Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR impressions

[written by KopiOkaya, edited by Bluffname]

In April 2010, my friend and fellow F.U.N. member Lee Hin Mun gave us a field report on his HS10. Since then, there was nothing new from Fujifilm to excite our members until August 2010, when the company launched the “initially-thought” successor to its best-selling F200EXR – the FinePix F300EXR. To my utmost surprise, Fujifilm Singapore says the F300EXR is NOT to replace the F200EXR. Instead, it is a stand-alone model to fill the gap between F80EXR and F200EXR. Fujifilm explained the F300EXR uses a much smaller 1/2-inch SuperCCD EXR sensor than F200EXR’s 1/1.6-inch SuperCCD EXR sensor. Therefore,  it can never supersede the latter. I am sure many people, like me, had the same thought due to the perpetuating camera model number. We were wrong!

For this review, I was given the opportunity by Fujifilm Singapore to try out a production set for a week. My special thanks to Fujifilm Singapore!


GENERAL REMARKS
Upon collecting the camera from the “green building” (the Fujifilm HQ in Singapore) I could not wait to open the box and test drive the F300EXR. When I picked up the camera, I noticed a slightly longer and heavier body than the F200EXR. It felt more solid too. The design is slim, slick and modern – resembling the Canon S90/S95 more than any of the past FinePix compact cameras.

[photo: KopiOkaya]


[photo: KopiOkaya]


[photo: KopiOkaya]


[photo: KopiOkaya]

[photo: KopiOkaya]

[photo: KopiOkaya]

Full HD Photo/Movie HDMI MICRO connector output

[photo: KopiOkaya]

[photo: Bluffname]

The F300EXR felt very comfortable in my hands, not edgy like my F31fd. The design features a non-slip rubber for better camera handling. In short, it looked and felt good for a start. This will please those who are looking for form rather than functionality.

[photo: KopiOkaya]

The F31fd felt more “square-ish” (notice how my index finger bends in an awkward angle)

[photo: KopiOkaya]

Now comes the part which, I feel, is a bad design. I loaded the NP-50 battery, pressed the ON/OFF button and the camera sprang into action immediately. The flash popped up and got in the way of my left hand. I tried to push it down but it just stayed put. I thought I could disable the pop-up flash in the menu, but nothing could be done about this. Again, this function resembles that of the Canon S90, which many reviewers had expressed displeasure over. I don’t understand why Fujifilm wants to follow suit. Anyway, I can get used to this little annoyance.

The F300EXR features a ½ -inch SuperCCD EXR sensor. This new SuperCCD EXR sensor comes with built-in Phase Detection Pixels for faster AF detection speed. Fujifilm calls this technology Hybrid AF and claims its response to be as fast as that of digital SLR. The F300EXR packs a 24mm to 360mm 15x zoom lens that uses 12 lens elements molded from extra-low dispersion glass. The image stabilization system has improved too. The new Intelligent I.S. is said to be much better than the one used in F70EXR and F80EXR.. Other new features include Motion Panorama 360 which automatically stitches images into a 360 degree panorama, and baby Auto Shutter which, detects faces and automatically releases the shutter.

I was particularly interested in the Pro Focus Mode which uses multi-frame technology to create a one-touch narrow depth of field (bokeh), as if the image is taken using a professional portraiture lens.

Pro Focus Mode comes in three softness settings:

[photos: KopiOkaya]


STRENGTHS

  • Very fast and responsive 24 mm to 360 mm zoom lens. The 24mm end is extremely useful for capturing extra wide scenes. Quality/sharpness is good throughout the zoom range.

24mm zoom to target (red box)

Target at 360mm

[photos: KopiOkaya]

  • With Hybrid AF, the camera locks in focus instantaneously. It feels almost like using a Nikkor AF-D lens. It does hunt a bit on the tele end.
  • The new Intelligent Image Stabilization (I.S.) works like a charm. A far cry from Fujifilm’s older I.S. systems BUT… (see WEAKNESSES)
  • I noticed a slight improvement in dynamic range compared to previous EXR models.
  • Improved ergonomics. The camera feels very comfortable in my hand.
  • Big, bright and contrasty 3″ LCD screen.
  • The rotary Command Dial is a great added feature. It makes menu selection and picture viewing a lot faster than previous models.
  • The new and improved Mode Dial gives off an assuring “click” sound and dial locks in place. No more accidental mode switching.

[photo: KopiOkaya]

  • HD Video is very good for a compact camera. Furthermore, video zoom is possible BUT… (see WEAKNESSES)
  • Audio quality is loud and clear.
  • Microphone is sensitive.
  • Fast photo and video read/write speed with Class 4 or higher (high speed) SDHC card.
  • Price at SGD$429 {about US$325) [from MS Color, Singapore] is very attractive.

WEAKNESSES

  • Battery life is STILL short. However, I managed to squeeze 268 pictures from a fully-charged NP-50 battery after some minor adjustments to the camera settings.

This is what I did:

  1. Turns OFF Face Detection
  2. Turns OFF Continuous AF
  3. Turns ON Silent Mode
  4. Turns OFF Image Display
  5. Reduce LCD Brightness to -3
  6. Turns OFF AF Illuminator
  7. Set the Power Management to Power Save
  8. Set Auto Power Off to 2 min
  9. Set to SUPPRESSED FLASH
  • The pop-up flash is especially annoying. I kept pressing on the flash with my left index finger. When I switched on the camera, my left index finger again got in the way of the flash.
  • From 10X to 12X zoom (focal length 240mm to 288mm), the aperture drops to f6.2 but eventually returns to f5.3 at 13X zoom.
  • Zoom hunts quite a bit when shooting at the telephoto end.
  • The new Intelligent I.S. is not much help when shooting above 10X.
  • Auto focusing is very slow when using video zoom.
  • As expected, smaller sensor = noisier pictures. At ISO 1600, most images are soft and blotchy. There was noticeable chroma noise in the shadow areas at ISO 400. At ISO 3200, most images are unusable.
  • Auto white balance is not accurate. Images have the tendency to look too warm or red.
  • Purple fringe exists.
  • Audio recording sounds bit bass heavy or “boomy”, making it less ideal for vocal reproduction.
  • Due to longer shape, the PVC case provided by Fujifilm is a tight squeeze for the camera. The Velcro flap keeps coming loose.

[photo: KopiOkaya]

[photo: KopiOkaya]

  • Included hand strap does not come with a restrainer (red arrow). When fasten to the wrist, this restrainer can prevent accidental camera drop or theft.

[photo: KopiOkaya]

SAMPLE IMAGES

Click images to enlarge.


[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 4,000 X 3,000 px (Large 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 200
White Balance: Shade
Dynamic range: 400%
Shutter speed: 1/105 sec
Aperture: F5.3
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 66 mm (360 mm)


[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR
Image size: 4,000 X 3,000 px (Large 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 100
White Balance: Shade
Dynamic range: 400%
Shutter speed: 1/55 sec
Aperture: F3.9
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 6 mm (33 mm)


[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Purple fringe spotted!!!

Image size: 4,000 X 3,000 px (Large 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 100
White Balance: Shade
Dynamic range: 400%
Shutter speed: 1/800 sec
Aperture: F3.5
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 4.4 mm (24 mm)


[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 4,000 X 3,000 px (Large 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 400
White Balance: Shade
Dynamic range: 400%
Shutter speed: 1/180 sec
Aperture: F5.3
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 66 mm (360 mm)


[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 4,000 X 3,000 px (Large 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 400
White Balance: Shade
Dynamic range: 400%
Shutter speed: 1/120 sec
Aperture: F5.9
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 57.5 mm (314 mm)


[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 4,000 X 3,000 px (Large 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 400
White Balance: Shade
Dynamic range: 400%
Shutter speed: 1/90 sec
Aperture: F5.3
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 66 mm (360 mm)


[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 4,000 X 3,000 px (Large 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 800
White Balance: Shade
Dynamic range: 200%
Shutter speed: 1/100 sec
Aperture: F5.9
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 57.5 mm (314 mm)


[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 4,000 X 3,000 px (Large 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 400
White Balance: Shade
Dynamic range: 400%
Shutter speed: 1/900 sec
Aperture: F7.1
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 4.4 mm (24 mm)


[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 4,000 X 3,000 px (Large 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 400
White Balance: Shade
Dynamic range: 200%
Shutter speed: 1/90 sec
Aperture: F5.2
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 17.3 mm (95 mm)



[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 2,816 X 2,112 px (Medium 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 1600
White Balance: Auto
Dynamic range: Auto
Shutter speed: 1/75 sec
Aperture: F6
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 36.4 mm (199 mm)


[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 2,816 X 2,112 px (Medium 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 800
White Balance: Auto
Dynamic range: Auto
Shutter speed: 1/50 sec
Aperture: F4.2
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 8.3 mm (45 mm)


[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 2,816 X 2,112 px (Medium 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 800
White Balance: Auto
Dynamic range: Auto
Shutter speed: 1/100 sec
Aperture: F4.1
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 7.6 mm (41 mm)


[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 4,000 X 3,000 px (Large 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 400
White Balance: Auto
Dynamic range: 400%
Shutter speed: 1/40 sec
Aperture: F3.6
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 4.4 mm (24 mm)


[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 4,000 X 3,000 px (Large 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 400
White Balance: Auto
Dynamic range: 400%
Shutter speed: 1/40 sec
Aperture: F3.9
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 6.4 mm (35 mm)

[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 2,816 X 2,112 px (Medium 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Advance (Pro Low-Light Mode)
ISO: 1600
White Balance: Auto
Dynamic range: Auto
Shutter speed: 1/15 sec
Aperture: F5.3
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 66 mm (360 mm)

[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 2,816 X 2,112 px (Medium 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: EXR (High Sensitivity and Low Noise)
ISO: 1600
White Balance: Auto
Dynamic range: 100%
Shutter speed: 1/50 sec
Aperture: F6.2
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 45.8 mm (250 mm)

[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 2,816 X 2,112 px (Medium 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: EXR (High Sensitivity and Low Noise)
ISO: 1600
White Balance: Auto
Dynamic range: 100%
Shutter speed: 1/4 sec
Aperture: F3.5
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 4.4 mm (24 mm)

120° Panorama [click image to enlarge]

[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 2,560 x 720 px
Shooting Mode: Advance (Panorama 120°)
ISO: 200
White Balance: Auto
Dynamic range: Auto
Shutter speed: 1/450 sec
Aperture: F8
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 6 mm (33 mm)

240° Panorama [click image to enlarge]

[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 5,120 x 720 px
Shooting Mode: Advance (Panorama 240°)
ISO: 200
White Balance: Auto
Dynamic range: Auto
Shutter speed: 1/420 sec
Aperture: F3.9
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 6 mm (33 mm)

360° Panorama [click image to enlarge]

[photo: KopiOkaya] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 7,680 x 720 px
Shooting Mode: Advance (Panorama 360°)
ISO: 800
White Balance: Auto
Dynamic range: Auto
Shutter speed: 1/480 sec
Aperture: F3.9
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 6 mm (33 mm)

Bon Jovi’s “Always” performed by All Of The Above (AOTA)

Itacho Sushi at ION Orchard

Comparing F300EXR and F200EXR

F300EXR

[photo: Andikong] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 4,000 X 3,000 px (Large 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 1600
White Balance: Auto
Dynamic range: 400%
Shutter speed: 1/50 sec
Aperture: F6
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 36.4 mm (199 mm)

F200EXR

[photo: Andikong] Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR

Image size: 4,000 X 3,000 px (Large 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 1600
White Balance: Auto
Dynamic range: 400%
Shutter speed: 1/50 sec
Aperture: F6
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 28 mm (123 mm)

F300EXR

[photo: Andikong] Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Image size: 4,000 X 3,000 px (Large 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 1600
White Balance: Auto
Dynamic range: 400%
Shutter speed: 1/15 sec
Aperture: F3.5
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 4.4 mm (24 mm)

F200EXR

[photo: Andikong] Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR

Image size: 4,000 X 3,000 px (Large 4:3) Fine
Shooting Mode: Program
ISO: 1600
White Balance: Auto
Dynamic range: 400%
Shutter speed: 1/15 sec
Aperture: F3.3
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Metering mode: Pattern
Focal length: 6.4 mm (28 mm)

using multi-frame technology to create a one-touch narrow depth of field (bokeh), as if the image is taken using a professional portraiture lens.
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5 responses to “Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR impressions”

  1. grantthegeek says :

    Thank you for a very thorough and informative review, both here and at the SGShoot Photography Forum. I have two Fujifilm cameras, the JZ300 and the F300EXR. As a newbie photographer, I would not have been able to justify the cost or use of a D-SLR, and mostly I am satisfied with my cameras. Photography is fun, and my Fujifilm cameras are helping me to have fun – they are small, easy to carry and generally good. At least, that is my impression as a newbie – they have a good “feel”, and I wanted cameras I could carry with me easily, and use easily.

    I have to admit that I am a bit disappointed by the image quality and noise present in my F300EXR’s photos. Don’t get me wrong, it is a fun camera and I like it, but somehow I expected more from it and from the much-touted EXR technology. I had occasion today to inspect photographs (at 100% size) of the same subject taken under the same lighting conditions with the Canon Powershot SX210 IS and the Fujifilm F300EXR. There is no comparison – the Canon image is very noticeably sharper straight from the camera.

    What I have learned from this is to do better research for my next camera purchase. However, for now I will use and enjoy my Fujifilm cameras very much. They are opening a new world for me.

    • KopiOkaya says :

      Thanks for reading. In any format – compact or DSLR, images from Canon camera ALWAYS appear sharper. Even when compared with other well-known brands such as Nikon or Olympus, images taken with a Fujifilm FinePix camera are less sharp. Regardless, we still prefer our FinePix cameras over others. The reasons are simple. Beautiful and vibrant SOOC (straight out of camera) colors and near-accurate skin tones.

      You can always enhance image sharpness during post-processing with just a few click of the mouse. From our own experience with other brands of camera, however, it is more difficult and trickier to get the colors right. Our FinePix camera is able to do that with ease. Instead of sitting in front of our computers for hours trying to get the colors right, we have more time for ourselves and our families now. Our workflow shortened and reduced. This is the true beauty of Fujifilm FinePix cameras.

      Unfortunately, the F300EXR is missing this Midas touch. The colors come out too warm (using AWB) and skin tones appear “charred” or overly browned. This, Fujifilm must to improve with their next camera models.

  2. MONACK says :

    I am impressed with your report. Hope to see one on Fujifilm Finepix F550EXR.

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