Fuji FinePix F200EXR Hands-On Preview

The Fuji FinePix F200EXR is a 12 megapixel point and shoot camera that features Fuji’s cool new superCCD EXR technology.  While I haven’t gotten my hands on a production model just yet, I managed to get some time with a pre-production model at PMA.  My first impressions? Very cool.

Fuji FinePix F200EXR Introduction

Normally, I would balk at 12 megapixels in a point and shoot camera. However, Fuji uses its megapixels a little smarter than everyone else.  Instead of shooting at 12 megapixels across the board, Fuji saves the high resolution only for scenes that can take advantage of this.  When you get down to it, the F200EXR is really all about the sensor and how Fuji uses it to the most out of a variety of scenes.

Here’s how Fuji explains the new EXR technology – The FinePix F200EXR offers 3 selectable modes in one sensor:

Fine Capture Mode (High Resolution), which deploys all twelve million pixels, and is designed to offer the finest detail of intricate subjects when light is full and even;

Pixel Fusion Mode (High Sensitivity and Low Noise), which caps two adjacent pixels together to produce six million large photodiodes, which are big enough to absorb light in the darkest of conditions, to produce low-light shots of extraordinary quality with minimal noise and grain; and

Dual Capture (Wide Dynamic Range), which captures different exposures with two sets of six million pixels, which, when combined, gives an excellent level of detail in highlights and low lights that would otherwise be lost.

Fuji FinePix F200EXR Performance

While I couldn’t take any sample images away from my time with the pre-production F200EXR, I tried to get as good of an impression as possible from the 3″ LCD in each of the shooting modes and at a variety of ISOs.  And, each shooting mode appears to perform as advertised.

Don’t get me wrong though – the F200EXR is not going to rival DSLR image quality due to the vast differences in sensor size.  However, Fuji is really on to something here.  Going back to the very popular 6.3 megapixel F30, Fuji has had a talent for extracting solid image quality, particularly in low light, out of these tiny point and shoot sensors.  The F200EXR appears to take that tradition to the next level.

Fuji FinePix F200EXR Handling

The F200EXR handles much like other point and shoot cameras in its class.  I can’t really dog it too much for not having a grip to hang onto because it is, by definition, a pocket camera.  As such, it works just fine.

The mode dial on the top right is well placed and works intuitively.  To gain access to the three special shooting modes, you must select the EXR spot on the mode dial.  Changing between the three modes requires the simple press of a couple of buttons and you are ready to shoot in the new mode.

The battery and memory card slot (it will accept xD or SD memory cards) is found on the bottom of the camera.  Kudos to Fuji for laying off the xD exclusivity, which will probably increase the sales of the camera itself rather than forcing xD cards onto consumers.

Auto ISO mode allows you to cap the high end of the sensitivity range at ISOs 400, 800 or 1600 depending on your liking. A couple more points on ISO settings:

  1. In Wide Dynamic Range mode, as would be expected, ISO cannot be designated to anything other than Auto ISO; however, you can still cap the max-ISO to ISO 400, 800 or 1600.
  2. In High Resolution mode, the sensitivity range can only be set between ISO 100-800.

In addition to the powerful new shooting modes, Fuji has also added film simulation modes, which are based on classic Fuji films – Provia, Velvia and Astia.

Final Thoughts

Based on my first impression of the new F200EXR, I think it is going to be one of the handful of truly standout cameras in the sea of boring “me too” point and shoot cameras released in the first quarter of 2009.  Fuji appears to be continuing its tradition of solid image quality through the use of their Super CCD EXR technology.  It’s currently available at Amazon.com.