Fuji's flagship compact evolves in very small steps. Compared with last year's F600 EXR, the pop-up flash has been slightly reworked, with a mechanism that pushes it a little further forwards, and there's a new Fn button next to the shutter release. This can be assigned various functions (direct access to ISO settings, RAW mode, dynamic range, picture styles, autofocus mode and a landmark navigator).
The F770 EXR is a well-made camera, with decent build quality, pleasant materials and comfortable grip. The settings wheel around the four-way controller is still a bit too loose for our liking, however.
The F770 uses the same screen as the F600—a 3-inch display with 460,000 dots that's pleasant to use but which doesn't reproduce accurate colours. It also tends to wash out light greys to white.
Otherwise, the camera has the usual Fuji interface. The extra 'EXR' functions brought by Fuji's exclusive sensor (High Resolution, Wide Dynamic Range, High Sensitivity and Low Noise) are a nice touch but they're still only accessible in automatic exposure mode. Plus, you have to search through the main menu to switch to the sensor's EXR mode, as it's not an option in the F menu. Note that is can be quite frustrating to see the two menus overlapping somewhat in purpose. All in all, the F770 isn't a complicated or challenging camera to use, but its interface isn't as clear as in Panasonic, Sony or Canon compacts, for example.
The good news is that the F770 EXR is a little quicker to start up than its predecessors, taking barely over two seconds.
Otherwise, there doesn't seem to be much change since last year's camera. The autofocus is still good, you only have to wait a second between two photos and the burst mode edges just over three frames per second.
However, Fujifilm really needs to work on improving the time it takes to save RAW images. The F770 EXR can take two shots in RAW+Jpeg mode just 1.5 seconds apart, but then takes 7 to 9 seconds to take a third picture, as well as for each subsequent photo. We won't be penalising the otherwise speedy F770 for being slow in a mode most of its competitors don't even have, but just don't say you haven't been warned!
Fujifilm claims to have reworked its image sensors for 2012, but the basic technology is still the same, as the F770 uses a BSI CMOS with Fuji's EXR functions that pair up pixels in different ways with various effects. However, like other 20x compacts released this year, the F770 has a brand new lens.
There's not much difference in the way this camera handles digital noise. Compared with the F600 EXR, there's a little more detail in pictures upwards of 800 ISO but, as expected, the F770 EXR is no revolutionary update. Fuji cameras often over-expose our test scene, and that's clearly the case here too. Note that this in turn highlights noise in darker parts of the picture, but in real-life situations, photos taken at 800 ISO still look very nice and 1600 ISO pictures can still be used without too much trouble.
The F770 lens is a mixed bag. At wide-angle settings, the middle of the frame isn't as sharp as in competitor cameras like the Sony HX20V and Canon SX260. The edges of the frame aren't too bad, however, as quality is quite consistent across the whole image—8" x 10" (20 x 27 cm) prints look very good. With the lens zoomed half way, the Fuji lens still isn't as sharp as Canon's, but quality is nice and consistent across the frame. At 500 mm, the image has a good level of detail and quality is up there with the best.
In our Barbie without flash test, the F770 proved much less reliable than with the flash, taking heavily over-exposed pictures as the camera was no doubt caught out by the very dark black background. Stabilisation is relatively effective (we got a sharp Barbie shot at 1/10 ths), although the F770 had to push sensitivity up to 1600 ISO. In real-life situations, if you happen to take a picture of a someone against a very dark background, don't hesitate to use exposure correction or even switch to manual mode.
VideoThe F770 EXR films Full HD video at 30 frames per second. The image is relatively sharp, but the high contrast tends to flood dark areas and overexpose lighter tones. The stereo effect is nicely marked in the sound (there are mics on either side of the lens), but some noises—voices in particular—can be muffled and the zoom motor is picked up in the background.
- Original shooting modes, including EXR DR for boosting dynamic range
- Good build quality and grip
- Noise handled well, especially in EXR SN mode
- General responsiveness once it's up and running
- Interface is sometimes unnecessarily confusing
- EXR functions can't be used in manual mode
- Indoor shots are sometimes over-exposed
- Contrast is too high in video mode, sound is rather confused
The Fuji FinePix F770 EXR is a similar camera to its predecessors. The EXR modes are still as effective as ever, but the interface is at times a bit more confusing than in competitor models. Plus, while the lens gives very consistent quality, it's not quite on par with the best models on the market.