Fujifilm Finepix F50 Review
Performance - How well does it take pictures?
Colors from the F50 are quite accurate by default with only a slight yellow-cast showing occasionally under artificial light. For some reason probably due to noise-processing, slight color-casts are more pronounced when shooting at ISO 1600 and up. Fuji also included its usual chrome mode which boosts color-saturation to provide more vivid output. This performance easily matches most ultra-compact digital cameras, with the exception of the HP Photosmart R967
HP Photosmart R967 which has an outstandingly accurate white-balance system.
The default metering-system of this digital camera produces great results, particularly for printing unmodified images. It keeps the overall image-brightness pleasant by being less conservative than the average digital camera. That does mean that scenes of high-contrast may cause the F50 to over-expose locally. Then again, the only other option in such case is to under-expose which would result in an overly dark image. There are also average and spot metering options available.
Another hallmark of Fuji cameras is their excellent dynamic range and this one is no exception. The F50 has less trouble with scenes of high-contrast than most fixed-lens cameras. Images from this ultra-compact show good contrast and smooth tonal gradations across its entire dynamic range.
The Fuji F50 is equipped with a sharp 3X optical zoom lens, equivalent to 35-105mm in 35mm-equivalent terms. It produces detailed images throughout its zoom range with good edge-to-edge consistency. When viewed at 100%, images appear to have a general softness but this is not visible in most common print sizes. The image-noise characteristics of the Fuji F50 need to be described carefully. Comparatively to most ultra-compact cameras, even ones half its resolution, the Fuji Finepix F50 produces images with remarkably little noise. Notice that we said most. With a full-resolution ISO range from 100 to 1600, noise levels vary greatly.
Between ISO 100 and 400, the Fuji F50 shows a very fine noise pattern. At ISO 400 it is slightly present, although it is only visible at 100% or on very large prints that a 12 megapixels sensor should be capable of. At ISO 800, noise starts to destroy fine details. It will not generally show on medium-sized prints, say 12”x9”, but on larger prints it will be apparent.
Up to ISO 800, the Fuji F50 performs quite well in terms of image noise and holds well against its competition. At ISO 1600, things get noticeably worse: the noise pattern destroys more details and images start taking on a slight bluish tint. Even on a 6”x8”, noise is visible. At 4”x6”, ISO 1600 results are acceptable but definitely not great. The F50 also has reduced resolution modes for ISO 3200 and 6400. What is interesting is that ISO 3200 images looked nearly identical to their ISO 1600 counterparts for small prints. That is, noise was visible at 6”x8” but images were acceptable (but not great) at 4”x6”. At ISO 6400, noise levels relative to print-size increased a little. It was still possible to get a 4”x6” print at ISO 6400 with a recognizable subject and a decent amount of details. Overall, this is an great performance from a fixed-lens digital camera. In absolute terms though, the Fuji Finepix F31fd does outperforms the F50 on ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 prints.
The Fuji Finepix F50 does just about everything fast. Startup is quick, focusing is very quick and so is zooming. Shutter-lag is also very short. Where the F50 falls is its shot-to-shot speed. This is mostly due to the large size of its full-resolution images as shot-to-shot speed significantly improves when reducing the output resolution. This is common among fixed-lens cameras lately where resolution has been increasing rapidly but processors have not been keeping up well. As a side note, DSLR cameras have kept quite well in terms of speed and even achieved faster speeds this year.
The Fuji Finepix F50 became one of the first Fuji digital cameras to feature stabilization. The built-in stabilization system proved to be generally effective except for macro shots. At normal shooting distances, 1m (3') or more, there seems to be a gain of roughly 2-stops when the stabilizer is turned on. While this does help, there are better stabilization systems out there. In macro mode, the stabilization system did not help that much. Note that this camera generally prefers to increase the ISO, when the ISO is set to automatic, than to lower the shutter-speed and let the stabilizer handle it. Luckily, there are several automatic ISO modes which allow the user to choose an ISO limit from 400 to 1600. This lets users select which is the maximum ISO acceptable to them.
There are 5 continuous drive modes on the Fuji F50: Top-3, Final-3, Long-Period, Top-12 and Final-12. The Long-Period mode is, frankly, useless. It shoots at 0.38 FPS (2.6 seconds-per-frame) and the LCD remains mostly blank while shooting, showing only a brief preview while the image is being focused. The Top-3 shoots continuously at 2 FPS a maximum of 3 images, which is not very continuous. Once the images are taken, the camera freezes for up to 15 seconds to write the images. The Top-12 works the same way but shoots at 5 FPS up to a maximum of 12 images. The catch is that the image resolution is lowered to 3 megapixels and it only takes 7 seconds to write the images.
The Final-3 and Final-12 images perform similarly to their Top-3/Top-12 counterparts except that they shoots continuously for up to 40-frames but only save the last 3 or 12 images shot, respectively. These modes are designed for action photography where it is difficult to anticipate the action. Unfortunately, in the Top-3 and Final-3 modes, the LCD remains mostly blank. If 3 megapixels are sufficient, the Top-12 and Final-12 modes are quite useful because the LCD shows a preview between shots. A new behavior of this Fuji camera, is that entering playback mode cancels the continuous shooting mode. Finally, Fuji states the battery life of the F50 to be 230-shots per-charge. This is clearly below average.
The Fuji Finepix F50 is in many ways everything that the F31fd was before it:. The F50 remains an excellent camera but going to 12 megapixels weakened its lead. The new high-resolution sensor shows moderately higher image-noise than the F31fd's 6 megapixels sensor and the size of its output files had a detrimental effect on shot-to-shot speeds. Still, the F50 produces high-quality images above and beyond what is customarily seen among ultra-compact digital cameras. Plus, the F50 is one of the fastest and most responsive cameras in its class. On the downside, shot-to-shot speeds are slow and battery life is below average. Slow shot-to-shot speeds means that this is camera is not suitable for sport photography despite having good high-ISO performance.
Competition-wise, the F50 provides more features that most cameras in its class, save for the HP Photosmart R967
HP Photosmart R967 and some of Casio Exilim Z-series cameras. The not-yet-reviewed Canon SD950 IS and the Sony Cybershot DSC-W200 are probably its closest competitors, although they both lack semi-automatic exposure modes. Canon also has two lower-resolution ultra-compact models which stand out because of their wide-angle lenses, the Canon Powershot SD870 IS and SD800 IS. Among Fuji's cameras, the F50 is generally better than the Fuji Finepix F40fd because its image-stabilization allows it to shoot at lower ISO settings which compensates quite well for image noise. However, the F50 falls short of the F31fd's unparalleled image quality and its 580 shot-per-charge battery-life.
Fujifilm F50 Highlights
Sensor-Size: 8 x 6mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|12 Megapixels Ultra Compact||ISO 80-1600|
|3X Optical Zoom||Shutter 1/2000-8s|
|Built-in Stabilization||Custom white-balance|
|2 FPS Drive, 3 Images||Spot-Metering|
|640x480 @ 30 FPS Video Recording||Lithium-Ion Battery|
|2.7" LCD 230K Pixels||Secure Digital High Capacity|
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