Thursday, 22 April 2010

Fuji Finepix HS10 Camera Review

I know, this is a science fiction and fantasy blog and here I am posting about several non sff things. But since I closed my other blog I've got nowhere else to post these things, and as I had trouble finding up to date information about this camera before I bought it I figure I'd help others out. There are several good cameras out now, and some confusion over which is the best. I picked the HS10 for a number of reasons starting with its focal range of 24-720mm. That's wider than most cameras will go (most only go 27 or 28mm) and an optical zoom of 30x. It also has numerous features I've been testing out: an in camera panorama mode that stitches together a larger photo, motion remover (if you're photographing something and you don't want cars or people walking by in the photo), super macro mode (the camera will focus even if the object is touching the lens!), etc. The only photo I've changed is the wide angle beach shot, putting a rather crooked box around the area of the close-up photo. Other than that, no touching up has been done.

Here are a few photos to illustrate what this camera can do.

Here's the beach scene, at its widest angle and the widest zoom.

A huge benefit of the high zoom is being able to detailed take close-up shots of wildlife (or kids, pets, etc.) from a distance.

These two shots may look the same but I used different settings for them. The first is 'auto' mode, the second is 'flower' mode, designed to make flowers look more brilliant. Looks like it ups the saturation, darkening the photo and making the colours brighter.

I love close-ups and my previous camera was a huge disappointment in that arena. Not so the HS10. This is 'super-macro' mode, where there's no limit to how close you can get to the object. The two bent stamens in this picture are actually touching my lens (and leaving pollen on it), yet the blossoms are still in focus.

Panorama takes some getting used to. The camera has to be on full wide angle to use it, and so far it hasn't let me stop the shot early and still give me something useful. So you have between a 180 and 270 degree shot.

For night photography the camera has trouble focusing if it's too dark or the object is too far for the focus red light aid to light it up properly. Otherwise it still takes clear photos. This is a tree taken without flash. There was a streetlight nearby so it was fairly well lit.

And here's the moon at full zoom, hand held. For the first one I used the automatic setting, which used a low shutter speed, thereby whiting out the moon's features. For the second, I used shutter priority so I could raise the shutter speed and cut out the glare.

And one of its most useful settings is burst mode, allowing several shots a second. It takes a minute or so to process the full 7 shots (the most it will save), so be sure you get the shot you want because you may not get a second chance at it. Still, it's worth it for things that move quickly where you only have one chance at it. This is a 5 shot burst I took of birds washing themselves in a creek.

Some of the problems with the camera... the on/off switch is where the zoom on my previous camera was. That's been interesting. The HS10 has manual zoom, which takes practice and can be shaky on videos. Speaking of videos, the HS10 shoots in full HD, gives good sound and has a highly convenient one touch button for filming (it's only a button, there's nothing on the mode ring for video). In the video below I zoom twice. It's completely hand held so you can see that camera jiggle isn't as bad as you might expect all things considered. The stabilization is excellent for night shots as well.

The controls are fairly intuitive once you know what everything does. I haven't had the chance to finish reading through the manual, but I've figured out quite a bit of what the camera can do. A few things (like turning on burst mode) are a bit tricky, but it's just a matter of getting used to it.

It takes 4 AA batteries but isn't as heavy as the review sites want you to think.

I'm still playing around with it and learning all the features. If you'd like to see a follow-up post with specific types of shots, shooting modes, etc. add a comment and I'll see what I can do.

For full specs, check out Fujifilm's homepage.


Anonymous said...

Nice review -
I am still waiting on my HS10 to arrive --- I have been looking forward to it for a long - nice examples ...

Saul said...

we are going to check out the HS10 on Saturday and may buy one. Wasn't sure whether to go for this or the Panasonic Lumix G2. The big fuji zoom is so tempting though :)

Definitely interested in any follow ups to this post.


Jessica Strider said...

I haven't done a follow up, though maybe I should. The camera has a lot of good points - the zoom is fantastic. You can get a larger one with the Olympus SP-800UZ (30X), but I liked that the HS10 allowed wider angle shots (I have a big family). One downside is with some of the settings (rapid shot) if you look at the pictures you've taken it not only wipes your settings it bumps itself from that shooting mode.

I've done a few things with the manual shooting mode (getting to camera to focus past the bars to the animals at the zoo), but it's imprecise (nothing on the focus bar to indicate where you are, it just spins and spins until you realize you're going the wrong way and then it turns forever in that direction too).

If you want to do fancy shots and editing, it has a 'professional low light' mode, where it melds/picks the best of 4 shots. You can also do exposure bracketing, but only in manual and aperture modes.

Weight isn't a problem for me, but pack extra batteries, this uses a lot of power. You can lower that by using the eyepiece instead of the viewscreen, and lower the light on the screen, etc., but it still uses a lot of power.

Oh, another negative point is that for panorama shots you have to be fully zoomed out. Sometimes it would be nice to zoom in and take a panorama (took a while to figure out this is why it wasn't working).

Ultimately there's a lot you can do, and to be honest I haven't even used some of the features as 'perfecting' the ones I can use is taking time. I think the camera was worth it, but definitely look at the Lumix and see how they both work for you.