Fuji’s Z700EXR offers the same EXR technology as their EXR range of advanced compacts, but with ease of use and design tailored to more casual shooters. Sitting pretty at the top of their slim and compact camera range, the Z700EXR costs £165 and promises to offer better quality pictures in low light, better dynamic range in high contrast situations and plenty of resolution the rest of the time. The slim style and touch screen interface should appeal to those who like their gadgets with a hint of iPhone, especially as images are changed by dragging your finger over the screen in much the same way as you would use Apple’s mobile phone.
Fujifilm Finepix Z700EXR: Features
Fuji’s EXR sensor technology has been employed in this camera, but I imagine most people buying this camera will probably leave the camera to its own devices in EXR auto mode. In this mode the camera analyses the scene contrast and brightness to decide if the scene requires more dynamic range due to high contrast, or better noise performance in low light. If the camera deems that the scene requires neither, it raises the resolution to its maximum of 12 megapixels. The idea is that the camera should produce better images on the whole than a standard point and shoot camera.
Although not massive, a 5x zoom, equivalent to 38-180mm on a 35mm camera, is a welcome addition on a camera this slim. The extra telephoto reach will certainly help in those situations where you just can’t get close enough to your subject.
A large 3.5inch touch sensitive screen dominates the rear of the camera. People who’ve gotten used to the latest touch screen mobile phones and other similar gadgets like iPods should feel right at home with this system.
The usual photographic aids found on most of the latest compact cameras are also included such as, Face Detection, Image Stabilisation, Auto Scene recognition and strangely Pet Detection. I did not have a cat or dog to test the system on, but I did manage to get the dog detection to pick up my partner if she screwed her face up a certain way. She volunteered herself purely in the interests of scientific study. I must add the dog detection also works on my face if I stick my tongue out. A touch and shoot mode is also included, which makes composing off centre a breeze. You simply touch the area you wish the camera to focus on. There is quite a bit of lag on this system, but it is useful for static subjects.
Fujifilm Finepix Z700EXR: Handling
Having most of the controls taken care of by a touch screen interface means that Fuji didn’t need to make any room for buttons on the rear of the Z700EXR. Instead the camera’s back is almost completely filled by a huge 3.5inch TFT LCD screen. The space around the screen gets a little wider on the right hand side, which provides a little space to rest half your thumb. However, if you have fat fingers, like I do, you may find this design a little uncomfortable to hold. I found I just couldn’t get a good enough purchase on the camera to confidently hold and use the camera with one hand. I also found that when I used my other hand for support, I would occasionally end up with my finger in front of the lens. Of course aspects of the camera’s handling like this can be very subjective, so I would suggest handling one in a shop if you are unsure whether this design is for you.
The touch screen itself is very responsive and the menus are very clear and easy to navigate. Unfortunately the touch sensitive covering on the screen can be quite reflective, which can cause problems with the clarity of the screen when shooting in bright conditions. Other than this issue, it is a joy to use. Playback of images is very iPhone like, a sweep of your finger across the screen is all that’ required to move from one image to the next.
The build quality is very good. The sliding cover that protects the lens and flash is sprung with a nice weight to it and the shiny finish looks very smart, even if it is prone to showing every finger print.
Fujifilm Finepix Z700EXR: Performance
Focusing is fairly quick, especially when the face detection system is active, which gives the Z700EXr a largely responsive feel in use. In low light conditions the camera can take a while to lock on though, even when the built-in AF illuminator is active.
Exposures produced by the Z700EXR are generally quite pleasing, with the camera only generally being fooled by very large areas of light or dark in the frame, which is typical of this kind of camera. In those particular conditions, having the extended dynamic range can pay dividends.
The camera is capable of recording a fair amount of detail, although I do find that areas of very fine detail, or strong diagonal lines tend to show JPEG-like artefacts, probably due to the nature of the Super CCD EXR. These artefacts are especially visible if the offending area has quite a large amount of contrast at regular intervals in a small space, such as you would get with parallel lines.
Subtle colours are reproduced faithfully, whilst primary and secondary colours seem to have more saturation, making them really stand out. This results in quite punchy looking images from the camera.
ISO and noise performance
There is no significant noise until at least ISO400, but what can be seen in all images at any ISO setting are the peculiar artefacts. These are particularly prevalent on the fountain, where the jets of water are quite close together closest to the ground. At ISO400 you can see the effects of noise reduction on detail in the image, but the levels of noise are still quite palatable.
From ISO800 and beyond, the levels of noise become much more apparent. I would say that ISO800 will still produce good postcard size prints, whereas the level of detail lost in images taken at ISO1600 and 3200 may only make images taken at these settings suitable for sharing at small sizes on the web.
In our white balance test, the Z700EXR left quite a strong warm colour cast when using Auto White Balance under incandescent light and under the warm white fluorescents in our studio. The incandescent preset produces a much more accurate result under incandescent light, but unfortunately the fluorescent preset left quite a strong magenta cast, which may look at little disturbing in images.
Buffer read/write times
During testing, I measured the delay between shots to be around 1.2 seconds on average when using a class 6 SDHC card, which is very responsive for a compact at this level. The camera is equally responsive during playback, with there being virtually no delay from one picture to the next.
Internal lens designs like this found on the Z700EXR have long been associated with optical issues of their own, and this optic is no exception. The biggest issue arises when there is a strong source of light in the frame. Under these conditions the lens is quite prone to flare and have loss of contrast. In more friendly conditions the lens performs well, with little distortion or colour fringing to speak of. Images show good contrast and sharpness from edge to edge throughout the zoom range.
Fujifilm Finepix Z700EXR: Verdict
Overall the Z700EXR is an accomplished performer, capable of producing high quality images. Although there may be the odd weakness, such as noise levels not being as impressive as promised, the lens being prone to flare and peculiar Super CCD artefacts in images, it’s strengths may be enough allow you to see past them.
The camera has a high quality finish, is intuitive to use and doesn’t cost too much either. When compared to similar cameras at this price point, it represents pretty good value for money.
Fujifilm Finepix Z700EXR: Pros
High quality fit and finish
Intuitive touch screen interface
High dynamic range feature
Touch and shoot mode
Good exposure system
Fujifilm Finepix Z700EXR: Cons
Super CCD artefacts in images
Lens prone to flare
Touch screen can be quite difficult to see in bright conditions
Noise performance not as good as I’d hoped
|What comes in the box||Charger, Battery, USB cable, Software, Manual|
|Lens||f=6.4 – 32.0mm, equivalent to approx. 35- approx. 175mm on a 35mm camera|
|Sensor type||Super CCD EXR|
|Max. Image size||4000 x 3000|
|LCD monitor size||3.5inch|
|Focusing system||Contrast Detection|
|Focusing modes||Single AF, Continuous AF (when scene recognition and Movie) Center fixed, Auto area, Place of touch (Touch & Shoot mode)|
|Metering modes||EXR Auto, Auto, Touch & Shoot, Scene Position, Natural Light, Natural Light & with Flash, Manual, Movie SP: Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (Tripod), Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Party, Flower, Text, Dog, Cat|
|White-balance||Auto, Fine, Shade, Incandescent light, Fluorescent light 1 (Daylight), Fluorescent light 2 (Warm White), Fluorescent light 3 (Cool White)|
|Exposure compensation||+/- 2EV|
|Shutter speed range||1/2000-8 seconds|
|Anti-shake mode||Dual Image Stabilisation|
|Movie mode||1,280 (1,280 x 720: HD), 24 frames/sec., 640 (640 x 480: VGA), 30 frames/sec. with monaural sound. Zoom function cannot be used during movie recording.|
|Media type||SD, SDHC|
|Power||Rechargeable Li-Ion battery NP-45A|
|Size (wxdxl)||91.8 x 59.0 x 20.3mm|
|Weight (with battery)||146g|
The Fujifilm Finepix Z700EXR costs £165 and is available from Warehouse Express here: