Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fuji F200EXR review

I was a brief owner of the Fuji F200EXR for 2 days. I was tempted by the potential of this camera considering its touted high ISO capabilities and higher dynamic range. So I bought this even though it did not have RAW which is an essential feature of my usual work flow.

The camera is purely intended for Auto all consumers, nothing wrong with that but I expected atleast some flexibility with regard to manual override of the auto features. But they have made this too complex and very limited in use. For example in AE(aperture priority) mode, you can either shoot wide open or stopped down, nothing in between. ISO cannot be adjusted in D-range priority mode. The file size is limited to M(medium) and S(small) in most modes. Well unlike the Canon G9 the auto mode is not as accurate with regard to focus, ISO, exposure and Flash, so it is a bit limited in that you cannot change certain parameters.

As far as the images are concerned, the resolution is fine at 12MP. The 6MP images are also good enough but do not try to look at 100% and compare to 12 or 14 MP cameras. The 6 mp photos are very good for 10x8 prints which is the only one I made in my use of this camera. The color accuracy is average, with a slight reddish tilt. The chromatic aberration is at moderate levels and without RAW it is difficult to get rid off.

The speed of the camera is average with start up time of around 2 seconds and shot to shot time of 2 seconds. This is not going to be the darling of street photography or photo-journalistic enthusiasts.

High ISO is OK, may be one or one half stops better than the Canon G9 or panasonic LX3. I have the G9 and so i pixel peeped a bit. The Fuji F200EXR is not going to challenge even the entry level DSLRs. The Fuji F30/31 was groundbreaking with regards ISO performance of compacts in its days. But that was 3 years back and this is 2009 and ISO performance have improved in all cameras, including compact, hybrid or DSLRS. This camera in 2009 is not going to be a FujiF31 of 2009. The ISo performance upto 400 is decent, ISo 800 may be acceptable, ISO 1600 and above has very little practical use unless you are aiming for a artsy noise smoothened water color effect. I guess this effect can be produced with any digital camera you own. I think the incamera noise reduction is a bit high handed but i think fuji is forced to do it to tout the ISO capabilities.

If there is something positive about this camera then it is the Dynamic range mode. There is definite visual increase in dynamic range compared to normal modes. One thing you need to note is, that the improvement in dynamic range is in highlight areas and not in shadow areas. The shadow regions of the image remained the same whereas the highlights showed worthwhile improvement. My advise is then to expose to the right, get the shadow region exposed to your liking and let the EXR take care of the highlight areas. Do not expect magic though, you will still see blown highlights but the range is as good as DSLRs which itself is a feat for a compact camera. This is were the lack of RAW is solely felt and RAW would have definitely helped pull even more details and extended the dynamic range even more to very impressive levels. there is potential in this region and we should watch to see if Fuji can use this sensor/technology implemented in a better camera.

Well I genuinely tried to like the camera but I could come up with any excuse to keep the camera. I am passing this to my family friend as a gift which was my plan anyways even if I liked it. But i would not be getting one for myself. But I will definitely keep my eyes open for Fuji to do something different with this technology.

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