|Fuji has again obsoleted a camera in only 6 months. This is so fast that I have to believe that they intend to milk consumers as quickly as humanly possible. Since I am certain to buy this one (trading the F80 back to Henrys), I've been triple dipped in only one year. That’s a bit of a rip off, it feels like. |
So anyway, there must be something cool with this camera. Let’s take a look, comparing it to the two (yes, that’s right) cameras that it replaces in their line up.
Starting at the top of the feature list as shown in the side-by-side comparison at www.dpreview.com:
- Sensor size and resolution: The F300 uses a new generation of 1/2” sensor, which is the same size as the F80 and a fair bit smaller than that of the F200. It has a pixel density of 39mp per square centimeter, the same as the F80 and 56% higher than the density of the F200, despite all three having the same 12mp resolution. This means that we should expect image quality very close to the F80. This is acceptable, but it will be inferior to both the F200 and the F70 in bad light.
- Zoom range: Wow, this sucker is packing a 15x zoom that starts very wide at 24mm effective. It goes all the way out to 360mm. This is longer than the already impressive 27-270 10x zoom in the F70 and downright massive when compared with the F200’s 28-140 5x zoom. This is great news if Fuji manages to curtail CA and distortions and blur. A tall order, but Fuji does make some of the better lenses on the planet.
- AF: Here’s the biggest news of all. Fuji has pulled a rabbit out of a hat and has managed to create a form of quasi-phase detect auto focus, which means extremely fast focusing. At least twice as fast, and my guess is even faster than that if it works well at long zoom. In low light, the contrast focus will take over, but this trick promises to create the first small sensor cam that is useful for action photography in good light. That’ll blow some minds!
- Aperture range: Good news / bad news … f/3.5 at the wide end, a fraction slower than the others (f/3.3) and f/5.3 (DPReview has this wrong at 5.6) at the long end, faster than the F80 (f/5.6)!! This is terrific design. The F200 is faster, but at less than half the reach, who cares?
- Apertures: More good news. Fuji has now given us three apertures per focal length, and this is just about as good as any of the variable aperture compacts and bridges because of the narrow aperture range before diffraction makes a hash of images. The range at wide and long are f/3.5 – f/7.1 – f/10 and f/5.3 – f/11 – f/16 … which is an improvement over both the previous cams.
- Max shutter speed: 1/2000s, same as the F80, and faster than the F200.
- Flash range: The new pop up flash (away from the trigger finger, which will be seen by some as an improvement) is unfortunately quite underpowered. For some reason, Fuji took an already weak flash and made it weaker. And this in a cam with the longest zoom in a compact … this will be a problem.
- Continuous shooting speed: Again, DPReview is confused, quoting different speeds for different cams. The 23 shot mode is faster than the F80, 4.5 fps versus 4.2. This is still a bit slower than the F200’s 5 fps. Note: The F200’s long period continuous (time lapse) is again missing from the F300 as it was from the F80.
- Movie recording: 720p HD at 24fps, same as the F80. Both better than the SD video in the F200.
- Orientation sensor: This handy device, first introduced in the F80, appears in the F300 as well. The F200 does not have it (nor does the F70.)
- Storage: SD/SDHC, just like the F70 and F80. The F200 allows both xD and SD/SDHC but who cares. No loss there.
- Internal storage: 40MB, same as F80. F200 has 48MB.
- LCD size and resolution: DPReview reports an improved LCD (460k dots) over the other cams’ 230k dots … but the Fujifilm.ca web site shows 230k dots. Since the global Fuji web site says 460k dots, we’ll go with them. This will be excellent, but I hope that they fixed the blanking issue the LCD on the F80 has.
- HDMI: Yes, same as F80.
Bottom line … the cam has several very nice features. The long and wide lens is superb, as is the fast AF (if real,) The three apertures promises to improve exposures by allowing faster shutter speeds.
The down sides are poor flash range and the fact that they kept 12mp on the sensor instead of dropping back to 10mp. If we are lucky, they’ll improve the jpeg engine’s saturation and custom white balance handling at high ISO. That works great in the F70 and just sucks in the F80.
As mentioned above … I plan to buy one of the first ones, replacing the F80. I will keep the F70 for some period, testing to see if this thing can replace both .
Six weeks and counting I suppose … meanwhile, you can watch this amusing video from YouTube showing the primary new features for this camera.