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Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR - Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 16/08/2009
Rating: Recommended
Author: Joshua Waller
Buy Now: Get the Best Price


Introduction: Announced on the 4th of February 2009, the Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR is Fuji's top of the range advanced compact camera and features a new 12 megapixel Super CCD EXR sensor, a wide angle 5x optical zoom lens, a 3" screen, wide dynamic range, and a VGA video mode. It also features Dual Image Stabilisation (anti-shake sensor), Face Detection 3.0 Technology, and ISO up to 12800(at 3mp). The Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR is available from around £215 which makes it fairly good value for money. The camera is enclosed in a metal body and is available in black, or silver. The camera measures approx. 97.7 x 58.9 x 23.4mm (excluding protrusions), and weighs approx. 175g. excluding battery and memory card.

Fujifilm have this to say about the camera:

"Fujifilm is extremely proud to introduce the FinePix F200EXR, the first camera to feature the revolutionary Super CCD EXR Sensor. Following a long line of award-winning F-series models, the FinePix F200EXR compact camera is breaking new ground in terms of image quality, and and is able to achieve unprecedented levels of detail in difficult low-light conditions. The NEW, switchable, EXR sensor has been designed to work in three ways, delivering optimal results for high resolution; high contrast; and low-light photography. It’s totally flexible too; users can simply set it to EXR Auto for point-and-shoot photography, or take advantage of the manual settings for full creative control."

You can find more information on their website. To understand the new SuperCCD EXR sensor we would recommend looking at this Fuji page that explains the three modes: EXR HR - High Resolution (12mp), EXR SN Signal to Noise Priority (6mp), and EXR DR Dynamic Range Priority (6mp).

The Camera: a visual tour - click images to enlarge: (Photos of the camera taken with the Olympus EVOLT E-500)


Front view - camera off.


Front view - camera on, flash, LED illuminator, lens.


Top: infra-red, power, shutter release, zoom.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.


Size comparison.


Side view - left: lens in telephoto position, right: lens in wideangle position, side: HD, AV, USB out.

Specifications / Features:

  • Sensor: 12 million pixel 1/ 1.6-inch Super CCD EXR Sensor
  • Lens: Wide angle 5x Fujinon zoom lens, Equivalent to 28 - 140mm
  • Screen: 3.0-inch LCD screen, 230,000 pixels
  • Face detection: World's most advanced Face Detection 3.0 technology
  • Film simulation modes: PROVIA (Standard), Velvia (Vivid), ASTIA (Soft), Black and White, Sepia
  • Video Recording: VGA, 30fps Video
  • Continuous Shooting: 5fps, At 3MP or lower
  • HD Output : Yes with HDC-1 cable (sold separately)
  • Red-Eye Reduction: Yes (Automatic)
  • Macro: 5cm Macro mode
  • ISO : Auto / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200 (6400 at 6mp, 12800 at 3mp)
  • IS (Image Stabilisation): Yes - "Dual Image Stabilisation" - High ISO and Mechanical sensor-shift stabilisation
  • Scenes: Mode dial: Auto, EXR (EXR AUTO, RESOLUTION PRIORITY, HIGH ISO&LOW NOSIE POIORITY, D-RANGE POIORITY), Program AE, Manual (shutter and aperture), Video, SP (Scenes: Portrait, Portrait enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night Tripod, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Underwater, Museum, Party, Flower, Text), Natural Light, Natural Light with Flash.
  • Histogram available: No
  • Exposure bracketing: No
  • Optical viewfinder: No
  • Manual WB: Yes

Box Contents:

  • Digital Camera
  • Li-ion battery NP-50
  • Battery charger BC-45W
  • Strap
  • USB A/V cable
  • CD-ROM: FinePix Viewer
  • Owner's manual

Average box contents - The camera has a fairly large built in memory (48mb) however this will only let you take about 9 pictures at highest quality so the first thing you'll want to buy is a large memory card. Getting a case is also highly recommended.

Menu system: The menu system is fairly straightforward, and simple things like changing iso settings, size, quality or white balance etc can be achieved easily using the F button. Changing any settings that aren't on the F button however can be a little more difficult, requiring the use of the Menu button. The shooting mode and scene modes are selected within this menu, and there is a fairly good description of each mode which makes it easier to use the camera. Playback functions:- Erase, Red eye removal, Image rotate, Protect, Copy, Voice memo, trimming, resize, slide show, print, also display upto 100 thumbnails at a time.

Picture Size / Quality: The camera lets you choose the image size (12mp / 11mp (3:2 format) / 9mp (16:9) / 6mp / 5mp (3:2 format) / 4mp (16:9) / 3mp / 3mp (3:2 format) / 2mp (16:9)), aspect ratio (4:3, 3:2, 16:9), and compression (JPEG Fine or Normal). Higher quality images take more memory and more time to store, so this affects how long between shots. Although there are a good range of image sizes and compression options, not all of the features can be used in the 12 megapixel mode, and I think it would benefit from a 'superfine' 12 megapixel mode to get the best image quality possible.


Bottom - Battery (NP-50, 3.6v, 1000mAh) and SD / XD memory card slot, speaker, metal tripod mount.

Battery usage: Battery life is rated at approx 230 shots with supplied NP-50 batteries. I managed to take 255 shots and then the battery was completely flat, after charging it again, I was only able to take around 162 shots before the battery was flat again! (when using Quick AF mode) This seems overly poor, especially when compared to the excellent Fujifilm FinePix F30 that gave around 580 shots with one charge. The camera uses a proprietary battery type which is unlikely to be stocked in most shops so it may be worth buying a spare.

Memory cards: A large memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 1gb memory card, if you intend to take fine JPEG images, and preferably a 2gb memory card, or larger. The larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. You can use XD, SD or SDHC memory cards - I tend to use Sandisk Ultra II Plus USB SD memory cards as these let you plug the memory card straight into a USB socket making it easy to transfer images onto any computer, they are available as 1GB SD, or 2GB SD cards and 4GB SDHC cards. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Fujifilm FinePix F200fd - Using SD or SDHC memory may help produce the best shot to shot times with this camera:

Find the latest prices for XD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 1gb (1000mb): £8, 2gb (2000mb): £10.
Find the latest prices for SD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk:
1gb (1000mb): £2, 2gb (2000mb): £3, 4gb (4000mb SDHC): £6, 8gb (8000mb SDHC): £12, 16gb (16000mb SDHC): £32
Need more help deciding what memory card to buy? Have a look at our guide to digital camera memory cards or our article what size memory card should I buy?

Speed: The camera switches on and is ready to take a photo in just over 3 seconds, which is mainly due to the zoom lens. Focusing normally takes about half a second (except in quick auto-focus mode) and in reduced light, focusing was successful. The camera shutter response when pre-focused was less than a tenth of a second and shot to shot time was under 2 seconds. In continuous (top 3) mode I measured a delay of around 0.6 seconds between shots using an SD card, and was able to take 3 shots, in continuous (or long period) shooting mode shots were taken every 2 second. The manual also mentions top 12 mode but this is only available when shooting at 3 mega-pixel resolution, and shoots 12 shots at 5fps. The cameras menus and zooming seem responsive and reviewing photos is quick. Moving around the different menu options is ok if you're used to Fuji menu layouts.


Back - 3" screen, Mode dial, Play, FinePix menu, 4-way controller, with middle Menu / OK button, display and Face detection buttons.

Ease of use: In auto mode the camera is very easy to use and the scene modes are also very useful. The camera detects faces and focuses quickly and gives good positive feedback so making taking photos easy. Changing more obscure menu options is much more difficult and overall it may take a long time to master this camera. Image stabilisation will help more photos stay sharp, however I wonder if there's a faster way to review photos, to ensure there is no camera shake. EXR auto mode is a good way to get the best shots, however it sometimes seemed difficult to change the EXR mode manually (it can be changed using the Menu button, but I kept expecting to find the option in the F menu).

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The most noticeable changes made to this camera, over the F100fd, are the changes made to the design and controls of the back of the camera - the F100 had a particularly awkward to use mode dial and menu system that seemed difficult to use and overly complicated. The F200 fixes most of this by having a real mode dial on the back - this makes it easier to choose the mode you want. The rest of the buttons are quite easy to use and are of a decent size, with the shutter release and zoom control feeling particularly good. The camera can be used with one hand, and there is a slight thumb grip / raised bumps at the back of the camera to help you hold the camera, but there is no hand grip on the front and the camera is rather smooth and slippery - so using the wrist strap is recommended.

Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Outside, Macro, to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR Sample Photo Gallery!

Inside:

Heather and Flower (ISO400) Flash photo (ISO800)

Inside: The camera has good colour - It took a good "Heather and Flower" photo - there is almost no red-eye in the photo. It has a fairly good flash, and copes fairly well with group photos, and there is little red-eye in group photos. On AUTO ISO, the ISO setting was quite high (often defaulting to ISO800 when the flash was on), however noise was acceptable, and better results may be possible by using the lower ISO settings, especially if the subject is close to the camera. The camera did a good job at focusing most of the time in low-light, although struggled in very dark situations. There is an LED illuminator that helps focus in low light.

ISO Noise Test: Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels (ranging from ISO 100 - ISO3200), and manual ISO settings (ISO: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, ISO3200, ISO6400 at 6mp, ISO12800 at 3mp).

Below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops, viewable at 100%, from the image taken at different ISO settings, compared with the 12 megapixel Panasonic Lumix FX40 and Fujifilm FinePix F100fd.

Panasonic Lumix FX40 (12mp) Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR (12mp) Fujifilm FinePix F100fd (12mp)

ISO Noise Test Photos - Flash is off. Panasonic Lumix FX40 on the left, Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR in the middle, Fujifilm FinePix F100fd on the right. Any tonal difference is due to white balance or lighting / metering differences.

Panasonic Lumix FX40 (12mp) Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR (12mp) Fujifilm FinePix F100fd (12mp)
ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels (1s, Nightmode)
ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels
ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels
ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels
ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - Actual Pixels
ISO3200 - High sensitivity mode. (3mp) ISO3200 - Actual Pixels ISO3200 - Actual Pixels

Noise results: The F200EXR shows slightly less noise and more details than the the 12 megapixel Panasonic Lumix FX40, but slightly more noise than the F100 when in 12mp mode. However, the F200EXR's results do appear to be some of the sharpest.

Noise tests continued... EXR SN 6megapixel mode. One of the EXR sensors main selling points is the "EXR SN High ISO & Low Noise" shooting modes - this puts the camera into the 6mp mode and combines pixels that are next to each other on the sensor for added sensitivity to light and hopefully lower noise. One of the main features that fans of the Fuji F10 / F20 / F30 wanted was the excellent low light, low noise performance these 6mp cameras provided, which many say hasn't been the same since Fuji increased the pixel count to 8 and 12 megapixels (on the F40 and F100 respectively). Lets see how the F200EXR compares to the F30 at 6mp:

Fujifilm FinePix F30 Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR SN Mode

The ISO test shot has changed over the years...

Fujifilm FinePix F30 Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR SN Mode
ISO100 - Actual Pixels 1/4 f3.2 ISO100 - Actual Pixels 1/4 f4.4
ISO200 - Actual Pixels 1/4 f3.2 ISO200 - Actual Pixels 1/4 f4.4
ISO400 - Actual Pixels 1/8 f3.2 ISO400 - Actual Pixels 1/4 f4.4
ISO800 - Actual Pixels 1/17 f3.2 ISO800 - Actual Pixels 1/7 f4.4
ISO1600 - Actual Pixels 1/32 f3.2 ISO1600 - Actual Pixels 1/14 f4.4
 
ISO3200 - Actual Pixels 1/62 f3.2 ISO3200 - NA in EXR SN Mode

Noise levels are slightly higher from the F200EXR in 6mp EXR SN Mode when compared to the 6mp Fuji F30, however colour is perhaps a little more saturated from the F200. It's interesting to note that the F200EXR doesn't let you choose ISO3200 in the 6mp mode. Noise is much lower in the SN 6mp mode than in the normal 12mp mode which is good.

So can any noise conclusions be deduced from all of this? Somewhat disappointingly: it would seem that the F200EXR has slightly more noise than the F100 in 12mp mode, and slightly more noise than the F30 in the EXR SN 6mp mode... however, it's worth noting that the SN 6mp mode does have much less noise than the 12mp mode, and therefore will be of use in low light situations, and should produce much lower noise images than most competitors.

Image Stabilisation: The camera features real image stabilisation, in the form of an anti-shake sensor in the Fuji F200fd. This feature helps reduce image blur due to low light or long zoom photography. With image stabilisation switched on the images are much sharper and clearer, and is much more likely to come out blur free, especially in low light, when using the zoom or when using slow shutter speeds. It's good to see that this feature is becoming the norm with digital cameras.

Fuji Wide Dynamic Range / EXR Dynamic Range: In normal 12mp mode - The camera (and the F100 before it) features "wide dynamic range" - this provides an enhanced dynamic range which is either 100%, 200%, or 400%. Alternatively Auto 'automatically varies the dynamic range' according to the scene being shot. This feature uses ISO 100 and higher. Changing to use these modes manually can be fiddly however in auto mode the camera can use the extra range to good effect. The advantages are really useful for taking pictures where normally overexposed skies would remove all detail and anywhere where there is high contrast. I expect this will come in useful for taking photos in snowy conditions, for sunsets and potentially in situations where there is a lot of glare.

12mp WDR 100% (ISO100) 12mp WDR 200% (ISO200) 12mp WDR 400% (ISO400)

Actual Pixels Actual Pixels Actual Pixels

It's quite difficult to spot the effects of the Fuji WDR, as it's effects, at first glance, appear very subtle. In the example photos, I've taken the same photo with WDR set to 100%, 200% and 400%. Using the Fuji Wide Dynamic Range feature increases the ISO setting so that the camera can capture more light in darker areas, however noise becomes much more noticeable. In these examples, the first photo has an overexposed sky, whereas in the photos with WDR at 200 or 400%, the sky and detail becomes less over exposed.

EXR Dynamic Range: Using the new sensor at 6 megapixels, the camera can offer additional dynamic range - Fuji explain it as follows: "Super CCD EXR uses Dual Capture Technology to simultaneously capture two images of the same scene: one taken at high sensitivity and the other at low sensitivity. It then merges the two images to generate a photo with increased (up to 800% higher) Dynamic Range." We've taken several shots to see if we can demonstrate this feature - shown below: EXR DR 6mp mode: 100, 200, 400, 800%

DR 100% (ISO100) DR 200% (ISO100) DR 400% (ISO100) DR 800% (ISO200)

Actual Pixels Actual Pixels Actual Pixels Actual Pixels

In the first photo, the sky is almost completely overexposed, as the dynamic range is increased there is more detail and colour in the sky and the camera gradually shows more and more detail in the areas that were previously overexposed. The camera also does a good job of showing detail in areas of shadow. Normally you would need to underexpose the image to show detail in the sky, and then you'd end up with overly dark areas in the photo. The EXR DR mode also keeps the ISO setting low which is good to keep noise out of the images.

Outside:

Church, River (ISO200) Flowers, Bumble Bees (ISO400)

Outside: The camera has quite rich, saturated colours (especially with the Velvia mode switched on). There was good detail, and the camera took a number of very pleasing images outside, with good contrast, with low chromatic aberrations and purple fringing. In general 'normal' quality jpeg artefacts are not easily seen, however areas with strong contrasts benefit from use of the highest quality setting. Images are slightly soft, but nothing too worrying.

Zoom: This lens provides a wide angle 5x optical zoom starting at 28 zooming 140mm (35mm equivalent) allowing photos of distant objects. I've included examples below to show what the zoom is capable of. An example of digital zoom can be seen below, digital zoom basically takes a crop of the centre of the frame and enlarges the image, degrading image quality, and is therefore best avoided.

Wide-angle 5x Optical Zoom Full Optical and Digital zoom

Exposure: The photos of the clock tower are exposed well with detail in the dark areas as well as the lighter areas - exposure in other photos was generally very good. Vignetting was not noticed in these photos. It can be useful to under expose images with bright backgrounds (eg; sky) with use of exposure compensation, or alternatively the Wide Dynamic Range / EXR DR feature can help preserve detail in bright skies. (Further examples can be seen in the gallery).

Lens noise and zoom: The zoom is fairly quiet in operation and provides zoom from 28 – 140mm in 15 steps.

Other Image Quality issues: Purple fringing was visible in the usual high contrast areas (but this was lessened with higher dynamic range) / Chromatic aberration was not noticed. Purple fringing seemed a little more obvious on the F200, compared to the F100. There were also some problems with text - shown below:

Fujifilm FinePix F200 - ISO100 Fujifilm FinePix F100 - ISO200

Text was occasionally not as clear and it should have been in photos - compare the photo on the left from the F200 to the text on the right from the F100. The F100 shot was taken at ISO200 which would explain the additional noise visible, however, the text is clearer and easier to read compared to the F200. The F200's text is occasionally blurred and the letters sometimes blend into each other.

Macro Lens Performance:

Timex Watch Macro Actual Pixels (ISO400)

The closest the camera lens can get to the subject when taking macro photos is 5cm. Colour and detail are excellent, however it's worth trying to keep the ISO setting low for maximum detail.

Video mode: The camera has two video modes 640x480, 30fps and 320x240, 30fps. The videos are recorded with sound as AVI files. It's not obvious whether image stabilisation is in effect when using the video mode and the manual is no help in this area. The zoom can be used before recording but not during.

Conclusion

Image Quality: Image quality is very good with good colour, good skin tones, good detail and generally low noise (the film modes help customise the look of your photos). Red eye in photos was well detected and removed and focussing in low light was not a problem. It has a good success rate at taking shake free photos due to the built in image stabilisation. There are a wide range of picture resolutions available and a few compression options, including a 16:9 mode. Auto white-balance and manual white balance are excellent. The camera gives good control over image quality, and allows some changes to the image afterwards, including cropping and preparing for website use. Purple fringing was also fairly low. The EXR DR and SN modes allow extended dynamic range and lower noise and work very well as long as you don't mind taking photos at "only" 6 megapixels. (8.5/10)

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is available in black and silver and has a strong body. The screen is large (3.0") and easy to read, and has additional options to help in bright sunlight and difficult angles. The camera feels well built and is reasonably comfortable to hold. It is simple to us and quick to access the most commonly used options. The layout of buttons and controls is good and an improvement over the F100. The camera speed is good, with good switch on time, quick focusing, excellent shutter response, quick play back mode, quick menus, reasonable continuous shoot and good flash recharge. The camera has plenty of features to suit most people such as face detection focus, anti-shake, many scene modes, wide dynamic range, reasonable video mode, and good macro mode. It even has manual controls, however lacks a histogram, and exposure bracketing would be nice. The EXR modes are a nice feature and add to the camera's appeal with dynamic range being especially useful to help keep skies blue. (9/10)

Value for Money: The Fujifilm Finepix F200EXR from around £215 is average value for money - when introduced it's RRP was £299, compared to the F100 which started with an RRP of £229. The price has gradually gone down over the months, however, with similar cameras available for £135, you've got to be quite keen on the EXR sensor and camera's features to want to spend this much on the camera. (8/10) See more digital camera reviews sorted by megapixels here.

Summary: The Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR is a noticeable improvement over the F100 in a number of areas: the controls are greatly improved, the screen is bigger, the camera now features manual controls, and the EXR sensor offers better dynamic range and low noise at 6 megapixels. However the new sensor is not as good as the older 6mp cameras from Fuji such as the F30, which is a shame, and the price seems to have increased. Perhaps Fuji could release a 6mp version of this camera with the sensor from the F30 for the ultimate low light pocket camera? The Fujifilm F200EXR is a compact camera with a high quality LCD screen, 12 megapixel sensor, a wide angle 5x optical zoom and image stabilisation. Image quality is very good, with low noise, when compared to other digital cameras and the option to capture a wide dynamic range is a very welcome feature. Battery life was lower than I had hoped for. Overall the camera works well and produces very good images in a number of situations, and is recommended!

Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR Rating: Recommended (8.5/10)
Available for £215 - or Get the best price below!

What I like:

  • Good image quality
  • Wide angle 5x optical zoom lens
  • Rapid focus in low light
  • Large high quality 3.0 inch screen.
  • Fairly low noise in 12mp mode (but not as good as the F100)
  • 6 megapixel EXR modes very good for dynamic range and lower noise
  • Low noise compared to the competition (although not as good as 6mp Fujis from the past, ie the F30 etc)
  • Includes face detection and anti-shake technologies
  • Compact metal body with improved controls and design over the F100
  • EXR SN Mode provides low noise images at 6mp
  • EXR DR Mode helps keep detail in bright and dark areas that would normally be over or underexposed
  • Manual aperture and shutter control

What I don't like:

  • EXR HR mode is basically the same as the normal 12mp mode, why does it need an additional setting / mode?
  • Some strange image artefacts around text - most likely due to the new sensor
  • Difficult to see much difference between the F100 and F200 when in 12mp mode (although this is to be expected)
  • Flash photos tend to bump up the ISO to ISO800 unnecessarily
  • Average video modes (VGA, 30fps)
  • Doesn't auto-rotate images
  • No histogram, or exposure bracketing
  • Average battery life

Additional Test Images are viewable in the Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR Sample Photo Gallery.

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