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|Fujifilm Finepix F80 EXR: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.|
|Fujifilm's F80EXR promises to be able to cope with high contrast scenes, as well as low light conditions. Here Gary Wolstenholme takes a close look to see how it fares.|
Placed at the top of Fujifilm's Advanced Compact Camera range, the F80EXR sports and EXR Super-CCD sensor, 10x zoom lens with a 27mm equivalent wide angle and manual control options for around £175. The camera is aimed at those after the convenience of a pocketable camera, but who may get frustrated with shortcomings typical of many compact digital cameras to date, such as limited Dynamic Range, poor quality at high sensitivities and limited zoom range.
Fujifilm Finepix F80 EXR: Features
One of the main selling points of the F80EXR is the EXR sensor, which can utilise some of the 12 megapixels available to either produce images with high resolution, higher dynamic range at reduced resolution, or lower noise in poor lighting conditions, also at reduced resolution. The modes which require the resolution to be reduced typically shoot at six megapixels, which is still plenty of detail for most home or high street printing.
For point and shoot convenience, the EXR Auto mode takes care of choosing the correct compromise, as well as setting exposure and white balance automatically. Those who wish to take more control can manually set the camera to any of the three EXR settings, and even take control of aperture and shutter speeds if they so wish. A couple of natural light modes are also provided, allowing pictures to be taken in low light conditions whilst attempting to reatin the atmosphere of the ambient light. Film simulation modes are also included, which should please those after the look of their favourite Fuji slide film, whether it be Provia, Velvia or Astia.
The 10x zoom fitted to the F80EXR covers a useful range equivalent to 27-270mm on a 35mm camera, providing enough wide-angle for shooting in tight spots and enough telephoto to isolate reasonably distant subjects. The lens extends in three sections enabling it to fold down flush to the slim body. As camera shake may be an issue, especially at the longer end of the zoom range, a Dual Image Stabilisation system is provided, using a combination of sensor movements and increased ISO sensitivity to ensure shots are sharp.
A plethora of different detection systems are also included on the F80EXR including, Face Detection with Auto Red-Eye removal, Face Recognition and Pet Detection. As far as I know, Fujifilm are the first to introduce a system to detect pets, and the system promises to be able to detect up to ten cats or dogs in the frame. That should keep the local cat lady happy, but she may be disappointed if she gets a dog as well, as it can't detect cats and dogs in the same scene. The Auto Red-Eye removal is very effective. You can see it working after a picture with demonic eyes has been taken.
Fujifilm Finepix F80 EXR: Handling
Fujifilm appear to have taken the Goldilocks' porridge approach to design with the F80EXR. It's slim, but not so slim that handling is difficult. It's lightweight, but has enough weight behind it for a reassuring feel of quality. It feels good in the hand and all the controls are easily accessible via index finger or thumb, in fact I found shooting one-handed felt very natural with this camera. The Fujifilm lettering on the front is slightly raised and has a machined finish, which helps me to maintain a firm enough grip on the camera.
A bezel around the shutter release button operates the zoom, and it only requires a light touch to set it in motion. The zoom tracks through the range at a good speed, although I sometimes found it will zip past where I want it to stop if composition is critical. For a camera of this zoom range is is very compact and will slip into a jacket pocket of purse without too much hassle.
Fujifilm Finepix F80 EXR: Performance
In use I found the F80EXR to be very responsive for a compact of this type, focusing quickly, especially when the face detection system is active. In low light conditions an AF assist light shines on your subject, helping it to get a lock on in most conditions, although this system only has a limited distance range where it is effective.
Even without the EXR system enabled, the F80EXR produce well-balanced exposures in most conditions. In fact I found the metering system quite difficult to fool, even in some high contrast scenarios and almost infallible when the face detection system is active.
The 12 megapixel Super CCD EXR is capable of recording an impressive amount of detail when shooting at full-resolution. Images seem to be well-sharpened in camera also, making them ideal for printing straight away. Even when the High Dynamic Range and High ISO EXR settings are used, images retain excellent sharpness and detail until the ISO is increased beyond a certain point. In that case noise will inevitably soften images. The high dynamic range mode is quite effective at retaining detail that would otherwise be lost in the highlights and shadows, but without looking unnatural.
ISO and noise performance
For these tests these images were taken at the highest resolution possible for each ISO setting. I was a little disappointed by the results at all ISO settings due to the presence of strange JPEG-like artefacts in the images when viewed at 100%, especially in areas of fine detail.
However in terms of the amount of noise present, the camera performs well enough, despite the artefacts, producing images with little visible noise up to ISO400. Beyond this setting the noise levels increase steadily, becoming significant at ISO1600 and above. Even though the resolution is reduced at ISO3200, the amount of noise present increases by a noticeable amount, although images taken at this setting will still be suitable for postcard size prints and sharing on the web. At ISO6400 and 12800, images look like they've either been taken through a dirty window, or during a snowstorm, as the levels of noise are quite overpowering. In fact at ISO12800 the levels of coloured noise are very, very high, so much so that this setting is probably best avoided at all costs.
|Fujifilm Finepix F80 EXR Outdoor ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.|
|Fujifilm Finepix F80 EXR Test chart ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.|
The F80EXR's Auto White balance setting generally leaves quite a strong colour cast in images taken under anything but daylight. Images taken under Incandescent light tend to have a strong peach cast and those taken under the warm-white fluorescent tubes in our studio have a strong magenta cast. Using the appropriate manual preset for each lighting condition can improve things greatly, especially under incandescent lighting.
Buffer read/write times
This camera's delay from shot to shot is around only 1.8 seconds using a class 6 SD memory card, which isn't bad for a compact of this type. A continuous burst mode is available to use which can shoot at speeds of up to 5 frames per second, albeit at a reduced resolution of 3 megapixels.
The lens fitted to the F80EXR covers a very useful range equivalent to 27-270mm on a 35mm camera. In use I found the lens is certainly capable of producing clear images from edge to edge and it seems quite resistant to flare and ghosting too.
Fujifilm Finepix F80 EXR: Verdict
Fujifilm's EXR Super CCD is a novel idea that promises to allay many photographer's compact camera fears and that is does, although not completely. The extended Dynamic Range feature works really well. You can really see the difference with and with the feature enabled. The High ISO priority mode also works reasonably well, although I hoped for slightly better performance based on my experiences of the latest crop of compacts which promise to offer good low-light performance. In Resolution priority, fine detail can often be softened by strange JPEG-like artefacts, especially where there are a lot of high contrast edges in a small area.
Despite its flaws, the F80EXR is still worthy of consideration, especially given its reasonably competitive price, good build quality and excellent handling.
Fujifilm Finepix F80 EXR: Pros
Dynamic Range Priority works very well
Excellent face detection system with automatic red-eye removal
Good build quality
Useful zoom range
Fujifilm Finepix F80 EXR: Cons
JPEG-like artefacts in images taken at full resolution
Noise at highest ISO settings makes them almost unusable
Poor Auto White Balance performance
Fujifilm Finepix F80 EXR: Specification
|What comes in the box||Battery, Charger, Software, USB Cable|
|Lens||Fujinon 10x optical zoom lens, 3.3 (wide) f/5.6 (telephoto)|
|Sensor type||SUPER CCD EXR|
|Max. Image size||4000x3000|
|LCD monitor size||3.0inch|
|Focusing system||Contrast Detection|
|Focusing modes||Auto focus (Multi, Centre, Tracking ) / Continuous AF, AF assist illuminator available, Face Detection, Pet Detection|
|Metering modes||Auto, EXR, Natural Light, Natural Light & with Flash, SP, P, M, Movie Scene Position: Pro Focus, Pro Low-light, Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (Tripod), Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Underwater, Party, Flower, Text, Dog, Cat|
|White-balance||Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light, Underwater, Custom|
|Exposure compensation||+/- 2EV|
|Shutter speed range||1/2000 – 8 seconds|
|Continuous shooting||Up to 5fps at 3Mp|
|Anti-shake mode||Dual Image Stabilisation|
|Media type||SD, SDHC|
|Power||NP-50 Li-ion battery|
|Size (wxdxl)||99.3 × 58.9 × 28.4mm|
|Weight (with battery)||183g|
The Fujifilm Finepix F80 EXR costs £175 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Fujifilm Finepix F80 EXR