Review Date: June 06, 2010
Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur
HANDLING & FEEL
The Fujifilm FinePix HS10 has the looks of a traditional digital SLR camera, handles like one and, among the super zoom cameras, comes the closest to performing like one, too. It has a deep rubber-coated molded handgrip that is very comfortable to hold and an amazing 30x ultra wide-angle optical super zoom (24-720mm equiv.) that it hopes is versatile enough to satisfy the ultra wide-angle as well as the super telephoto needs of most enthusiasts. The zoom is smoothly controlled by a large manual zoom ring.
Construction and build is excellent and the camera looks very professional in its black high-impact polycarbonate body. The Fujifilm HS10 uses the SD/SDHC [but not SDXC] memory card.
(with 30x lens)
|Canon SX20 IS
(with 20x lens)
(with 26x lens)
(with 18x lens)
(with 30x lens)
As you can see from the table above, the Fujifilm HS10 is a big camera, in fact even bigger than many of the entry-level and enthusiast DSLRs! It bucks the current trend toward smaller DSLRs, especially the Digital Interchangeable Lens (DIL, or mirrorless DSLRs) cameras, and is even bigger and heavier than the other ultra zoom digital cameras.
Startup time is about 2 sec. (from Power ON to LCD ready for capture, i.e. time-to-first-shot) which is quite good for a super zoom but not instant as on a DSLR (unless Dust Reduction on the DSLR kicks in at start up). Shot to shot time is a surprisingly slow 2.5 sec. (4 shots in 10 sec. in M mode, 1/125sec.) with a disconcerting delay between when the screen blanks out and the display reappears and you can take another shot [even when you touch the shutter release button to bring back the display as fast as possible]. Write time is about 3 – 4 sec. (though you don’t need to wait the full 4 sec. before taking another shot). There is no practical shutter lag but autofocus is about 1 sec. AF is precise in good light and low light with the help of the AF-assist illuminator. The HS10 focuses precisely at all the focal lengths.
Included in the box is 4 AA Alkaline batteries that can take about 300 shots (CIPA standard) on a fresh charge. We recommend you use rechargeable Ni-MH (CIPA 400 shots) or Lithium (CIPA 700 shots) batteries.
Caution: You need to identify the type of batteries (Lithium, Alkaline or Ni-MH) you are using [SETUP – Battery Type] for the battery indicator to work properly and to prevent the camera from shutting off unexpectedly.
The circular projection between the flash and the handgrip is the AF-assist illuminator (which also does double duty as Self-timer lamp). The AF-assist illuminator is very effective, allowing focus even in near complete darkness. Tip: Be careful not to get your fingers in the way; also remember that the relatively long lens barrel can be in the way of the AF-assist light illuminating a subject that is very close (e.g. in macro photography). The AF-assist illuminator is quite strong so be careful not to aim it at your subject’s eyes.
The holes right and left of the lens are the stereo microphones.
|TOP OF CAMERA||
|EXPOSURE COMPENSATION / HISTOGRAM||
Viewing the HS10 from the top with the lens fully extended gives a good sense of the size of the camera. The top of the camera has, from right to left, the Shutter Release Button with the Power Switch around it, the Continuous Shooting button, the Exposure Compensation button, the Mode Dial and the smaller Command Dial. Note how the strap eyelets are smartly inset (recessed into the camera body).
The Flash popup button is situated to the left [viewed from the back] of the flash and pops up the flash with a loud thunk; closing the flash is equally loud. Tip: Put a finger over the flash as it pops up to silence the noise. A hot shoe is available for use of an external flash unit [but no TTL mode]. The pop-up flash can trigger an external flash but it may not open up fully depending on the external flash you attach.
From this perspective, you can also see the 35mm equivalent focal length markings on the zoom ring and lens barrel. Thankfully, the lens does not rotate as you zoom in and out so a polarizing filter will maintain the appropriate orientation you’ve set it to.
The FinePix HS10 does not have a sleep mode. Instead it has an Auto Power Off function that will switch the camera OFF in 2 or 5 min (or never, if set to OFF). However, once the camera shuts off, you cannot wake it back up by touching the shutter release button; you have to switch it OFF and back ON again. This can be maddeningly frustrating in actual use because the Power Switch is still pointing to ON but the camera and LCD are turned OFF and you are left wondering whether there is something wrong with your camera — never mind that you have just missed a shot. Improvement suggestion: implement an Auto Sleep function with instant wake up at the touch of the shutter release button; the Auto Power Off can then be extended to a much longer time delay.
The Mode Dial has AUTO, PSAM (Programmed Auto, Shutter-Priority, Aperture-Priority and Manual) modes, Custom, Motion Panorama, Scene Position (SP1 and SP2), Advanced Mode (Pro Low-Light, Multi Motion Capture, Motion Remover) and SR Auto.
Motion Panorama allows you to sweep the camera from left to right (or from right to left, from top to bottom, or from bottom to top) and capture a panorama stitched in-camera.
Pro Low-Light takes 4 pictures and combines them into 1. Use it to reduce noise and blur in low-light situations. The subject (and camera) cannot move.
Multi Motion Capture combines 5 pictures of a fast moving subject on one single frame for a neat effect. Motion Remover will remove those pesky tourists [or any moving subjects] as they walk in front of you while you are trying to take a picture. The effectiveness of Multi Motion Capture and Motion Remover depends a large part on the scene you are trying to capture.
The Mode Dial is rotated with the thumb and has a positive locking click to it. You’ll be glad to know that it rotates freely both clockwise and anti-clockwise. The Command Dial works in conjunction with the control buttons: press and hold a control button down, then rotate the Command Dial with your thumb to dial in a value.
Similarly, SP1 and SP2 allow you to save/default a favorite Scene Mode to each. To set SP1, rotate to SP1. Then press the MENU/OK button. Go to Scene Position – select a scene mode – OK. From then on, when you rotate the Mode Dial to SP1, the selected scene mode will be defaulted. Of course, you can always press MENU/OK to bring up the Scene Mode menu and select another scene mode. Whichever scene mode you select then becomes the new default for SP1. Repeat for SP2.
SR (Scene Recognition) Auto analyzes the scene and automatically selects from 6 Scene Modes: Portrait, Landscape, Night, Macro, Night Portrait, Backlit Portrait.
You can record Full HD movies with stereo sound at 1920 x 1080 pixels @ 30fps. Since the zoom is manual, you can freely zoom in and out during recording and without any annoying zoom motor noise.
You can also record High Speed movies at up to 1000fps (at a severely reduced 224×64 pixels) and replay them with a slow motion effect. Again, you can zoom during recording.
You can shoot RAW or RAW+JPEG but unfortunately you have to set this in SETUP. There are lots of buttons on this camera but it takes about 16 to 26 button presses to select RAW.
|TOP AND RIGHT OF LCD||
The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has 200k-dot resolution. There is a diopter adjustment dial which rotates easy enough. I found the Eye Sensor to be too sensitive: as I move my hand to select various settings, the LCD display fades out everytime my hand passes in front of the Eye Sensor. Improvement suggestion: implement a slight delay before switching between LCD and EVF; this can be tricky to implement because too long a delay can also cause frustration.
A large 3.0 in. wide-viewing LCD monitor has a standard 230,000 pixels resolution and approximately 97% coverage. It is tiltable up and down for convenient shooting above the head or low to the ground. I prefer this tiltable implementation and am not a big fan of the LCD that rotates freely in all direction. Up and Down is really all you need and this implementation is very easy and fast to use versus the free rotating one. The brightness can be adjusted in SETUP. The LCD gains up very well in low-light situations.
There are lots of control buttons on the back of the camera. The AF Mode button allows you to choose between Centre, Multi, Area, and Tracking. With Area AF, you can choose from 7 x 7 = 49 AF Areas that cover the whole screen. This is very convenient to focus on off-center subjects. Unfortunately, the camera always focuses at the center of the screen in macro and super macro modes, which is when AF Area mode is most needed, in my opinion.
Cool feature: If you need to operate in quiet mode, press and hold the DISP/BACK button for about 2 seconds and the camera goes immediately into SILENT MODE. Press and hold again to exit SILENT MODE.
The buttons on the left of the LCD require that you hold one down and rotate the Command Dial at the same time. It works quite well, though it means you need both hands to select a setting.
The memory card compartment door can be glimpsed on the right side of the camera; the HS10 accepts a SD/SDHC memory card. The camera has about 46MB of Internal Memory.
The tripod mount at the bottom of the camera is not lined up with the lens and, for a camera that claims to work like a DSLR, there is simply no excuse for that.
Here you can see the LCD tilted 90° up for convenient above-the-head or low-to-the-ground shooting.
If you want a super zoom digital camera with DSLR-like handling and feel, the Fujifilm FinePix HS10 is the one to get. You get a well-built camera with an ultra wide-angle super zoom lens which means that interchangeable lenses are not required. Lots of advanced features allow the photographer full control of the camera. All in all, a very well designed and thought-out super zoom with very good handling.