The FinePix F600EXR is another in what is becoming a very long line of Fujifilm compact megazooms featuring the company's unique EXR CMOS sensor design and EXR image processor. The F600EXR was the third it released for 2011, and in January 2012, Fujifilm announced three more. The EXR sensor is designed to improve dynamic range and low-light performance and, as with past EXR models, it works, at least compared with your average point-and-shoot camera.
However, as I will go on to mention several times in this review, this is more than just a simple point-and-shoot and has a lot of modes and settings to explore. It may require some patience and experimentation to get the best photos.
|Key specs||Fujifilm FinePix F600EXR|
|Dimensions (WHD)||4x2.4x1.2 inches|
|Weight (with battery and media)||7.7 ounces|
|Megapixels, image sensor size, type||16 megapixels, 1/2-inch EXR CMOS|
|LCD size, resolution/viewfinder||3-inch LCD, 460K dots/None|
|Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length)||15x, f3.5-5.3, 24-360mm (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (still/video)||JPEG, RAF (raw)/H.264 AAC (.MOV)|
|Highest resolution size (still/video)||4,608x3,456 pixels/1,920x1,080 pixels at 30fps|
|Image stabilization type||Mechanical and digital|
|Battery type, CIPA rated life||Li-ion rechargeable, 300 shots|
|Battery charged in camera||No; external charger supplied|
|Bundled software||My FinePix Studio 3.1, Raw file converter (Windows); FinePix Viewer 3.6, Raw file converter (Mac)|
As with most compact cameras, photo quality really comes down to expectations and what you plan to do with your photos. In general, the F600EXR's photos are very good and it is capable of taking some excellent shots. However, it may take a lot of adjusting of settings, shooting in raw, or experimenting with its EXR modes to get the best results. If that's not something you're willing to do, this probably isn't a good choice. Its EXR Auto mode is very good as auto-shooting modes go, but even tweaking that mode's settings can get you better shots.
The biggest photo quality issues for the F600EXR are noise and sharpness. Even at ISO 200, photos look soft and there is visible noise when photos are viewed at full size. As ISO sensitivity increases you'll see more noise, and moreover, photos start to look a little like paintings. Now, if you're not going to do enlarging or heavy cropping, this won't matter much. Colors are very good right up to ISO 800, too--natural and bright--and because of the F600EXR's dynamic range capabilities, you can somewhat avoid the extreme highlight blowouts typical of small-sensor point-and-shoots.
The lens has very good center sharpness, but gets much softer out to the sides and in the corners. Fujifilm keeps barrel and pincushion distortion under control as well as fringing. Shoot in raw and you can see the corrections it makes when processing JPEGs in camera.
Video quality is on par with a basic HD pocket video camera; good enough for Web use and casual TV viewing. Panning the camera will create judder that's typical of the video from most compact cameras. The zoom lens does function while recording, but in quiet scenes you will hear its movement and if you have the camera set for continuous autofocus you may hear it focusing, too. Along with settings for full HD and 720p at 30 frames per second, the F600EXR can record at up to 320fps for slow-motion clips, though the resolution is pretty bad at 320x112 pixels.
|General shooting options||Fujifilm FinePix F600EXR|
|ISO sensitivity (full resolution)||Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200|
|White balance||Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light, Underwater, Custom|
|Recording modes||Auto, EXR Auto, Program, Shutter speed priority, Aperture priority, Manual, Scene, Advanced|
|Focus modes||Multi, Center, Tracking|
|Macro||1.9 inches (Wide); 3.9 feet (Tele)|
|Metering modes||Multi, Spot, Average|
|Color effects||Standard, Vivid, Soft, Black&White, Sepia|
|Burst mode shot limit (full resolution)||8 shots (up to 6 in raw plus JPEG or raw)|
The F600EXR has fairly exhaustive shooting options for a point-and-shoot. You get the usual suspects such as Auto and Program, and 18 scene modes including an Underwater option for use with an add-on case. Then you get Manual and Aperture- and Shutter-speed-priority modes giving you some extra control over aperture and shutter speed. Available apertures include f3.5, f7.1, f10 at the wide end and f5.3, f11, and f16 at the telephoto end; shutter speeds go from 1/2,000 second to 8 seconds.
Then there are the EXR modes. These consist of High Resolution Priority, D-Range Priority, and High Sensitivity & Low Noise Priority. The High Resolution Priority setting uses the full 16-megapixel resolution for photos, while the other two shoot at 8 megapixels to improve dynamic range in high-contrast scenes or reduce noise in low-light photos. (Fujifilm's site has a full explanation of the EXR technology if you're interested.) If you're not sure which to use, there's an Auto EXR mode that includes scene recognition and that can also recognize which EXR Priority option to use. It's effective and reliable as long as you're OK with the possibility that you'll end up with 8-megapixel photos if the D-Range and High ISO & Low Noise Priority modes are used for your shot.
Lastly, there's an Advanced mode with a shoot-and-pan 360-degree panoramic option as well as Pro Low-light and Pro Focus choices. The Low-light mode snaps off several photos and then combines them into one lower-noise photo, while the Pro Focus creates a shallow depth of field by digitally blurring the background.
The F600EXR is pretty much on par with other cameras in its class in terms of shooting performance. What that means is that it can be a little slow to start up and shoot--about 2 seconds--and its shot-to-shot time is roughly the same (though some competing models recover about a second faster). That doesn't take into account any of the specialty modes that require extra processing, either. Use one of those and you'll be waiting a little longer to shoot again.
The same goes for continuous shooting. You can shoot up to 8 frames at about 3.4fps (at full resolution), but then you're left waiting while the camera saves those shots, a wait that can seem interminable depending on how urgently you want to shoot again. Most compacts have this burst-and-wait problem, but the F600EXR seemed to take longer than average. Lastly, shutter lag--the time from pressing the shutter release to capture--is good for the category at 0.4 second in bright conditions and 0.8 second in dim lighting. If you're considering this for regularly shooting fast-moving subjects like kids and pets, you might not be happy with its performance.
Like past F-series EXR models, the F600EXR is attractive and remarkably small for a camera with a 15x zoom and a 24mm ultrawide-angle lens. It feels very well constructed and is comfortable to use, too. The only gripe I had while testing was the position of the flash, which I frequently blocked with one or two of my fingers. The 3-inch high-res LCD is bright and fared well in sunny conditions, but it was mottled with noise in low light.
The camera's menu systems can be a little frustrating at first, but once you understand them, well, you might still get lost looking for a setting. For example, turning on the regular burst-shooting mode requires going into the main menu system, selecting it, backing out of that menu, and then entering a separate setup menu where you pick shooting speed and number of frames. Basically, you'll probably want to sit down with the full manual (a PDF on the bundled software disc or downloaded from Fujifilm's site) and get familiar with everything this camera can do before you even go out shooting in Auto mode.
The battery-and-card-slot compartment is on the bottom right. The door covering it doesn't lock, but the door slides forward instead of off to the side, which seems to keep it from accidentally opening during use or when stored loose in a bag. Battery life is average for its class, and the battery must be removed from the camera for charging. Micro-USB/AV and Mini-HDMI ports are under a door on the right; a button on the left pops up the flash.
The F600EXR does have built-in GPS, which can be used for geotagging photos, but also has a cool augmented-reality feature in playback mode. Turn it on and you can move the camera around you and it will point out any nearby landmarks you might want to go shoot. Tilt the camera down and it gives you a radarlike display of the same landmarks. However, GPS was very slow to lock on to a satellite even out in the open and using it seems to kill the battery faster than other GPS-enabled cameras I've tested. That could be in part because the battery is very small, so if you plan to use this feature regularly, definitely buy an extra battery.
The Fujifilm FinePix F600EXR is a nice compact megazoom and I liked shooting with it. However, you'll have to be willing to really dig into its features and settings to get the best results.
|Time to first shot||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
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