Fuji FinePix F300EXR £336.99
17th Feb 2011 | 09:20
A lightweight 12MP compact camera comes with some fancy tech to take better pictures
Fuji FinePix F300EXR: Overview
Fujifilm's FinePix F300EXR follows on from the F200EXR. The new model is a well-specified, lightweight, 12Mp compact camera that will put a novice at ease while offering something more in-depth for the experienced photographer.
In addition, it is equipped with a very versatile 15x optical zoom lens with an equivalent foal length range of 24mm-360mm in the 35mm format; giving it plenty of appeal.
Furthermore, the F300EXR's Super CCD EXR sensor is the first sensor enabled for both contrast and phase detection auto focus.
Fuji FinePix F300EXR: Build quality and handling
First impressions of the FinePix F300EXR are good, its attractive curved black metal chassis has a solid feel and there are several surfaces with rubber pads to give a confident grip.
Camera controls are well thought-out and fall easily to hand. A particularly nice touch is the main command dial being angled at 45 degrees, facing the user, which comes easily to the right thumb. While the dial arrangement is great, it needs a little more resistance as it has a habit of turning when the camera is slipped in or out of a pocket – the F300EXR is perfectly sized for carrying in a pocket.
The only other issue I had with the handling relates to the small flash which pops up as soon as the camera is switched on. It gets in the way of the fingers of your left hand, and there is no way of retracting it when not required. In it's favour, it does give wonderful fill-in results.
Fuji FinePix F300EXR: Controls and features
This new FinePix model comes with an array of useful features. The 3-inch, 460,000-dot LCD screen provides a clear view of images at quite wide angles even when shooting (or reviewing) in bright sunlight.
There is improved 'Face Recognition' and the new 'Auto Release Mode' fires the shutter as soon as it detects a face, making it perfect for restless small children. The F300EXR can track the kids and release the shutter when they look to the camera.
The new 'Hybrid Auto Focus System' analyses both light and contrast and chooses whether to use the 'Phase Detection Auto Focus' (bright, high contrast conditions) or 'Contrast Auto Focus' (low-light scenarios). I found it makes its choice quickly and reliably, so focus is generally swift.
In fact, the 'Phase Detection Auto Focusing' lives up to Fujifilm's claim for making focusing and release as quick as the blink of an eye. The only focusing situation found to be disappointing was the 'Tracking' mode. It tracked town traffic head-on fairly well, but shutter lag was evident, and relatively simple shots. Here missed as a result.
Also new to the FinePix F300EXR is '360 degree Motion Panorama Mode' allows you create an all around you image in one sweep. It's a feature that is popping up in a few places now.
As well as the usual plentiful scene modes this FinePix, like its predecessors has an 'EXR' mode with Auto, Resolution priority, High ISO & Low noise priority and Dynamic range priority options. The principal behind 'EXR' is that it gives the camera the ability optimise for detail resolution or to open up shadows and preserve the highlights. I suspect that many users of this camera, if they use the 'EXR' mode, will leave it on 'Auto'. This proves a good choice for the majority of situations.
Fujifilm has given users the choice to customise their style of capture, but having to scroll through up to 3 pages and their respective sub-menus can become a chore. SLR users know that most of these are easily changed using buttons or dials, a far quicker method. Some may feel the camera's ability to 'Rate' images, separate detected faces and create photo books in review mode is unnecessary.
A handy feature that Fujifilm have incorporated is the 'F' button; allowing the operator to quickly access three pre-programmed menus for ISO, image size & film simulation, and change their settings accordingly. It would be even better if the user was able to choose their own three settings and personalise this menu.
I found it especially useful that it is possible to make the camera silent and cancel its flash simultaneously by pressing and holding the 'Review' button. Nice and discrete. Another function that is very useful is 'Pro Focus Mode'; it lives up to its expectations, using three consecutive images to create a shallower depth of field.
Fujifilm's photographic film heritage gives us a choice of three colour modes; based on Fuji's E6 Chrome's. They are Velvia; saturation and contrast, Provia; overall neutral feel and Astia; less saturated and lower contrast. Dedicated black & white and sepia modes bring the total five, enough to cover all situations. My personal preference is the 'Velvia' setting; images have evenly balanced, saturated colours, with increased contrast.
Not surprisingly with a camera that is designed to appeal to less experienced photographers (as well as more advanced users), the F300EXR's in camera Auto White Balance systemis extremely good. In fact, it often gives results that are better than the White Balance pre-sets.
The FinePix F300EXR has three metering modes: 'Multi', 'Spot' and 'Average'. Multi generally renders the image lighter overall than I would have liked and as a result of this I used 'Average' the majority of the time. 'Spot' metering works well in conjunction with the easily adjustable exposure compensation, provided you understand the principals of spot metering. This was very useful for heavily backlit situations where the 'EXR' could be caught out.
Video on 'stills' cameras is now becoming normal and the FinePix F300EXR is no exception, offering 'HD' or '640' quality, available at the press of a dedicated button too. Cancelling video recording is as instantaneous, taking you back to the last mode.
Fuji FinePix F300EXR: Image quality and resolution
The FinePix F300EXR is equipped with a 15x optical zoom lens - equivalent to 24mm-360mm in the 35mm format; giving a very useful range from wide-angle to long telephoto.
Long telephoto lenses can make camera shake a serious issue, but fortunately Fujifilm has included its new 'Gyro-Sensor' image stabilisation in the F300EXR. With care it is possible to shoot hand-held at 1/4 second at the widest focal length and 1/25 at its longest reach without camera shake – impressive! The lens delivers sharp, crisp images (up to ISO 400), with only minimal flare, even when shooting into a low sun.
Noise is handled well, up to and including ISO 800. Anything above this I would only use for essential shots as 'smearing' of details becomes evident and the first real traces of noise appear. At ISO 3200 the camera automatically sizes files at 4.5-5.9 million pixels and at ISO 6400 & 12,800 are restricted to 2.8 -3.1 million pixels. This variation in file size is dependant on the aspect ratio you have chosen. Image quality at these last two sensitivities is deterrent enough to avoid them.
Fuji F300EXR ISO Test
Fuji F300EXR Review: ISO 100 (Click here for the full-res version)
Fuji F300EXR Review: ISO 200 (Click here for the full-res version)
Fuji F300EXR Review: ISO 400 (Click here for the full-res version)
Fuji F300EXR Review: ISO 800 (Click here for the full-res version)
Fuji F300EXR Review: ISO 1600 (Click here for the full-res version)
Fuji F300EXR Review: ISO 3200 (Click here for the full-res version)
Fuji F300EXR Review: ISO 6400 (Click here for the full-res version)
Fuji F300EXR Review: ISO 12,800 (Click here for the full-res version)
Fuji FinePix F300EXR: Sample photos
Detail captured by the Fuji F300EXR (Click here for the full-res version)
Close-up detail (Click here for the full-res version)
Contrast detail (Click here for the full-res version)
Pro Focus Effect (Click here for the full-res version)
Detail distortion (Click here for the full-res version)
Fill flash (Click here for the full-res version)
Focus tracking (Click here for the full-res version)
Shooting into the light (Click here for the full-res version)
Shooting with sidelighting (Click here for the full-res version)
Colour representation (Click here for the full-res version)
Fuji FinePix F300EXR: Verdict
At the lower sensitivity settings the F300EXR produces high quality images , but some photographers will be disappointed that Fujifilm has not added 'RAW' file capability as it gives them much greater flexibility in post-processing and enable them to draw more out of the files.
Fujifilm's menu and control layout is also a little fussy and some users may become frustrated with the unnecessary complexity of changing settings.
Build quality: 4/5
Image Quality: 3/5
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