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Fujifilm FinePix HS10 Review

by Ron Risman -- April 2010




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Fujifilm FinePix HS10 Review



Introduction

The Fujfilm Finepix HS10 has created a lot of buzz since its announcement in February. Typically we see camera buzz around a new Nikon or Canon camera, but not often from Fuji. What makes the FinePix HS10 so interesting to so many? It's the long list of features and capabilities that Fujifilm has built into this camera that are just not available in any other camera including DSLR's. Some of these features include its HUGE 30x optical zoom lens, high speed 10fps shooting for up to 7 frames, and high-speed video shooting from 60 - 1000fps for slow-motion playback at various resolutions.

When it comes to specifications, the HS10 makes use of a new 10-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor which allows for faster performance, 1080p HD video, and better control over noise in low-light when compared to other small sensor cameras. The FinePix HS10 also sports a new "motion removal" feature that will quickly take a sequence of images, compare them, and will merge them while removing any object that moves within the frame. This could be an ideal way of removing congestion or people from a scene without having to wait for everyone to leave the frame. Another great feature is called "Multi Motion Capture" and is ideal for sports photography. In this mode the camera will take a 5-frame sequence at a pre-selected interval and will merge anything that moves from frame to frame into one image.

In this review I will taking a look at all of the new features of the FinePix HS10 as well as its image quality to help you determine whether or not this should be your next camera.

Body Layout and Design

The FinePix HS10 is similar in size to many compact DSLR's and larger than typical point & shoot models. A matter of fact, the HS10 offers so many quick access buttons and controls that some might confuse it with a mid-range DSLR. Sitting on my desk I constantly confuse it at first glance with one of my SLR's.

While the body of the HS10 is made of plastic, the body feels solid and after installing the 4 "AA" batteries it has a really good weight & feel to it. The large right grip on the camera makes the camera easy to hold (for right-handed at least) since the added weight of the AA batteries are inside the grip area.

Front of Camera

The front of the camera sports the manual 30x zoom lens, a focus assist light, and a microphone. The zoom lens features a large rubber grip for easy control and should be cradled in your left hand from underneath the lens. This is the normal camera position for many that shoot with DSLR's, but since the lens on this camera is shorter in length (especially at 24mm) you may have the tendency to want to grab the lens from the left side (hand in open "C" position). The reason you should support the lens from underneath is due to the flash extending out over the lens barrel, which prevents you from rotating your fingers around the top of the lens. Resting the camera lens on your open left hand becomes even more important if you want to use manual focus since the MF ring is very narrow and placed at the rear of the lens, against the body of the camera. Keeping your left hand under the lens makes it much easier to zoom and focus without the the flash housing interfering with those operations.

Top of Camera

The top of the camera features a standard hot-shoe that will work with pretty much any external flash unit in manual mode (non TTL). In front of the hot-shoe (protruding over the lens) is a manual pop-up flash that opens to a height of about 2" above the lens, providing wide, even coverage even when shooting at 24mm wide. Just to the right of the hot-shoe is the mode and command dial, allowing the user to select any of the following camera modes:
  • C - Custom
  • A - Aperture Priority
  • S - Shutter Priority
  • P - Program Auto Exposure
  • Auto - Automatic
  • SR-Auto - Scene Recognition Auto
  • Advanced - Pro Low Light, Multi-Motion Capture, and Motion Remover options
  • SP1 - Scene Preset 1*
  • SP2 - Scene Preset 2*
  • Panorama - Sweep Panorama Mode
* SP1 and SP2 allow the user to quickly recall a favorite scene mode. The FinePix HS10 offers the following scene modes: Natural Flash, Natural Light, Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (tripod), Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Party, Flower, and Text). If you shoot a lot of sports and portraits you could store a portrait setting in SP1 and the sport setting in SP2, making it quick and easy to access these favorite modes.

Located between the mode and command dials are the exposure compensation and continuous shooting buttons. These buttons provide fast access to two often used features by photographers.

Rounding out the top camera layout is the shutter button, which also features the on/off toggle switch.

Rear of Camera

       


The rear of the FinePix HS10 looks very much like a DSLR with its large 3.0" LCD monitor, a 4-way selector / navigation control, one-touch video record button, and 5 function buttons located to the left of the LCD display that provide quick access to ISO, Auto Exposure, Auto Focus, and White Balance settings. During playback these buttons allow for picture zoom in/out, face detection with auto zoom (great for checking eyes and sharpness), and an info button to add or remove overlay information.

The amount of external controls that the FinePix HS10 provides the user is right on par with pro-level DSLR's. It's one of the few non-DSLR cameras that doesn't force the user through a myriad of menu options to change frequently used settings.

The FinePix HS10 includes both a rear-panel LCD screen and a tiny 0.2" LCD electronic viewfinder. Both provide 97% frame coverage. The 3.0" LCD display can be pulled out and tilted 90 degrees in the up position - great for low-angle video or stills - and 45 degrees downward to help with high-angle, over-the-head style shots. The 3.0" LCD features 230,000k pixels, while the electronic viewfinder features 200,000 pixels.

Left / Right Side of Camera

The left side of the camera features a rubber door that covers the mini-HDMI and custom A/V out port. These ports allow you to connect the FinePix HS10 to most any TV, whether high-definition or not. Note that the FinePix HS10 does not ship with an HDMI cable, so if you want to directly connect the camera to an HDTV you'll need to pick up a mini HDMI to HDMI cable from a local retailer such as Walmart or Radio Shack.

The right side of the camera features a sliding, hinged door that covers the SD / SDHC memory card slot. The FinePix HS10 is compatible with the Secure Digital and Secure Digital High Capacity memory card format, which allows the use of memory cards up to 32GB in size. The HS10 is not compatible with the newly announced SDXC format, which allow memory sizes up to 2TB, though I cannot foresee many users needing more than 32GB on a single card for this camera. You can always swap out cards when they fill up if you need more space on any given shoot or trip.

Body Layout and Feel

The design and build quality of the HS10 really impressed me. I was not expecting the camera to feel and function like a DSLR, but I was pleasantly surprised. The weight of the camera feels very comfortable in the hand. The weight of the 4 "AA" batteries is right where it should be - in the hand grip, helping to reduce fatigue and wrist strain. The rear of the camera features a lot of quick access buttons, yet it doesn't feel overwhelming since the controls are intelligently laid out. The left strip of buttons provide access to functions that are typically buried in an on-screen menu system (ISO, AF, White Balance) while the 4-way navigation controller located to the right of the LCD display provides access to the user functions often found on the back of a camera (flash on/off, macro, self-timer, and delete / instant zoom). Since the camera features a 1080p HD video mode, it was great to see that Fuji included a dedicated Movie Record button that allows you to start recording video at any time. All-in-all the HS10 scores very high in my book when it comes to ergonomics and controls. Well done!

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Buy the Fujifilm FinePix HS10 from B&H Photo



Full Disclosure

We purchased the FinePix HS10 from a retailer for the purpose of this review. However, there are times when we get products to review directly from the manufacturer. In either case, our views and opinions are based on our findings during testing and not based on whether we get the review unit from the manufacturer or purchase it from a retailer.

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