Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR

      Photo Review 8.8

      In summary

      An SLR-styled, digicam with a 14.x3 optical zoom lens that uses new sensor technology to create superior image quality from a consumer-level compact camera.Fujifilm’s new FinePix S200EXR replaces the S100FS model at the top of the company’s Advanced digicam line-up. Equipped with the same 14.3x zoom lens as its predecessor, the new model introduces the company’s 12-megapixel Super CCD EXR sensor, which combines with the S200EXR processor to produce superior image quality. . . [more]

      Full review


      Fujifilm’s new FinePix S200EXR replaces the S100FS model at the top of the company’s Advanced digicam line-up. Equipped with the same 14.3x zoom lens as its predecessor, the new model introduces the company’s 12-megapixel Super CCD EXR sensor, which combines with the S200EXR processor to produce superior image quality.

      The target market for the FinePix S200EXR is photo enthusiasts who want the levels of shooting control provided by a DSLR camera without the expense of investing in an interchangeable-lens system. It looks and handles like a DSLR, albeit with a menu system that is frequently digicam-like, despite the sophisticated control system (which includes one rotating dial plus several handy direct button controls.


      Front view of the FinePix S200EXR, showing the SLR-like styling and large lens. (Source: Fujifilm.)


      Rear view, showing the LCD monitor and main control buttons. (Source: Fujifilm.)


      Top view with the lens set at the 30.5mm position (widest angle of view). (Source: Fujifilm.)

      Since the FinePix F200EXR was announced in July, it (or the technology it features) has won a series of awards. Even before its release, the camera received the DIMA 2009 Innovative Digital Product Award. It has subsequently won the TIPA award for the Best Compact Digital Camera, while the Super CCD EXR sensor picked up the TIPA award for the Best Imaging Innovation and also an EISA award for the European Digital Imaging Innovation of 2009-2010.

      In the light of all these acclamations, we’ll begin this review by explaining what’s so special about the sensor and image processor in the FinePix S200EXR.

      Sensor and Image Processor
      Compared with typical enthusiast DSLR cameras, the Super CCD EXR chip in the FinePix F200EXR is relatively small, measuring only 8.08 x 6.01 mm in area. The new chip retains the diagonal structure of the earlier Super CCD sensor, with a 45-degree tilted, ‘twinned pixel’ array that optimises resolution in both the horizontal and vertical planes. The colour filters are applied in diagonal stripes where green-filtered photosites alternate with stripes containing blue- and red-filtered pairs, as shown in the diagram below.


      A typical CCD photosite array is shown on the left with the new Super CCD EXR chip’s structure shown in the diagram on the right.

      This new arrangement reduces gaps between adjacent green photosites. Because human eyes are most sensitive to the green band in the spectrum, it’s more important for resolution to be optimised for this colour band (where sharpness is most readily perceived) than for the red and blue ends of the visible spectrum. But it isn’t the only advantage provided by this change.

      Fujifilm has previously used the technique of pixel-binning, in which the signals from several pixels are combined, to minimise noise and provide higher sensitivity. However, with earlier arrays, the distance between adjacent pixels of the same colour was higher. This could cause colour artefacts along areas of high contrast.

      The arrangement of filters in the new sensor ensures there will always be at least two adjacent photosites that are the same colour. This will reduce the chance of colour artefacts resulting from pixel binning.

      Fujifilm has further capitalised on the new sensor technology to increase the dynamic range of the sensor by making two data readings for each exposure. This isn’t entirely new; the original Super CCD SR sensor had paired photodiodes of different sizes within each photosite; the smaller one for recording highlight detail and the larger for the overall exposure. Data from both photodiodes were combined in-camera to yield an extended dynamic range.
      Interestingly, there are no secondary photodiodes in the new Super CCD EXR sensor. Instead, image data is read off twice, with data from half the photosites during the exposure and the remainder at its end. The results are combined in-camera in a similar way to HDR (high dynamic range) processing. The final image has an increased dynamic range, without requiring any intervention from the photographer. The full capabilities of the FinePix F200EXR’s sensor are only available in the EXR shooting mode, which is covered in the Adjustable Controls section below.

      For still image capture, the FinePix F200EXR supports both JPEG and CCD.RAW capture, although the latter can only be used when this function is selected via the Set-up menu. The function is located on page 4 of the setup menu and offers a choice between CCD.RAW only or RAW+JPEG. (The default setting is Off.) Typical file sizes for the image size/quality settings provided by the camera are shown in the table below.

      Image size


      Aspect Ratio

      Image quality

      Approx. File size

      Large (L)

      4000 x 3000








      4000 x 2664






      4000 x 2248






      Medium (M)

      2816 x 2112








      2816 x 1864






      2816 x 1584






      Small (S)

      2048 x 1536






      2048 x 1360






      1920 x 1080






      Unlike many recent digicams, the FinePix F200EXR doesn’t support high definition (HD) video recording. Instead it is restricted to VGA and QVGA clips, both at 30 frames/second. You can zoom manually while movie clips are being recorded and focus, exposure and white balance are adjusted continuously. Typical recording times for a 2GB memory card are shown in the table below.

      Movie setting

      Frame rate

      Maximum length on 2GB card

      VGA (640 x 480)

      30 fps

      29 minutes

      QVGA (320 x 240)

      30 fps

      57 minutes

      Lens Adjustments
      The FinePix F200EXR’s lens is essentially the same as its predecessor’s, covering a 14.3x optical zoom range equivalent to 30.5-436mm in 35mm format. Consisting of 13 elements in 10 groups, it includes aspherical and low-dispersion glass elements. The former minimise distortion and improve light-gathering abilities, while the latter reduce aberrations that cause smearing and fringing at longer focal lengths. Several elements are multi-coated to reduce reflections that cause ghosting and flare.

      The lens is equipped with a wide, textured zoom ring and focal length settings are engraved on the lens barrel. The mechanical zoom gives users a higher degree of precision when setting focal lengths than any lever-based zoom can provide. It also simulates the SLR user experience.

      While the minimum aperture of this lens is fixed at f/8 (as is common in small-sensor digicams), the maximum aperture depends on the focal length setting and varies according to the table below.

      Focal length

      Maximum aperture

















      Adjustable Controls
      As expected for an Advanced digicam, the FinePix F200EXR offers a wide range of user-selectable and adjustable controls, including the mandatory P, A, S and M shooting modes, a Full Auto setting and two Custom memory banks where frequently-used camera and menu settings can be stored for quick recall.
      You can store the following settings in the Custom memory bank: ISO, white balance, macro mode, digital zoom, flash mode, EV compensation, face detection, monitor display settings, EXR mode, image size/quality, dynamic range setting, film simulation mode, WB fine tuning, colour, tone, sharpness and noise reduction settings, the AF mode, AE bracketing steps, flash output level and burst mode.


      The EXR shooting modes.
      The EXR mode lets users capitalise on the capabilities of the Super CCD EXR sensor, as outlined above. In this mode, users can select from four capture modes:
      1. EXR Auto, which automatically selects the correct processing mode and camera settings, based on scene recognition.
      2. Resolution Priority, which prioritises the recording of detail in images. In this mode, data captured simultaneously from all 12 million pixels is used to produce the maximum amount of detail in 4000-pixel wide image files. This mode works best with subjects that are evenly and adequately lit.
      3. High ISO & Low Noise, which uses Pixel Fusion to boost sensitivity without significantly increasing noise. This mode combines the data from two adjacent photosites to simulate a single large ‘pixel’. Although effective resolution is reduced to 6-megapixels (the M setting), the paired photosites have twice the light-capturing capacity with less than half the background noise.


      Mode selection for high ISO plus low noise.
      4. D-Range Priority, which is designed to prevent highlight ‘washout’ in bright scenes. In this mode, two images are captured with each shot, each containing data from six million photosites. The data are combined to produce a Medium-sized (2816-pixel wide) image containing highlight details that would otherwise be lost.

      None of the EXR modes lets you adjust aperture and shutter speed settings, although you can change ISO and white balance and select the macro mode, digital zoom, flash mode and EV compensation. Other settings like film simulation mode, WB fine tuning, colour, tone, sharpness and noise reduction settings, the AF mode, AE bracketing steps, flash output adjustment and burst mode are also accessible.

      Dynamic range is adjustable in the P, A, S and M, EXR and Film Simulation Bracketing (FSB) shooting modes, with the widest adjustment range (up to 800%) available in the EXR mode. Up to 400% DR expansion is provided in the S, M and FSB modes. This function is blocked for the Auto mode and preset scene modes.


      Dynamic range adjustment in the EXR shooting mode.

      Fujifilm’s proprietary Film Simulation include five options to choose from:
      – Velvia, which provides vivid colours and rich saturation and is ideal for scenery;
      – Provia, which provides normal saturation plus high resolution and suits general photography;
      – Astia, which provides soft focus and slightly muted colours and suits portraiture;
      – Black & White; and
      – Sepia for a sense of nostalgia with the warm brown tones.


      The Film Simulation modes.

      With the Velvia and Astia settings, the dynamic range can be set to 800% to maximise chances of recording highlight details. The Film Simulation Bracketing mode takes three shots of a subject in quick succession, the first with standard colour reproduction, the second with a high-contrast palette of saturated colours and the third with a softer, slightly de-saturated palette. (This function is blocked for CCD.RAW capture.)


      Film Simulation Bracketing.

      The Scene Position mode accesses 16 pre-sets, including some interesting modes like a Pro Focus mode, a Pro Low-Light mode and a Portrait Enhancer setting. The first captures three images when the shutter is released and uses image processing to soften the background in order to emphasise the main subject. The degree of background softening is adjustable via the camera’s command dial.


      The Pro Focus mode.


      The Pro Low-Light mode.

      The Pro Low-Light mode also records a series of shots each time the shutter button is pressed. In this case, data from four shots is combined to produce a single image. Image processing algorithms automatically select for image sharpness and noise levels, making this setting worthwhile for dimly-lit subjects and high zoom ratios.


      The Portrait Enhancer mode.

      The Portrait Enhancer mode processes the image to produce smooth-looking skin tones with a soft-focus effect. It’s an adaptation of the standard Portrait mode and useful when a ‘glamour’ effect is desired. The remaining scene presets are pretty standard.

      The camera’s “Super Intelligent Flash” is activated by pressing a button on the left side of the flash housing. Flash mode selection is accessed via the right arrow pad button. Flash output is adjustable across +/- 1EV in 1/3EV increments and flash exposure bracketing is supported in 1/3EV, 1/2EV or 1EV steps.

      Pressing the Drive button on the side panel displays a linear menu across the lower edge of the monitor, containing eight selectable modes. You can choose from top or last 6, top or last 24, AE bracketing, film simulation bracketing, dynamic range bracketing and the default Off position. Focus and exposure are determined by the first frame in each series and the number of frames that can be recorded depends on the setting and available memory.

      To compose shots, users can choose between the 230,000-dot, 2.7-inch LCD display, which claims a 160-degree viewing angle, or the 200,000-dot, 0.2-inch electronic viewfinder (EVF). The same display options are available for both displays and users can opt to have shooting data displayed with or without a grid overlay or the image only without data. A small brightness histogram can be displayed by pressing the +/- button on the top panel. Over-exposed areas will blink when this button is pressed in playback mode.

      The FinePix F200EXR has a 256-zone metering sensor and offers the standard evaluative, centre-weighted averages and spot metering patterns. Shutter speeds range from four to 1/4000 second in the shutter-priority AE mode, reaching down to 30 seconds in Manual mode. Although a Bulb setting is provided, it doesn’t support exposures longer than 30 seconds.

      Playback and Software
      Playback options are pretty standard and include a dedicated quick review button just above the arrow pad. To return to the shooting mode, you simply half-press the shutter button. The arrow pad is used for playback zoom. No details about the zoom magnification are provided in the user manual but we estimate it to be between 10x and 12x. Pictures shot with the Intelligent Face Detection mode selected are shown with faces outlined in a box. You can zoom in on these faces.
      Pressing the Disp/Back button toggles through the various playback display modes, which include a single image, an array containing the selected image plus previous and next shots, two frames at a time, an index of nine frames and a multi-frame display of tiny thumbnails. You can also sort shots by date through this interface.

      Individual shots can be viewed with or without shooting data and a thumbnail plus brightness histogram display is also available. Other playback functions include the standard erase, slideshow, rotate, protect, crop and DPOF tagging facilities. In-camera red-eye removal processing is also supported.

      Movie clips can be viewed on the LCD monitor or on a TV set when the camera is connected via the supplied A/V cable. The arrow pad buttons are used to control the start/pause, advance/rewind and volume adjustments.
      The software disk contains an electronic copy of the complete user manual (which isn’t supplied in hard copy) plus FinePixViewer software for Windows and Macintosh. The supplied version of FinePixViewer did not support the CCD.RAW files from the S200EXR camera so we were unable to open any raw files for evaluation or Imatest assessment. According to FujiFilm, a version of FinePix Viewer that supports raw files from this camera will be available from www.fujifilm. com/support/download/camera/software/) from November, 2009.

      In the normal shooting mode, the test camera tended to expose shots to capture shadow detail, producing blown-out highlights with subjects that had an extended dynamic range. However, the majority of our test shots contained plenty of detail and the built-in image stabiliser supported shutter speeds as slow as 1/60 second at full optical zoom.

      Autofocusing was mostly fast and accurate in bright ambient lighting but we often had trouble keeping up with fast-moving subjects due to increased AF lag at full optical zoom. Focusing slowed slightly in low light levels, even with shorter focal length settings, although accuracy remained high and no shots were missed through misplaced focus.

      Shooting in the EXR mode and selecting Dynamic Range Priority enabled detail to be recorded in the highlights without affecting the rest of the image. Crops from images captured in each mode are reproduced below, with the highlight areas circled in red to show the difference the EXR mode can make.


      A crop from an image captured in the P shooting mode, which applies no dynamic range processing. Note the blown-out highlights in the circled area.


      A crop from a shot of the same subject captured in the EXR mode with Dynamic Range Priority selected. Note the detail visible in the circled area.

      We were unable to open any of the raw files we recorded with the review camera because the version of FinePixViewer supplied with the camera was incompatible with the camera’s raw files. No third-party raw file converter was available when we conducted this review, so all of our assessments – including the Imatest graphs – have been carried out on JPEG images.

      Imatest showed the review camera to be capable of high resolution for JPEG files, with our best results coming at the 7.1mm focal length (the widest) one stop down from maximum aperture. Resolution tailed off as focal length was increased, as shown in the graph below, which also indicates a relatively consistent difference between centre and edge resolution across most of the focal length range.


      Resolution remained relatively high at sensitivity settings up to ISO 400, with a slight drop for ISO 800 and ISO 1600 and a progressively sharper fall to ISO 6400 and ISO 12800, where actual image size is reduced to M (2816 pixels wide) and S (2048 pixels wide) respectively. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.


      Image noise started to become visible in long exposures from ISO 400 on and both pattern and colour noise were evident in shots taken at ISO 1600. Shots taken at ISO 3200 appeared blotchy and noticeably softened (though usable at small sizes), while by ISO 6400 and ISO 12800 we considered images to be unusable. Interestingly, very few stuck pixels could be seen at the highest ISO settings.

      Flash exposures fared somewhat better than available-light shots, with no apparent noise up to ISO 400 and a steady, progressive increase thereafter. Although noise affected, images remained usable at ISO 1600 but lost sharpness and colour fidelity at higher sensitivity settings. The flash proved able to illuminate an average-sized room at all ISO settings, although we found some variation in brightness levels across the review camera’s ISO range.

      Imatest showed colour accuracy to be reasonably good, although saturation was elevated in the red section of the spectrum and skin hues were shifted to slightly warmer than natural levels. Overall colour saturation was slightly elevated, although no more than is typical for most small-sensor digicams.

      Lateral chromatic aberration remained mainly at the low end of the ‘moderate’ band in our Imatest tests. Its presence was confirmed by both purple and green fringes in many test shots (shown in the Sample Images section below). Lowest CA measurements came from the middle of the focal length range at wider lens aperture settings. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.


      The red line marks the boundary between ‘negligible’ and ‘low’ CA, while the green line show the boundary between ‘low’ and ‘moderate’ CA. Above the blue line, lateral chromatic aberration is considered ‘severe’.

      Close-up performance was reasonably impressive although the lens will only focus on close subjects at the widest angle of view. Focusing to 3cm is possible in normal macro mode, with 1 cm in super macro mode, where you can almost shoot with the subject touching the front element of the lens. Depth-of-field is shallow with both settings and the camera doesn’t always choose the best AF point (manual AF point selection isn’t supported).

      No digital zoom function is provided in any of the camera’s menus. The review camera’s auto white balance system was an average performer, failing to remove the inherent orange cast of incandescent lighting, but leaving only a trace of green with fluorescent lighting. Both pre-sets over-corrected colours but manual measurement yielded neutral colour balances under each lighting type.

      Backlit subjects were generally handled very well and even shots taken directly into the sun – with the sun outside the frame – were only slightly flare-affected. Very little rectilinear distortion was found in test shots at either wide-angle or telephoto settings.

      The review camera powered up in just over 2.5 seconds but shut down almost instantaneously. We measured an average capture lag of 0.52 seconds, which reduced to less than 0.1 seconds with pre-focusing. Shot-to-shot intervals averaged 2.9 seconds without flash and 3.6 seconds with. It took 2.1 seconds to process each high-resolution JPEG image, just over eight seconds to process each CCD.RAW file and a little longer for each RAW+JPEG pair.

      In the normal continuous shooting mode, the review camera captured six shots in three seconds. It took 11.4 seconds to process this burst. Moving to the High-speed 1 sequential mode reduced the image size to 2048 x 1536 pixels, enabling the camera to record 24 frames in 4.3 seconds. It took 10.5 seconds to process this burst.

      Buy this camera if:
      – You’re looking for an ultra-zoom digicam that can capture raw files as well as JPEGs and RAW+JPEG pairs.
      – You take a lot of photographs in bright conditions (beach and/or snow) and need the ability to record highlight details in subjects.
      – You’re prepared to forgo access to aperture and shutter speed adjustments to achieve dynamic range control.
      – You want plenty of adjustable controls and image stabilisation.
      – You’d enjoy taking very close ‘macro’ shots.

      Don’t buy this camera if:
      – You want a pocketable camera. (The FinePix S200EXR is DSLR sized.)
      – You require high performance levels in dim lighting, particularly for long exposures.
      – You want to shoot widescreen or high-definition video.
      – You want to shoot fast-moving action. (The AF system isn’t up to it.)





      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      Close-up. 7.1mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/239 second at f/6.5.


      Super macro. 7.1mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/155 second at f/4.9.


      Super macro at ISO 3200; 7.1mm focal length, 1/1193 second at f/8.


      7.1mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/5.6.


      101.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/800 second at f/5.


      4:3 aspect ratio; 37.3mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/195 second at f/7.2.


      3:2 aspect ratio; 37.3mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/195 second at f/7.2.


      16:9 aspect ratio; 37.3mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/195 second at f/7.2.


      7.1mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/197 second at f/5.6.


      Crop at 100% magnification from the above image showing coloured fringing..


      Flash exposure; 26.3mm focal length. ISO 100, 1/91 second at f/3.9.


      Flash exposure; 26.3mm focal length. ISO 1600, 1/91 second at f/3.9.


      Flash exposure; 26.3mm focal length. ISO 12800, 1/91 second at f/3.9.


      Long exposure: ISO 200, 30 second exposure at f/2.8; 12.2mm focal length.


      Long exposure: ISO 1600, 4 second exposure at f/2.8; 12.2mm focal length.


      Long exposure: ISO 3200, 4 second exposure at f/4; 12.2mm focal length.


      Long exposure: ISO 12800, 4 second exposure at f/8; 12.2mm focal length.


      Skin tones (a little too ruddy); 26.3mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/170 second at f/3.9.


      Dynamic range: 101.5 focal length, ISO 100, 1/304 second at f/8.


      Backlighting; 101.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/8.


      101.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/193 second at f/5.3.


      50.1mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/232 second at f/4.4.




      Image sensor: 8.08 x 6.01 mm Super CCD EXR with 12.0 megapixels effective
      Lens: Fujinon 7.1-101.5mm f/2.8-5.3 zoom (30.5-436mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 14.3x optical; 2x digital
      Image formats: Stills – JPEG (Exif Ver. 2.2 ), CCD-RAW CCD-RAW+JPEG; Movies – AVI (Motion JPEG )/WAV
      Image Sizes: Stills – 4:3 aspect: 4000 x 3000, 2816 x 2112, 2048 x 1536; 3:2 aspect: 4000 x 2664, 2816 x 1864, 2048 x 1360; 16:9 aspect: 4000 x 2248, 2816 x 1584, 1920 x 1080; Movies – VGA/QVGA at 30 frames/second
      Shutter speed range: 30 to 1/4000 seconds
      Self-timer: 2 or 10 second delay
      Image Stabilisation: Lens-shift type
      Exposure Compensation:
      Focus system/range: TTL AF with Area, Multi, Centre, Continuous and Manual modes; range 50 cm to infinity; macro 3-10 cm; super macro to 1 cm
      Exposure metering/control: TTL 256-zones metering
      Shooting modes: Auto, EXR, FSB, SP (Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Fireworks, Night (Tripod), Pro Low-light, Pro Focus, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Flower, Text, NP, NP & Flash), C1, C2, P, S, A, M, Movie
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200; ISO 6400, 12,800 at reduced resolution
      White balance: Auto, Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm white), Fluorescent light (Cool white), Incandescent light, Custom
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Red-eye removal Off/On: Auto, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro. Range: 30 cm to 7.2 m
      Sequence shooting: Max. 5 frames/sec. (Small size only)
      Storage Media: 47MB internal memory plus SD/SDHC expansion slot
      Viewfinder: 0.2-inch, Approx. 200,000 dots, FLCD monitor, Approx. 100% coverage
      LCD monitor: 2.7-inch, Approx. 230,000 dots, LCD monitor, Approx. 100% coverage
      Power supply: NP-140 Lithium-ion battery (Approx. 370 shots/charge)
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 133.4 x 93.6 x 145.0 mm
      Weight: Approx. 820 grams (without battery and card)






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