A compact camera that aspires to appeal to veteran photographers. (May 13th, 2009)
Product Manufacturer: Fujifilm
- EXR helps dynamic range, less so noise.
- Large, good quality lens with 5X zoom.
- Presets skewed towards experienced users.
- Manual controls.
- Sturdy build quality.
- EXR aids aren't quite as good as marketed.
- Video mode underwhelming for the class.
- Expensive compared to most point-and-shoots.
- Proprietary data port.
video recording quality
For all the gains made in still image processing with the F200, the camera is strangely retrograde in its video support. Its maximum recording is capped at a resolution of 640x480; that's certainly acceptable, but it's sub-par when compared to other cameras in the class. Canon's PowerShot SD970 IS and Panasonic's Lumix ZS3 both record video in HD and are arguably much more future-proof, especially since video hosts like Vimeo and YouTube now regularly offer HD or near-HD options. Less expensive cameras either offer HD or at least offer widescreen modes that more properly fit the aspect ratios of modern TVs.
While this is a significant knock against the camera, the image quality is at least good for the category. It's not clear whether the EXR mode is at all engaged during the movie mode, but the quality of the lens and the built-in image stabilization result in a fairly clear picture. We were also impressed that the camera managed to capture a scene in a darkened nightclub (pictured below) with relatively little loss of the actual ambient light and while preserving much of the detail. The combination of both a wide angle and 5X zoom should also include more in the scene
As is always the case with virtually any compact camera using a mono microphone, sound quality is muted; we wouldn't expect more out of a point-and-shoot where space is still at a premium, and even digital SLR cameras like the Nikon D90 or Canon Rebel T1i regularly include single-array microphones due to size constraints. It does rule out the F200 as a dedicated video recorder, but that's also not why most would buy the camera.
Immaculate Machine performing "Dear Confessor" (available on iTunes)
a word on battery life
Due to time constraints, we weren't able to fully test the battery life of the camera. However, we can say that the (proprietary) lithium-ion battery doesn't drain quickly. We captured over 100 photos and a pair of videos in the space of testing, all of which involved using the sensor's full abilities (either in 12-megapixel normal mode or 6 megapixels with EXR). It was only at the very end of these sessions that the battery indicator dropped to the two-thirds mark, leading to the logical conclusion that the camera should last for about 300 stills before it runs dry. The larger but same-resolution Canon G9 is typically closer to 250 or less and hints that Fujifilm is making better use of its battery.