Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShotfuji_z800exr_blk_550.jpg

  • 12-Megapixel Super CCD EXR image sensor 
  • Fujinon internal 5x optical zoom lens: 35mm equivalent of 35-175mm
  • 3.5-inch, 460,000 pixel Touch LCD screen
  • Dual Direction Interface
  • Touch Screen image capture
  • Sensor Shift image stabilization
  • Face Detection and Tracking
  • Face Recognition
  • 720p HD video capture
  • Quick uploading to Facebook and YouTube
  • EXR Auto (Scene Recognition auto)
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion battery
  • SD/SDHC memory card compatible

Pros
  • Nice ultra-compact and stylish body
  • EXR Auto mode produces best images
  • Easy touch screen interface
  • Good shooting performance once the camera is powered on
  • Wallet friendly price tag of just $229 US
  • Cool 360 degree Panorama mode
Cons
  • LCD performed poorly in lower lighting
  • Flash is not very powerful
  • Disappointing battery life
  • Sub par image quality for 12-megapixel digicam
  • No HDMI output
  • Poor HD video quality
  • Above average noise levels
  • Red-eye in most photos, even with Red-eye reduction function in place
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 3.9  seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = 1/10 - 2/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 1.3  seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 4 - 4.5 seconds
  • Burst mode = 2.4fps @12M (up to 5 images)
  • Touchscreen GUI Navigation = robust
  • All tests were taken using a SanDisk Ultra II 4GB SDHC flash card, EXR  Auto mode, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
While the FujiFilm FinePix Z800EXR showed some promising specifications when first released, after putting it through the paces we were left a bit disappointed.
Pick This Up If...
You want a compact digicam for mostly outdoor photos with all the bells and whistles offered by the EXR system, and you don't plan on making many large prints.
Fuji's FinePix Z800EXR builds off of the success of past Z-series ultra-compact digicams, specifically the Z700EXR. In fact, the two share almost identical specifications, with the Z800EXR offering a few improvements such as Motion Panorama 360, Intelligent IS and their new Hybrid AF system, which uses both Phase and Contrast detection methods. Features that were carried over from the Z700EXR include a 3.5-inch, 460,000 dot touchscreen LCD, an internal Fujinon 5x optical zoom lens, Fuji's versatile and powerful 12-megapixel Super CCD EXR imaging sensor, 720p HD video recording, Face detection with Face Recognition options, Pet detection (that's right) and a user interface that changes with the orientation of the camera; similar to that of a smart phone.

The Z800EXR's EXR image sensor offers a great deal of versatility over your typical camera when it comes to shooting modes. Their EXR shooting options allow you, or the camera to choose the best EXR sensor shooting mode to produce an image with resolution as priority, increased sensitivity for low-light, or a higher dynamic range. Choosing the EXR Auto option lets the camera choose which of the three options to use, or you can manually set the desired mode. This option allows the Z800EXR to go one step further than any other brand of camera currently on the market that boasts an "intelligent" Auto shooting mode. While most all intelligent or smart auto modes will automatically choose the correct scene mode settings along with the exposure details for your current subject, Fuji's EXR Auto chooses the sensor mode on top of the scene mode to give you a more specialized setting.

The exterior of the Z800EXR is almost identical to the Z700EXR. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between them if sat side by side, with the only indicators being the model numbers located on the top and bottom of the bodies. Operating the Z800 is quite simple, once you find a comfortable way to hold the camera. We find that the "pinch" technique is quite comfortable, where you pinch the camera with your left index finger and thumb while wrapping your right hand around it. Just be sure to keep your index finger from blocking the lens. Due to the camera using a touchscreen LCD, most all of your typical camera controls have been removed from the exterior, only leaving the REC/PLAY button, shutter release and zoom controls on top of the camera. To access specific camera settings, enter the menu or control playback, you simply touch the icons located on the touchscreen LCD. At 3.5 inches, this is a very large touchscreen, which makes it easier to see your subject as well as allows the menu icons and text to be larger; something those with not the best eye sight will appreciate. While this display offers 460,000 dots of resolution, I was a bit disappointed with its quality; especially in lower-lighting. Outdoors it works fine, with only a few angles which reflect light, however the backlight is bright enough so you still see your subject just fine. When using the display in marginal lighting, like your typical restaurant or living room, the display gets very dark and grainy. This made it difficult to see, and overall not very pleasing to work with.

Image quality from the Z800EXR is Ok at best. I was not real impressed with the images produced from the EXR Auto mode, even though it did help the camera achieve the best results. While exposure and colors are pleasing, images lack any real fine detail. I think this is due to some of the image processing, probably to help fight the above average noise levels that can been seen at all ISO settings. Images seem sharp in the center of the photo, however as you approach the edges of the frame you can see some obvious edge softness. Like we mentioned earlier, you need to watch the position of your left index finger when using the Z800EXR. I found myself on more than one occasion having a small portion of my fingertip within the frame. This is due to the placement of the lens, which is at the top right hand corner when looking at the front of the camera. While not a major issue (many cameras of this size have similar setups), you just need to adjust your hold on the camera ever so slightly. You can see an example on our samples page where I caught my fingertip in the photo.  

While shooting some indoor photos, we saw similar results. The flash is very weak, especially if you manually set the ISO to a lower setting, along with use the telephoto end of the zoom to tightly frame your subject. At full-screen resolution, images look decent. However, zooming into 100% shows a great deal of noise and fine detail loss from the noise reduction algorithms. We tested several modes when shooting some indoor portraits, including EXR Auto and the dedicated Portrait Enhancer. Portrait Enhancer adds some processing to the image in-camera, which softens skin tones as well as makes subjects look to have added some make-up. Overall these photos will more than likely make pleasing 4x6-inch photos, however due to the above average noise levels you might see some traces in your larger prints. Another issue we had indoors was with red-eye. A large majority of our portrait photos showed some traces of red-eye, and this was when using the Auto flash mode setting, which includes their red-eye reduction process. 

When reviewing our ISO test series, you can see that ISO 100 and 200 produced the best looking photos, however even they show much more noise than we'd like to see. At 400 you start to see some noticeable fine detail loss, and the letters on the sides of the bindings of our magazines and in other areas start to become a bit blurry. ISO 800 and beyond look very bad, with the ISO 3200 photos looking worse than cell phone pic quality. That being said, I highly recommend you choose the Auto (400) option in the ISO menu, which limits the camera from choosing anything over ISO 400. 

Although the Z800EXR can record 720p HD video, we were not very pleased with the results. Our samples show that the camera really struggles indoors. In both of our examples, we tested other cameras right along side the Z800EXR, all of which did not have near the exposure, focus, or sharpness issues this camera experienced.  When played back, our videos looked very soft and grainy.

The Z800EXR's battery life is dismal at best. They claim you can get about 170 images from the tiny 3.7V, 700mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery pack they provide. We captured just 100 still images, a few short video clips (20 seconds and under), and some of our usual other tests before the battery was exhausted and needed to be recharged. We highly recommend you get at least one, if not two, extra battery packs to keep charged and with you at all times. This should be no problem since Fuji includes a handy compact AC charger with fold-away prongs. One other issue we'd like to note about the Z800's battery, you have to really watch when inserting it. It can be inserted incorrectly without you even knowing it, until of course you try and power up the camera. Fuji did install a small sticker on the inside to show you the proper way, however most digicams on the market today "key" their battery compartments so the pack will only fit one way. I can foresee many consumers putting the pack in wrong and thinking something is wrong with the camera.

Bottom Line - We were not real impressed with the Finepix Z800EXR. While the specifications looked very promising, there were just too many negative aspects of this camera, which makes it hard for use to recommend it. These included below average image and video quality when compared to other cameras of this price, poor battery life, above average noise at all ISO settings, a weak flash, etc. While the Z800EXR sports an affordable price tag of just $229 US, we feel you should take a look at various other sub $250 cameras before making your final purchase. Many of the offerings from Canon, Sony, Panasonic, and even Casio out perform the Z800EXR in many areas.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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