The Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR is like three cameras in one. Unlike other compacts, the F70EXR has a 1/2-inch sensor (slightly bigger than the typical 1/2.3 inch-sensor size) that adapts to different light conditions, giving it superior low-light abilities and a wider dynamic range. Its EXR auto mode has three different photo settings for added versatility. One setting captures high resolution using all 10 megapixels; another improves low-light quality and reduces noise by shooting at 6 megapixels; and a third boosts dynamic range by melding two 6-megapixel images shot at different exposures. Editors at Which? magazine deem the EXR the "crown jewel," and the F70EXR's low-light performance earns top ranking in David Pogue's roundup in The New York Times, edging out the Kokak EasyShare Z950 (*Est. $150) and the Sony Cyber-shot W290 (*Est. $250). The F70EXR also has a 10x zoom lens, 15 scene settings, manual controls, plus Pro Light and Pro Focus modes that combine photos to optimize image quality.
While experts agree the F70EXR boasts unrivaled low-light performance and shooting options for its class, it isn't flawless. Experts and users say there is a learning curve, and editors at Which? magazine peg overall image quality as "little better than average." Although shooting speeds and image stabilization rate well, reports of barrel distortion and purple fringing (shadowing around objects) are common. Plus, the lack of HD video doesn't fly with some users at Amazon.com given it's a standard feature on many mid-range compacts. "It's a little disappointing," says CNET's Joshua Goldman about the omission. "But this camera also does a lot that the competition can't, so it's kind of a wash."
Tech guru David Pogue of The New York Times compares the Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR to seven rival compact cameras, while CNET and PhotographyBlog.com provide meticulous standalone evaluations of the F70EXR. Rounding out our sources are user reviews from Amazon.com, which help to establish trends among performance pros and cons.
1. The New York Times
David Pogue praises the EXR mode and the "wonderful, sharp pix" of the Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR. While the camera garners the top spot for superior low-light photos against of field of eight competitors, it can't shoot HD video, and Pogue says the F70EXR also takes time to learn.
Review: Best Cameras for $300 or Less, David Pogue, Feb. 3, 2010
"If there's one thing that really ruins the F70EXR for me, it's the amount of purple fringing created by the lens," says Joshua Goldman. Nevertheless, he says, it's a very good camera for its class with lots of useful features. It's also "extremely compact" for having a 10x zoom lens in tow.
Review: Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR, Joshua Goldman, Dec. 2, 2009
Goldstein considers the EXR shooting mode the "most exciting, headline-grabbing feature" of the Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR. The well-built camera also benefits from manual shooting modes. However, despite very good image quality, photos are tinged by purple fringing from the lens.
Review: Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR Review, Mark Goldstein, Sept. 29, 2009
"The Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR is a stunningly versatile camera," says Cliff Smith, who puts the camera at the top of its class for low-light photography. He also praises the high-quality lens, zippy auto focus and decent shutter lag times, though he warns that the body's glossy finish is prone to chips and scratches.
Review: Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR Review, Cliff Smith, Dec. 1, 2009
5. Which? magazine
While editors agree the Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR technology sounds remarkable, testers are "less convinced by the effectiveness." Nevertheless, they say the camera fares well with low-light photographs, and they're impressed that Fuji was able to squeeze a generous 10x optical zoom lens into such a small-profile body.
Review: Digital Cameras: Compare Features & Prices, Editors of Which? magazine, As of August 2010
"The EXR mode looks good on paper but doesn't look good on my pictures," says one user, while other owners complain about purple fringing from the lens and the absent HD video. However, about half of users give the F70EXR a 5-star rating, praising features, image quality and value.
Review: Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR 10MP Super CCD Digital Camera, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of August 2010