The Fujifilm FinePix F770EXR updates the F-series models, replacing the F600 along with its new siblings the F660 and F750 variants, and as such it is designed to be a traveller's camera companion capable of shooting almost any subject. But how does it perform? We find out.
Fuji has been building a new and very nice line in camera gear over the last year or two and with competition stiffening across the board with new kit from usual suspects such as Nikon and Canon also joined by great new kit from makers such as Panasonic, Samsung and Olympus, things have been tough in an even tougher marketplace. But then Fuji introduced its impressive X Series line of higher-end digital cameras, all the while refining its more compact lineup and so, enter the Finepix F770 EXR.
The FinePix F770EXR sits atop company’s F Series compacts, a series of cameras that slips in between the semi-pro level X Series and the compact Z and T models and as such it looks a real stunner. And so the new F770EXR is designed as an all-around camera, combining a stunning 20x 25-500mm optical wide-zoom lens, 16-megapixel resolution CMOS sensor and a top sensitivity setting of ISO 12800.
Image stabilisation is also a key foundation for a camera such as this as it makes hand holding long-zoom shots a possibility and the improved processing power means fast start up, response times and a fleet of foot AF system. My one initial worry is a rather confusing menu and user interface system, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Fujifilm FinePix F770EXR Review – Design
The F770 EXR oozes the sort of built and ‘feel’ you’d expect from a more expensive camera, it’s also remarkably compact for a camera boasting a 25mm to 500mm optical zoom lens. The camera’s quality is matched by the lens and buttons (there’s no lens wiggle or button stickiness) and the all-red body livery on my review sample is very smart without being overly flashy.
The Fuji F770 EXR has a curved and rounded shape that means it looks a little unorthodox compared to some more traditional style compacts. The top of the F770 has a rounded hump over the lens that houses the GPS bits and bobs, while a neat rubberised area on the sculpted hand grip on the camera’s face makes one handed operation feel safe, even if it is a bit shaky, particularly at the 500mm end fo the lens.
A clever but tiny and, it has to be said, rather underpowered pop-up flash is activated by a rather well hidden button on the left side of the camera but it’s only really suitable as a fill-in unit or for low light indoors where distances it will have to illuminate are not to great. The flash also looks rather vulnerable when it’s activated and popped up into its firing position where it just looks fragile to me.
The net result of the curved body and the GPS ‘hump’ however is rather a contradiction in that it makes F770 appear bulkier than many of its competitors and yet at the same time, the smoothed and nicely tactile finish on the camera’s body makes it feel small in the hand. In any event, it’s nice to hold and use.
Of the main buttons on the camera there’s the aforementioned shutter release/lens zoom control, which are well positioned and great to use, there’s a useful function (Fn) button and a recessed (for safety) on/off button.
The back of the F770 is typical of a compact snapper with its excellent, large 3-inch screen dominating the real estate. The mode dial sits at a jaunty angle off of the back of the top plate and is excellent and very usable; I love its position and the way it aids the overall handling of the camera, as your right thumb falls naturally over the knurled dial.
This is used to get into the main camera shooting settings while an otherwise rather ordinary back plate control layout includes a four way dial-come-jog-control (it rotates for faster scrolling and access to features), a direct HD movie recording button that’s sat under the mode dia’s plinth and so is great to get to and use with your right thumb.
The playback button, display toggle/control and menu/OK buttons are pretty standard, but as with most Fuji compacts there’s the addition of an F or Finepix button, which brings into play the ability to shoot using film simulation modes (for those in the know, or that shot on Fuji film in times of yore) where it mimics Fuji Velvia (my favourite with punchier colour), Provia and Astia (Fuji’s APS slide film) slide films as well as having Sepia and black and white modes.
ISO, image aspect ratios, continuous shooting and GPS set up systems are housed here too, for fast set up and access. Macro shooting, flash settings, deletion/exposure compensation and self timer drive settings are all gained via the four-way jog control mentioned earlier, so as I say, it’s fairly normal in that regard.
Most camera makers have managed to create menu systems and interfaces that are easy to use and understand, great for the general snappers and making the cameras easier to use for novices; many including a help system to guide you, to a greater or lesser degree, on camera modes and their uses.
This Fuji’s menu system looks simple enough at first, with just two main tabs to choose between, one for shooting (or playback when in playback mode) and one for set up. It appears easy but it’s overly technical in my view as there’s a lot of stuff to tinker with, not all of it as straightforward as you might expect, while menu sequences needed to determine settings feel overly long too.
The metering systems, for example, are housed within a ‘Photometry’ sub menu; more novice users might not know what that means, but I think such kit should be easier to get at to make it faster and easier to use, ideally through direct buttons; enter the Fn (function) button, which I assigned to the this task.
However, a while spent with the camera will get you familiar with its interface foibles and once you’ve used it a for a while, these initial technicalities will quickly pass and with the likely purchaser of this camera being a more experienced user, perhaps much of the interface issues will be moot. If you’ve owned a previous Fuji digital camera, then many of the menu features will be more or less familiar too.