photos from the camera to your computer. The Mac version is very basic, featuring things like slideshows, image rotating, resizing, and e-mailing. And that's about it. You'll probably want to use iPhoto instead.
FInePixViewer 5.4 for Windows
As is often the case, Windows users get a much better version of FinePixViewer. This one does everything the Mac version does, adding image editing and redeye reduction tools, not to mention a slicker interface.
The documentation situation has taken a turn for the worse on the FinePix F200EXR. Gone are the days of having a full, printed manual in the box. Now, Fuji only includes a basic manual, with the full manual in PDF format on a included CD-ROM. The quality of the manual itself is decent (it could certainly be more detailed) -- it's finding that information that's harder than it should be. As you might've guessed, help files for the included software is installed onto your computer.
Look and Feel
The FinePix F200EXR is a compact (but not tiny) camera made of a mixture of plastic and metal. Its gentle curves are a nice change from the boxy F-series cameras of years past. Build quality is good overall, though the door over the memory card / battery compartment opens way too easily (it needs a lock). Its design has changed little from the F100fd, with the most notable differences found on the back of the camera. Gone is the scroll wheel, with just the traditional four-way controller remaining. The F200 also has a mode dial that was missing on its predecessor.
Ergonomics are decent, with the most important controls within reach of your fingers. I don't like how your finger rests on the mode dial, though -- I found it quite easy to accidentally change your shooting mode. The buttons on the back of the camera (especially the four-way controller) are awfully small, as well.
Now, here's a look at how the F200EXR compares to other camera in its class, in terms of size and weight:
While all of the cameras in the above table are about the same size, the F200EXR is the heaviest of the bunch. It's the same size as its predecessor, and just a tad bit heavier.
Alright, now let's begin our tour of the camera, beginning with the front.
The FinePix F200EXR uses the exact same 5X optical zoom lens as its predecessor. The lens has a maximum aperture range of F3.3 - F5.1, which is on the slow side. The focal range of the lens is 6.4 - 32 mm, which is equivalent to 28 - 140 mm. The lens is not threaded, and thus conversion lenses and filters are not supported.
At the back end of that lens is Fuji's SuperCCD EXR sensor. I told you a little bit about it at the start of the review, but I wanted to expand on how it works, and what it can do for you. First, a little history. In years past, there were two types of SuperCCD sensors: the HR was for high resolution shooting, and the SR for high sensitivity. Both sensors had unique hexagonally shaped pixels; the HR used the special, high density arrangement of the pixels to produce very high resolution photos, with better high ISO performance than a conventional sensor. This sensor is still used in a number of Fuji cameras. The SuperCCD SR sensor had two separate photo sites: one large "S-pixel" for high sensitivity, and a much smaller "R-pixel" for dynamic range. The camera combined the output from both of these pixels to produce photos with high sensitivity and improved dynamic range. Fuji currently uses this sensor in their FinePix S3 Pro digital SLR.
Pixel layout on the SuperCCD EXR; Image courtesy of FujiFilm
The SuperCCD EXR is Fuji's attempt to combine the two sensors into one. Like both of the old sensors, the photo sites here are hexagonal. There are two photo sites per color, but now they're all the same size. If you're shooting in the default high resolution (12 Megapixel) mode, the camera doesn't do anything fancy with the pixels, aside for some interpolation to get the pixels into the horizontal/vertical orientation needed for the final photograph.
High sensitivity / low noise; image courtesy of Fujifilm
If you're shooting with the high sensitivity / low noise mode, the camera does something called "pixel binning". Simply put, it takes two adjacent pixels of the same color, and combines them into one. That means that the resolution goes down 50%, but with all that extra data being captured, your photos end up with less noise. Fuji also says that their unique pixel layout reduces the amount of "false color" that may be generated by traditional pixel binning.
High dynamic range; image courtesy of Fujifilm
The last trick the SuperCCD EXR can do is take photos with high dynamic range. On the SuperCCD SR, this was accomplished by having the S and R pixels. The concept is the same here, except now the pixels are all the same size. One set of the pixels overexposes the image, while the other underexposes. The camera's image processor performs some magic, and the two exposures are combined into a single image, with optimal dynamic range. As with the high sensitivity mode, the highest resolution you can use here is 6 Megapixel.
Selecting an EXR mode
You can select one of the three EXR modes I just mentioned, or you can let the camera decide for you. I'll give you some comparison shots of the EXR sensor in action a bit later in the review.
Getting back to our tour now, let's talk about the FinePix F200's sensor-shift image stabilization system. You'll need this to help counter the effects of camera shake, a phenomenon caused by tiny movements of your hands which can blur your photos. The camera senses this motion, and the sensor is shifted to compensate for it. While this won't freeze a moving subject or allow for one second handheld shots, it will let you take sharp photos at shutter speeds that would be otherwise unusable. Want proof? Look at these:
Image stabilization off
Image stabilization on
Both of the photos above were taken with a shutter speed of 1/13 of a second. As you can see, the IS system did its job, producing a noticeably sharper photo. While Fuji doesn't make it clear in the manual, I'm pretty sure that you can't use the image stabilizer while recording movies.
To the upper-left of the lens you'll find the F200's built-in flash. This flash has average strength, with a working range of 0.6 - 4.3 m at wide-angle and 0.6 - 2.8 m at telephoto (both at Auto ISO). You cannot attach an external flash to the camera.
Just to the right of the flash is the AF-assist lamp, which the camera uses as a focusing aid in low light situations. This lamp also serves as a visual countdown for the self-timer.
It's hard to see here, but to the lower-left of the lens is the camera's microphone.
The first thing to see on the back of the camera is its 3-inch LCD display, up from 2.7" on the FinePix F100fd. While the screen is larger, the resolution remains the same: 230,000 pixels. Outdoor visibility was good (but not spectacular), and in low light, the screen brightens automatically, so you can still see your subject fairly well.
As you can see, there's no optical viewfinder on the FinePix F200EXR. Some people will miss it, while others won't even notice. In other words, it's up to you whether this is a problem or not.
Now let's talk about all those items to the right of the LCD. The first one I want to mention is the mode dial, which is a new addition to the F200EXR. Here are the items you'll find on it:
I've got a few things to mention about those mode dial options before we can move on. First, you can only use the high sensitivity / low noise and dynamic range priority EXR modes *in* EXR mode. In other words, you cannot use the dynamic range priority mode while in full manual mode. You can, however, drop the resolution to 6MP and then adjust the dynamic range manually. Something else the camera can do in EXR mode is select a scene mode automatically. The available options include portrait, landscape, night landscape, macro, backlit portrait, and night portrait.
While the F200 does let you adjust both the shutter speed and aperture manually, there are only two aperture values to choose from at any one time, due to the use of a neutral density filter to control how much light passes through the lens. For example, at wide-angle you can choose from F3.3 or F9, and nothing else.
The scene modes should be self-explanatory, but I should point out that the difference between portrait and portrait enhancer mode is that the latter applies some kind of "skin smoothing" filter to photos.
Underneath the mode dial are buttons for entering playback mode, or activating the F-mode menu. The items in the F-mode menu will vary depending on your shooting mode, but here's the full list:
- ISO (100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, Auto, Auto 400, Auto 800, Auto 1600, Auto 3200)
- Dynamic range (Auto, 100%, 200%, 400%, 800%)
- Image size (see chart later in review)
- Image quality (see chart later in review)
- White balance (Auto, custom, sunlight, shade, daylight fluorescent, warm white fluorescent, cool white fluorescent, incandescent, underwater)
- Film simulation (Provia/Standard, Velvia/Vivid, Astia/Soft, black & white, sepia)
As you can see, there are many ISO options available on the FinePix F200EXR. The easiest thing to is use one of the Auto modes (which vary depending on your shooting mode). These modes allow you to set an upper limit for the ISO setting so, for example, Auto 800 won't go any higher than ISO 800. If you want to select the ISO manually you can do that too, though the two highest settings lower the resolution to 6M and 3M, respectively.
The dynamic range setting lets you reduce the amount of over or underexposure (AKA contrast) in your photo. This feature has been expanded since the F100fd, now allowing for an 800% improvement in DR (though that setting is only available in the dynamic range priority EXR mode). Unlike on its predecessor, the F200EXR doesn't need to boost the ISO really high to increase the dynamic range, which is due to its new sensor design. Here's a test shot that illustrates the DR feature in action:
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The first thing I have to mention is that camera way underexposed the shadows in the various photos I took to test this feature. This particular shot had the exposure compensation cranked up by 1 1/3 stop. As you flip through the images, you can see that the sky turns from a bright (clipped) white to the blue/gray that it was in reality. The buildings do get darker as well, which isn't quite as pleasing, though you are getting a small amount of highlight detail back. I'll have another example of the camera's dynamic range abilities for you later in the review.
The F200's white balance options are fairly standard. One of them is a custom mode, which lets you use a white or gray card, for accurate color under mixed or unusual lighting.
The film modes used to be called "FinePix Color" and are now named after Fuji's various brands of film. These let you adjust the color saturation levels of your photos, ranging from neutral to vivid. Here you'll also find the camera's black and white and sepia modes.
Returning to the tour, let's talk about the four-way controller. You'll use this for navigating the menus, reviewing photos you've taken, adjusting manual exposure settings, and also:
- Up - Exposure compensation (-2EV to +2EV) + Delete photo
- Down - Self-timer (Off, 2 or 10 secs)
- Left - Macro (on/off)
- Right - Flash (Auto, flash on, flash off, slow synchro)
- Center - Menu + OK
Under the controller are two final buttons. The one on the left toggles what's shown on the LCD, and also "backs out" of the menu system.
The camera locked onto just one face
The other button activates the F200EXR's elaborate Face Detection 3.0 system. This can detect faces (up to ten of them) from the front, in profile, and even upside down. If you want, you can have the camera remove redeye right as the photo is taken, which can be a big time saver. I got the impression that the F200 is one of those cameras which doesn't handle my test scene well. I can locate faces in real life with ease, and it has no trouble with other photos that I tested it on. But for whatever reason, in this particular test photo, it wouldn't lock on to more than 1 or 2 faces at a time.
On the top of the F200EXR you'll find the power and shutter release buttons, plus the zoom controller. The zoom controller moves the lens from wide-angle to telephoto in just one second. I counted fifteen steps in the camera's 5X zoom range.
On the old FinePix F100fd, that dark, trapezoid-shaped item at the center of the photo was an infrared receiver. As far as I can tell, it's just for decoration on the F200EXR.
Nothing to see here.
The only thing on this side of the camera is the cameras one and only I/O port. This port handles USB and video output (both composite and HD). As you'd expect, the F200EXR supports the USB 2.0 High Speed standard, for fast data transfer to your Mac or PC.
In case you're wondering where you plug in the AC adapter: the camera uses a DC coupler, which is essentially a battery with a power cord coming out of it.
The lens is at the full telephoto position here.
On the bottom of the FinePix F200EXR you'll find the speaker, plastic tripod mount (hidden from view), and the battery/memory card compartment. The reinforced plastic door over this compartment could be a bit more sturdy, and it really needs a locking mechanism. Do note that you cannot access the memory card slot while the camera is on a tripod.
The included NP-50 battery can be see on the right.
Using the Fuji FinePix F200EXR
It takes around 2.1 seconds for the F200 to extend its lens and prepare for shooting. That's not terribly quick for a compact camera.
There's no live histogram available on the F200EXR
Autofocus speeds were very good. In the best case scenarios (wide-angle, good lighting), the F200EXR locked focus in 0.2 - 0.4 seconds. At the telephoto end of the lens, focus times were roughly 0.6 - 0.9 seconds (rarely passing a full second). Low light focusing was both quite and accurate.
I didn't find shutter lag to be a problem, even at the slower shutter speeds where it sometimes occurs.
Shot-to-shot delays were brief. You'll want around 1.5 seconds before you can take another photo without the flash, and just a bit longer with it.
There's no way to delete a photo immediately after taking it -- you must enter playback mode to do so.
Now, here's a look at the numerous image resolution and quality options available on the FinePix F200EXR:
The F200 has quite a lot more image sizes than the F100 did, though there's still no RAW support. As you can see, the built-in memory doesn't hold a lot of photos, so you'll want to get a large memory card right away.
Files are numbered using a simple convention: DSCF####.JPG, where #### = 0001 - 9999. The file numbering is maintained, even when you erase your memory card.
The F200EXR uses the same menu system that's been on Fuji cameras for several years. To be honest, it's starting to look a bit dated. There aren't too many options to be found here, as many of the camera settings can be found in the F-mode menu that I discussed earlier. Here's what you'll find in the shooting menu:
- Scene position (listed earlier) - only available in SP mode
- Shooting mode (Program, aperture priority) - only available in P mode
- Shooting mode (Auto EXR, resolution priority, high sensitivity / low noise, dynamic range priority) - only available in EXR mode
- Continuous (Off, top 3, final 3, long period, top 12, final 12) - see below
- Photometry [metering] (Multi, spot, average)
- AF mode (Center, multi, continuous) - the last option has the camera keep focusing with the shutter release halfway pressed, which is useful when your subject is moving
- Dual IS mode (On, off, preview) - I think the last one is just for demo purposes
- Power management (Power save, quick focus, display quality) - you can only pick one
- Setup - see below
The only thing I want to touch on are the numerous continuous shooting modes on the FinePix F200EXR. There are two basic types of continuous shooting on the camera, which Fuji calls "top" and "final". For the "top" modes, the camera saves the photos that were taken after you start holding down the shutter release. For "final" modes, the camera keeps shooting away (well, for up to 40 shots), but only the photos taken before you released the shutter release button are saved. The table below summarizes the various modes and how they performed:
A pretty average performance, unless you don't mind lowering the resolution substantially.
A quick note about the power management options. Power save dims the LCD after a few seconds, to conserve power. Quick AF changes the minimum focus distance to 1 meter (wide-angle) to reduce focus delays. The display quality option boosts the frame rate of the LCD to 60 frames/second.
There's also a setup menu on the FinePix F200EXR, which is accessible from the record or playback menu. The options here include:
- Shooting options
- Image display (Off, zoom/continuous, 1.5 or 3 secs - post-shot review; the zoom/continuous option enlarges the photo on the screen
- Frame numbering (Continuous, renew)
- Save original image (on/off) - whether the unretouched photo is saved when using auto redeye removal
- AF illuminator (on/off)
- Digital zoom (on/off) - it's best to leave this off
- Setup 1
- Date/time (set)
- Operation volume (Off, low, mid, high)
- Shutter volume (Off, low, mid, high)
- Shutter sound (Sound 1, 2)
- Playback volume (0-7)
- LCD brightness (-5 to +5 in 1-step increments)
- Setup 2
- Format (Internal memory or memory card)
- Auto power off (Off, 2, 5 mins)
- Time difference (Home, local) - for when you're on the road
- Background color - choose the menu background color
- Guidance display (on/off) - whether hints are shown when you change shooting modes
- Setup 3
- Video system (NTSC, PAL)
- Reset - back to defaults
Nothing to talk about here, so let's move on to the photo tests!
The FinePix F200EXR did a pretty good job with our macro test subject, which I took at the 12 Megapixel setting. The colors look great -- no complaints there. The figurine has a very "smooth" appearance -- perhaps a little too smooth, as you can't spot the specs of dust like you can on many other cameras. There's no noise to be found here.
The focus distance in macro mode is 5 cm at wide-angle, and 50 cm at telephoto, which are typical of what you'll find on most cameras in this category.
The night scene turned out nicely, as well. If you want to control the shutter speed, you'll need to use full manual mode, and you can't select an EXR mode there. The camera took in plenty of light, as you can probably tell. As with the macro shot, the image is on the soft side. I'm not sure if it's the lens or noise reduction, or both, but things could certainly be a bit sharper. Considering that this is a 12 Megapixel camera, noise levels are remarkably low. There are some hot pixels here and there, though they're only noticeable if you're inspecting the photo at 100% on your computer screen. While I can see some purple fringing here and there, it's not big enough for me to consider it a problem.
Now, let's use that same scene to see how the F200EXR performs at high ISOs in low light. Remember, these are taken at the 12 Megapixel (resolution priority) setting, since you can't use the other two modes while in shutter priority mode.
There's a bit of detail loss at ISO 200, though that won't keep you from making a mid-to-large print. Detail takes a more noticeable turn for the worse at ISO 400, which is as high as I'd recommend taking the F200EXR in low light, at least at full (12 Megapixel) resolution. At ISO 800, there's enough detail loss that it's hard to see the difference between the buildings and the sky. Things go downhill rapidly after that, and I didn't even bother including the ISO 6400 and 12800 images (you can see what those look like in a bit).
I did try to take the night scene in high sensitivity / low noise mode, and had to crank the ISO to 1600 in order to bring in enough light. The resulting image is on the noisy side, though with a little cleanup you might get a decent 4 x 6 inch print out of it.
I'll show you how the F200EXR performs in normal lighting in a moment.
There's mild-to-moderate barrel distortion at the wide end of the F200's 5X zoom lens. You can see what this means in the real world by looking at the white building on the right side of this photo -- it appears to learn inward toward the center of the frame. I didn't seem much in the line of corner blurriness, and vignetting (dark corners) wasn't a problem either.
Long-time readers of this site know that compact cameras often have big problems with redeye. The F200EXR takes care of that problem by using both a preflash and a digital redeye removal system to get rid of this annoyance. And as you can see, it works! Should you have any leftover redeye, you can remove it via a tool in playback mode.
Here's our studio ISO test. Since the lighting is consistent, you can compare it to other cameras I've reviewed over the years. I'm going to run through this test twice: once at full resolution, the again in the high sensitivity mode. Remember, the crops don't tell the whole story, so view the full size images if you can!
Here are the images taken in resolution priority (12M) mode:
Things start of well enough, with clean-looking images through ISO 400. I do notice some "jaggies" on fine edges, which may be an artifact of the SuperCCD sensor's need to interpolate every image. At ISO 800, the image starts to get a bit grainy, but it shouldn't keep you from making a small or midsize print. That trend continues at ISO 1600, but there's still enough detail that (with a little cleanup with noise reduction software) you can still make a small print. Try that on your typical compact camera! The same cannot be said for ISO 3200 and above, which have far too much detail loss to be usable. The last two settings in particular seem to only be there so they sound good in the press release.
Okay, now let's see how the camera does in the high sensitivity / low noise mode. Remember that the camera drops the resolution down to 6 Megapixel, which is still enough for an 8 x 10 inch print.
ISO 1600, taken in HR mode and downsized in Photoshop
Again, things look great through ISO 400, with just a bit more noise showing up at ISO 800. ISO 1600 has a fair amount of noise but, again, you can clean it up with something like NeatImage and still make a decent quality print. The last crop shows an image taken at full resolution and then downsized to 6 Megapixel. As you can see, it's a tiny bit noisier than the one taken in the high sensitivity mode, but it probably won't matter in the real world.
How does the FinePix F200EXR compare to other compact cameras at high ISOs? These next crops compare it to the Canon PowerShot SD960 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290. For those cameras, I downsized the images to 6 Megapixel, to match those produced by the F200EXR in high sensitivity mode. Here we go:
It is here where you can truly see the advantage of the SuperCCD EXR sensor. The images on the Canon and Sony cameras are soft, lacking a lot of detail, and flat in terms of color. On the other hand, the F200's photos have vivid color, and lots of detail, despite the visible grain-like noise. I wondered if you could actually tell the difference when you printed the photos at 4 x 6 and sure enough, you can -- especially at ISO 1600.
I described the camera's ability to increase dynamic range a bit earlier, and I wanted to throw in one more comparison for you. These next two photos were taken in the infamous purple fringing torture tunnel at Stanford University. The first one was taken at the high resolution setting, while the second was taken in dynamic range priority mode. I downsized the former so the two would be the same (6MP) resolution.
FinePix F200EXR, resolution priority mode, downsized
FinePix F200EXR, dynamic range priority mode
I don't even have to tell you how much better the camera did in dynamic range priority mode -- the photos speak for themselves. The highlights are completely clipped in high resolution mode, with almost no detail left in the columns and arches. While you don't get all the detail back in DR priority mode, it's certainly much better. You can also see that the sky looks a lot better in the bottom photo, as well. My only disappointment with the dynamic range features is that it does very little to brighten up the shadow areas of the images.
Overall, the FinePix F200EXR produces very good quality photos, with better high ISO performance than other compact cameras. Photos were generally well-exposed, though you will see some highlight clipping if you're shooting at the 12 Megapixel setting (I think I showed you the solution to that above). Color looks great -- everything is nice and saturated, and that's without using the "vivid" film mode. At full resolution I do think that images are pretty soft, and there is definitely some mild detail loss from noise reduction. The F200EXR certainly performs better than other compact cameras at high ISOs -- I'd say by a full stop. Usually I tell people to not use a compact camera above ISO 400, but on the F200 you can use ISO 800, and perhaps even ISO 1600 (in good light). That's not to say that there isn't any noise -- there is, usually in the form of "SuperCCD artifacting". At higher ISOs, the noise takes on a film-like, grainy appearance, which thankfully leaves most details intact. Purple fringing levels were low, in most cases.
If all of the photo tests just aren't enough for you, then check out our photo gallery. There you'll find plenty of photos to view, many of which were taken in the other EXR modes. View the photos, print a few if you can, and then decide if the FinePix F200EXR's photo quality meets your expectations.
The FinePix F200EXR has a pretty standard movie mode. You can record video at 640 x 480 at 30 frames/second (with sound) until the file size hits 2GB, which takes around 29 minutes. Since the onboard memory fills up quickly, you'll want to be sure to use a large, high speed memory card for recording long clips.
To increase recording time, you can drop the resolution down to 320 x 240 (30 fps). This allows for movies as long as 57 minutes.
As is often the case, you cannot use the optical zoom lens while recording movies. The image stabilizer doesn't seem to be active, either.
Movies are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.
Here's a quick sample movie for you. It's not the greatest, unfortunately. If I can get a better one, I'll replace it.
Click to play movie (15.6 MB, 640 x 480, 30 fps, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
The FinePix F200 has a pretty standard playback mode, as well. Basic features include slideshows, image protection, DPOF print marking, thumbnail view, and zoom and scroll. This last option lets you enlarge the photo (I'm not sure by how much), and then scroll around. This comes in handy when you want to verify focus, or whether your subject blinked.
|Crazy thumbnail view||Viewing photos by date|
Photos can be viewed one at a time, by date, or as thumbnails. One view shows 100 thumbnails at once, though they're so tiny that it's hard to make out anything.
Face detection is used in playback mode, as well
Photos can be rotated, trimmed, and downsized right on the camera. If you weren't using the automatic redeye reduction feature for your people pictures, you can remove it via a tool in the playback mode. Speaking of people pictures, you can get close ups of any faces detected in a photo by pressing the -- you guessed it -- face detection button. There are no movie editing tools on the camera.
Not surprisingly, there's a tool to copy photos from the internal memory to a memory card and vice versa.
Unfortunately, there camera doesn't give you much in the line of information about the photos you've taken. What you see above is all that you get. No histograms here, sorry folks.
The F200EXR moves through photos quickly. A lower resolution version is shown instantly, with a sharper version following about a half second later.
How Does it Compare?
The Fuji FinePix F200EXR is a capable compact camera whose best trait is its ability to take better high ISO photos than other cameras in its class. It also the ability to capture more details in bright areas of your photos, though it doesn't do much to boost detail in shadow areas. Throw in a 5X, wide-angle lens, a 3-inch LCD, limited manual controls, and generally snappy performance, and you've got a camera that's worth taking a close look at. The F200EXR isn't perfect though: images are soft at full resolution, there are only two apertures available at any one time, you can't use image stabilization in movie mode, and battery life is below average. Despite that, the F200EXR is worth your money, especially if you take a lot of low light photos.
The FinePix F200EXR shares much of the same design of its predecessor, the F100fd. The camera is well built, though the door over the memory card slot really needs a lock, and I'm never a fan of plastic tripod mounts. The F200EXR is a small (but not tiny) camera with a 5X, 28 - 140 mm lens and sensor-shift image stabilization. The lens is a bit on the slow side, with a maximum aperture range of F3.3 - F5.1, though that's not uncommon for cameras in this class. The image stabilizer does a good job with reducing blur in still photos, though you cannot use it in movie mode for some reason. On the back of the camera is a 3-inch LCD display (up from 2.7" on the F100fd), with 230,000 pixels. The screen has decent outdoor and low light visibility. As with all cameras in this class, there's no optical viewfinder to be found on the F200EXR.
The camera has be fully automatic, and there's a decent (but incomplete) set of manual controls, as well. The F200 has a regular automatic mode, plus an EXR mode, which is how you'll access the three different sensor modes: resolution priority, high sensitivity & low noise, and dynamic range priority. Resolution priority is the standard 12 Megapixel mode -- nothing fancy there. High sensitivity & low noise cuts the resolution in half, but gives you high ISO shots that easily best the competition. Dynamic range priority also lowers the resolution, and it helps to bring back highlights that were overexposed to the point of being "clipped". Unfortunately, the DR priority mode does little to improve shadow detail. If you don't know what of those modes to choose, just use EXR Auto and let the camera figure it out for you.
If you want manual controls, you'll have to give up those EXR modes (though you can sort of replicate them in other modes), but you do gain the ability to adjust the aperture and shutter speed. Well, sort of. Since the camera is using a neutral density filter, you can only select from two apertures at any one time. The F200EXR doesn't have a manual focus feature either, and while I'm at it, how about support for the RAW format? The F200 has an elaborate face detection system, which can detect faces at any angle. It can reduce redeye automatically as the photo is taken, as well. The camera's movie mode is nothing to get excited about: it's a simple VGA mode with no use of the optical zoom or image stabilizer.
Camera performance was a mixed bag. The FinePix F200EXR is a bit slow to startup, with a time of 2.1 seconds. Focusing speeds were very quick though, rarely exceeding a second, even in low light situations. Shutter lag wasn't a problem, and shot-to-shot delays were minimal (even if you're using the flash). The F200 won't win a gold medal for its continuous shooting performance. At full resolution, the fastest it will shoot is 1.6 frames/second, and only for three shots. If you don't mind lowering the resolution to 3 Megapixel, you can shoot at over 4 frames/second. The F200EXR's battery life is below average for the compact class.
Photo quality was very good in most respects. At the normal, full resolution setting, the F200EXR's photos are well-exposed (though there's some highlight clipping), with pleasing, vivid color. I do feel that images are on the soft side, though, and some fine details aren't as crisp as I'd like. Don't be surprised if you see some jaggies or other weird artifacts, either -- they seem to come with the territory on SuperCCD-based cameras. Noise levels are low through ISO 800 in good light, and ISO 400 in low light -- a full stop better than the competition. Switch into high sensitivity and low light mode and you'll get even better results, though you won't be able to adjust many settings on the camera, and the resolution is "only" 6 Megapixel (more than enough for most purposes). The other EXR mode, dynamic range priority, helps reduce a lot of the highlight clipping that can appear. Regardless of the sensor mode you're using, purple fringing levels were fairly low.
There are a few other things to mention before I wrap things up. You won't be able to access the memory card slot while the camera is on a tripod, though kudos to Fuji for supporting both SD/SDHC and xD cards (Olympus, are you listening?). The included Mac software leaves much to be desired, especially compared to the Windows version. Finally, the full manual is only available on CD-ROM, and it's not terribly detailed.
Thanks to its new SuperCCD EXR sensor, Fuji has created arguably the most capable low light compact camera since the FinePix F30 and F31fd. Sure, the camera needs some improvement in some areas, and I'd love to see the sensor in a more "prosumer" body (and Fuji has hinted that this will happen), but for a go-anywhere camera that can handle low light with ease, the FinePix F200EXR is well worth checking out.
What I liked:
- Very good photo quality (though see issues below)
- Low light performance a full stop better than other compact cameras
- 5X wide-angle zoom lens in a compact, stylish body
- Sensor-shift image stabilization
- 3-inch LCD with good outdoor / low light viewing
- Dynamic range priority mode restores clipped highlights (but does little for shadow detail)
- Many manual controls
- Automatic scene and EXR mode selection
- Good autofocus performance
- Elaborate face detection system
- Redeye not a problem thanks to auto removal feature
- Memory card slot supports both xD and SD/SDHC cards
- Optional underwater case
What I didn't care for:
- Images are soft at full resolution, with some detail smudging; some SuperCCD artifacting, as well
- Only two apertures to choose from at a time; lens a bit slow
- EXR modes require dropping the resolution, giving up manual controls and menu options
- No optical viewfinder
- No image stabilization in movie mode
- Below average battery life
- Door over memory card / battery compartment needs a lock; compartment inaccessible when camera is on a tripod
- Plastic tripod mount
- Very basic Mac software included, especially compared to the Windows equivalent
- Full manual only available on CD-ROM (and it's not terribly detailed, either)
Some other cameras worth considering include the Canon PowerShot SD880 IS, Casio Exilim EX-Z400, Nikon Coolpix S560, Olympus Stylus 7000, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS25, Samsung SL820, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290.
As always, I recommend a trip down to your local camera or electronics store to try out the FinePix F200EXR and its competitors before you buy!
See how the photos turned out in our gallery!