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F70EXR - Digital Camera Review
Fujifilm have this
to say about the camera:
"The FinePix F70EXR
is a super-slim, big zoom compact from Fujifilm, sporting an impressive
and versatile 10x Fujinon optical zoom. Plus, it joins the multi award-winning
FinePix F200EXR to feature the revolutionary Super CCD EXR sensor, making
it ideal for consumers who are looking for a pocket-sized compact that
delivers outstanding image quality with the flexibility of a 10x zoom.
NEW Pro Focus and Pro Low-light modes allow you to create professional
looking photos using Fuji's multi-frame processing technology. The 27mm
wide-angle lens makes the F70EXR ideal for landscapes or awkward large
group shots, and the new high-contrast wide-view 2.7 LCD screen
makes it easy to compose and playback images. All this, and yet still
a mere 22.7mm thin, the FinePix F70EXR is a truly pocketable take anywhere
You can find more information on their website. To understand the new SuperCCD EXR sensor I'd recommend looking at this Fuji page that explains the three modes: EXR HR - High Resolution (10mp), EXR SN Signal to Noise Priority (5mp), and EXR DR Dynamic Range Priority (5mp).
The Camera: a
visual tour - click images to enlarge: (Photos of the camera taken with
the Olympus EVOLT E-500)
Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.
Average box contents
- The camera has a fairly large built in memory (47mb) 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
The menu system is fairly straightforward, and simple things like changing
iso settings, size, quality or film simulation etc can be achieved easily
using the F button. Changing other settings can be done with the back
buttons (macro, exposure, self timer, flash, face detection), with further
settings requiring the use of the Menu button. The shooting mode is selected
with the dial and further scene modes / options are selected within each
mode, 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. The setup menu is also
easier to access, and the menu system seems to be improved over the F200EXR.
Picture Size /
Quality: The camera lets you choose the image size (10mp / 9mp (3:2
format) / 7mp (16:9) / 5mp / 4mp (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.
Battery usage: Battery life is rated at approx 230? shots with supplied NP-50 batteries. I managed to take 225 shots and then the battery was completely flat (when using Quick AF mode). This seems average for a compact camera, although not excellent, 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 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 F70EXR - Using SD or SDHC memory may help produce the best shot to shot times with this camera:
Find the latest
prices for SD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 1gb (1000mb): £6,
2gb (2000mb): £6,
4gb (4000mb SDHC): £7,
8gb (8000mb SDHC): £12,
16gb (16000mb SDHC): £31
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 under half
a second (in quick auto-focus mode, it focused in around 0.3 to 0.4 seconds)
and in reduced light, focusing was still good thanks to the focus assist
lamp. The camera shutter response when pre-focused was less than a tenth
of a second and shot to shot time was around 1.4 / 1.5 seconds. In continuous
"Top 3" mode I measured a delay of around 0.5 seconds between
shots (2fps) using an SD card, and was able to take 3 shots. The camera
also features a "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 quite easy although there
was sometimes a slight delay going from the options back to the main menu.
Playback mode is very quick.
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 fairly straightforward, as the menu system is better than previous models. 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 F200EXR improved on the F100fd with better controls on the back of the camera, and the F70EXR improves further with improved spacing between buttons, and easier to use menu system. 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, and most common options available on the back of the camera (macro, self timer, expoeruse, flash, face detection) and a few other options available quickly through the F function button (although it would be nice if a few more options were available). 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, with a very small hand grip on the front, although the camera is still 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 F70EXR Sample Photo Gallery!
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 5mp, 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 Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR and Fujifilm FinePix F100fd.
ISO Noise Test Photos - Flash is off. Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR on the left, Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR in the middle, Fujifilm FinePix F100fd on the right. Any tonal difference is due to white balance or lighting / metering differences.
Noise results: The F200EXR and F70EXR shows slightly more noise than the F100 when in 10/12mp mode. However, the F70EXR's results do appear to be some of the sharpest. *Manual mode used, as the slowest shutter available in AUTO mode is 1/4 second.
Noise tests continued... EXR SN 5 megapixel 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 5mp 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 F70EXR compares to the F30 and F200EXR at 6mp:
The ISO test shot has changed over the years...
Noise levels are slightly higher from the F70EXR and F200EXR in 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 F70EXR and F200EXR don't let you choose ISO3200 in the EXR SN mode. Noise is lower in the SN 5mp mode than in the normal 10mp mode which is good.
The SN mode produces less noise than the 10mp mode - but can resizing the 10mp images into 5mp images also produces similar results? Lets find out below:
If you pixel peep there is a slight advantage in using the 5mp EXR SN mode (detail can be clearer in low contrast areas), but it's not really as good as Fuji would like you to believe. You would still get better results if Fuji simply stuck a 6mp sensor in there (like the Fuji F30 etc). The EXR Sensors major benefit would appear to be from the additional Dynamic Range mode.
Image Stabilisation: The camera features real image stabilisation, in the form of an anti-shake sensor in the Fuji F70EXR. 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, and I would highly recommend you make sure your camera features real image stabilisation.
Fuji Wide Dynamic Range / EXR Dynamic Range: In normal 10mp mode - The camera (and the F200 and 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.
It's quite difficult to spot the effects of the Fuji WDR, as it's effects, at first glance, appear very subtle. 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 tests, the photo has an overexposed sky when WDR is at 100%, whereas in the photos with WDR at 200 or 400%, the sky and detail becomes less over exposed. Examples can be seen in the F200EXR Review.
EXR Dynamic Range: Using the new sensor at 5 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 5mp mode: 100, 200, 800%
In the first photo, the white area is overexposed and dark areas of the photo lack detail, as the dynamic range is increased there is more detail and colour in the bright and dark areas and the camera gradually shows more and more detail. 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. It's often quite difficult to spot the benefits of the DR mode as often it's quite subtle, but it's definitely a welcome feature, especially if you end up with a lot of photos with washed out skies.
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, and low chromatic aberrations. Although purple fringing was higher than expected and is worth being aware of. 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 10x optical zoom starting at 27mm zooming to 270mm (35mm equivalent) allowing photos of distant objects. I've included examples below to show what the zoom is capable of. Digital zoom basically takes a crop of the centre of the frame and enlarges the image, degrading image quality, and is therefore best avoided (an example can be seen in the gallery).
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 27 270mm in 19 steps.
Other Image Quality issues: Purple fringing was much higher than expected, with much more noticable purple fringing when compared to the F200, and F100 and most other cameras.
There were also some
problems with text - text was occasionally not as clear and it should
have been in photos (see the F200EXR Review for examples) - however -
this pales into insignificance when compared to how noticable purple fringing
was. (Worse even than the Samsung
Macro Lens Performance:
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.
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 optical zoom can be while recording and sound
is recorded at all times meaning the camera does pick up lens noise.
Summary: The Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR was a little unexpected, so soon after the F200EXR, it's thinner, yet has an impressive 10x optical zoom lens! As a compact camera it's impressive that so much can be packed into a camera the same size as most other cameras only featuring a 3x optical zoom lens! Whilst the EXR sensor may not be as good as previous Fuji cameras for low noise, it does provide much improved dynamic range, especially when you would normally lose detail in the sky. The menu system has been improved and it's nice to see manual controls, and image stabilisation in such a small camera. 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, however purple fringing seems to be an unwanted side effect of having so much zoom available. Battery life was lower than I had hoped for. Overall the camera works very well and produces good images in a number of situations, and is Highly Recommended!
What I like:
What I don't like:
Additional Test Images are viewable in the Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR Sample Photo Gallery.