Summary

Our Score

10/10

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Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR - Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR

The S200EXR is certainly light on its feet for such a large and complex camera. It starts up in a little over 2.5 seconds, and shuts down again in just under two seconds. In single-shot mode it has a shot-to-shot time of approximately 1.1 seconds at full 12-megapixel resolution, although after six shots it does slow down to approximate 1.7 seconds as the buffer fills up. There appeared to be no detectable benefit from using a faster class 10 SD card. The camera has several burst shooting modes including first six or last six at full resolution, or high-speed first 24 and last 24 at three-megapixel resolution. It also has exposure, film simulation and dynamic range bracketing, but it has no actual unlimited continuous mode. In the full-res modes it shoots at 1.6fps.

The autofocus system works exceptionally well in all lighting conditions, focusing quickly and accurately even in total darkness thanks to a very bright AF lamp that has a range of around four metres. I think the AF lamp may use ultraviolet light, because it appears much brighter in the monitor than it looks to the naked eye. The only problem I found was some difficulty in focusing on moving subjects, but this is common to most contrast-detection AF systems.

One issue I found with the older S100FS was that the lens, while certainly impressively fast and sharp, did suffer from significant chromatic aberration, especially at wide angle. Although the S200EXR uses what appears to be the same lens this problem seems to have been addressed, possibly by software adjustment in the new EXR processor. There is still a hint of green/red fringing at the edges of the frame, but I've seen worse from some DSLR lenses. In all other respects the lens performs brilliantly. It is nice and sharp from corner to corner, produces virtually no distortion at any focal length, and retains a good wide aperture throughout most of the zoom range.
Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR LCD display
Of course the big question is whether or not all that fancy sensor technology actually produces better pictures, and the answer is an unequivocal "yes". In HR mode the level of detail from the full 12-megapixel sensor is outstanding, rivalling most digital SLRs, while in DR mode the dynamic range is superb, capturing excellent shadow detail while avoiding burned-out highlights, and in SN mode it produces effectively noise-free images at up to 800 ISO. Colour reproduction is superb, To get better noise control you'd have to move up to a digital SLR with a larger sensor.

Verdict
Fujifilm has once again produced a superb feature-packed super-zoom camera that sets new standards for image quality and versatility, providing more control than most entry-level DSLRs. As a hobby photographer's camera the S200EXR is in a class of its own, and at its current price it's outstanding value for money.

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