Design and features
So you want an SLR shooting experience, but without the hassle of changing lenses? You'll probably be tempted by something like the Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR then, with a 30-436mm (14.3x optical) fixed lens attached to a dSLR-style body.
The design of this thing looks very similar to an SLR and it certainly feels like one when you pick it up. At 820g even some prosumer digital SLRs are lighter than this camera. It's also built like a tank, and has enough metal-tipped grips and lens barrel coatings to make you think twice if you met it in a dark alley late at night. The movement of the lens certainly gives this intimidating impression as well — lock and load, boys and girls.
A manual focus ring is located at the back of the lens element, and all the focal lengths are written on the barrel itself (note that the lens movement is all mechanical rather than via a dedicated zoom rocker like on many superzooms). The lens is optically stabilised and has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at the wide end (30.5mm). Lifting the camera up is certainly a tricky task, as it's easy to knock the flash open if you lift the camera via the lens barrel rather than the hand grip. Oh, and did we mention it's pretty heavy?
The top of the camera continues the dSLR styling, with a mode dial providing the standard PASM shooting options, as well as custom modes, movie mode, EXR, FSB and SP modes.
|Mode||Description||EXR||Fujifilm's version of intelligent auto mode, and you can subsequently choose from full resolution mode, high and low noise mode, as well as dynamic range mode.|
|FSB||Film Simulation Bracketing, which takes three consecutive shots each with different effects from Fuji films.||SP||Scene position, in other words, scene modes for common situations (snow, flowers, etc).|
In FSB mode, the S200EXR will automatically take the same shot, three times, and apply a different film filter to each image. At the top is the standard (Provia), middle is vivid (Velvia) and the bottom is softer (Astia). As you can see each mode is quite subtle but it gives a nice consistency between Fuji's film and digital lines. (Credit: Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia)
On the left side (looking face-on) is the slot that lifts up to reveal the SD/SDHC card slot, and on the right you're presented with a myriad of buttons and switches. There's a focus selector, continuous shooting button, white balance adjustment button, and a plastic flap that covers the USB ports, power connection and AV out. They're all actually pretty clever ideas, as you don't need to delve into the menu system to find common tweaks.
On the top of the camera is a pop-up flash and we're heartened to see a hotshoe included as well. The viewfinder is electronic and reasonably easy to see. For photographers looking for a more point-and-shoot experience, never fear, the 2.7-inch LCD screen is available as well. Unfortunately, there's no sensor that automatically switches between the viewfinder and the LCD screen, it has to be switched on or off via the dedicated EVF/LCD button to the right of the screen. This is a little counter-intuitive, only because the form factor of the S200EXR makes your own actions automatically switch into dSLR shooting mode.
Inside the camera, the main calling card is the 12-megapixel Super CCD sensor. Fujifilm claims that sensor, which is designed differently to conventional digital camera CCD sensors, offers lower noise at high sensitivities and a wider dynamic range. Unfortunately, there is no HD video provided on the S200EXR.