Though the megapixel war in consumer digital cameras has calmed down since its hectic early days, it still rolls on with each new device sporting yet more sensing pixels. But Fujifilm has finally done the right thing: Its new Finepix F200EXR is actually being touted as having a better sensor, rather than merely a bigger one.
In fact the F200's sensor is designed to be adaptive to the needs of a casual photographer. When snapping a brightly-lit scene, the High Resolution mode uses all 12 megapixels like a conventional digital cam. In Low Light mode adjacent pixels are paired as twins and thus create a 6-megapixel high-sensitivity sensor, with twice the reaction to incoming light--this means it can take shots in dark and dingy environments while avoiding the sensor thermal noise problems that conventional digital cameras suffer in low brightness. And in EXR mode the camera snaps two shots at the 6-megapixel setting calibrated to expose for the shadows and the bright areas of the scene and combines them automatically--this is an in-camera version of the High Dynamic Range photographic technique that's all the rage at the moment.
Other than this Super CCD sensor, and the automated shooting modes that support it, the camera has a 5x optical zoom, CCD-shift image stabilization, a 3-inch LCD screen, face detection and supports SDHC cards.
There's no word on pricing or release timing, but it's heartening to see a big name like Fujifilm returning to the best principles of camera design: Making a device that best captures an image of the scene you're photographing, rather than one that simply does so at higher resolution.