September 15, 2011
- 15x optical zoom lens
- Speedy shooting
- Full manual controls
- RAW shooting
- Control design issues
- Average image quality
- Bad low-light video quality
The 16-megapixel Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR has a 15x optical zoom in addition to both manual control and RAW shooting capabilities. It also has a built-in GPS for geotagging your images and high-speed video and burst modes, but image and video quality aren't quite up to par.
The Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR in total measures 4.1 x 1.3 x 2.5-inches (wdh) and weighs just short of a half-pound. It comes in two different colors: black and red. They are both visually-appealing and are built rather solidly. It's size is too large for most pockets, especially pants pockets, so a small carrying bag is a must. It is fairly comfortable to hold thanks to the grip and rubberized pad, but the controls seemed to be undersized to some user's disliking.
On the back, there is a four-way navigation pad and scroll wheel combo and four buttons for things like playback, menu, movie and a function button. A mode dial sits atop the camera at a 45-degree angle towards the back. Our biggest gripe with this was the size and stiffness of the dial: it was both too small and took too much effort to turn it. The 3-inch LCD also on the back has a 460k resolution, which is fairly standard, and it was bright enough for most conditions, even while outside. The top of the camera also is where the very tiny power button and shutter/zoom control are located. The unit's GPS antenna is also built-into the top of the camera. Right next to the antenna is a pop-up flash that automatically goes up when the camera is powered-on and can be closed by pressing it down with your finger if it isn't needed.
In terms of outputs, a small mini-HDMI port is hidden under a small door on the Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR's side. This is handy for showing images and video on an HDTV.
This camera's shooting modes include Auto, Program Auto, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and Full Manual. There are also several scene modes that include things like landscape, sport, night, beach, etc., but there is also a special underwater mode for use in conjunction with the camera's underwater case (sold separately).
The other features on the camera's mode dial include Advanced Mode and EXR mode. The Advanced Mode has three choices that include Motion Panorama 360, Pro Focus and Pro Low Light. Motion Panorama just lets you sweep the camera across a scene and it will stitch together one image. Pro Focus captures multiple shots to produce a soft background and a sharp subject. Pro Low Light captures several images again, but combines them into one image to prevent blur and noise, but we felt that this mode did relatively nothing to improve image quality.
The EXR mode has Auto EXR, which lets the camera automatically adjust the settings based upon your current shooting conditions. There are also a few other options like High ISO/Low Noise and Dynamic Range.
The Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR has a built-in GPS, which lets you add geotagging to your images but also lets you embed real-world location names into the EXIF data of your images. This goes beyond the usual latitude and longitude data because it adds a meaningful place to those numbers. As with all other in-camera GPS systems, keeping them enabled will significantly reduce your battery life.
Shooting speeds with this camera were very speedy in our testing. Shot-to-shot times for JPEG images were very shot, but shooting in RAW required around 5 seconds to save the images.
Specifications of the camera include a 16-megapixel EXR-CMOS sensor with a 15x wide-angle optical zoom lens and digital image stabilization. The maximum aperture range is f/3.5-5.3 and the focal length ranges from 4.4-66mm. ISO speeds range from 100 to 12800 and the shutter speeds range from 8-1/2000 second. Images can be shot in either JPEG or uncompressed RAW formats with the maximum image resolution being 4608 x 3456-pixels. Videos are recorded in MPEG4 format and have full 1080p high-definition resolution. Supported memory cards include SD, SDHC and SDXC.
In subjective image testing, the Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR did relatively well but definitely not the best. There was, however, no visible image distortion but it did lack some sharpness. JPEG images did look a little soft and unfocused but RAW shooting did help that issue slightly. Video quality was rated as "Good" in testing, mostly because low-light conditions produced unwatchable videos. Well-lit conditions produced decent quality video, but they seemed a little dark.