FujiFilm Finepix HS50 EXR Camera Product Review

Tuesday

Product: Fujifilm HS50 EXR Camera, Fixed Lens with Video Recording, 26-1000 mm lens

My Star Rating: 3 stars = It's Okay

My Summary Statement: Best for Outdoor Use - Excellent Image Stabilization - Does Not Need a Tripod or Monopod



 

Before writing this review I took over 900 photos in Auto or EXR mode over more than two weeks’ time. I photographed people inside and outside, pets, gardens, macros of plants and flowers, perched birds and flying birds, landscapes in overcast and sun, and used the zoom lens for two days at a sport event. I used it side by side with my Canon DSLR for a comparison.


My main camera has been the Canon xSi DSLR but I wanted a macro lens that went closer than 28mm, and I have a problem at the same events needing the 70-300mm zoom but finding 70mm was too close for candids of people so had to switch back to the 28-50mm lens. I also use the iPhone a lot for casual photos. I have not been using manual mode with my Canon or with the FujiFilm Finepix HS50 EXR. I had hoped this new Fuji would be a great solution to using just one lens for convenience while at sport events when I needed a long zoom then the next minute needed to take photos of people in close range. Secondarily, I was curious to see if the image stabilization could truly be used for long zoom without a tripod or monopod.

 
Pros:

One fixed lens, long zoom lens (although its use is flawed with autofocus – see below)

Great image stabilization (better than my Canon xSi), I was able to shoot using 1000mm zoom at boat races without a monopod or tripod! (So long as the autofocus focused on the right spot).

Works best in daylight or bright light outdoors

Phone customer service is helpful. (I made 3 calls and was asked to do an email follow-up.)

Easy to start shooting intuitively or with the simple paper owner’s manual. (Use PDF longer manual on the disc for the rest, including some basic operations.)

Cons:

Auto focus is not as well rounded or easy as you assume. I had trouble shooting close (non-moving things: plants, a still lizard, a sleeping cat, a building’s wall).  Even shooting from 10 feet with zoom the camera would not focus during half-way press or for the photo taking, but on photo 2 or 3 it suddenly would focus.

Shooting rowing scull races from about 50 yards was difficult also; it focused on the background river wall or trees not the boat despite the boat being in the focus range box.

I don’t like the viewfinder view being highly pixelated; it is so bad that you can’t see if a person’s eyes are open, for example.

When the viewfinder shows the object blurred and smear-y when I move or when the lens moves or the subject moves. This causes delay in the ability to align the subject and shoot the photo. This is a problem not just for sport races and moving objects but for candids of people in close range. The blurred or smeared object was so bad that I missed boats crossing a finish line, and could not tell if the boat in the viewfinder was our team or another. I missed many good shots.

I was unable to take photos of flying birds, the camera focused on the sky and the blurry, smear-y image meant I could not even see the bird in the viewfinder before it moved again and I lost the shot. I had problems getting multiple perched birds to come into focus to get good photos, even one that I was shooting from behind glass when it was six feet away.

Customer service said when I see the flower symbol in the viewfinder I have to press the macro (flower) button on the back. This includes when the object is 10 feet or 20 feet away but when using the zoom. The fact that the zoom is available was making me not get up and move closer (especially since something like a wild bird or a pet may leave or change position if you get closer.) This is clumsy but I guess I could learn to click that button with my thumb without moving my eye away from the viewfinder. I see that often but had not realized that as I’d not read the entire user manual cover to cover at that point in time.

The viewfinder and screen on the back of the camera has garish-unrealistic colors. The actual photos have the proper color.

The viewfinder is dark, when shooting a face that was five feet away I could not tell if the person’s eyes were open or if their mouth was open or closed. I just shot a lot and hoped some came out, and often, some did.  It was like shooting blind. However my naked eye right there could see the face clearly. (I do not understand the reasons behind this but there must be a technological explanation.)

Although I used the camera on the basic settings customer service said the cause of some of the autofocus problems could be that my camera needed a reset. I don’t get this, but if your camera is acting funky, try resetting it. It did seem to help me.

I like my photos date stamped but upon download the 3 dates in the properties change to the download date & download time. This is different than my Canon DSLR so after troubleshooting with the user manual failed and with the Fuji software’s help function, I phoned Fuji and was told that is the way Fuji cameras work.  What I had to do to preserve the original date/time stamp was plug the camera into my PC then view the memory card for the date. I file in folders by dates. I had to manually create each folder and then look for the dates, highlight and copy them to that folder. Then I could delete the photos from the memory card. This is time intensive and this operation is something that my Camera software does automatically for me (including folder creation).

I was unable to download the user manual the normal way and had to phone customer service to have them show me the back door way.

When I downloaded the Fuji software it hogged up my computer then I lost connection to the internet and had to do a restart of my computer to get everything working again. Odd and annoying.

The lack of built-in flash even with EXR mode (that sometimes chooses to take 3 photos in succession and puts them together into one image) is not that great. While I do have photos of existing light with shadow (that is impossible to do in auto mode on a DSLR or which would trigger built-in flash use with my Canon xSi),  it is not as important to me as taking accurate color photos and crisp photos. For example some of the existing light photos are yellowed in tone, which is ugly for people’s skin tone. Candid shots of people are difficult to get as if they move the slightest they blur out in both Auto and EXR.  This is a problem when shooting family photos indoors, blowing out the birthday candles, opening presents, etc.

The low battery light does not give enough notice. I thought the Canon was bad but this is worse. It will go on to indicate it is low then on the very next shot the battery is dead and it won’t take that shot. I advise that you buy at least two more batteries and keep them charged and handy so you can change it at a moment’s notice. When shooting using EXR mode with S for focus setting I went through batteries in just a few hours (in sunlight outdoors).

Despite the marketing saying this is a fast camera it is slower than my Canon xSi due to the autofocus delay. For example if I try to frame a shot, then focus and take it, don’t move the camera, it is out of focus again, and it has to refocus when I push the shutter half way down to take the next shot. (My Canon holds the focus in that spot so I can see clearly and decide when to shoot again and if a focus tweak is necessary it does it automatically.)

Other Notes:

Read your owner manual (on the disc) about the focus button located on the left side of the camera, the round dial with M, C, S. I had not realized this and it was left on the S mode when I think sometimes I should have been using the C setting even though they say it will consume a lot of battery.

Be sure to change the dial to the left of the viewfinder to make the image clear to your eye’s vision. That was not my focus issue but you should not miss that important step, especially if you are over 40 and your eyes have started changing!

I am not a video taker so did not test that aspect of the camera. I am glad it is there but haven’t used it yet.

In conclusion this is a camera with pros and cons and I find it risky to rely on. When I miss shots of my kid crossing the finish line in a race, that’s a problem. The convenience of image stabilization and a 1000m lens that also goes down to 26mm for closer shots is not a benefit if you miss the shots you want to get. I also need a camera that can take fast photos indoors with accurate lighting (not yellowed out or with weird skin tones) and that can take candids of people without them being all blurred from moving a tad. We can buy an external flash, I guess, but that is another expense to consider.

Each camera has its pros and cons and we each need to figure out which features we need then see if the camera can do what we want. I personally will use this for outdoor bright light situations and for sport events for other people, except when my son is racing, then the Canon xSi with monopod will come out.  For indoor shots needing flash I will use the Canon xSi since I already spent money on Fuji batteries and a camera case for it, and I am not looking to spend more money right now.
 
If you are looking to move up from a point and shoot and have not yet used a DSLR and need a lens that goes to 1000 mm you may be very happy with this camera. If you own a DSLR that you like and perhaps cost you more than this Fujifilm HS50 you may be disappointed when it cannot do what you are used to your other camera being able to do.
 




Disclosure: I received this camera from the Amazon.com Vine program for the purpose of reviewing it on Amazon.com. I was not under obligation to rate it favorably or to blog it. I was not paid to write this review.
 
 
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