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2011.01.05

Undoubtedly the biggest news today is Fuji’s new EXR BSI CMOS sensor which attempts to bring the best image quality and speed together. For a long time, Fuji had a noticeable lead in image quality thanks to its SuperCCD EXR sensors which work in 3 modes to give high-resolution, low-noise or extended dynamic range.

At one point, several manufacturers started using BSI (Back-Side Illuminated) CMOS sensors to attempt to close the gap. It did not work for catching with Fuji’s awesome quality but it it bring new high-speed capabilties to fixed-lens cameras. Things like 1080p HD video, 1000 FPS high-speed video, 60 FPS continuous drive and sweeping panoramas suddenly became possible.

Fuji experimented with their own BSI-CMOS sensor when the launched the Finepix HS10 one year ago. It turned out to be capable camera but did not match the previous ultra-zoom flagship, the S200 EXR when it came to image quality.

Today’s announcement may be able to merge the benefits of both high-quality imaging and high-speed photography. The new 16 megapixels sensor uses a CMOS process with BSI construction to improve its light gathering capability and the EXR tri-mode design. This time Fuji claims an extra stop of dynamic-range, so 1600% more than non-EXR sensors.

The Fuji Finepix HS20 EXR which showcases the new senor has a 30X ultra-wide angle mechanical optical-zoom lens equivalent to 24-720mm, like the HS10 before it. It can record full 1080p HDTV video at 30 FPS along with 320 FPS high-speed video at lower unspecified resolution. It features full manual controls with exposures up to 30s, full-resolution ISO to 3200, a fly-by-wire manual-focus, a multitude of direct controls and RAW mode, a first among EXR digital cameras. How it delivers remains to be seen. This one is scheduled to be available at the end of March for $499 USD.

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