FinePix S200EXR digital camera
Fujifilm's FinePix S200EXR has sensor-shifting tricks
- EXR modes for dynamic range and low noise, 14.3X optical zoom with manual focus ring
- EXR modes reduce image resolution by half, standard-definition video, lag between sequential shots
The elegantly designed FinePix S200EXR megazoom camera has a wealth of unique exposure options for serious photographers.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
It may not be a DSLR, but the FinePix S200EXR is the sort of advanced point-and-shoot camera that's an enthusiast's dream. With a layout that mimics a typical SLR's design, it offers superb handling, megazoom reach, advanced exposure control, and only a few minor disappointments.
The impressive credentials start with a 14.3X, optically stabilised zoom lens (30.5mm to 436mm). A handful of other megazoom cameras offer more reach and wider-angle capabilities, so that isn't the S200EXR's star feature. Instead, direct your attention to the 12-megapixel EXR sensor, first found in the pocketable Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR.
In a nutshell, with this sensor the camera can take standard 12-megapixel images, but it can also combine adjacent sensor sites to create 6-megapixel images that have low-light sensitivity with reduced noise, or shoot high dynamic range (HDR) images by using alternating sensor sites to capture shadow and highlight detail.
You can leave the camera set to EXR mode--sort of like a superpowered program mode--and let the camera automatically choose the right one (full resolution, high ISO/low noise, or dynamic range). Or, if you prefer, you can manually select which EXR mode to shoot with.
In practice, I found that EXR mode generated subtle but noticeable improvements. In this mode, my low-light photos did have less digital noise, and the HDR mode extended detail into highlights and shadows. But make no mistake: Programs like Photomatix Pro, which combine a series of exposures into stunning high dynamic range photos, are in no danger of losing their job to the S200EXR.
Here are some sample shots taken with the high-dynamic EXR mode (notice the very bright area around the porch lights and the visible tree in the foreground), the high-ISO/low-noise EXR mode (notice the sharper image quality), and the normal Program mode (notice the comparatively muted result). Depending on the subject you’re shooting, each mode has its place and time.
Composing your photos is a joy with the S200EXR. You can choose between the bright 2.7-inch LCD or the electronic viewfinder, and both displays provide detailed status information in a smart way.
When you change exposure modes, a large graphic clearly announces the new setting and provides a short summary of the virtues of the selected mode and which button to press to customize your choice further. The LCD did fine in moderate sunlight; at noon, however, I had better luck with the electronic viewfinder.
Focus locks in quickly, and the camera produces no perceptible shutter lag when taking the shot. If you switch to manual focus, the focusing ring on the lens barrel gives you SLR-like positive control.
Almost everything about the S200EXR seems snappy--except the time between shots, which is around 2 seconds. That lag is perhaps the biggest distinction between the S200EXR and a digital SLR. If you press the shutter before the camera is ready, the next shot simply never happens. Continuous shooting mode mitigates the problem, though--you can choose from among a number of settings, including auto exposure bracketing and a mode that will capture up to 24 sequential shots as long as you hold down the shutter release.
The body of the S200EXR is about the same size and heft as a small digital SLR, and it feels like it was molded to fit your hands. The rubberized surface locks solidly into your grip, and the controls are peppered everywhere, but the layout never feels haphazard. On the back, you'll find knobs to set the meter mode (average, multizone, or spot), enable face detection, and control the on-screen menus. The top is home to an exposure mode dial and control wheel. Additional buttons for setting ISO and exposure compensation? Check.
More controls spill onto the side; continuous shooting modes, white balance, and focus modes (continuous, single-shot, and manual focus) are all there. Use the camera for even a short time, and you'll quickly come to appreciate the fact that you'll rarely need to fiddle with on-screen menus.
In addition to EXR, Auto, and the usual program, shutter priority, aperture priority, and manual modes, the camera has 16 scene modes, running the gamut from portraits to sports to fireworks.
It's surprising that the S200EXR's video recording is so disappointing. Video quality is decent, but it's limited to just 640 by 480, a far cry from the HD video I would have expected from a camera like this. And while you have full control over the optical zoom while recording, the auto focus sometimes lags noticeably behind, contributing to some unintentionally "artistic" video clips.
Battery life is a strong suit. In PC World Labs battery evaluations, the S200EXR fired off just under 400 shots on a single charge of its rechargeable lithium ion battery. We've seen a few cameras last into the 500-shot range, but 400 shots per charge is a rarity and a plus.
If you're the sort of enthusiast who welcomes both the design and control that a digital SLR offers, you won't see the size of the Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR as an encumbrance. More of a concern is the camera's key feature, the EXR sensor. Yes, it provides some interesting exposure options and takes very good images, but you'll end up with 6-megapixel photos, much smaller than what you'd get from other advanced point-and-shoot models. You can avoid the EXR settings to get the full 12 megapixels, but then you miss out on the camera's main selling point. Quite a conundrum.
Otherwise, the muscular zoom, wealth of exposure controls, smart layout, and good battery life make the S200EXR a strong contender for a spot in your camera bag.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Motorola Moto X (2nd Gen) review: Raising the bar
- 2 Xiaomi Mi4 review: Xiaomi's best yet
- 3 Samsung Galaxy Note Edge review: Lightly flawed, Undeniably special
- 4 Sony Xperia Z3 review: The no-frills flagship
- 5 Samsung's Galaxy Alpha review: A peek into the Galaxy S6
Best Deals on GoodGearGuide
Latest News Articles
- Office for Android now widely available, with new Outlook apps in tow
- AllSeen IoT group acts to head off patent wars
- The Upload: Your tech news briefing for Thursday, January 29
- Intel wants to banish cables, connectors with new Broadwell chips
- Apple hits Samsung at home, where it hurts
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.