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Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR - Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR
The EXR mode is interesting and fun to use. In EXR Auto mode the camera automatically detects the type of scene, choosing from portrait, night, macro, landscape, night portrait or back-lit portrait, and adjust the settings accordingly, but this can be manually overridden. There are three options, HR mode for maximum resolution, DR mode for enhanced dynamic range, and SN noise for improved low-light performance and low noise at high ISO settings. In the latter two modes the image size is reduced to six megapixels, which might seem like something of a disadvantage compared to all the 10, 12 or even 14 megapixel compacts out there, but it's not so long ago that I was using a six-megapixel DSLR for professional work. 6MP is perfectly adequate for A4 prints, and the gain in noise reduction and dynamic range is, in my opinion, worth the reduction in resolution. In DR mode the camera captures shadow and highlight detail that other cameras will miss, while in SN mode it can consistently produce usable images at 1600 ISO even at long exposure times.
The S200's other main feature, somewhat overshadowed by the clever sensor technology, is its film simulation mode. Fujifilm, as the company name suggests, is well known for its top-quality professional films, particularly Provia, Velvia and Astia. Provia is a standard film used for general photography, with a neutral colour balance and excellent fine detail, while Velvia is a popular choice for landscape and commercial photography thanks to its rich saturated colours. Astia is a softer film suitable for portrait photography. The S200 attempts to simulate these film types, as well as the usual sepia and monochrome, and as far as I can tell it succeeds admirably. The Velvia is particularly good, with superb colour saturation.
As well as these automatic settings the S200EXR offers a DSLR-like level of customisable control, with adjustable tone, colour, sharpness and noise reduction, as well as fine tuning for white balance. Custom setups can be saved and instantly recalled using two custom setting positions on the main mode dial.
Another largely overlooked feature is the superb pop-up flash. It is on a long armature which raises it six centimetres above the lens, greatly reducing the incidence of red-eye in close-up portraits. It also has intelligent flash metering so that close-range subjects are not burned out, and flash output is nicely balanced with ambient light.
One feature that is notable by its absence is HD video recording, which is currently the fashionable must-have feature for new digital cameras. It does have VGA video at 30fps with mono audio recorded via an internal microphone, and of course the manual zoom can be used while recording. The video quality is very good, and the sound quality is better than I expected, although the microphone is non-directional and picks up sound from behind the camera just as loudly as from in front.