Fujifilm has been gaining steam as a contender in the digital camera world. Names like Nikon and Canon have enjoyed elevated status for their diverse lineups for years. More recently, Olympus has been thrown into that mix as well, primarily for its more sophisticated models. But Fujifilm quietly snuck into this club with its X Series line of very professional, very impressive, very expensive cameras. On the way there, Fujifilm has been refining its point-and-shoot lineup as well, and now it has something to show off in the pocket-cam category .
The FinePix F770EXR sits at the top of Fujifilm’s F Series, which represents a compromise between the pro-grade features of the spendy X Series and the more compact size of the Z or T series.
While the F770 is an all-around capable camera, it struggles to make up for a frustrating UI with extra features like GPS and its 20x zoom. With a price tag well over $300 even on Amazon, it also has to compete with other high-end point and shoots like Canon’s respected S100. Read on to see if it deserves your dollars.
The F770 EXR looks and feels the way a camera with an $480 MSRP should. It has a quality chassis with no cheap lens wiggle or button stick. The all-black body is professional looking and simple, in comparison to some flashy, overly colorful point-and-shoots.
It has a somewhat untraditional look to it: The top of the F770 has a rounded hump at its top (welcome to GPS-enabled cameras) and a nice rubber grip on its front. It deviates from many current pocket cams which are going for extremely minimalist, completely sleek bodies. There are all sorts of bumps and humps on the F770, making it a little bulkier than many competitors — but for all its cumbersome details, it’s pretty smooth looking.
The back of the F770 is rather formulaic. You’ve got a mode dial that sits at an angle at the top of the camera, another in the lower right hand corner, and then controls for playback, movie capture, display, and function. Power and another function button are located on top, the only odd choice being the placement of the dedicated flash button. It’s on the left-hand side of the camera, and is relatively difficult to spot.
The top mode dial is a little sticky, but nothing major to complain about. Otherwise, it has a nice, high-quality look and feel.
What’s in the box
The F770 EXR comes with an NP-50 Li-ion battery, battery charger, and wrist strap.
UI and navigation
Canon and Nikon have managed to take the geek speak almost entirely out of their point-and-shoot lineups, and it’s made them better for the entry-level and beginner consumers. Fujifilm just isn’t there yet.
While some of the technology and capabilities can compare to its pocket-cam rivals, the F770’s user interface and navigation leave a lot to be desired. This was also a problem with the X100 and (to a lesser degree) with the X10, but those cameras have a variety of features that overshadow this discrepancy. Plus, they aren’t for amateurs: Anyone who picks up an X-series camera has some experience with digital camera settings and navigation.
The F770 targets more mainstream consumers, and that means the unfortunate interface is a hindrance. It’s overly technical and the sequence users are put through to determine settings feels never ending. Once you get beyond this, the camera offers a surprising number of manual controls and preset modes, but the process you have to suffer through in order to get there isn’t a pleasant one.
The flash and GPS settings were both particularly tough to use. It’s unnecessarily difficult to get to these settings when it should be intuitive. User have almost no control over flash (the camera seems to want to dictate this according to intelligent settings), and you aren’t directed into using the GPS feature very easily.
The F770 is an odd point and shoot. It’s simultaneously feature-packed and simple. When it comes to in-camera options, it’s comparatively pared down. But its hardware tells the exact opposite story. So let’s get specific about what features do and don’t sell the F770.
Built-in filters have become increasingly popular. Toy camera, lomo, and tilt-shift are popping up in more affordable models. It’s all about giving you options for a device that is relatively limited, in terms of hardware. While the F770 foregoes these modes, it does feature your standard bevy of situational modes: night, natural, fireworks, beach, cat, dog (seriously), and so on.
Manual shooters get access to a few simple options like exposure, white balance, and saturation controls, but that’s about it. Instead, Fujifilm focuses on the hardware, with an impressive 20x zoom, speedy autofocus (AF), and quality image stabilization.
Travel enthusiasts will also definitely like the map viewer software that you can use with MyFinePix Studio. Some GPS cameras just tag your location and store the metadata. The F770 plots your route along Google Maps, complete with photos.
Performance and use
In day-to-day use, the F770 performed admirably. Power up and off is quick, and recycle time between photos is as well. It’s a sleek piece of hardware with nearly no physical hiccups to complain about.
Unfortunately, there were a few details that we had a hard time getting beyond – namely, the unfortunate user interface. Smartphones and slick Web apps have spoiled us with interfaces that aren’t just easy to learn and navigate, they’re fun and engaging. Digital cameras in general have had a difficult time adjusting to this shift, and Fujifilm in particular hasn’t addressed it much. As we mentioned, the pro-oriented X-series cameras suffer the same fate, but are so well equipped that they shine with or without a friendly menu system. But the F770 doesn’t have that luxury, and we found ourselves frustrated by the effort required to get the right shot. Even after learning to manage the system, we were disappointed by this part of the user experience. The built-in modes didn’t quite get the job done, and you’ll want to rely on your own control to really get quality photos out of the F770.
For a pocket cam, this model performs admirably at 100-percent zoom, even in auto or the EXR mode. The below image was taken at 100-percent zoom (compare to the entirely zoomed out image) and it doesn’t get terribly grainy until you view it at about 40-percent. The sweep panorama feature also worked incredibly well, and nicely stitched the images together.As far as photo quality goes, it’s a mixed bag. Anything above ISO 600 is going to start getting noise, but that’s to be expected, really. Again, it’s the hardware that sells this thing. Auto-focus and image stabilization work together well in the F770, so we almost didn’t miss the difficult-to-manipulate flash control. Images were generally clean and well lit, and blur wasn’t too much of an issue even in moving subjects, much thanks to Fujifilm’s 16-megapixel EXR CMOS sensor. The RAW + Jpeg option doesn’t hurt matters either.
Video is an admirable feature as well. The 20x zoom is fully operational and while you’ll have a moment of focusing during shots, it’s fairly unnoticeable. Points and shoot video capture is getting better and better, and the F770 manages to stay on par with competition. It’s moderately noisy, but nothing that really distracts, and you are able to manipulate enough features to keep it interesting. Zooming isn’t glitchy or bumpy either, so your transitions might be a bit blurry while the camera tries to refocus, but zooming in and out will be rather smooth.
This camera does a few things very well. It’s a great compact superzoom, and it handles action shots surprisingly well. While we’re not huge fans of GPS cameras, the map-plotting software is far more useful and interesting than other attempts we’ve seen in competitor systems. And the camera’s rather bare bones options mean that you won’t spend too much time fiddling with settings between shots.
Should you buy it?
The Finepix F770 EXR is a hard sell. It’s equal parts fast and slow – the impressive sensor and processor mean the thing technically operates quickly, but the disappointing UI leaves you wanting more.
The average point and shoot user will struggle a bit getting up to speed and managing the navigation system, but once that’s over and done with, there are lots of surprises in there to keep you interested. Manual settings provide a decent amount of flexibility, and the 20x zoom, panorama mode, and GPS give it that something extra. Plus, it’s a remarkably small package for being a GPS-enabled camera.
But in a market crowded with feature-packed point and shoots that have incredibly user friendly systems to explore and navigate, the F770 doesn’t stand out. These days you need a camera that doesn’t only get the job done, but that improves your abilities and keeps you entertained, making its price tag worth it.
Ideal buy for: Travelers, GPS addicts, multipurpose camera buyers (zoom + pocket cam + manual settings all in one).
- Nice chassis, sleek design
- Small for a GPS camera
- Capable pocket superzoom
- Solid hardware features (impressive sensor technology, fast, powerful processor)
- In-camera UI is clunky and unintuitive
- Little low on the firmware features (no filters, unimpressive in-camera experience)
- On the pricey side for what you’re getting