Fujifilm F70EXR Review

 
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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR
Resolution: 10.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2"
Lens: 10.00x zoom
(27-270mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 100-12800
Shutter: 8-1/2000
Max Aperture: 3.3
Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
(99 x 59 x 23 mm)
Weight: 6.3 oz (180 g)
MSRP: $280
Availability: 08/2009
Manufacturer: Fujifilm
10.00
Megapixels
10.00x zoom
1/2"
size sensor
image of Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR
Front side of Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR digital camera Back side of Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR digital camera      
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The Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR is the company's first entry in the long-zoom compact digital camera market, and replaces the 3x optical zoom FinePix F60. Based around a powerful Fujinon-branded 10x optical zoom lens that offers focal lengths from a useful 27mm equivalent wide angle to a far-reaching 270mm equivalent telephoto, the F70 has a maximum aperture that varies from F3.3 at wide angle to F5.6 at telephoto. The F70EXR's lens has Fujifilm's Super EBC coating, which helps prevent ghosting and flare, and its double lacquer-coated metal camera body is impressively slim at just 22.7mm thick. The Fuji F70 places its lens in front of a 1/2" Super CCD EXR image sensor with a resolution of ten megapixels, capable of yielding images with maximum dimensions of 3,616 x 2,712 pixels. The Super CCD EXR sensor first debuted in the F200EXR compact, making the F70EXR the second compact camera to feature an EXR chip. As with the F200EXR, the Fuji F70EXR's sensor offers the ability to trade off image resolution for increased sensitivity or dynamic range (more on that in a moment). CCD shift-type mechanical image stabilization is available to help fight blur from camera shake, and ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 12,800 equivalents. Images are framed and reviewed on a 230,000 dot, 2.7" LCD display with 160-degree viewing angle.

The Super CCD EXR chip retains the 45-degree octagonal pixel array that's the hallmark of Super CCD sensors, and which allows maximum resolution on the horizontal and vertical axes. Where the EXR design most obviously differs from past Super CCD designs is in the arrangement of its Color Filter Array, as shown in the diagram below. Diagonal stripes of green pixels are interspersed with stripes of red and blue pixel pairs. The new arrangement does mean that the horizontal / vertical gap between adjacent red and blue pixels may be increased, thanks to the staggered layout. However, it also brings with it a reduction in the corresponding gaps between green pixels. Since the human eye is more sensitive to green light than to red or blue, the resolution is retained where it is most needed. This isn't the reason for the change though. By changing its Color Filter Array layout, Fujifilm has allowed itself two potential improvements, useful in low light or high-contrast situations respectively.

The new layout allows for improvements in pixel binning - the technique of combining multiple pixels on-chip, effectively trading away image resolution for improved sensitivity. Obviously, pixel binning relies on the combination of multiple pixels that have the same color filtering. With the previous filter array, the distance between adjacent pixels of the same color was quite high, potentially resulting in color artifacting along high-contrast edges or areas of high detail when the pixels were combined. With the rearranged array, Fujifilm has simplified its pixel binning (shown in the diagram below) and ensured that there will always be an adjacent pixel of the same color. This goes a long way towards reducing pixel binning artifacts.

Alternatively, the new CFA layout and the sensor's ability to read out half the pixels during an ongoing exposure combine to allow a Super CCD EXR-based camera to offer improved dynamic range (as shown in the diagram below). The function works in a way that's very reminiscent of Fujifilm's Super CCD SR and SR-II sensors. The initial Super CCD SR design placed two photodiodes of differing sizes at a single photosite, sharing a color filter and microlens. One photodiode had greater light gathering area and increased sensitivity, and was responsible for capturing all but the highlight areas of the image. The other had a smaller area and one quarter the sensitivity, and was used to capture the highlight areas. The results were combined in-camera to yield a single image with improved dynamic range. The Super CCD SR II took the smaller of these two photodiodes and placed it in the gap between pixels, giving it a separate microlens of its own. For Super CCD EXR, Fujifilm has done away with the secondary low-sensitivity photodiodes altogether, instead reading data off the sensor twice. Half the pixels are read out during exposure, and the remaining half at the end of the exposure. The results are combined into a single image in-camera, with increased dynamic range. The effect is somewhat like that of HDR (high dynamic range) photography, where multiple images are captured and combined into a single image - except that it is achieved in-camera without the intervention of the photographer, and the exposures happen concurrently.

On top of the standard Program exposure mode and a healthy selection of approachable scene modes, the Fujifilm F70EXR offers both an aperture-priority mode and the ability to shoot completely manually. The F70EXR uses a 256-zone metering sensor, and shutter speeds range from 1/2000 to 8 seconds. Autofocusing is via contrast detection operating on data streamed from the camera's image sensor, with three options available - area, multi or center AF. The Fuji FinePix F70EXR does include an AF assist lamp to help with autofocusing in difficult lighting, and includes Fuji's Face Detection 3.0 functionality which is capable of identifying and accounting for up to ten faces when shooting images. Macro focusing is possible to as close as 2.0" / 5 cm. The Fuji F70EXR's built-in flash offers seven operating modes. The F70EXR also offers a VGA (640 x 480 pixel) video mode with a rate of 30 frames per second. Videos include sound, and are saved as Motion JPEG-compressed AVI files.

Among the more unusual functions on the Fujifilm F70EXR are its Pro Focus and Pro Low-Light modes. When using the Pro Focus mode, the F70 combines either two or three consecutive shots to yield a single image with a sharply focused main subject, and a blurred background. The mode answers one of the main criticisms of small-sensor cameras compared to DSLRs with their relatively larger sensors, which is that depth of field can be too great making it difficult to separate your subject from the background. With that said, the Pro Focus mode will obviously require a relatively static subject to function well. The Pro Low-Light mode meanwhile combines four high-ISO sensitivity exposures into a single image with reduced noise levels as compared to a single longer-exposure high ISO shot. Another less common capability is the Fuji F70's film simulation mode, which offers five settings that mimic a variety of film types - Velvia (vivid), Provia (standard), Astia (soft) plus Black & White and Sepia. Usefully, the F70's Face Detection mode is used to offer a Red-Eye Removal function, allowing a second copy of images to be saved after automatic correction of red-eye.

The Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR stores its images as JPEG files in either 47MB of built-in memory, or on Secure Digital cards including the faster and higher-capacity SDHC type. Power comes from an NP-50 Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, and Fuji states that the F70EXR's battery life should offer some 230 shots on a charge. Connectivity options include standard-definition NTSC/PAL video and USB 2.0 high-speed data connections

The Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR ships from August 2009, with pricing of approximately $280.

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