Fujifilm Finepix F80EXR review
Fujifilm’s F70EXR is the best point-and-shoot camera we’ve seen, with a 10x zoom, excellent image quality (particularly in low light), a compact design and a great price. Our one reservation was its lack of an HD video mode. The F80EXR is essentially the same model but with 720p HD video capture, which should make it the perfect compact camera.
Video quality proved to be good but not fantastic. Noise reduction suppressed fine details but still let some noise get through, even in sunlit shots. Still, detail levels were far better than in any VGA video mode – including the F70EXR’s – and automatic exposures were smooth. The M-JPEG compression produced huge files of around 3MB per second, although this helped keep the quality high.
Stereo audio is recorded at better-than-CD quality, but sadly, the camera doesn’t have the goods to back it up. Bass frequencies were boomy and a constant hiss was audible in quiet environments. Worst of all, the lens’ zoom and autofocus motors obliterated the soundtrack with whirrs and clicks. It’s best to disable continuous autofocus and leave the zoom at its wide-angle setting (which keeps everything largely in focus) while recording clips.
The extra buffer memory required for 720p video also means the camera can capture five shots in its 1.6fps continuous mode whereas the F70EXR could only manage three. Autofocus remains extremely quick, and in general use the camera feels responsive. There’s still an issue whereby we had to wait for a picture to be saved before we could access the menu, but if our memory serves us correctly, the delay is shorter this time around.
The other major difference between this camera and its predecessor is a move from 10 to 12 megapixels. To some people this will be seen as an improvement, but for us it’s the wrong decision. The key to the F70EXR’s superiority over other big-zoom compact cameras is its image quality in low light, and a major contributing factor to that is its relatively modest resolution.
The F80EXR’s photos are still better than those from rival cameras, thanks to its relatively large 1/2in sensor, its ability to halve its resolution either to avoid clipped highlights or to reduce noise, plus its Pro Low Light mode that merges four exposures for remarkably clean photos (see our F70EXR review for more details). However, because of the resolution increase, the advantage isn’t as big as it was with the F70EXR.
The negative tone of this review is more about the high standards we’ve come to expect from Fujifilm’s EXR range rather than how the F80EXR compares to its rivals. For all our complaints, it still manages to deliver respectable photo and video quality and an excellent set of features for casual snapping at a competitive price. However, the 720p video mode isn’t good enough to justify the dip in image quality. So unless HD video is a big priority then buy the F70EXR.
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