DCRP

Fuji FinePix F200EXR Review

Using the Fuji FinePix F200EXR

Record Mode

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:

Resolution Quality Approx. file size # images on 48MB onboard memory # images on 2GB SD card (optional)
Large (4:3)
4000 x 3000
Fine 4.7 MB 10 410
Normal 3.0 MB 16 660
Large (3:2)
4000 x 2664
Fine 4.2 MB 11 460
Normal 2.6 MB 18 740
Large (16:9)
4000 x 2248
Fine 3.5 MB 13 550
Normal 2.2 MB 21 880
Medium (4:3)
2816 x 2112
Fine 2.9 MB 16 670
Normal 1.5 MB 32 1310
Medium (3:2)
2816 x 1864
Fine 2.6 MB 18 750
Normal 1.3 MB 37 1470
Medium (16:9)
2816 x 1584
Fine 2.2 MB 22 880
Normal 1.1 MB 43 1720
Small (4:3)
2048 x 1536
Fine 1.6 MB 31 1230
Normal 800 KB 61 2380
Small (3:2)
2048 x 1360
Fine 1.4 MB 35 1400
Normal 720 KB 68 2690
Small (16:9)
1920 x 1080
Fine 1.0 MB 46 1870
Normal 700 KB 71 2810

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:

Option Description Performance
Top 3 Takes three shots in a row while the shutter release is held down 1.6 fps
Final 3 Keeps shooting for up to 40 frames, but saves the last three images taken before you let go of the shutter release button.
Top 12 Takes twelve 3 Megapixel shots in a row while the shutter release button is pressed 4.3 fps
Final 12 Buffers up to 40 frames and saves the last 12 that were taken before you took your finger off the shutter release; resolution is 3 Megapixel
Long period Camera keeps shooting until memory card is full; camera refocuses between each shot 0.6 fps

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)
    • Language
    • 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.


ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400


ISO 800


ISO 1600

ISO 3200

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:


ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400


ISO 800


ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 12800

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 100

ISO 200

ISO 400


ISO 800


ISO 1600

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:


Canon PowerShot SD960 IS, ISO 800, downsized

Fuji FinePix F200EXR, ISO 800, high sensitivity / low noise mode

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290, ISO 800, downsized
 

Canon PowerShot SD960 IS, ISO 1600, downsized

Fuji FinePix F200EXR, ISO 1600, high sensitivity / low noise mode

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290, ISO 1600, downsized

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.

Movie Mode

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.

Playback Mode

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.

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