Fujifilm FinePix F600EXR review
The F600EXR is a seriously impressive camera. Packing a 15x zoom into a camera just 33mm deep is a fine achievement, although there are lots of other pocket-sized ultra-zoom cameras like this around. Few of them include priority and full manual exposure controls, though, and no other model can capture in raw format.
Fujifilm rounds out the specs with a sharp 3in screen, 1080p videos and a GPS radio for geo-tagging photos. It comes with a smart rubber coating, which not only makes it look like something from Batman's utility belt but also helped us keep a firm grip on the camera. The white version of the F600EXR swaps this for a glossy finish.
We're not so enamoured with its 16-megapixel resolution, as anything above 12 megapixels tends to add more noise than details in a compact camera. However, Fujifilm's novel EXR technology allows this sensor to switch to 8-megapixel mode (at sensor level rather than simply by resizing) to reduce noise. Along with its back-illuminated design and a larger-than-average 1/2in physical size, this sensor's specifications bode well for low-light image quality.
GPS is just the thing for a pocket-sized ultra-zoom camera that's well suited to intrepid expeditions to far-flung corners of the Earth. However, we find that most GPS-enabled cameras take a long time to get a lock, especially if the location is lost every time the camera is powered down. As such, it's good to see that there's an option to leave the F600EXR's GPS radio on when the camera is switched off. Locations could still be slow to establish and to update, but there's a handy function to copy location data from photo to photo. We were pleasantly surprised to find that it established our location while indoors, too – the first camera we've tested to do so. There's a database of over a million landmarks built in, which appear as text across the preview. With the help of its built-in compass, it even showed us where the landmarks are in relation to our position on a map.
It's a quick camera to use, with just 1.1 seconds between shots in normal use. The photographic controls are split across the main menu and an "f-mode" menu, and while the layout could be better, the wheel that encircles the navigation pad keeps things moving along nicely. The lack of manual focus is surprising considering the manual exposure controls, but it's not something we use much on compact cameras. The inability to move the autofocus point around the frame is more disappointing, though.
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