A keenly priced camera excels both indoors and out
It's reasonable to assume that a 16-megapixel compact camera is better than an 8-megapixel one, but the truth isn't so simple. The sensors that capture the image are about the size of a little fingernail, so each of those 16 million pixels is truly microscopic – so tiny, in fact, that barely any light hits each one. That makes the light harder to measure accurately. The net result is blotchy, grainy images, especially in low light.
As such, there's a good chance that an 8-megapixel camera will take better photos than a 16-megapixel one. However, people expect more megapixels when they upgrade their camera, so manufacturers are reluctant to produce modestly specified cameras.
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Fujifilm's solution is a triumph of both technology and marketing. Its EXR sensors have a 16-megapixel resolution but they can switch to 8-megapixels in low light where grainy noise is more of a problem. Any camera can be set to record at a lower resolution, but because the F660EXR does the conversion on the sensor, it works more effectively. The result is some of the cleanest, smoothest colours we've seen from a conventional compact camera, especially one that costs less than £200.
The rest of the package is up to scratch. The 15x optical zoom can handle anything from wide-angle vistas to distant wildlife. It's a speedy camera too, taking just over a second from one shot to the next. Autofocus speed is particularly quick. The main controls are straightforward, but the menus could be better laid out. They're accessed via a pair of buttons – one marked Menu, the other, F – but some options are duplicated on both menus and other settings are hard to find. Casual snappers needn't worry, though, as the Auto mode (marked by a camera icon on the mode dial) turns this into a reliable point-and-shoot camera. Selecting EXR on the mode dial handles the switch from 16 to 8 megapixels automatically too.
Videos are a little disappointing. They're recorded at 1080p but aren't as sharp as rival cameras' video modes, and autofocus can be unreliable while recording. However, the F660EXR is hard to fault for top photo quality. Inside it's brimming with clever features, while in use it takes gorgeous photos with the minimum of fuss.
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An elegant, responsive camera with a focus on image quality
Class-leading image quality; Responsive performance; Big zoom
Videos a little disappointing; Menus could be easier to use
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