As Fuji replaces its underwater snappers year on year, the design is generally updated with small changes to an established overall aesthetic. This 2013 model therefore has the same general look as previous XP cameras, with curved contours, a metallic paint job and chrome-effect rims worthy of a car dashboard. It's a fun-looking, sporty little number for adventure-loving photographers.
But the finish seems rather less impressive on closer inspection, with debatable-quality paints, low-grade "chrome" highlights and plasticky microphones grilles. Even the shutter-release button is a little questionable, both due to Fuji's choice of materials and its generally rickety, dubious feeling.
Although the X200 inherits the same overall look as other XS snappers, this model's controls have changed slightly compared with previous versions. The zoom is now controlled using a small rocker-switch on the back of the camera rather than the handy ring-type control around the shutter-release button. Similarly, the continuous shooting button now also controls the Wi-Fi mode, a function already seen in the XP170. The XP200 is therefore one of a growing number of waterproof compacts to offer built-in connectivity (see inset, below).
The XP200 is a stockier and generally more robust camera than its predecessor. The XP200 is waterproof to 15 metres—an extra 5 metres compared with the XP170. But while we've got no complaints about the camera body and its waterproofing as a whole, the locking system for the compartment housing the memory card, HDMI and USB connectors and battery turned out to be seriously faulty. The compartment door is supposedly equipped with a secure locking system, comprising a dial with a button in the middle. In theory, you need to press an hold down the button in order to turn the lock. However, in our test model, you only needed to force the dial slightly to undo the compartment door—no button pressing required. For land-based shooting that won't be a big deal, as the camera carries on working with the compartment unlocked. But it could be considerably more problematic when shooting underwater!
The menus are split into two main sections and are clear and easy to use. All in all, the XP200 is a user-friendly camera, even for total beginners.
The Fujifilm XP200 takes less than two seconds to start up. And from then on in, things get even faster.
The 16-Megapixel CMOS sensor is twinned with the same 28-140 mm zoom lens as used the XP170—a model we haven't reviewed. On paper, the sensor and stabilised lens look like a winning combination. In reality, the XP200 turned out to be quite disappointing.
The new sensor doesn't exactly work wonders here. Heavy smoothing is clearly visible in our ISO test results from 200 ISO onwards. This in turn wipes out detail and will be visible on 8" x 11" prints (20 x 27 cm). At 800 ISO—the highest sensitivity setting you could feasibly use here—the image looks fuzzy and edges bleed, even with 4" x 6" sized photos (11 x 15 cm). These performances are really quite disappointing, especially since the XP200 doesn't do any better than the likes of the Panasonic TZ20, which uses a previous-generation CMOS sensor.
The 28-140 mm zoom lens also struggles to convince. Sharpness levels look fine in the middle of the frame but there's a clear drop in sharpness around the edges, particularly at wide-angle. This hazy lack of precision in the corners of the frame can be spotted on 4" x 6" size prints (11 x 15 cm) or when viewing shots full-size on a computer screen. It gets considerably more noticeable on 8" x 11" photos (20 x 27 cm). All in all, that's not great. At the telephoto setting, sharpness levels drop in the middle of the frame but quality does at least even out compared with the edges.
Although video performances—particularly high-speed video—have been upgraded compared with the XP170, Fujifilm has made one rather questionable choice here. The XP200 doubles the framerate from 30 fps in the previous camera to 60 fps here when filming in 1920 x 1080 pixels, but uses an interlaced format instead of the progressive scan video mode seen in the XP170. And there's no way to switch back to a lower framerate with a non-interlaced format.
As for picture quality, exposure is handled relatively well. Dark parts of the scene aren't too blocked up and lighter, brighter areas aren't overexposed.
The XP200 records stereo sound but it can be hard to make out any spatial, stereo effect when listening back. Sideways movements are particularly poorly rendered. Sounds recorded lack fidelity and noise from the autofocus is picked up by the mics—it sounds like listening to crickets on a summer's night. That could be quite atmospheric if you're filming a scorched landscape in the south of France. Elsewhere, it may seem a little out of place ...
- Reasonable video quality
- Battery compartment door isn't secure—not ideal for an underwater camera!
- At wide-angle, lens sharpness isn't even across the frame
- Sharpness could be better at telephoto
- Sensitivity isn't great
- Mediocre audio quality
Padding out its range of waterproof cameras is all very well and good for Fujifilm. However, any progress should definitely be positive—there's no point taking steps sideways (or backwards). And that's exactly the problem with the FinePix XP200. Picture quality is mediocre, build quality could be better—especially the dodgy compartment locking system—and Fuji has made some questionable choices with the video mode.