Lengthy of lens, but small in size and low in price, at around £115, the Fujifilm FinePix T200 superzoom could be an excellent choice for travelling types. But just how far-reaching are its photographic powers?
Cuts a dash
The T200 is slightly difficult to pigeonhole. It's the size of a reasonably slim compact camera and bears a low price tag, but it also has a 10x zoom lens. Equally, it has some fairly high-end features, such as a CCD-shift image stabiliser and 720p video recording, but it also has plenty of features aimed at helping novices to take hassle-free snaps, including an easy-peasy 'SR auto' mode, and blink, face and smile detection.
The design is attractive, with the curvy, brushed-metal body available in four different colours -- black, blue, red and grey. The long zoom lens causes quite a protrusion on the front of the unit, but this is incorporated into the design well and doesn't appear to have a dramatic effect on the overall size of the camera, which is quite small and easy to pocket.
Around the back is a fairly good 2.7-inch LCD display, along with an eight-option mode dial, playback and display-mode buttons, and a keypad for navigating menus and suchlike.
We have a couple of issues with the way the T200 is built, however. The first problem is the hatch that covers the battery and SD card slot is supposed to slide forward and then spring open, but it's just too flimsy. Several times during our tests we discovered that we hadn't managed to fully close the hatch correctly, which could potentially result in damage to the spring mechanism or loss of the memory card or battery pack.
The other concern is that the USB socket isn't covered by anything at all. It's open to the elements, making it vulnerable to damage from moisture, dust and other camera-unfriendly substances.
Slow photo capture
Speedy Gonzales this camera is not. It takes almost 4 seconds for the T200 to get its posterior in gear once you press the power button, which isn't great, and there's another 3-second pause between taking one shot and being able to take the next.
As long as you don't need a rapid-fire camera, however, the 14-megapixel T200 is pleasant and simple to use. The aforementioned SR auto mode automatically selects one of six different scenes, depending on the shooting environment it detects. It works well for portraits, although we weren't as sure about our foliage photos -- greens looked too luminous and over-cooked.
In standard auto mode, the T200 performs better than many other cameras in the same class. The autofocus and shutter are quick and responsive, especially when used outdoors in good, even light. The resulting photos are sharp and full of detail, even when taking pictures at the full zoom length. Colours can sometimes look curiously muted and washed-out, however. While they may not be to everyone's tastes, they're certainly preferable to unrealistic, oversaturated tones.
You can also get some pretty good results in well-lit rooms without resorting to the flash. The camera's sensitivity settings go right up to ISO 3,200, although the quality and clarity fall off radically after about ISO 400. Still, in most daytime situations, you'll be able to take relatively noise- and blur-free photos.
It's also possible to experiment with two separate 'natural light' modes, both of which are available from the mode dial. The first mode uses all of the camera's trickery to take the best possible low-light photos. The second goes one further by taking two consecutive shots -- one with the flash and one without -- allowing you to select the better shot yourself.
We were pleasantly surprised by the T200's video capabilities. There are some obvious limitations, such as the lack of an HDMI output and the fixed zoom while filming, but the video quality is easily better than average for a camera of this price.
If you just want to take good photos without having to contend with complicated menus and settings, the Fujifilm FinePix T200 could be for you. Overall, the picture quality is much better than we'd expect from a device of this price and -- a few grumbles aside -- it's a good choice if you're after versatility on a budget.
Edited by Charles Kloet