The Fujifilm F770EXR replaces last year’s F600EXR as the flagship model in Fuji’s travel zoom range. Highlights include a 1/2in 16MP EXR CMOS sensor; the ability to shoot lossless Raw image files; Fuji’s proprietary EXR exposure modes; a range of creative shooting modes, including a one-touch 360-degree Panorama mode; a 20x optical zoom that offers the focal range equivalent of 25-500mm in 35mm terms; plus enhanced GPS functionality and Full HS movie recording at 30fps.
Given how fiercely competitive the travel zoom market is the F770EXR looks to have most of the bases covered. Indeed the only immediately noticeable omission is the lack any in-camera digital filters. Still, personally we’d rather forgo these in favour of the ability to shoot in Raw – something the F770EXR is virtually alone in offering among its travel compact peers. While the Canon SX260HS, Panasonic Lumix TZ30 and Sony HX20V all offer the ability to skin your images with digital filters, they are all JPEG-only cameras. Does this make the F770EXR the purist’s choice? Lets take a closer look and find out.
At its heart the F770EXR uses a 1/2in EXR CMOS sensor that is ever so slightly larger in surface area than the standard 1/2.3in chips employed by most of its chief competitors. This in itself isn’t that big a deal as the difference is really very small – far more distinguishing is the unique design of the F770’s proprietary EXR sensor. This allows for neighbouring pixels to be combined when required, which essentially enables the F770EXR to increase its signal-to-noise capacity – a major factor when it comes to controlling noise in low-light. It does come at a loss of resolution though, with the F770EXR’s output halved to 8MP.
Sensitivity ranges from ISO 100 to 3200 in standard mode with two further settings available, albeit at reduced resolution: ISO 6400 at 8MP and ISO 12,800 at 4MP. In addition, there’s also a High ISO & Low Noise exposure mode available via the EXR menu, which combines pixels in the way described above for enhanced low-light performance. If you’re shooting still subjects then there’s a further mode – Pro Low-Light Mode – that automatically shoots and then combines multiple exposures to limit the effects of noise.
Other useful EXR-specific functions include a D-Range Priority mode that also works by again combining multiple exposures to help out in tricky lighting situations, such as backlit subjects or high-contrast scenes where normally you’d expect to have to sacrifice either highlight or shadow detail. It’s not a perfect solution by any means, but it can certainly help and is a useful feature to have. If light is plentiful and evenly lit then you can also set the camera to prioritise resolution over everything else while its in EXR mode. And finally, if you’re not sure which EXR option is best suited to the scene you’re trying to photograph then thankfully there’s an Automatic EXR option, which lets the camera decide on your behalf. This enables the F770EXR to call on 58 pre-programmed Scene modes and to combine them with the right EXR mode.
Complementing the EXR modes are a range of Advanced shooting modes that include the aforementioned Pro Low-Light Mode, along with a useful Panoramic mode that enables you to create 120°, 180° and 360° ultra wideangle images in much the same way as Sony’s iSweep Panorama feature works; namely by sweeping the camera in a predetermined direction with the shutter button held down. While the F770EXR lacks the high-resolution option of the recently tested Sony HX20V the results are still pretty good when viewed at regular screen sizes.
Complementing this is a portrait-orientated Pro Focus mode that combines two images for a blurred background effect, a Multiple Exposure mode for overlaying images and a 3D mode. You’ll need a 2D compatible screen for the latter though as the otherwise sharp and bright 3in, 460k-dot TFT LCD monitor on the back of the F770EXR is strictly two-dimensional. Should you want to take more direct control of the F770EXR then you’ll also find the fill complement of Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual exposure options on the main mode dial, alongside a selection of 18 Scene modes and an Automatic setting.
In addition to still images, the F770EXR can also record 1080p Full HD movies at 30fps, 720p HD movies a 30fps and standard definition 640 x 48 movies at 30fps. Audio is captured in stereo via two microphones underneath the lens, with files stored in the computer-friendly H.264 (.MOV) format. This being a Fuji camera, it comes as no surprise to find there are also a number of high-speed movie options (something Fuji has pioneered with its bridge/superzoom cameras over the years) that play back in slow-motion including: 640 x 480 at 80fps, 320 x 240 at 160fps and 320 x 112 at 320fps. If you’re looking for something to capture fast-moving action and slow it down, the little Fuji has it covered – just so long as you don’t expect to be able to play your slow-motion movies back on a 40in TV at broadcast quality, that is!