Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fuji Announces F80EXR

Well … my F70EXR just became obsolete. I’ve owned it for 6 months and I bought it the day it came out. Thanks Fuji.
The new cam looks interesting … several notable changes from what I have read:
  • The resolution has been bumped from 10mp to 12mp
  • The video resolution is finally HD
  • The LCD screen is 3” instead of 2.7”
The question is whether any of these are really an improvement? A quick analysis of each change:

Resolution

So they added some pixels … the question is why? The answer is “to appear to be moving forward” … and what is the net effect? Well, it is bad of course. Because they did not change the sensor size. The sensor remains at 1/2”, which means that they made the pixels smaller. And they were already really tiny. Since the net effect is a requirement for more noise reduction, and the resolution difference from 10mp to 12mp amounts to diddly, this may prove to be a mistake. The cam had a tolerable amount of NR before … will the new one still be tolerable?

Video Resolution

This sounds wonderful. But the F70EXR’s video was not all that weak. It’s *audio* was the problem, and they do not appear to have addressed that issue. And the HD format *did not* include the new and much more efficient AVCHD codec. So they will suck up a lot of memory storing these huge videos with motion jpeg. (Anyone who shoots the ZS3 sees the difference and it is not pretty.)

LCD

Woopee. 0.3” bigger. I guess you gotta look like you are moving forward.

I did forget a couple of important new features … there are two new scene modes – cat and dog. And I am not kidding. The software team has some of the worst firmware on the planet, but they spent their time detecting cats and dogs.

Anyway … the resolution bump may very well serve to weaken the image quality without really providing anything of value … the HD is welcome, but not without improvements in the audio (anyone who shoots the ZS3 knows how important that issue is) … and the rest is fluff.

Thanks again Fuji …

7 comments:

Glenn said...

Kim, any chance the software has been revised to improve ease of use? As I, yourself, and others have discovered, getting good results from the F70 has required fiddling with the settings since the auto/presets can't always be trusted.

It's a shame that some of the amazing results you and others have achieved can't be had a little more easily. Cheers!

crazy football mom said...

Sort of like the RX7...RX8...?

Kim Letkeman said...

Glenn: my gut instinct says that Fuji have probably addressed very few of the firmware issues, if any. But we can now track cats or dogs and that about says it all.

Gaye: I can't actually think of a good analogy for this upgrade ... one nice feature, but not the most important issue with video ... one bad idea, adding extra resolution without making the sensor bigger ... and lots of fluff. The RX8, on the other hand, is quite the machine. I had an RX7 in the early 80s and it was nothing like the current model :-)

Hards80 said...

its more an appearance of evolution than any real evolution. slap some bigger flashier numbers on essentially the same camera (and actually probably hurt the noise) and hope it will entice a few more ppl to buy. disappointing, they could have done something really special here.
-Dustin

Kim Letkeman said...

Dustin, I totally agree. Imagine what might have been had they chosen to try to match the audio of the ZS3 with their new HD video and perhaps added just a tad more zoom. 12x instead of 10x for example. Then, address the shutter issue somehow (perhaps by raising the top overall shutter speed) and address the firmware complexity (rewrite.) Either make the sensor a tad bigger or leave the cam at 10mp. What a cam that might have been.

Boris said...

Hm, judging from the samples Fuji posted on their website, they've managed so smear even more details in HR mode. Besides HD video (not enough for me) and orientation sensor (nice addition)there is nothing for me worth to switch from f70exr. Too bad.

Kim Letkeman said...

Boris, the samples are interesting. The face on the first model looks pretty good, but the hair is pretty clumped. It will look ok at web sizes though. Fuji continue to post 100 ISO only ... even the F70EXR managed to get a 400 ISO sample (a bad idea, since they mangled the fox's fur.) I wonder how this cam will shoot at 1600 ISO ...