Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR review
1/2in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 15.0x zoom (24-360mm equivalent), 195g
Fujifilm’s EXR technology is one of the more enlightened developments in digital camera design in recent years. While most manufacturers are embroiled in a pointless megapixel race, Fujifilm produced a sensor that could switch between 12 and 6 megapixels at a fundamental level rather than just by resizing the image. This meant sharp details in bright light and reduced noise in low light.
The F300EXR appears to supersede both models, and it comes out with guns blazing. There’s a new stabilisation and autofocus systems and a whopping 15x zoom – the biggest currently available from a compact-shaped camera. It can recognise family members’ faces (including the pets) to prioritise them in group shots, and capture a panorama simply by rotating the camera. It also has a new EXR II sensor. This has the same 1/2in diameter as in the F80EXR – significantly smaller than the F200EXR’s 2/3in sensor. Let’s hope that this second-generation design is back on track.
The switch from metal to plastic is disappointing but the case still feels robust. We like the contoured grip and pop-up flash, which avoids it being obscured by your fingers. The 3in screen has a 460,000-pixel resolution and its rich colours really flatter photos. The navigation pad doubles as a wheel for quickly dialling in settings and there’s a dedicated button for video capture.
The most radical new feature is the hybrid autofocus system. As with all compact digital cameras, it uses contrast-detect to find the right focus by trial-and-error. However, there’s also a phase-detection autofocus system built into the sensor – something normally reserved for SLRs. The camera switches between these modes automatically, apparently using contrast detection in low light and phase detection at telephoto zoom settings. Autofocus was certainly quick in our tests, but it wasn’t in a different league to other compact cameras.