Fujifilm FinePix E550 Review
Date: Jan 3, 2005
The Fujifilm FinePix E550 is a digital
camera targeted to serious amateur photographers.
It has 6.3 effective megapixels resolution (12
megapixels output) on a 1/1.7 in. Super CCD HR
image sensor. The Fujinon lens is a 32.5-130 mm
(35mm format equivalent) f/2.8-8, 4x optical zoom,
thus providing a slightly more wide-angle coverage
than the standard 35mm.
We find the overall image quality of the Fujifilm
FinePix E550 to be good.
(32.5mm, 35mm equivalent)
(130mm, 35mm equivalent)
In the above pictures, we show the coverage for
32.5mm and 130mm. The E550 provides medium wide-angle
to medium telephoto coverage. Optional wide-angle
and tele lenses are also available.
Here is one thing that Fujifilm has done right
and other camera manufacturers should follow:
you won't see any digital zoom option in the Menu.
At the 12MP resolution, no digital zoom is possible.
At 6MP and lower, digital zoom is automatically
available -- and we have no problem with this
because only a crop of the image is performed
without re-enlargement and resultant image degradation.
The 12MP output results in rather large files:
4048x3040 saved to about 4.5MB in size. At this
4.5MB size per image, computer hard disks fill
up quite quickly! Images can also be saved at
6MP but perhaps a bit too highly compressed (2848x2136
to about 1.5MB in size). It would be interesting
to see if Fujifilm can provide an intermediate
6MP with minimum compression in future models.
The E550 can also record images in RAW file format.
There is no internal RAW buffer, and it takes
about 7 sec. to save each RAW image to memory
card. You select RAW in the Set-Up option of the
[The RAW file format records the image as captured
by the camera's CCD with minimal processing, and
allows you to precisely adjust white balance,
contrast, sharpness and saturation in an image
editing software without any loss of quality.]
|7.2mm, Programmed Auto, Pattern,
1/200 sec., F2.8, ISO 80
The E550 can focus in Macro mode to as close
as 7.5 cm (3 in.). I bemoan the lack of a swivel
LCD monitor on the E550 for macro shooting. On
the plus side, the 2 sec. self-timer helps in
eliminating camera shake, and the Area AF option
makes it very easy to obtain sharp macro shots
with off-center subjects. The Area AF needs to
be activated each and every time you want to use
it from the Menu, which is a bit of a bother.
|Auto White Balance
As the above two pictures show, the auto white
balance works quite well indoors under fluorescent
light, even better than using WB = Fluorescent
3. The E550 allows you to set a Custom White Balance,
which gives the best results. As expected, AWB
works very well in natural light.
||ISO 800 (3M)
The 100% crops
above (area delimited by the white rectangle)
demonstrate the noise at the available ISO Speeds
of 80, 100, 200, 400 and 800. At ISO 80 and 100,
noise is not visible and under control. At ISO
200, noise starts to be visible in the images
when viewed at original size. At ISO 400 and upward,
noise becomes quite visible. Note that the image
records at only 3M at ISO 800, resulting in less
noise and I find the images quite acceptable when
it's a matter of getting a picture or nothing.
Note that ISO 80 is a first for Fujifilm's Super
CCD HR image sensor which usually starts at a
high ISO 200 with the resultant accompanying noise.
As far as noise is concerned, I must say I am
pleasantly surprised and very encouraged at the
improvement the Super CCD HR image sensor has
All the ISO pictures were taken on a tripod,
using the AF Area to position the AF Frame on
Allegra's left eye, using the 2 sec. self-timer
to eliminate camera shake, lens zoomed in at maximum
focal length, and using Manual Mode. Exposure
ranged from 1/4 sec. to 2 sec. at F5.6. In Manual
Mode, an exposure indicator displays to give you
an indication how much under- or over-exposed
you may be at your chosen setting.
We found CA at the corner delimited by the red
square at top middle (reproduced at 100% crop
at bottom right). In everyday shots, CA is visible
in strong highlights situations.
|7.2mm, Manual, Spot, 3 sec.,
F5.6 ISO 80
Custom WB, Macro, 2 sec. Self-Timer, Tripod
The E550 provides a maximum long shutter speed
of only 3 sec. in Manual Mode (1/4 sec. in Programmed
Auto mode). For this shot, the AF will not lock
if there is not enough ambient light on the subject,
so I move Bamm-Bamm from the shadow into the light.
For those who like to use the movie mode, the
image quality at 640x480 Motion JPEG (30 fps)
with sound is quite impressive.
Flash indoors is quite good and as usual with
on-board flash you get the best results with subjects
at portrait distance. You can vary the output
of the flash from +2/3 to -2/3, which helps for
subjects a bit further out (+2/3) and for close
You can display a grid of horizontal and vertical
lines on the LCD of the E550 in Record mode. This
feature is missing in many digital cameras, but
quite handy to ensure level horizons.
One note: If you like to preview the image you
just took, set image display to ON instead of
PREVIEW in Set-Up. If you select PREVIEW, the
image you just took will display on the LCD and
you are then required to press OK (to accept and
save it) or BACK (to cancel and not save it).
If you turn off the camera without pressing any
button, the image is not saved -- and I've lost
quite a number of good images this way. If you
use ON, the image is displayed for about 2 sec.
I prefer to just save all pictures I take and
decide later which ones to keep or reject.
The last feature I will mention is the histogram.
The histogram can be viewed in Playback mode.
The histogram is invaluable to give an indication
of under- and over-exposure (don't rely on the
LCD/EVF since the brightness is adjustable and
may be misleading).
The pictures in the Fujifilm FinePix E550
Photo Gallery page provide a good sample of
what the E550 is capable of. I have provided samples
at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100
in Photoshop Elements).
You can safely assume that most macro shots and
slow shutter speed shots required the use of a
tripod. Any image that is adjusted for levels
in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended
to the file name.
I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels.
For those who have their monitor resolution set
to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit
and you should not have to scroll to see the whole
image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels
resolution, start the slide show and then scroll
to the right to position the image within your
screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using
Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode,
and the image should fill your screen nicely.
Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor
display back to normal mode.
To return to this page from the Photo Gallery,
click on the animated graphics of the camera.
Please open and download the original size version
only if you need to and only once
to your hard drive -- and save me some precious