With 7 different high-end compact camera models launched in 2011, Fujifilm holds the manufacturing record for this segment for 2011. Further, 2012 seems to be starting out just like 2011, with the announcement of the F770 EXR, XS -1, and HS 30 EXR cameras.
At first glance, the two cameras look nearly identical, and in fact the F600EXR was launched only 3 months after the F550 - with the same body, same design, and same sensor specifications.
These two cameras are compacts with a large focal range zoom lens (15x with a 24-360 mm f) and a tiny (half-inch!) sensor with a very high pixel density (a pixel pitch of only 2µm). This sensor is a BSI CMOS sensor, purportedly more sensitive than classic FSI CMOS and destined to become standard for every sensor with a pixel pitch inferior to 1.4 µm.
It is worth noting that at this price there are not a lot of brands that allow shooting in RAW.
The EXR technology is a specific pixel array rotated by 45° compared to a conventional CFA array:
Different modes are available. When the EXR mode is activated, half of the pixels will be underexposed to allow better reproduction of the scene’s dynamic. In this case, a specific demosaising process obtains a fully-resolved 16-Mpix image with a wider dynamic.
Another mode allows the user to shoot with all pixels exposed at the same level; in this case, the sensor provides a “real” 16-Mpix image.
No suspense here, the sensors are identical from the DxOMark point of view.
The scores are very close to the current best compact cameras. The low-light ISO scores (158 for the F550, 153 for the F600) are very close to that of the Canon Powershot S100, for example.
Their DxOMark scores (39 for the F550 and 40 for the F600) are limited by the ISO range (scores for studio conditions, color depth and dynamic range could be better if Fujifilm provided an ISO 50 or ISO 80).
To complete this review, here are 2 interesting comparisons: the Fujifilm F600 vs the Canon Powershot S100 vs the Nikon Coolpix P7100: