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Fujifilm FinePix F7 review: Fujifilm FinePix F7

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Editors' note: The Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR is identical to the Best Buy-only Fujifilm FinePix F72EXR except for body color.

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7.6

Fujifilm FinePix F7

The Good

Overall very good photo quality; lots of useful features; very good dynamic range and high-ISO performance in EXR modes; extremely compact for having a 10x zoom, wide-angle lens.

The Bad

No HD movie mode; limited aperture settings; menu systems take some getting used to; above average amount of purple fringing in photos; two EXR modes use 5-megapixel resolution.

The Bottom Line

A compact megazoom with a lot to offer, the Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR is very good for its class, but with a few limitations.

The FinePix F70EXR is an expansion of Fujifilm's camera lineup that features a Super CCD EXR sensor, which the company debuted in the F200EXR in February. Instead of that camera's 5x, wide-angle lens, the F70EXR has a 10x zoom lens, but the body remains roughly the same size and the price is lower. The sensor helps successfully attack--at least to a point--two issues that are a problem for compact cameras: dynamic range and noisy low-light photos. The results, though not as good as the F200EXR, make it a frontrunner for compact megazooms. But, like the F200EXR, the improvements come at the cost of resolution.

The F70EXR is attractive and remarkably small for a camera with a 10x zoom and a 27mm-equivalent wide-angle lens. It feels very well constructed and is comfortable to use, too. The only issue I had while testing was the position of the flash, which frequently ended up blocked by one or two of my fingers. The 2.7-inch LCD on back is bright and fared well in sunny conditions, but was mottled with color noise in low light. To the top right of the LCD is the Shooting Mode dial, which moves a little too freely, but is at least sunken into the body instead of sitting on top of it.

As for the menu systems, they can be a little frustrating at first, but once you understand them they're fairly simple. Below the Mode dial is the F-mode button for bringing up a menu of shooting options specific to the mode you're in. All other general camera controls--shooting priority, light metering, AF mode, continuous options, image stabilization--are under the main menu system, reached by pressing the Menu/OK button at the center of the directional pad. This main menu system is where you go for a secondary selection of setup settings, too, for things like date and time, LCD brightness, and to format memory cards. The directional pad is used for navigating menus in addition to changing exposure compensation, flash mode, timer options, turning on Macro mode, and deleting photos in playback. At the bottom of the control panel sits buttons for changing the information displayed onscreen and directly turning on and off face detection. A Mini-USB port under a door on the right is used for transferring photos and video off the camera and AV output; the battery must be charged by an external charger.

As for shooting options, the F70EXR has a lot to pick from. For starters, there are the namesake EXR modes. This consists of High Resolution Priority, D-Range Priority, High ISO & Low Noise Priority, and Auto EXR. Auto EXR is scene recognition that also recognizes which EXR Priority option to use. It's effective and reliable as long as you're OK with the reduced 5-megapixel resolution of the D-Range and High ISO & Low Noise Priority modes. It's certainly one of the best put-it-there-and-leave-it-there auto modes I've tested.

If you don't want to use the EXR, there's a regular Auto mode for more ordinary shooting that uses the camera's full 10-megapixel resolution as well as 15 scene modes to choose from. Included in the scene modes are Pro Low-light and Pro Focus options. The Low-light mode snaps off four shots and then combines them into one lower-noise photo while the Pro Focus creates a shallow depth of field by digitally blurring the background. (You can view results of both in the slide show later in this review.) There's a Natural Light mode for low-light shooting without the flash and a Natural with Flash that takes two pictures, one using available light and one with flash. A Program mode lets the camera handle shutter speed and aperture while you tweak everything else. This also has an aperture-priority option, but the settings are limited to f3.3 and f6.4 at the lens' widest position and f5.6 and f11 when zoomed out. There is a Manual mode as well, but again aperture is limited to those four settings. Shutter speeds are selectable from 8 seconds to 1/2,000 of a second.

There is, of course, face detection--with or without auto red-eye correction--which features improved detection for up to 10 faces, upside down, slanted, and sideways, head on or profile. And for those who like experimenting with film types, Fujifilm modeled color options after three of its film types: Provia (standard color), Velvia (vivid color), and Astia (soft tones).

Lastly, you get a basic Movie mode that only goes up to a resolution of 640x480 at 30 frames per second. It's a little disappointing there's no HD-quality option since a lot of the competition is making that standard, but this camera also does a lot that the competition can't, so it's kind of a wash. On the upside, you do get full use of the optical zoom while recording, and the video quality is very good all things considered.

The F70EXR has all-around decent shooting performance, especially for a camera with a 10x zoom lens. From on to first shot is 2.1 seconds and then it's just 1.5 seconds between shots. Turning on the flash adds 1 second to that time. Shutter lag is a passable 0.5 second in good lighting and in dimmer conditions it only lengthens to 0.7. Lastly, though its full-resolution burst is limited to three shots, it fires them off at 2.5 frames per second. A 12-shot burst is available, but the images are 3 megapixels.

The photo quality at the camera's full 10-megapixel resolution is good, but typical of a compact megazoom: slightly soft with a noticeable dip in quality at ISO 400. Things get grainier above that, but detail is still OK at ISO 800 for small prints. Fortunately, the 5-megapixel EXR mode shots are better.

Using the lower-resolution EXR modes not only allows for improved dynamic range, but some of the best handheld low-light shooting you'll find from a compact megazoom. Yes, there is plenty of visible noise and Fujifilm's noise suppression looks painterly, but there are few--if any--sub-$200 cameras that can take a very low-light handheld picture and have it be usable. You probably wouldn't want to print them at full size, but at 4x6 inches they're good and certainly suitable for Web sharing. Unfortunately, if you use the Auto ISO setting, it loves to go high even when it doesn't need to, possibly resulting in unnecessarily grainy/noisy photos. If you know you're going to need to take advantage of the High ISO & Low Noise EXR option, select it and limit the Auto to ISO 800, which can't be done in the Auto EXR mode.

The F70EXR has some barrel distortion on the left side at the widest lens position. Zoom all the way out and you get a nearly unnoticeable amount of pincushion distortion. If there's one thing that really ruins the F70EXR for me, it's the amount of purple fringing created by the lens.

Though not technically accurate, the colors produced by the F70EXR are quite nice and natural. If you like your colors a little more vivid, like most compact cameras, an option is available to punch things up. The auto white balance seemed a little warm indoors and a little cool outside, so you'll want to take advantage of the manual setting for better results. The dynamic range is pretty much the best you'll find on a camera this size, except for maybe the F200EXR.

While it has some very good photo results compared to other compact megazoom cameras, the Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR is still a bit of a letdown against its linemate, the F200EXR. It's still one of the better cameras in its class with a lot of shooting flexibility and reasonably reliable auto features; though it's best if you take a little control away from the camera. You'll also have to overlook that the resolution of two of the three EXR modes are 5 megapixels. But, considering how low the price is, I'm sure there are plenty of people who can deal with its few limitations.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Kodak EasyShare Z915
1.7 
1.1 
0.6 
0.4 
Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR
2.1 
1.5 
0.7 
0.5 
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H20
2.8 
2.1 
0.7 
0.4 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1
2.3 
2.5 
1.1 
0.9 
Canon PowerShot SX120 IS
2.5 
2.6 
0.7 
0.6 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test digital cameras.

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7.6

Fujifilm FinePix F7

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 7Image quality 7