Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR: A Faithful Companion

 
Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR

Fujifilm has introduced the FinePix F300EXR—a 15x zoom camera. Neha Mutreja puts it to test to find out how this compact performs under the trickiest light situations.

Using their proprietary EXR technology, Fujifilm has produced many cameras that produce high quality images. This technology offers better detail, dynamic range and high ISO performance than most other compact cameras, and was first introduced in the FinePix F200EXR. While they have also introduced other cameras with the same technology, the F200EXR has been upgraded only now.

The new FinePix F300EXR is actually quite different from its predecessor. It has a redesigned body and a number of new features, which made me curious about how this camera would perform on field.

Features
This 12MP camera has a 15x zoom lens and a 1/2-inch Super CCD EXR sensor. The advantages of this sensor are seen best in the EXR mode, which has three different settings you can use—Resolution Priority, High ISO & Low Noise and D-Range Priority. But do remember that the camera reduces the resolution to 6MP, when shooting in High ISO & Low Noise and D-Range priority.

Significantly, the F300EXR is the first compact camera that uses the new Hybrid Auto Focus system. This technology is rather unique—it is the first time that a camera can combine both Contrast Detect and Phase Detect AF. The Hybrid Auto Focus of the camera automatically selects between the two Auto Focus systems, thus improving AF speeds even in difficult shooting situations.

The Fujifilm HS10 had a 186° Motion Panorama that seemed like a poor imitation of the Sweep Panorama mode used in Sony cameras. With the F300EXR, the company has developed the mode further, now allowing you to capture an entire 360° view! It sounds ambitious, but it needed a lot of trial and error to get a seamless picture. We hope that the company makes this feature more efficient in the future.

The camera also shoots 720p HD video. It has a fully functional Manual mode, but shockingly, the camera has no provision to use manual focusing. Just like the F200EXR, this camera too does not shoot RAW images—the only Fujifilm camera that combines an EXR sensor with RAW shooting remains the high-end S200EXR.

Handling
Despite having a 15x zoom lens, the camera is compact. The body has been redesigned, with a slanting mode dial that is easier to access. The flash of the camera has a glitch though. As soon as the camera is switched on, it pops up and cannot be pushed back down—even if it is not being used.The menu is easy to navigate through. While changing the mode the camera automatically flashes nuggets of information, which can be specifically intuitive for a basic user. The camera also has a dedicated button for shooting video, which is an added advantage.

Performance
I tested the F300EXR in my hometown, Jhansi. My subjects varied from sparrows flocking at my house and washermen standing by the river, to gleaming Diwali lights on the streets.

Just like other cameras in the EXR range, the F300EXR produces good quality images. In the EXR mode, the dynamic range is superior to most other compact cameras, and the camera does a good job of retaining detail in the highlights. Images shot at ISO 1600 retain an impressive amount of detail, but if you wish to shoot at ISO 3200, the camera automatically reduces the resolution of the overall photo.

Fringing is well controlled. Even while including diyas in the frame the camera did not show any flare. The overall quality of the lens is good, except for one problem area—photographs shot at the telephoto end lose sharpness around the edges.

Conclusion
Considering the fact that camera has reasonably large sensor, EXR mode and manual control, we are disappointed that it lacks two very important features—RAW shooting and manual focus. That apart, the FinePix F300EXR is a competent package that gives you good value for its price of Rs. 20,999. For those who want a little bit of everything, the FinePix F300EXR gives a good combination of a large zoom range, HD video, good handling and excellent image quality.

Final Ratings
Features
EXR, Hybrid Auto Focus, Motion Panorama
27/30

Performance
Good dynamic range, low noise, control over flaring
27/30

Build Quality
Slim but sturdy
13/15

Ergonomics
Good grip and efficient body design
12/15

Warranty & Support
Three-year warranty, limited number of service centres
6/10

OVERALL: 85%
Value for Money: 3/5 Stars


Tags: Neha Mutreja, January 2011, Fujifilm, FinePix F300EXR, Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR