Review by Matt Grayson
Following on from the stellar performance of the Fujifilm FinePix F200 EXR, we see the release of the F70 EXR. The smallest camera to boast a 10x optical zoom.
Fujifilm FinePix F70 EXR: Specification
- Zoom: 10x optical
- Resolution: 10Mp
- Sensor size: 1/2in
- Sensor type: CCD EXR
- Max. image size: 3616x2712
- File type: JPEG, AVI
- Sensitivity: ISO100-12800
- Media type: Internal, SD, SDHC
- Focus types: Normal, macro, face detection
- Normal focusing: 45cm-infinity
- Close focusing: 5cm-infinity
- Metering types: Programmed AE, Aperture-priority AE,
- Exposure compensation: None
- Shutter speed: 8sec-1/2000sec
- Flash: Built-in
- Monitor: 2.7in TFT colour LCD
- Interface: USB 2.0
- Power: Li-Ion Battery
- Size: 99.3x58.9x22.7mm
- Weight: 180g (excl. battery and card)
For £280, you can use the 10x optical zoom, 10Mp resolution and innovative EXR sensor. At the same price, the Canon IXUS 200 IS has a 5x optical zoom, higher 12Mp resolution and 24mm wide angle lens. The Samsung ST550 offers 12Mp, 4.6x optical zoom and a small screen on the front for self portraits.
Fujifilm FinePix F70 EXR: Features
One of the most attractive cameras I've looked at is the Fujifilm FinePix F70 EXR with its glossy gunmetal grey coating and smoothed out corners giving it an impression of sophistication and elegance rarely seen on a consumer model as this level of design is usually reserved for the top end models. A slight moulded ring illustrates where the 10x optical zoom lens is hidden and the F70 EXR is the smallest compact to hold a zoom range of this magnitude.
The Fujifilm FinePix F70 EXR is the thinnest compact camera with 10x optical zoom.
A simple layout follows Fujifilm's philosophy of easy-to-use cameras.
Pro-Focus mode works by taking two consecutive images and pasting them together to give a more pronounced diffusion of the background.
The layout has been left relatively simple with only a power and shutter button on the top plate although the shutter release has been accompanied by a zoom rocker. On the back is a small command dial which doesn't have the usual options that are found on these types of dials. Instead of portrait, sports and landscape modes, you can find manual, program, EXR, SP (scene)natural, natural & flash, video and auto. All the portrait modes are in the SP menu now to give the back a more simplistic view which is easier for newcomers to photography to grasp hold of. However, this could be counter productive as a massive menu system could well be a put off. Still, this method has been used before and it's not unsuccessful, so I could be barking up the wrong tree.
The F70 EXR features the same sensor as the Fujifilm FinePix F200 EXR reviewed in March 2009 so it has the same cool features that the new sensor introduced to the range. However, Fujifilm haven't been sitting back on their laurels and enjoying their extra popularity and multiple awards, they've added new features to the F70 EXR as well as reintroduce 3D photography to the masses by releasing the Fujifilm W1 3D.
New features on this camera include two new “pro” modes called Pro-Focus and Pro-Low light. The Pro-focus mode works by taking two separate images and merging them together to give an enhanced depth of field usually only reserved for DSLRs which benefit from a larger sensor. The Pro-Low light mode takes a series of four images in low ISO high ISO settings. It then merges the images to create an image controlled by noise much better than before.
It needs some fine tuning as the images are masked and placed over one another and it does show to a degree as the background looks like it's had a blur filter placed over it instead of naturally being out of focus. If they can make it look more natural, it'll be a corker of a feature.
The same film simulation modes are featured on the the F70 EXR that were originally introduced on the Fujifilm FinePix S100fs which give much more closely reproduced versions of the popular Fujifilm emulsion films such as Velvia and Astia.
Fujifilm FinePix F70 EXR: Build and handling
For such a small camera, I think it's quite weighty. It feels nice and solid in the hands and the smooth surface is comfortable to hold although could get problematic with greasy or sweaty hands as the camera could have a tendency to slip. The latter problem also putting horrible marks all over the lovely, shiny surface. The command dial is a little small although not annoyingly so but the buttons are responsive and firm and compensate for where the dial lets it down.
I don't like the positioning of the flash on a camera of this size. As I used the camera with flash, I found that my fingers were creeping over the top of the camera and covering the light. Then when I fired it, I got a slight burning sensation on my fingers which told me that I'd covered the flash up.
Fujfilm have always been well known for their easy to use UI (user interface) and the menu system on the F70 EXR is no exception. Options are clearly explained and well thought out with icons, except for the Pro-Low light as I don't know what that's meant to be. It looks like a candle or a lighthouse, I'm not sure. I think they've made a mistake by having quite so many menus though. It has the menu for scenes and EXR as well as the main menu and the FinePix menu on top of that. I found I had trouble remembering which modes were in which menu although I think given time, this wouldn't be an issue.
It's pleasing to see a metal tripod on the bottom of the camera and the spring loaded battery door is firm enough although to be fair does suffer from a mild case of movement.
Fujifilm FinePix F70 EXR: Performance
There are a number of continuous shooting modes on the Fujifilm FinePix F70 EXR with the option of shooting three or 12 images in succession. There's no continuous shooting in the true sense of the term, where it'll keep shooting until the card is full. Top3 will take three photographs then download them onto the card. It takes the photos in 1.5sec which is quick but then takes the rest of the ten second burst period to get them on the card.
Final3 starts taking photographs as soon as you press the shutter, but it doesn't record them to the card, it simply conveyors them in and out of the buffer as you keep your finger pressed. When you release your finger, the camera will then record the last three images taken.
Top12 and Final12 do the same job except recording more images albeit at a lower resolution and higher ISO. I'm impressed that it took the first 12 shots in 2.5sec and had downloaded the images in time to get another round of 12 off in the ten second test period.
Colours look good on the test chart with blue not being as prominent as normal.
Lag is around the standard performance found in compacts at the moment sitting at around 0.08sec which is a perfectly decent result.
I like the results from the colour test chart with all colours gently boosted but not too much. In fact, blue is showing considerable restraint as it normally pops out of the screen. Here it compliments the other colours as the red and yellows are warmed nicely and the earthy colours are rich. The skin tone isn't too pink and the mono tones are balanced nicely.
Landscape mode has chosen a higher ISO which is probably down to the dull day but has effectively made the shot look a lot worse.
I'm unsure of the landscape test image due to the amount of noise in the darker areas such as the winch or the sign on the balance beam. the yellow sign in the distance is also broken down slightly. Checking the EXIF data shows a sensitivity setting of ISO400 in the landscape mode which I think is a little high but then the camera has compensated for the overcast day as it was on the verge of raining. The lack of contrast means that the search for chromatic aberration (CA) is fruitless so I'll keep an eye out for it on other shots. Optimistically, it could mean that the camera doesn't suffer from it.
I love the sharpness of the small white flowers as well as how close I could get into them as they weren't very big at all, no bigger than a 50 pence piece. Macro mode has selected a good aperture for depth of field as the flowers are sharp from front to back yet the flowers in the background are out of focus.
Macro mode works well on the white flowers while chromatic abberation is shown on the pink petals above.
Looking at the brighter pink flowers and they display a lot of contrast against the dark background which does show up some CA on the edges of the petals. However, it's only mild and I don't think the market the camera is aimed at will think of it as an issue.
Along with the regular portrait mode and the new Pro-portrait mode, there's the Portrait Enhance mode. It's a feature that's been knocking around on compacts for a while now and it works by detecting skin tones and smoothing them out, removing blemishes and spots.
The flash is a smart style to make it look like flash hasn't been used.
Portrait Enhance smoothes out the skin so even Nikita doesn't look blotchy.
I like the portrait shots coming from the Fujfilm FinePix F70 EXR.
Standard portrait mode works very well with a decent even skin tone, slightly warmed up and lots of detail in the hair. There's also some detail in the shadow areas which has been filled slightly using the Fujifilm smart flash system. It's a new kind of flash system that they're very proud of. Instead of the usual over exposed results in portraits, the smart flash gives the kind of exposure that makes it look like it's not been used. I prefer this style of flash use and it's good to see it coming through on more compact cameras.
Fujifilm FinePix F70 EXR: Noise test
Throughout the test, I've been seeing images scattered with noise so the noise test is going to be an interesting area to look at. Starting at ISO100, it's given a nice smooth result on the grey card with plenty of detail in the petals.
The images then steadily decrease in quality with a definite acceleration in dropping out from ISO800 onwards. This is a slight improvement on the F200 EXR which had problems at ISO400.
Because of the amount of lost detail in the ISO1600 image, the resolution halves from ISO3200 onwards and Fujifilm have still included ISO12800 which, while still thinking that it's a good idea, hasn't been improved on since the F200 EXR.
Fujifilm FinePix F70 EXR: Verdict
The ISO100 test.
The ISO12800 test.
It's a mixed bag of performance from the FinePix F70 EXR giving lots of detail and lovely colours but then it's let down with mid to high ISO levels.
I like the design and materials used for the casing and I think squeezing a 10x optical zoom into such a thin camera is a feat in itself.
If you're after a thin camera with plenty of pull in the zoom area, that also looks good then this is the camera for you. In terms of innovative fetaures, it appears to have more to offer than others in the same price bracket.
Fujifilm FinePix F70 EXR: Plus points
Intelligent flash system
10x optical zoom in small body
Nice detail rendition
Cool new features
Fujifilm FinePix F70 EXR: Minus points
Bad noise at mid ISO levels
Chromatic abberation in high contrast
New pro features need tweaking
The Fujifilm FinePix F70 EXR costs around £280 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Fujifilm FinePix F70 EXR