Fujifilm Finepix F200 EXR Review
Operation and controls
The F200 EXR offers a good range of manual controls, if you choose to step out of the comfort of the automatic modes. And thankfully the interface has been radically overhauled since the launch of the F100fd (which behaved like a mad uncle - probably quite likeable if you have to put up with it, but distincly disconcerting when first encountered).
The F200 EXR is a much more conventional affair and one that works simply and consistently. The mode dial selects the mode (whether that be a scene mode, auto mode, program, manual or the EXR modes), the Menu/OK button provides camera behavior options and the 'F ' button changes image settings.
Like many compact cameras, the F200 only allows only two aperture settings at each position of the lens (fully open and fully open minus three stops, by way of a combined physical stop and ND filter). This limited control, means that manual control is only really of any use when you want your exposure to diverge from the metered value by more than the +/– 2 EV offered by exposure compensation. There's also an Aperture priority mode, selected from within Program mode, but again that two-aperture design reduces its usefulness (the fully open aperture doesn't give a very shallow depth-of-field and the 'stopped-down' position appears mainly makes use of a filter, rather than a significantly smaller aperture, so doesn't give drastically different results).
Setting the mode dial to 'EXR' gives access to the things that promise to make the F200 special. This can either be done in an automated manner, where the camera selects the sensor's behavior based on its analysis of the scene you're pointing it at, or by manually selecting which EXR mode you wish to use. We can imagine many users leaving the mode dial in this position for the entire life of the camera.
Rear of camera
The F200 manages to find room for a 3 inch screen on its rear, while still having space left over for a reasonable selection of buttons. It's still a 230,000 dot panel, which is pretty standard but not as pleasant to use as the 460,000 dot units that are starting to crop up. Thankfully, the F200 borrows its buttons and dials from the F60fd rather than the F100fd. This means the F200's four-way controller doesn't also act as a dial (a rather strangely-utilized feature on the F100fd anyway), and gives direct access to exposure compensation in all modes where it is available (again, not the F100's strong point).
It's quite a conventional interface but is all the better for that. If you've used a compact camera (particularly a Fujifilm), recently, then it won't take you long to pick up how to get the most out of the camera.
Top of camera
There are virtually no controls on the top of the F200. There's a zoom lever, the power button and a shutter button.
There's also an infrared window for those people who have another IR Simple device.
Display and menus
The F200 EXR's interface is generally pretty simple to use - the setup menu contains those settings you'll rarely want to change (and, slightly annoyingly, the 'Format' option), the Menu button brings up a list of camera behavioral settings (such as AF and metering settings), and the 'F ' button brings up settings that alter the appearance of the output, such as ISO and Film simulation.
Like previous Fujifilms, the F200 EXR does not offer a histogram to help you assess the accuracy of your exposure, either in preview or playback mode. It's not a devastating omission but, given that it's a feature on most contemporary cameras, it's an annoying one.
There are four main record screens:
|The menu found via the 'Menu' button contains the key camera settings such as AF, metering (or 'Photometry' as Fujifilm would have it), and image stabilization.|
|The 'F ' menu contains setting such as Film Simulation mode and ISO that directly affect the appearance of the image output.||Meanwhile, the Setup menu, which is accessed through the main menu, contains all the camera's underlying settings. After you've first set the camera up, you're only likely to use it for formatting your memory card.|
|In EXR Auto mode the camera will select from a series of scene modes and apply the EXR mode of its choice (it tells you which it's going to use when you half-press the shutter button to allow the camera to meter).||Alternatively you can press the OK/Menu button to directly select the EXR mode you think is most appropriate. At this point you can also change the shooting settings such as exposure compensation and white balance that are unavailable in Auto mode.|
|A cute feature on the F200 is that if you change a setting that will have a knock-on effect on other settings, then you are warned about the other settings changes that it's going to make. Here the camera is warning that moving to ISO 100 will limit dynamic range expansion to 100%.||It also notifies you that the change has been made when you return to the shooting screen. This is particularly useful on a camera that shoots at reduced resolutions in some of its modes. The camera is generally good at returning to your previous settings when they become available again.|
|At its most basic, there are two display modes: with and without shooting info.||Nudging the zoom control to the left zooms into the image.|
|Pulling the zoom control to the right 'zooms out' first to a two image screen (that actually shows another two thumbnails to establish where the viewed two appear in the list).||Then there's a nine-image grid, followed by a 100 thumbnail display which is often very pretty and colorful but not terrifically practical, due to the moderate resolution of the screen.|
|Alternatively, pressing the display button allows you to search through your images by date, via a calendar view.||The 'F ' button lets you select images for printing, while the OK/Menu button lets you perform actions such as copy or rotate|