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Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR Digital Camera Review

fujifilm20120619aa.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Keith Parsons  


Anybody in the market for a feature packed “do it all” compact camera that will deliver good solid images and not break the bank would be foolish not to consider a Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR. Fujifilm is quickly gathering a reputation for offering products with a point of difference (See Fujifilm X series) in the camera market. However the F550 is marketed more as a highly specced workhorse that would see its owner well covered in a variety of shooting conditions. Offering features such as a 15x optical zoom lens and a CMOS sensor the F550 is an exciting prospect, especially at its street price of $299 (AUD).

 

Appearance & Functionality


The Fujifilm F550 is a seriously stylish camera, as long as you purchase the black option that is and not the rather less stylish “gold champagne” option. That said, colour is really just personal opinion and essentially what matters is whats inside the camera.

You will find the build quality of the F550 quite good with the most notable feature being the generous shaping of the body to give extra protection for the base of the lens when it is recessed. The addition of a rubber grip for your right hand is a lovely touch too that sadly many manufacturers tend to overlook in this price segment.

fujifilm20120619ab.jpgThe buttons are set out in a logical, natural way with the placement of the function dial at the top of the back panel allowing speedy navigation between functions. Fujifilm has also used a number of colour symbols on buttons which aid them in standing out against the black camera body. Menu navigation is done via the directional pad and is also quite straightforward. The F button located at the bottom of the rear panel allows fast access to a sub menu of shooting related functions like ISO, film simulation, continuos shooting etc.

The camera contains a GPS geo-tagging function that people who like to tag their photos with global positioning locations will love. Accessed via the same 'F' menu as mentioned above the GPS can be either set to be permanently on or just to turn on when the user decides to. The main benefit with the GPS is the ability to organise files by place name or latitudinal and longitudinal co-ordinates which can be a very effective way of keeping on top of file management. The included “My Finepix Studio” software allows you to create trip folders that permit a route map of images to be created. However it must be noted the GPS can be fairly slow to load up and you will find that battery life will suffer considerably.

Fujifilm appears to be pushing post capture functions with the F550. They have covered the user for easy upload to social networking sites like facebook and youtube as you can mark files in the playback menu for easy uploading at a later point. You are also able to manually create in camera  albums for convenient sharing.

The Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR digital camera contains a reasonably powerful pop up flash that unfortunately due to the cameras compact nature sits sort of where I like to pop my left index finger on a compact body. However there is room for your finger behind the flash and the resulting position does not feel terribly unnatural. Also of slight annoyance is that the lens slightly blocks the flash when fully extended.

When I attached a “do it all” tag to the F550 I meant it as there is even a Fujifilm specific submersible housing available for this model allowing the use of its many still and motion functions underwater.

 

Image Quality

 

The F550 utilises an impressively titled 16 megapixel EXR CMOS sensor. There is constant debate over whether a CMOS sensor is better than a CCD sensor and in todays market CMOS sensors seem to be able to offer better noise performance due to being able to catch capture more light.

fujifilm20120619ac.jpgISO capabilities have been allowed to extend right up to 12,800 ISO though I fear for your images if you find yourself in that sort of territory. Due to the use of a CMOS sensor the F550 is able to produce quite reasonable images up to 1600 ISO, although you will begin to see visible noise after 800 ISO though nothing that will distract the eye.

A major plus for the F550 is that it is able to shoot in both J-PEG and RAW formats and those who like to do some post processing on files will know the incredible benefits of RAWs uncompressed files over J-PEG. Though just having the option to shoot Raw takes the F550 to another level.

 

Lens Quality


Strapped to the front of the Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR is a Fujinon 15x optical zoom lens that offers in 35mm film equivalent an impressive 24-360mm of zoom. The lens is both sharp and contrasty and the build quality is fairly good. At its widest point the F550 lens offers a largest aperture of f/3.5 and this only drops to f/5.3 at full zoom, both quite generous offerings.

The F550 contains fairly good image stabilisation (around1-2 stops) and this is extremely evident when at full zoom as you will find blur to be absent in decent lighting conditions, just be sure to keep your shutter speeds up as compact cameras will often drop them below acceptable hand holding speeds.

 

LCD

 

fujifilm20120619ad.jpgThe 3” LCD screen is another standout function of the F550 as its 460,000 dot resolution provides incredibly vivid, bright and sharp viewing. My only minor gripe is that sometimes saturation can be a little overpowering and it would have been nice to be able to manually change saturation and contrast settings in the camera.

The LCD holds up fairly well compared to a number of other cameras when viewing in full sunlight although as always use a computer monitor for higher accuracy viewing.

 

Video


Thanks to the 1/2” CMOS sensor the camera is able to shoot rather lovely 1920x1080 FULL HD video provided there is decent light. Cameras with smaller sensors tend not to handle dark video situations to well though the F550 does an ok job.

You are however able to utilise the full range of the zoom in the video mode so getting up close will not be a problem and the cameras image stabiliser will keep videos relatively shake free.

 

 

 

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Conclusion


The F550 is a solidly built, feature packed digital camera that will not let you down. The ability to shoot in RAW and the very bountiful 15x optical zoom lens are touches that push this camera into the “premium” compact range, but cleverly manage to keep the price range below.


Whilst feature set includes premium camera options such as GPS geotagging, film simulation and 1080p FULL HD video, all standard in the Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR, it's the build quality and image quality that are the real stand outs in what is a very solid camera.

 

This camera is highly recommended.

 

Accessories Used During Testing:

SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s SD Card

Tamrac Pro Compact Digital / 5689 Camera Bag 

 

Recommended Retailer:

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View / Buy The Fujifilm FinePix 550EXR 

 

Appearance rating 4 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
4 stars
Video quality
4 stars
Lens quality
4.5 stars
LCD screen (Rear)
4.5 stars
Value for money 4 star
Street Price
$299
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 16 Mega pixels
Sensor Type
1/2-inch EXR CMOS with primary color filter
Image Sizes 9 sizes / 3 ratios / Motion Panorama
Lens 24-360mm, F3.5 / F7.1 / F10 (Wide) F5.3 / F11 / F16 (Telephoto) with ND filter
Lens Mount
-
Resolution Settings: Stills L : (4:3) 4608 x 3456
     (3:2) 4608 x 3072
     (16:9) 4608 x 2592
M : (4:3) 3264 x 2448
     (3:2) 3264 x 2176
     (16:9) 3264 x 1840
S : (4:3) 2304 x 1728
     (3:2) 2304 x 1536
     (16:9) 1920 x 1080

<Motion Panorama>
360° Vertical 11520 x 1624 / Horizontal 11520 x 1080
180° Vertical 5760 x 1624 / Horizontal 5760 x 1080
120° Vertical 3840 x 1624 / Horizontal 3840 x 1080 
Resolution Settings: Video 1920 x 1080 pixels / 1280 x 720 pixels / 640 x 480 pixels (30 frames / sec.) with stereo sound.
Optical zoom function can be used. 
GPS Yes
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority Yes
Shutter Priority
Yes
Shutter Speeds (Auto mode) 1/4 sec. to 1/2000 sec., (All other modes) 8 sec. to 1/2000 sec.
ISO Auto / Equivalent to ISO 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200 / 6400* / 12800* (Standard Output Sensitivity)
* ISO6400 : M mode or lower, ISO12800 : S mode
LCD Monitor 3.0-inch, approx. 460,000 dots, TFT color LCD monitor, approx. 100% coverage
Viewfinder -
Flash Auto flash (super i-flash)
Effective range : (ISO AUTO)

Normal
Wide : Approx. 15cm - 3.2m / 0.5ft. - 10.5ft.
Telephoto : Approx. 90cm - 1.9m / 3.0ft. - 6.2ft.

Red-eye removal OFF : Auto, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro.
Red-eye removal ON : Red-eye Reduction Auto, Red-eye Reduction & Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Red-eye Reduction & Slow Synchro.
Hot Shoe No
White Balance Automatic scene recognition
Preset: Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light, Underwater, Custom
Self Timer 10 sec. / 2 sec. delay / Auto release / Auto release (Dog, Cat)
Stills Format/s
Still Image: JPEG (Exif Ver 2.3)*3, RAW (RAF format), RAW+JPEG
(Design rule for Camera File system compliant / DPOF-compatible)
Video Format/s H.264 (MOV) / Sound: WAVE format, Stereo sound
Video Recording Time/s
Storage Type - External D / SDHC / SDXC memory(UHS-I) card
Storage Type - Internal
39MB
Connectivity Video Output: NTSC / PAL selectable with stereo sound
Digital Interface: USB 2.0 High-Speed
HDMI Output: HDMI Mini connector
Power Source CP-50 with AC power adapter AC-5VX (sold separately)
Battery Options NP-50 Li-ion battery
Battery Life Approx. 300 frames
Dimensions 103.5mm (W) x 62.5mm (H) x 32.6mm (D)
Weight Approx. 215g (Inc. battery and memory card)
















 


 

 

About Fujifilm

 

FUJIFILM brings continuous innovation and leading-edge products to a broad spectrum of industries, including electronic imaging, photofinishing equipment, medical systems, life sciences, graphic arts, flat panel display materials, and office products, based on a vast portfolio of digital, optical, fine chemical and thin film coating technologies. The company was ranked number 15 for U.S. patents granted in 2006. Fujifilm is committed to environmental stewardship and good corporate citizenship.

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