Fujifilm FinePix F750EXR Review
The FinePix F750EXR is one of Fujifilm’s latest compact travel zoom cameras, released alongside the F770EXR.
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The FinePix F750EXR is one of Fujifilm’s latest compact travel zoom cameras, released alongside the more expensive F770EXR. We took the lesser—but still strong—F750 for a spin last week, and though it doesn't support RAW or GPS, it turned out to be a comfortable, usable camera that’s both pocketable and flexible, and it's got a 20x zoom lens too.
Although the body design is rounded and appears somewhat toy-ish compared to many other 2012 designs, this made the device easier to handle. And while the relatively extensive controls may intimidate newcomers, we took advantage of all this detail to achieve better shots than if they weren't there. Our main worry is with regard to the F750's leap to a 20x zoom. Usually, as lenses get longer we see image quality pay the price, so we immediately got to shooting and then to the lab to see how this new travel zoom would fare.
Design & Usability
Fujifilm swaps style for superior handling.
While the rounded, toy-like look isn't exactly modern, grip and balance are well served by this design. Large, rubberized accents give fingers plenty to latch onto, making one-handed shooting easy. The buttons themselves are shaped along with the curves in the paneling, so there's little danger of accidental triggering. This is one of the more comfortable compacts we've used lately. On the rear panel, a circular directional pad that doubles as a rotating dial is flanked by four keys that control playback, video shooting, display options, and a quick menu called f-mode. The menu interface sure could use an overhaul. It takes time to acclimate to, but at least a fast processor keeps things from getting bogged down.
Newbies may find themselves with too many controls, but we appreciated the extra detail. We feel that the many controls are flexible and empowering in most situations, and hopefully novices won't be scared off by this. Those seeking simplicity or a completely automated experience will want to keep shopping though. Even in Auto mode a few menu options still exist, and while professionals like us certainly enjoy this flexibility, we think some novices or casual photographers could be put off by the extra complexity.
The FinePix F750 sticks mostly to no-nonsense extras.
The FinePix F750EXR is full-featured without resorting to pointless extras. We appreciate the extensive controls, able hardware, and long list of shooting options. Full HD video capabilities are much better here than on many compacts and the 3.0-inch, 460,000-dot resolution LCD display is excellent, viewable in bright light and at wide angles.
Eighteen traditional "Scene Position" settings are available, covering everything from house-cats to a sunsets, and basic in-camera editing is offered too. You will find no silly diversions like digital filters or frames on the F750, and though it boasts the famous EXR mode, which supposedly enhances image quality in a variety of fancy ways, we could find few measurable differences. Program shift is missing, so Manual mode will have to balance the tradeoff between shutter and aperture. Once there, you'll find the aperture is actually a neutral density filter, not a mechanical iris, so only three settings are available at any given time.
Exposure compensation has a range of +/- 2 stops, and a selection of different Auto ISO options can limit or expand the range of available sensitivities. In terms of color, modes are called "Film Simulation" settings. Choices range from soft Astia film or the vivid Velvia. Full resolution ISO sensitivities extend from 100 to 3200 and, at the cost of resolution, it's possible to boost ISO much higher than most cameras in this class—6400 or even 12800. Finally, nine resolutions of varying size and aspect ratio are available, but lossless RAW is not supported.
A mixed report card
We were impressed by the F750's overall image quality. Subjects should appear natural and true to life with this FinePix, because most of its colors are dead-on accurate. We were also amazed that the jump to 20x zoom didn't negatively affect sharpness, as is often the case with new models. Noise reduction isn't bad either. Resolution of detail is in fact better than on the previous F600, despite the increase from 15x to 20x zoom (normally, the reverse would be true). Even at wide and medium focal lengths, edges are fairly consistent. Noise is acceptable below ISO 400, and a few useful extended sensitivities are included as well. At ISO 3200, noise interference becomes noticeable, however. Very regrettably, due to the narrow f/3.5 lens, you'll spend most of your time indoors at ISO 1600 or above, and this can make everyday shooting pretty noisy overall.
While annoying, bright, colorful bursts of light rarely polluted photographs on this camera, the instances that did occur were rather egregious. When it rains, it pours. Every once in a while, shots at the maximum focal length developed these thick bands of incorrect light on high contrast edges. Luckily, this didn't happen often. Also, while shot-to-shot the F750 is fast enough, full resolution buffer capacity is extremely limited, clocking in at almost exactly 3 frames per second. True, this restriction can be boosted to 12 frames, at 12 frames per second, but at the cost of resolution—hardly a good trade, in our opinion.
A great, well-designed camera with flexible controls and excellent color that you probably should not buy.
Even though our test results were a mixed bag, we had a good time shooting with the F750EXR. It's a comfortable, flexible camera for everyday shooting in most lighting conditions. Although the body design is rounded and appears somewhat toy-ish compared to most 2012 designs, this made the device easier to handle. And while the relatively extensive controls may intimidate newcomers, we took advantage of all this detail to capture better photographs.
The puffed-up EXR mode is a bit of a bust though. While this technology looks great on marketing materials, we could find only negligible differences between EXR and non-EXR images. On the other hand, at least those non-EXR shots turned out well. Perhaps this camera’s most pleasant surprise was the absence of a disastrous transition from the F600’s 15x to this model’s 20x zoom. Usually, as lenses get longer we see image quality pay the price. Not so with the F750, whose sharpness actually increased. Sadly though, dim indoor shooting is more challenging than it should’ve been, since the automatic ISO setting cannot meter into extended sensitivities like 6400 and 12800. Full manual control helps with this, but then of course the “point-and-shoot” appeal of the camera takes a backseat.
At $350, we cannot yet advise you to purchase the F750EXR over better options like the Sony HX9V, especially considering the Sony's falling price. However, should you receive the F750 as a gift, or find it at a healthy discount, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Particularly for a travel zoom camera, this FinePix delivers a fairly nice image. Its color accuracy is usually dead-on, rendering wonderful lifelike pictures, and images are sharp even at full zoom. However, sometimes chromatic aberration pollutes photographs and noise can be problematic at points as well.
Color accuracy is no challenge for the FinePix F750.
The F750EXR's rendition of color is very accurate. We recorded an error value of only 2.45, much better than the 3.00 average score. Bright reds, yellows, and blues are all reeled-in to darker shades, but other than that, most colors are nearly dead-on. Subjects should therefore appear more natural and true to life than they would with a less accurate model.
Sharpness & Distortion
This Fujifilm FinePix delivers a very sharp image, if occasionally plagued by chromatic aberration.
Resolution of detail is actually better than on the previous F600 model, despite the increase from a 15x to a 20x zoom. For a 20x camera, we were impressed by the F750's sharpness in both our lab tests and sample shots. At wide and medium focal lengths, edges are fairly consistent. For the most part we saw results range between 2000 and 1300 LW/PH at MTF50 of detail, with less detail near the edge of the frame. As expected, scores were moderately worse at the maximum focal length, averaging around 800 LW/PH.
Finally, one feature that distinguishes Fujifilm's lineup is EXR mode, which many fans have come to appreciate. Unfortunately, our tests could discern only the slightest improvement between EXR and non-EXR shots. In fact, scores only rose by less than 1%, which is frankly within our test's margin of error.
Regarding distortion, fringing isn't often a problem, but it severely distracts when it is. Chromatic aberration is a rarity for this camera, in both our lab stills and real world shots. But when it rains, it pours. Shots at the maximum focal length aren't always polluted by fringing, but every once in awhile thick bands of incorrect light will border high contrast edges. These cases drag down the average.
Noise makes trouble at higher ISOs.
Noise is acceptable below ISO 400, and a few useful extended sensitivities are included. Fujifilm's noise reduction software behaves in a way we consider ideal, that is, starts off slow and then proceeds evenly up the ISO scale. Noise levels, as a result, do not surpass 1.00% until ISO 400. The problem does become severe at the top of the sensitivity range, culminating in 2.17% noise at ISO 3200. Regrettably, due to the narrow f/3.5 lens, you'll spend most of your time indoors at ISO 1600 or above, and this can make everyday shooting pretty noisy overall.
The majority of artifacts are luminance noise, so high-ISO shots will take on a grainier quality than images captured with other cameras. Chroma noise, which results in color blots, is still noticeable but isn't quite as prevalent. EXR mode does reduce noise levels by about 20%. That's a great improvement, but any sufficiently aggressive software could achieve the same result.