Fujifilm Z700EXR Review

 
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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Fujifilm FinePix Z700EXR
Resolution: 12.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2"
Lens: 5.00x zoom
(35-175mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 100-3200
Shutter: 4-1/1000
Max Aperture: 3.9
Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.3 x 0.8 in.
(98 x 59 x 20 mm)
Weight: 5.6 oz (158 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $280
Availability: 03/2010
Manufacturer: Fujifilm
Full specs: Fujifilm Z700EXR specifications
12.00
Megapixels
5.00x zoom
1/2"
size sensor
image of Fujifilm FinePix Z700EXR
Front side of Fujifilm FinePix Z700EXR digital camera Back side of Fujifilm FinePix Z700EXR digital camera      

The Fujifilm FinePix Z700EXR is based around a 12 effective megapixel, 1/2-inch RGB Super CCD EXR image sensor coupled to a 5x optical zoom lens.

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 EXR sensor's 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 EXR sensor's 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 EXR sensor's 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.

Maximum image resolution is 4,000 x 3,000 pixels in the camera's native 4:3 aspect ratio, and both 3:2 and 16:9 aspect ratio modes are also available. The Z700EXR's lens offers actual focal lengths ranging from 6.4 to 32.0mm, equivalent to 35 to 175mm on a 35mm camera - a rather tight wide angle to a useful telephoto. The Fuji Z700EXR has a two-step aperture, offering either F3.9 or F6.4 at wide angle, and either F4.7 or F8.0 at telephoto. Minimum focusing distance is ordinarily 2.0 feet at wide angle or 3.3 feet at telephoto, but drops to just 3.5 inches in Macro mode at wide angle, or 1.3 feet at telephoto. There's no true optical viewfinder on this model, with all interaction taking place on a 3.5-inch touchpanel wide-screen LCD display with 460,000 dot resolution, and this display provides 100% frame coverage.

The FinePix Z700EXR offers ISO-equivalent sensitivity ranging from 100 to 1,600, but can raise the maximum to 3,200 equivalent at a reduced resolution. Exposures are determined using 256-zone metering, and shooting modes include Auto, Program, and a fifteen scene modes that allow a modicum of control over the look of images. Usefully, the FinePix Z700EXR  includes true mechanical (CCD shift-type) image stabilization to combat blur from camera shake. Shutter speeds range from 1/1,000 to 4 seconds. Burst shooting is possible at up to 1.6 frames per second, with a burst depth of five shots.

The Z700EXR's contrast detection autofocusing system offers single-point, auto, or touch-point focusing. Seven white balance modes are available, including automatic or six presets; manual white balance is not possible on this camera. The Fuji Z700EXR's built-in six-mode flash has a range of 1.0 to 12.8 feet at wide angle, or 1.3 to 10.5 feet at telephoto, which can be reduced to a range of one to 2.6 feet in macro mode. A two- or ten-second self timer is available to allow the photographer to get into the photo, or to reduce blur when shooting on a tripod. There's also Couple, Group and Pet timer functions based on the camera's face detection capability.

As well as JPEG-format still images, the Fuji Z700EXR can capture Motion JPEG-compressed AVI video with monaural audio. Movie resolutions include high-definition 720p (1,280 x 720 pixels) at 24 frames per second, as well as both VGA (640 x 480 pixels)  and QVGA (320 x 240 pixels) with a rate of 30 frames per second. The Fuji FinePix Z700EXR stores its data on Secure Digital cards, including the newer SDHC types, or in 30MB of built-in memory. Connectivity includes USB 2.0 High Speed data. Power comes from a proprietary NP-45A lithium-ion battery,with battery life  rated at 170 frames on a charge.

The Fuji FinePix Z700EXR ships from March 2010, priced at around $280.

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