Fuji FinePix F200EXR
Overview by Mike Tomkins
Review by Mike Pasini and Zig Weidelich
Date Posted: 09/15/09
Updated: 09/26/09 (Expanded 6MP test results, updated Conclusion)
The Fujifilm F200EXR is a digital camera with a standard appearance, but a unique sensor. You can either shoot in the native 12-megapixel resolution, or have the camera decide when to drop into a few lower-resolution modes that take advantage of the sensor’s special ability to see in very low light. Fujifilm first described the technology at Photokina 2008 and called it the Super CCD EXR image sensor. This new imager combines some of the attributes of Fujifilm’s past sensor designs into a single chip to offer the photographer a choice — to opt for high resolution when lighting allows, or trade away some resolution for improvements either to the sensitivity, or to dynamic range in less than optimal lighting.
The Super CCD EXR chip retains the 45-degree octagonal pixel array that’s the hallmark of Super CCD sensors, and that allows maximum resolution on the horizontal and vertical axes. Where the EXR design most obviously differs from past Super CCD designs is in the arrangement of its Color Filter Array. Diagonal stripes of green pixels are interspersed with stripes of red and blue pixel pairs.
The new arrangement does mean that the horizontal / vertical gap between adjacent red and blue pixels may be increased, thanks to the staggered layout. However, it also brings with it a reduction in the corresponding gaps between green pixels. Since the human eye is more sensitive to green light than to red or blue, the resolution is retained where it is most needed. This isn’t the reason for the change though. By changing its Color Filter Array layout, Fujifilm has allowed itself two potential improvements, useful in low light or high-contrast situations respectively.
The Fujifilm F200EXR couples its imager to a 5x optical zoom lens that yields focal lengths from a useful 28mm wide angle to a 140mm telephoto equivalent. Images are framed and reviewed on a 3.0-inch LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution, and the F200EXR includes Fuji’s Face Detection 3.0 technology, capable of detecting up to ten faces in a scene and taking account of these when calculating focus, exposure and white balance. Images are stored on SD, SDHC, or xD cards, or in 48MB of built-in memory. Power comes from an NP-50 lithium-ion battery.
The Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR goes on sale from February 2009, priced at about US$400, but retailing for about $350 online.
Fuji F200EXR User Report
by Mike Pasini
“Oh dear,” I said as I held the Fujifilm F200EXR and looked at the Mode dial.
The first shots I take with any digicam I review are in Program mode. I avoid the green Easy modes because I’m not going to get up to speed very quickly doing nothing to the camera. But this was something different. I could tell that my defaulting to Program wasn’t going to work. This camera has “EXR” in the name, so I’m going to have to explore the EXR mode to really get to the crux of the Fujifilm F200EXR.
You might think I should have said, “Great! EXR mode!” instead of “Oh dear.” But this is a choice I never want to make. I don’t want equivalents staring me in the face. I want a hierarchy of choices. Green Easy or Scene or Program or Manual, say, going up the chain.
How was I supposed to decide between the Fujifilm F200EXR’s Program and EXR?
EXR. In an otherwise thin manual that illustrates things you already know how to do (like insert a battery), EXR mode is explained on two pages. They’re required reading. So I read them.
“Oh dear!” I repeated.
At first glance, EXR mode is something like an intelligent Auto that can identify up to six different shooting situations or scenes and set the camera up for you. The scenes it can recognize are Portrait, Landscape, Night Landscape, Macro, Backlit Portrait, and Night Portrait.
But that’s only if you’ve set up EXR mode to do that. Oddly enough, it performs other tricks, too.
That’s because it’s not just a mode but the name of the sensor itself. It’s a new sensor, called the Super CCD EXR. Fujifilm has always engineered its own sensors, developing unique designs to approach the analog characteristics of film with particular attention to extending the dynamic range of the capture.
With the Fujifilm F200EXR’s sensor, though, Fujifilm has aimed for mimicking how the human eye sees the world, rather than how film sees it. And how does the human eye see the world?