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Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR - Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 06/10/2009
Rating: Highly Recommended
Author: Joshua Waller
Buy Now: Get the Best Price


Introduction: Announced on the 22nd of July 2009, the Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR is Fuji's latest advanced compact camera and features a new 10 megapixel Super CCD EXR sensor, a wide angle 10x optical zoom lens, a 2.7" 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 F70EXR is available from around £200 which makes it good value for money. The camera is enclosed in a metal body and is available in black, or silver. The camera measures approx. 99.3 (W) x 58.9 (H) x 22.7 (D) mm - which is actually thinner than the F200EXR which is 23.4mm thick, and weighs approx. 180g. excluding battery and memory card. Nb. Review based on Fujifilm F200EXR 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 compact camera!"

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)


Front view - camera off.


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


Top: power, shutter release, zoom, side: lens strap loop, USB socket.

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


Size comparison.

Specifications / Features:

  • Sensor: 10 million pixel 1/2-inch Super CCD EXR Sensor
  • Lens: Wide angle 10x Fujinon zoom lens, Equivalent to 27 - 270mm
  • Screen: 2.7-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 : No
  • Red-Eye Reduction: Yes (Automatic)
  • Macro: 5cm Macro mode
  • ISO : Auto / Equivalent to ISO 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200 (5mp) / 6400 (3mp) / 12800 (3mp) (Standard Output Sensitivity)
  • 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 NOISE POIORITY, D-RANGE PRIORITY), Programmed AE, Aperture Priority AE, Manual (shutter and aperture), Video, SP (Scenes: SP Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (Tripod), Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Party, Flower, Text, Pro Focus, Pro Low-light), 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 Cable
  • AV Cable
  • CD-ROM: FinePix Viewer
  • Owner's manual

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 recommended.

Menu system: 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.


Bottom - Battery (NP-50, 3.6v, 1000mAh) and SD 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 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
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 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.


Back - 2.7" 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 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:

Heather and Flower (ISO800) Flash photo (ISO400)

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.

Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR (12mp) Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR (10mp) Fujifilm FinePix F100fd (12mp)

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.

Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR (12mp) Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR (10mp) Fujifilm FinePix F100fd (12mp)
ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels (Manual mode*) ISO100 - Actual Pixels (1s, Nightmode)
ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels (Manual mode*) ISO200 - Actual Pixels
ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels 1/4 ISO400 - Actual Pixels
ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels
ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - Actual Pixels
ISO3200 - Actual Pixels ISO3200 - Actual Pixels (5mp) ISO3200 - Actual Pixels

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:

Fujifilm FinePix F30 Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR SN Mode Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR SN Mode

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

Fujifilm FinePix F30 (6mp) Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR SN (5mp) Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR SN (6mp)
ISO100 - Actual Pixels 1/4 f3.2 ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels 1/4 f4.4
ISO200 - Actual Pixels 1/4 f3.2 ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels 1/4 f4.4
ISO400 - Actual Pixels 1/8 f3.2 ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels 1/4 f4.4
ISO800 - Actual Pixels 1/17 f3.2 ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels 1/7 f4.4
ISO1600 - Actual Pixels 1/32 f3.2 ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - Actual Pixels 1/14 f4.4
   
ISO3200 - Actual Pixels 1/62 f3.2 ISO3200 - NA in EXR SN Mode ISO3200 - NA in EXR SN Mode

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:

ISO1600 SN ISO1600 10mp Resized to 5mp ISO1600 10mp
ISO1600 SN ISO1600 10mp Resized to 5mp ISO1600 10mp

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%

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

Actual Pixels Actual Pixels Actual Pixels

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:

Liverpool shops (ISO100) Trees (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, 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).

Wide-angle 3x Optical Zoom Full Optical 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 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.

100% (ISO200 EXR DR Mode) 100% (ISO400)

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 L55W?)

Macro Lens Performance:

Timex Watch Macro Actual Pixels (ISO200)

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 optical zoom can be while recording and sound is recorded at all times meaning the camera does pick up lens noise.

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 16:9 and 3:2 aspect ratios. 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 very high. 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" 5 megapixels. This camera, along with other Fuji cameras, tends to increase the ISO setting, especially when using the flash, or when WDR is left on auto, so it could be worth watching this as the higher ISO settings do increase noise and can reduce image quality. (8/10)

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is available in black (aka gunmetal grey) and silver and has a strong body. The screen is large (2.7") 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 and F200. The camera speed is good, with good switch on time, quick focusing, excellent shutter response, quick play back mode, quick menus, reasonable continuous shooting 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. The optical zoom is available when recording videos, and the 10x optical zoom lens is impressively packed into a slim compact body. (9.5/10)

Value for Money: The Fujifilm Finepix F70EXR from around £200 is good value for money - and compares well with other pocket zoom cameras as one of the smallest with such a powerful zoom. Others to look at include the Panasonic Lumix TZ6, Ricoh CX2, and Canon Powershot SX200 IS, etc. (8.5/10) See more digital camera reviews sorted by megapixels here.

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!

Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR Rating: Recommended (8.6/10)
Available for £200 - or Get the best price below!

What I like:

  • Good image quality
  • Wide angle 10x optical zoom lens
  • Rapid focus in low light
  • Large high quality 2.7 inch screen.
  • Fairly low noise in 10mp mode (but not as good as the F100)
  • 5 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 5mp
  • EXR DR Mode helps keep detail in bright and dark areas that would normally be over or underexposed
  • Manual aperture and shutter control
  • Improved menu system and controls over previous Fuji cameras
  • Optical zoom available when filming videos

What I don't like:

  • EXR HR mode is basically the same as the normal 10mp mode, why does it need an additional setting / mode?
  • Some strange image artefacts around text - most likely due to the new sensor
  • Flash photos tend to bump up the ISO to ISO800 unnecessarily (as does the WDR mode)
  • Average video modes (VGA, 30fps)
  • Doesn't auto-rotate images
  • No histogram, or exposure bracketing
  • Slightly soft images, some vignetting
  • Excessive purple fringing
  • Average battery life

Additional Test Images are viewable in the Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR Sample Photo Gallery.

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