Digital Camera Comparison/Review II, March 28, 2009
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd vs. FinePix F200EXR
(Last updated April 30, 2009)

I just got a Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR (12 megapixel) digital camera a week ago or so. My F30's sensor was getting a little dirty (I've taken almost 10,000 shots with it and had it in and out of my pockets more times than I can count), and I had read good things about Fuji's new EXR sensor on the F200EXR, so I snapped one up the minute Amazon had them in stock.

F200EXR Reviews: DPReview (4-30-09)

F100 Reviews: DPReview (12-12-08)

If you don't know, the EXR sensor has three modes--1. Resolution Priority, where it uses all 12 megapixels, 2. Signal-to-noise (S/N) mode, where it combines pairs of pixels in order to boost the signal-to-noise ratio in low light, and 3. Dynamic Range mode (D/R) where it combines pairs of pixels in order to increase the dynamic range of the camera. I tried all of these modes in comparing the F200 to a friend's F100 below. I will compare to my F30 soon, but right now I don't have access to my F30.

The results are mixed (aren't they always?). Overall I don't see a solid victory for the F200EXR over the F100. The two are very close, as one might expect since they are only one generation apart and use the same size sensor and same number of pixels. There are definitely cases where the F100 seems to actually perform a little better, but there are also cases where the F200EXR's dynamic range priority mode, in particular, does seem to give it an advantage.

So far I'm happy with the F200. It is very compact, does well in lots of different light, focuses very quickly, gets away from the abomination known as an xD card (16 GB SDHC, yes!), and almost doubles the zoom of my F30 (5x vs. 3x). The biggest negative for me is that flash shots in automatic mode don't seem to be well lit. The ISO remains high and the shots can look speckled even after reducing the size significantly. To be fair, though, I've discovered since taking these pictures that this is an adjustable setting--you can set the maximum ISO to use in Auto mode, so I'll have to experiment with decreasing that to ISO 400 (the minimum allowed). The final say for me will come when I directly compare the F200 to my F30. I've also got an itchy trigger finger for Panasonic's new Lumix DMC-ZS3 with 12x zoom and AVHCD video (with dynamic focus and zoom). Stay tuned.

Twilight shot. Comparison to F200's EXR signal-to-noise (S/N) improvement mode where it uses half as many pixels in order to boost the signal-to-noise.

Same shot, zoomed in on the gate sign to get an idea of the resolution.

Comparison of three F200 modes on a black cat in twilight, which is a challenge.

Close-up of the last shot to see the resolution.

F100 on the same cat, same conditions.

Here, this plaque is about 30 yards away in sunlight, and I have both cameras on max zoom. The image is blown up to max resolution.

Obligatory flower shot. I think the F100 shot is just a touch out of focus.

Close-up of last shot.

Garden shot to demonstrate the EXR's dynamic range (EXR D/R) mode. I didn't notice much difference among these shots.

Indoor shot from about six feet with flash.

Close-up of last shot. The F100 seems to have better resolution in this case.

Flash suppressed this time, and I added the EXR's S/N mode.

Close-up of last shot. Again, the F100 seems to have the best resolution.

Another dynamic range mode demo. Hard to see significant differences.

Close-up on the butterfly from the last shot.

This time with fill-flash.

Comparison of sport modes. Not much difference.

Another dynamic range mode comparison.

This was fun. At the park there was a gopher sneaking out of his hole. I managed to capture it with both cameras (auto mode, sunlight), which is a small miracle.

Here the dynamic range mode really looks a bit different. Look at how much more saturated the red blanket is in the third frame, for example.

Comparison of auto mode at 5x zoom in sunlight.

This picture was taken at night under a street lamp. The AF assist lamp was absolutely critical for focusing. I probably didn't hold the camera as still for the F200 shot.

Here's the same sign with flash. Taken from about 4 feet.

Ambient light, forced flash, auto. I'm a little disappointed that even when sized down significantly, flash shots on the F200 look "speckled." I understand that Fuji wants to minimize the flash in order to have the background show up better, but the resulting ISO of 800 doesn't cut it for me.

In a museum now, flash suppressed. Comparison to EXR's signal-to-noise (S/N) mode.

Same thing, this time with some zoom. Note that the S/N mode does seem to look sharper here, and it cleans up the yellow background that results in the "auto" mode.

Close-up of last shot to demonstrate resolution.

A back-lit sign in a museum, no flash.

One more demo of the dynamic range mode.