Fuji FinePix F70EXR Review

Using the Fuji FinePix F70EXR

Record Mode

It takes about 2.2 seconds for the FinePix F70EXR to extend its lens and prepare for shooting, which is on the slow side.

There's no live histogram available on the F70EXR

On the other hand, the F70EXR is very responsive in the autofocus department. At wide-angle, the camera locks focus in 0.2 to 0.4 seconds. Telephoto focus delays ranged from 0.5 - 0.8 seconds. only occasionally taking a bit longer. The camera focused quickly and accurately in low light situations.

I didn't find shutter lag to be a problem, even at the slower shutter speeds where it sometimes occurs.

Shot-to-shot delays are very brief. About a second will pass before you can take another photo when the flash is disabled. With the flash, expect to wait about three seconds between photos.

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 F70EXR:

Resolution Quality Approx. file size # images on 47MB onboard memory # images on 2GB SD card (optional)
Large (4:3)
3616 x 2712
Fine 3.9 MB 12 510
Normal 2.4 MB 19 810
Large (3:2)
3616 x 2400
Fine 3.4 MB 13 570
Normal 2.2 MB 22 910
Large (16:9)
3616 x 2048
Fine 2.9 MB 16 670
Normal 1.8 MB 26 1060
Medium (4:3)
2592 x 1944
Fine 2.5 MB 19 790
Normal 1.3 MB 38 1540
Medium (3:2)
2592 x 1728
Fine 2.2 MB 21 880
Normal 1.1 MB 42 1720
Medium (16:9)
2592 x 1440
Fine 1.9 MB 25 1050
Normal 950 KB 51 2060
Small (4:3)
2048 x 1536
Fine 1.6 MB 30 1230
Normal 800 KB 60 2380
Small (3:2)
2048 x 1360
Fine 1.4 MB 34 1400
Normal 720 KB 67 2690
Small (16:9)
1920 x 1080
Fine 1.0 MB 46 1870
Normal 700 KB 69 2810

While the built-in memory holds a decent amount of photos, you can see the benefits of buying a larger memory card. As a reminder, the medium resolution is what the camera uses with the high ISO / low noise and dynamic range priority modes. The F70EXR does not support the RAW image format.

The F70EXR uses the same menu system that's been on Fuji cameras for several years. It's not terribly attractive, and navigating the menus seems a bit clunky to me. Anyhow, keeping in mind that not all of these options are available in each shooting mode, here's the full list:

  • Scene position (listed earlier) - only available when mode dial is set to "SP"
  • Shooting mode (Program, aperture priority) - only available when mode dial is set to "P"
  • EXR mode (Auto EXR, resolution priority, high sensitivity / low noise, dynamic range priority) - described earlier, and only available when mode dial is set to "EXR"
  • ISO (100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, Auto 400, Auto 800, Auto 1600, Auto) - these options will vary depending on the shooting mode
  • Image size (see chart above)
  • Image quality (see chart above)
  • Dynamic range (Auto, 100%, 200%, 400%, 800%) - see below
  • Film Simulation (Provia/Standard, Velvia/Vivid, Astia/Soft, black & white, sepia) - described earlier
  • White balance (Auto, custom, sunlight, shade, fluorescent x 3, tungsten) - the custom option lets you use a white or gray card for accurate color in unusual lighting conditions
  • Continuous (Off, top 3, final 3, 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

The dynamic range option takes advantage of the SuperCCD EXR sensor. If you're in Auto EXR mode, this setting will be adjusted automatically. In the D-Range Priority EXR mode, you can select from 100% to 800%. In all other shooting modes (where this setting can be adjusted), it can be set from 100% to 400%, or left on Auto. If you're shooting at full resolution then the ISO will go up as the dynamic range increases. For example, if you want 400% DR, the ISO will need to be set to ISO 400 or higher.

The example below was taken in dynamic range priority mode. While you can sort of catch a glimpse of the changes from the downsized images below, you may want to view the full size photos for a closer inspection.

100% DR
View Full Size Image
200% DR
View Full Size Image
400% DR
View Full Size Image
800% DR
View Full Size Image

The easiest way to see the improvement in dynamic range is to look at the columns on the left. Notice how the highlight clipping starts to disappear as you increase the dynamic range. If you view the full size images, you can see that the textures on the columns become clearer due to the reduction in clipping. You may also notice an increase in noise, due to the camera boosting the ISO in order to pull off this trick. The DR feature is certainly worth using in situations where there is bound to be highlight clipping -- just remember that the photos may be a bit noisier if you're shooting at the 10 Megapixel setting.

Now let's go over the continuous shooting options on the F70EXR. 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 the "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 1.7 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 shots in a row while the shutter release button is pressed. Resolution is lowered to 3 Megapixel, while ISO is raised to 400. 4.7 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 lowered to 3 Megapixel, ISO increased to 400.

So you have a choice: three full resolution photos at an average clip, or a dozen photos at a lower resolution and higher sensitivity. I should add that the LCD keeps up fairly well with the action in the faster burst modes.

There's also a setup menu on the FinePix F70EXR, which is accessible from the record or playback menu. The options here include:

  • Date/time (set)
  • Time difference (Home/travel)
  • Language
  • Silent mode (on/off) - turns of the beeps and the flash too
  • Reset
  • Format
  • Image display (Off, 1.5, 3 secs, zoom/continuous) - last item enlarges the photo and keeps it there until you press a button
  • Frame numbering (Continuous, renew)
  • Operation volume (Off, low, mid, high)
  • Shutter volume (Off, low, mid, high)
  • Shutter sound (1, 2)
  • Playback volume (0-10)
  • LCD brightness (-5 to +5 in 1-step increments)
  • Auto power off (Off, 2, 5 mins)
  • Dual IS mode (Continuous, shooting only, off)
  • Redeye removal (on/off) - remove this annoyance as pictures are taken
  • Digital zoom (on/off) - best to keep this off
  • AF illuminator (on/off)
  • Save original image (on/off) - whether unprocessed images are saved along with retouched photos when redeye reduction is used
  • Background color - choose the menu background color
  • Guidance display (on/off) - whether hints are shown when you change shooting modes
  • Video system (NTSC, PAL)
  • Power management (Power save, quick AF, clear LCD) - quick AF reduces focus times by shrinking the active focal range; clear LCD boosts the refresh rate of the screen

The only thing I want to mention here is the Dual IS mode option (the "dual" implies sensor-shift and ISO boost). The continuous option always has the system running, so you can compose your photos without camera shake. The shooting only option activates the system when the photo is actually taken, which is more effective at reducing blur than the continuous mode. You can also turn the IS system off entirely, which you'll want to do when the camera is on a tripod.

Alright, let's move onto our photo tests now, shall we?

The FinePix F70EXR did a nice job with our standard macro test subject, which was taken at the high resolution (10MP) setting. Colors are pretty good, though they could be a bit more saturated, in my opinion. The easy way to fix that is to change the Film Mode to Velvia/Vivid, though that may be a little too much here (click here to see the results). The figurine has a very smooth appearance to it, similar to what you'd see from a D-SLR. While I don't see any noise here, if you inspect the edges closely you can see some artifacting, though I'm not sure if it's from JPEG compression or noise reduction.

The focus distance in macro mode is 5 cm at wide-angle, and 90 cm at telephoto -- both average numbers.

In order to take night scenes like the one you see above, you'll have to make sure the camera is in the right shooting mode. That's because, in most cases, the slowest shutter speed the camera will use is 1/4 sec. If you use the night (tripod) mode, that number goes up to 3 seconds. For the most control, you'll want to use "M" mode, which raises the limit to 8 seconds.

I took these photos at the full resolution setting, since the EXR modes don't let you adjust the shutter speed. At ISO 100, the image is fairly sharp, again with the smooth look that you saw in the macro test. There is some highlight clipping here, though you could reduce that by using the dynamic range adjustment, though keep in mind that this will require increasing the sensitivity (if you're shooting at full resolution), and thus the noise levels. Speaking of noise, it can be found in this photo, but there's not enough to concern me. Purple fringing levels are low.

Now, let's use that same scene to see how the F70EXR performs at high ISOs in low light. Remember, these are taken at the 10 Megapixel (resolution priority) setting, since you can't use the other two EXR modes while in full manual mode.

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 12,800

There's not much of a difference between the the ISO 100 and 200 shots. At ISO 400 you start to see detail loss, but a midsize print is still a possibility. Things start to really go downhill at ISO 800, so I'd save that setting for emergencies only. Everything above that is not worth using, especially the two highest sensitivities, as you can see.

You might say "why not shoot these in high sensitivity / low noise mode"? The answer is that I can't, since the slowest shutter speed available is 1/4 second. You can lower the resolution to 5 Megapixel and get the same effect, though it doesn't make ISO 800 and above any more appealing, in my opinion.

Look for our studio ISO test in a moment.

There's fairly mild barrel distortion at the wide end of the F70EXR's 27 - 270 mm lens. There's also some vignetting (dark corners) here, though it's fairly mild when it does occur in real world photos. I also had trouble with corner blurring, specifically in the lower-right (example). I tried two different cameras and both had the problem, so I'm thinking that the lens is being pushed a little too hard.

Compact cameras always have trouble with redeye. The F70EXR uses both pre-flashes and digital redeye removal to get rid of this annoyance as a photos is taken. At least in my experience, this didn't help, with fairly strong redeye remaining. Even using the removal tool in playback mode didn't help. As always, your mileage may vary.

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 use this scene for several comparisons, so grab a cup of coffee! First, we're going to look at noise levels with the camera at high resolution:

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 12800

Everything looks very nice through ISO 400. At ISO 800 we see a bit of an increase in noise, but it won't keep you from making a large print at that sensitivity. Noise and detail loss become a lot more obvious at ISO 1600, though a small or midsize print is still a possibility (especially with a trip through noise reduction software). When you get to ISO 3200 the resolution drops to 5 Megapixel, the image gets even grainier, and I can spot a little banding, too. The highest ISO settings (6400 and 12,800) lower the resolution to 3 Megapixel, and are really only there to look good in the press release, as the image quality is quite poor.

Next, I wanted to see how the images looked when using the high sensitivity / low noise EXR mode. I was also interested in seeing if you could get the same result by just downsizing the high resolution image in Photoshop. Here's how things look at ISO 800 and 1600 (which is as high as you can go in the EXR modes, by the way).

ISO 800

High resolution mode (downsized)

High sensitivity / low noise mode
ISO 1600

High resolution mode (downsized)

High sensitivity / low noise mode

What does this test tell me? That by downsizing the photos in Photoshop from 10 to 5 Megapixel, you actually get better results than shooting in the high sensitivity / low noise mode. Basically, the EXR mode just saves you the need to downsize the images manually, with just a slight decrease in image quality.

My last comparison is to test whether the F70EXR produces better high ISO images than other compact ultra zooms. (If you've read this far, you probably know the answer to that question.) Here I selected two other ultra zoom cameras as the competition: the Canon PowerShot SX200 IS and Nikon Coolpix S630, and you might want to look at the Canon PowerShot G11 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 photos as well, since they're advertised as high sensitivity cameras. I downsized their test photos to 10 Megapixel, to match those taken in the high resolution mode on the FinePix F70EXR. Let's see how this one turned out:

ISO 800

Canon PowerShot SX200 IS (downsized)

Fuji FinePix F70EXR

Nikon Coolpix S630 (downsized)
ISO 1600

Canon PowerShot SX200 IS (downsized)

Fuji FinePix F70EXR

Nikon Coolpix S630 (downsized)

I think it's safe to say that the F70EXR really cleaned up in this competition. While it's not going to rival output from a digital SLR, Fuji definitely has at least a full stop advantage over other compact cameras in terms of noise. The only non-Fuji cameras that really come close are the Canon PowerShot G11 and (presumably) the S90, though the F70EXR pulls away at ISO 1600.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the images produced by the FinePix F70EXR. Exposure was accurate, though like most compacts the F70 does suffer from highlight clipping at times. You can address this by adjusting the dynamic range settings, though remember that at full resolution the ISO will need to increase proportionally (and that you're limited to 5 Megapixel in the D-Range EXR mode). I can't complain about color -- everything is nicely saturated. Photos have a smooth, almost SLR-like appearance to them. I've already shown you that the F70 has less noise than other compact cameras at high ISOs. You may notice what I call "SuperCCD artifacting" at lower ISOs, which smudges the details in low contrast areas of a photo. The good news is that for all but the largest print sizes, you won't notice it. I mentioned corner blurring and vignetting a bit earlier, and you can expect to see a little of both in your photos. Another thing you will notice occasionally are moderate levels of purple fringing.

Now, I invite you to have a look the photo gallery for the FinePix F70EXR. Take a look at the full size images, and maybe print a few of them if you can. Then you should be able to decide whether the F70EXR's photo quality meets your expectations!

Movie Mode

The FinePix F70EXR has an unremarkable 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. You can also lower the resolution to 320 x 240 (still at 30 fps), but then the maximum file size goes down to 1GB, so your maxi um recording time there is 28 minutes (I'm not following Fuji's logic).

The F70 is one of the rare cameras that lets you use the optical zoom while you're filming a movie. You can also have the camera focus continuously while you're recording, and the image stabilizer is available as well. The problem with all three of these things is that their sound (especially the AF and zoom) will be picked up by the camera's microphone.

Movies are saved in AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.

Here's a sample movie for you that cuts out a little earlier than I would've liked. You might want to turn your volume down before viewing it!

Click to play movie (12.8 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, voice captions, 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.

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 F70EXR moves through photos quickly. A lower resolution version is shown instantly, with a sharper version following about a half second later.