Fujifilm FinePix E550 Review
Date: Jan 3, 2005
HANDLING & FEEL
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.