How does the first camera to feature Fujifilmʼs exr technology fare?
The sensor itself holds 12MP over a relatively large 1/1.6in CCD, which allows it a sensitivity range of ISO 100-3200 as standard, with extensions to ISO 6400 and 12800 at reduced resolutions. As might be expected from a plastic-bodied compact there’s no option for Raw shooting, with images stored solely as JPEGs.
Aside from the sensor the compact barely betrays its point-and-shoot status, with the usual scattering of features and technologies, such as Face Detection, red-eye removal and a VGA-resolution video mode, all present. Exposure control comes by Auto and Program settings, as well as the EXR mode and a handful of scene options, though those wishing for more control over their images will welcome the further options of Aperture Priority and Manual exposure. As with many similar compacts these latter two options are fairly limited, with only two selectable apertures at any given focal length. The optic does, however, provide a useful 5x focal range, beginning from an 35mm equivalent setting of 28mm and ending at 140mm, which should suit most subjects.
Capitalising on the company?s film heritage, the F200 offers its colour options as Film Simulation modes which emulate the characteristics of Fujifilm?s Provia, Velvia and Astia emulsions. These are set via the respective Standard, Vivid and Soft options, and are joined by further settings for black & white and sepia. Control over dynamic range may be selected over three levels from 100-400%, with a further 800% setting available when the camera is set to record in its EXR Dynamic Range mode.
In terms of recording and viewing images, the rear of the camera sports a 3in LCD screen with a 230,000-dot resolution, with an HD output and supplied cable further allowing it to be connected to external monitors.
Design And Performance
With a 5x zoom lens and a 3in LCD screen the camera is understandably a little large, though not as weighty as might be expected. The zoom rocker and shutter release button are both comfortable to operate, and while larger LCD screens usually have a knock-on effect on handling, the camera still offers enough space to rest your thumb on the back, along with an adequately proportioned set of controls. The LCD is a little recessed into the body, though, allowing dust to collect around the edges where itʼs not always easy to remove.
Navigating the menus is fairly straightforward, thanks to their basic structure and graphic display. At 230,000 dots the screenʼs resolution is fairly unremarkable, and thereʼs some slight lagging as you move around a scene, but it still performs well when compared with its peers. Focusing, even in darker conditions, is carried out fairly briskly and this is mirrored by the speed and accuracy of the Intelligent Face Detection system, which quickly recognises faces even when theyʼre side-on to the camera. The zoom shares this trait, travelling through its range at a good pace.
The only downsides regarding performance are minor at best. The battery is quite loose in its compartment, and on a number of occasions ejecting the memory card resulted in the battery following it out of the camera. Also, the cameraʼs start-up time is hardly quick, although powering down is fortunately a little quicker.
Image Quality And Value For Money
On the whole, images from the F200 EXR are impressive. The metering system takes some persuading for it to err into under or overexposure, which only happens when subject to strong lighting. Even so, whenever this does happen, the dynamic range option noticeably lifts shadows and pulls highlights to optimise the image and make it appear more pleasing.
Colours are pleasantly vibrant without being too oversaturated, and white balance is generally sound, though a number of images I shot could do with a slight boost in contrast and saturation to get them looking their best. Iʼm happy to report that chromatic aberrations, while noticeable towards the edges and corners of the frame, are also far better controlled than on previous Fujifilm models, though I did notice some magenta lines take on a rather unnatural and jagged appearance in some images.
Centre sharpness is very good, and when stopped down this extends towards edges and corners, and though the lens displays some barrelling at its 28mm extremity, only close-up linear subjects should show this to an objectionable level. As regards noise, images shot at the lowest sensitivities are impressively clear and smooth, and Iʼm surprised by how little colour noise is exhibited in images throughout the sensitivity range. There is a watercolour-like texture that begins at about ISO 400 in both flash and ambient exposures, though images still retain good detail. Detail can still be made out at the highest few sensitivities, but thereʼs plenty of noise, texture and a little banding that would deem them suitable only for small print sizes.
Value For Money
At around £290, the F200 EXR is pitched between style-oriented and enthusiast compacts, and the cameraʼs feature set fits this criteria, too. If you want a camera with manual control and flexibility then itʼs probably best to turn your attention towards the excellent Panasonic LX3 and Canon G10 duo, but if you donʼt fancy post-processing and just want a dependable compact then the F200 EXR is a fine choice.
With the F200 EXR Fujifilm has brought a new standard down to a wider market. Those not wishing to process Raw images but still wanting quality results will welcome the flexibility of the EXR sensor, as well as the results it produces. Detail at lower ISOs is stunning and the extended dynamic range is appreciated, though with little in the way of manual control and lack of functionality I doubt the camera will steal much thunder from the high-end, enthusiast compact market. Should Fujifilm use the sensor in a better-specified body, however, we may see an interesting turn of events.
Ultimately, by straying from the herd and paying attention where it matters, Fujifilm has once again proved the benefits of its innovative sensor technology.
With the F200 EXR Fujifilm has brought a new standard down to a wider market. Those not wishing to process Raw images but still wanting quality results will welcome the flexibility of the EXR sensor, as well as the results it produces. Detail at lower ISOs is stunning and the extended dynamic range is appreciated, though with little in the way of manual control and lack of functionality I doubt the camera will steal much thunder from the high-end, enthusiast compact market. Should Fujifilm use the sensor in a better-specified body, however, we may see an interesting turn of events. Ultimately, by straying from the herd and paying attention where it matters, Fujifilm has once again proved the benefits of its innovative sensor technology.