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.
Fujifilm FinePix F770EXR Review – Features
The camera provides a complete set of manual controls on the main mode dial; P, A, S and M and then the titular EXR mode. Here you get three setting to choose between that prioritise detail, dynamic range or low noise at higher ISOs.
These are selected in a menu option which again, makes it use and set up a little less intuitive than I’d like, and depending on the setting, it also effects the resolution of the shots you take.
For instance, the wide dynamic ‘D-Range’ (DR) mode takes two images and combines them to get the dynamic range boost but at only 8-megapixels resolution; the camera effectively reconfigures how it uses the sensor’s pixels and their respective photo sites in order to achieve the result.
In fact, the way the F770 uses its sensor cleverly makes the most of the backlit CMOS sensor technology and in the DR mode particularly, it mimics the way Fuji’s old Super CCD sensors used to use multiple photo sites on each pixel location to get better dynamic range at the expense of gross resolution.
My one regret is you cannot get at the EXR settings while shooting in the manual modes, here it might add even greater versatility to the camera’s already impressive shooting armoury.
Nevertheless, there’s a good set of pre-sets, but again the process to get things set up can be on the slow side, requiring work within menus to select and define many of the modes, all meaning until you’ve got to grips with the camera’s settings and menu options, it all feel overly convoluted to actually get the most of many of the camera’s more powerful bits and pieces.
On the downside, some of the more useful features are frustrating to use. GPS settings are convoluted and I found very little in the way of control over the flash settings; you get forced, auto and slow synch modes in EXR and shutter priority and program modes for example, but not in aperture priority or full manual shooting.
Here the camera dictates flash by using its in-built ‘intelligent’ flash technology in some of the aforementioned manual shooting modes, which is both annoying and counter intuitive and while the camera does a good job of it, some form of ‘proper’ manual control over the flash is a prerequisite, at least in my book.
Once the GPS feature is set up it is rewarding once active, as the geo-tagging and photo navigation modes are very clever indeed. For those not familiar with such GPS kittery, the F770 is able to automatically tag the longitude, latitude and altitude co-ordinates on images of the thing you‚Äôre photographing.
It can also highlight on screen any landmarks you’re shooting too, so overlaying the words ‘Houses of Parliament’, say,with the Houses of Parliament on the camera’s screen as you prepare to photograph it.
While an obvious example it is a very funky feature indeed and in fact, Fuji says the F770 boasts a worldwide database of 1-million landmarks!
Even funkier still, is the photo navigation system, where tilting the camera downwards activates a radar-like view of any photogenic landmarks that are displayed on the screen near your current location with their distance away. In short, the camera can become a kind of photo tour guide able to provide key data on things to shoot (almost) wherever you are travelling.
As you may realise by now, the F770 is simultaneously a feature-packed snapper, able to be used as a simple point-n-shooter as well as something far more sophisticated. And so, when it comes to using some options, it’s comparatively simple, which is good while a look at its hardware tells the opposite story.
Most compacts on the market today have a suite of built-in filters, such as toy camera, pinhole, miniature and the like; designed to give fun photo options on devices that are otherwise more limited, in terms of their hardware. The F770 has none of these modes but does have the more usual array of subject, or scene modes including landscape, night scene, natural light (and with flash), fireworks and beach modes along with two pet oriented settings of cat and dog, to name a few.
Those after more control and manual options get access to relatively few things to tinker with, outside of the manual shooting options on the mode dial and these include exposure compensation, white balance, and saturation controls, alongside the automated kit Fuji has built in.
Fuji has spent a lot of time on the hardware too and the impressive 20x optical zoom and speedy AF combined with the excellent image stabilisation that becomes essential at the longer focal lengths this camera can shoot at.
Interestingly, the map viewer software that comes with the camera and can be used with MyFinePix Studio means the GPS does not just tag your location and store the metadata, the F770 plots your route along Google Maps, complete with your photos.