With an intriguing new hybrid AF system, 12-milion-pixel resolution and massive 15x optical zoom, the Fujifilm FinePix F300 EXR promises to be the ideal travelling companion, but is it? Richard Sibley finds out
In use, the zoom lens performs well, taking less than two seconds to go from 24mm to 360mm. Impressively, the zoom control is very smooth and it isn’t noticeable when the internal sliding lenses are switched. With such a long focal length, the camera naturally features in-camera sensor stabilisation, and with the lens zoomed to 15x I was able to achieve acceptable shots when shooting at shutter speeds as long as 1/20sec.
The new hybrid phase-detection AF focuses the lens accurately, and is faster than most other contrast-detection AF systems. It is slower at the telephoto extreme, but snappy at wider settings. Yet while the phase-detection AF technology in the EXR sensor is certainly a step forward, it doesn’t match a DSLR.
Contrast-detection AF is also used in the F300 EXR as it can produce more accurate results in low-light conditions. The camera automatically decides which of the two modes to use depending on the scene and the camera’s settings.
As you would expect from a high-end compact camera, there is a range of metering modes, including multi-segment, spot and average. Generally, the multi-segment mode produces good results in both sunny and overcast lighting conditions.
Auto white balance works well in natural sunlight. However, under tungsten light it still leaves quite a strong tungsten colour cast. Switching to the tungsten setting solves this, and in trickier situations a manual white balance mode is available.
Sadly, the camera is only able to shoot JPEG files and there are only five colour settings. Three are named after Fujifilm film: Provia is the standard colour setting and Astia is the neutral or ‘soft’ option.
I found the vivid Velvia setting produced the best results, and is a great choice for snapshots and holiday photos. There are also sepia and black & white image styles available. However, it is a shame there aren’t more user customisation options.