Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fujifilm announces the F200EXR with unique sensor

Got to hear of this latest Fujifilm point-and-shoot from dpreview. Although it may look and sound like any other average compact camera, it isn't. This camera is revolutionary as it is the first to use Fujifilm's EXR technology that can use the sensor in three different ways to optimise resolution, dynamic range or low-light performance. That's the big deal about this camera that struck me. In this day where camera manufacturers are cramming ever more pixels onto small sensors on compact cameras, this emphasis on low-light performance and dynamic range is much valued. Yet the camera does not compromise resolution, which makes it even more desirable.

Basically the way the camera works is that in high resolution mode, all 12 million pixels on the sensor will be used to capture the image. This mode would be ideal in outdoor settings when light is strong.

Then, the other mode to get best low-light performance is the high sensitivity mode. In this mode, the camera shoots at 6 million pixels (half the native resolution) and can go up to ISO6400 (or 12800 in 3MP). Two adjacent pixels 'join' together to produce 6 million large photodiodes, which are big enough to absorb light in the darkest of conditions. Supposedly, this gives extremely good image quality with minimal noise even in dark environments. This is a very innovative move, and sounds effective in theory, but then again until the camera ships we cannot verify Fujifilm's claims.

Lastly, in the high dynamic range mode, the camera captures different exposures with two sets of six million pixels, which, when combined, gives an excellent level of detail in highlights that would otherwise be lost. Also, a highly innovative feature which will prove very useful in high contrast scenes.

All in all, this may be a very popular camera, especially with pro-photographers who demand maximum image quality from compact cameras. Will this be as successful as the LX3? It remains to be seen... but the feature set of the Fujifilm F200EXR on paper is very compelling. In addition to the unique sensor, there are other features such as dual image stabilisation, a 5x wide-angle zoom lens, film simulation mode, full manual controls... but the downside is it doesn't shoot RAW and has no hot-shoe mount, something the LX3 has. (:

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