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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Fujifilm FinePix E550

Fuji Digital Cameras

   


Fujifilm FinePix E550 Review

Review Date: Jan 3, 2005

Category: Serious Amateur

HANDLING & FEEL


Salvation Army Brass
10.5mm, Programmed Auto, C-W Average, 1/15 sec., F4.0 and ISO 80

The Fujifilm FinePix E550 is a very handsome looking, easy to hold and very lightweight digital camera. The camera has a good handgrip with a non-slip grip. It uses only 2 AA batteries which helps explain why it is so lightweight.

The Fujifilm E550 is f-a-s-t: startup is about 1.5 sec., which means you won't miss catching a shot because you are waiting for the camera to extend its lens and get ready; shutter lag is for all practical purposes non-existent, so you won't miss catching candid shots; shot to shot speed clocks at about 1 sec., except when using flash when it takes about 3 sec. for the flash to recharge.

It has a large 2 in. LCD (careful here: it looks like it is 2.5 in. because the glass cover extends past the actual LCD area) with a high 154,000 pixels resolution. It's very clear and a pleasure to use. There is a small optical viewfinder, essential for low-light situations because the LCD does not gain up. Using a 2 in. LCD is a smart move and is quickly becoming the standard. Anything less just seems too small these days. I maintain that it is also high time that all digital cameras come with a LCD that is usable in low-light. This is a major complaint for most consumers and should quickly set a camera apart from its competitors.

The exposure compensation (+/-) button is on the left of the LCD and requires it to be held down with the left thumb while the right thumb presses the Left and Right Arrow of the 4-Way Selector to dial in an exposure compensation value. The exposure compensation value you dial in stays active even when you turn off the camera, so remember to reset it after using it. Helpfully, a scale displays on the LCD to remind you of the exposure value you have dialed in.

In Manual Mode, the Up and Down arrow keys are used to select a Shutter Speed; to change the Aperture, you hold down the exposure compensation (+/-) button and use the Up and Down arrow keys.

The same exposure compensation button also doubles as an info display button in Playback Mode, displaying EXIF info and a histogram.

A surprising design decision is the rubber flap that covers the A/V Out and USB connectors: it is completely removable! Well, this makes it very convenient to use the USB -- and also easy to forget about and leave behind (which I've done many times), leaving the connectors exposed to the elements. There's a spare one in the box.

The optical viewfinder is the usual tunnel type and quite useful in low-light because the LCD does not gain up.

I really appreciate that the flash has to be manually popped up, allowing me to decide whether to use flash or not. If you like auto flash, make sure you pop it up first and set the flash to "A"; it will then fire whenever needed.

The 4-Way Selector is flat and the central MENU/OK button is flushed with it. It takes some getting used to at first so you don't press an arrow when you intend to press the central button. I would have preferred a bit more raised surfaces.

In Playback Mode, the Zoom lever is used to magnify the image; a double-click on the OK button quickly restores the image to its original size.

There are three Image Display modes:

  • ON (image displays for 2 secs)
  • OFF (no image display)
  • PREVIEW (image is displayed on the LCD monitor and you have to decide to keep it or delete it. Then the LCD monitor clears to allow you to take the next picture.

As I mentioned in an earlier section, the PREVIEW mode can be tricky because if you do not OK the image, it won't get written to memory card. For that reason, I prefer to use the ON option.

The tripod mount is plastic lined and I found that the thread on my review camera was already damaged slightly, making it difficult to screw it on a tripod -- so handle with care.

The Fujifilm FinePix E550 is a very well designed and comfortable camera to use; not only does it have the looks of a well crafted camera, it also delivers good image quality.

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