Fuji Finepix HS10 Review
The Fuji Finepix HS10 is an SLR-styled ultra-zoom with the most versatile zoom range to date. It's 30X optical zoom has an amazing 24-720mm equivalent range, starting ultra-wide and reaching beyond most super-telephoto lenses. The lens is mechanically-linked for smooth, quick and precise control. Like most ultra-zooms of a similar form-factor, the HS10 has a complement of manual controls.
Internally, the HS10 shows a departure from traditional Fuji ultra-zooms, now using a BSI-CMOS sensor that allows for a number of features which require fast processing, no longer using their reputable SuperCCD.
These new CMOS-driven features include:
- Full 1080p HDVT video recording at 1920x1080 @ 30 FPS
- High-speed movie options from 60 to 1000 FPS
- 10 FPS Continuous drive
- Sweeping panorama
- Pro Low-Light
- Motion removal
The basic feature set includes:
- 10 Megapixels high-speed BSI-CMOS sensor
- ISO sensitivity ranging from 100 to 6400, all at full-resolution
- Mechanically-linked 30X stabilized optical zoom lens with electronic focus ring
- Shutter speeds from 1/4000s to 30s at base ISO, dropping by one stop for each ISO stop
- Selectable dynamic range from 100% to 400%
- Complete set of manual controls
- Hot-shoe for external flashes
Suitability - What is it good for?
The Fuji Finepix HS10 is defined by its unique lens. The huge range with built-in stabilization allows it to cover a range of photographic subjects like no other. Ultra-wide is perfect for architecture, sweeping landscapes, indoor shots and monuments. On the other extreme a reach of 720mm makes it suitable for wildlife and even birding. To reach a similar range on a DSLR would require the use of a lens weighing several kilos and costing in the thousands of dollars. Needless to say, all other photo applications are covered: portraits, street photography, sports and more.
The mechanical-link allows smooth and quick framing of subjects. Notice that we did not say precise because the HS10 suffers from a cropped view-finder, so unlike the flagship S200EXR, framing is not so exact. Having no zoom motor not only saves energy, it also produces completely silent zooming while filming video.
The digital camera is designed for efficient access to its manual controls and offers a large number of buttons to directly control the camera without entering the menu. It is this kind of efficiency that makes it usable in a hurry.
High-speed features such as a 10 FPS drive mode and pre-capture makes it more usable that similar cameras for action. The low-light side of things is covered by its ISO 100 to 6400 range which is good for many uses. At the extreme of low-light, the HS10 stops being usable before its peers due to a slowest shutter-speed that is reduced by one stop for each ISO. At ISO 100, the HS10 can take 30s exposures, at ISO 200 it gets reduced to 15s, by ISO 6400 the limit is a paltry 1/2s. We suspect this is the case because the noise-characteristics of the CMOS sensor would ruin images otherwise.
Pictures from the HS10 can be printed nicely in sizes up to 16 "x12" thanks to 10 megapixels of resolution and a little too much smearing from noise-reduction at all ISO sensitivities. Near the wide-angle end, the camera can focus as close as 1 cm using super-macro mode. The Fuji HS10 also allows control over the dynamic range it captures. Possible options are 100%, 200% and 400%, although these are not available at all ISO settings and reduce image quality in shadow areas.
Both storage and power use the most convenient and readily available formats: SDHC for memory and most types of AA batteries for power. The power meter can be tuned to the specific type of battery in use and the HS10 can rejuvenate rechargeable batteries.
Capability - What can it do?
Beyond taking pictures in a large variety of conditions, it packs some useful and interesting features. Below is a list of its most useful features, followed by explanations, when required.
- Dynamic range: 100%, 200% and 400%.
- White-balance: Auto, 6 preset and custom, all fine-tunable in 7 steps on Red-Cyan and Blue-Yellow scales.
- Metering: multi-segment, spot and average.
- Focus control: single auto focus, continuous auto focus, manual focus.
- Auto focus modes: center, multi-pointCamera chooses a point to focus on, areaUser selects an area to focus on or tracking.
- Drive modes: single frame, first 7-frames, best-frame capture.
- Exposure compensation: +2 to -2 EV, in 1/3 stop increments.
- Flash compensation: -2/3..+2/3, 1/3 EV steps.
- Exposure bracket: 3 shots, 1/3, 2/3 or 1 EV steps.
- Flash modes: auto, on, off, slow-sync.
- Face detection with or without redeye removal.
- Photography modes: fully automatic, program automatic, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual, custom, 19 scene-modes and sweeping panorama.
- Color, tone and sharpness each adjustable in 3 steps.
- Other: Auto exposure lock or toggle and focus check.
The Fuji Finepix HS10 offers adjustable dynamic range using something often called highlight-correction. The magic happens using the camera's processor rather than a special sensor design as with the EXR models. At ISO 100, only a normal dynamic range is obtainable, at ISO 200 once can boost the DR to 200% and at ISO 400 and above, up to 400% DR can be captured. This gives two more stops of highlight headroom.
Color is controllable using traditional color (saturation), tone (contrast) and sharpness parameters. There are only 3 steps on each scale, so flexibility is limited. The overall color can be adjusted between normal, chrome (very vivid), black-and-white and sepia. White-balance is very flexible on the other hand.
Best-frame-capture is a sophisticated mode to capture an ideal frame from continuous action. It starts working as soon as the shutter is pressed halfway, continuously capturing images of which only a few are stored, then adding more images after the shutter is fully pressed. The speed at which it does this is controllable between 3 and 10 FPS and number of before and after frames is selectable, as long as the total is 7 images. So one can get 5 images before, 1 image during and 1 image after or 3 images before, 1 during and 3 after, or any other combination which adds up to 7. There is a noticeable lag in this and the continuous drive mode but it is much better than with most fixed-lens cameras. At least the display mostly keeps up.
The 19 scene modes are divided into a set of 16 and a set of 3. Any of the 16 can be accessed by any of the to SP positions on the mode-dial. The other 3 are called, Advanced Scene Modes: Pro Low-Light, Multi Motion and Motion Remover. Pro Low-Light takes 4 images to combine them into one image with reduced noise. This is similar to what image software call stacking. The two remaining advanced modes limit image resolution to 5 megapixels. Multi-Motion takes 5 images during 1/2 to 20 seconds. The result is similar to multiple exposure but with a mask for the background. So anything that moves appears multiple times and the background looks as if it was exposed once. The Motion-Remover mode uses the same principle, except that it tries to removing any moving subjects by combining parts of a burst of images.
The sweeping panorama mode is designed to capture a panorama continuously in any direction. The output is limited to 720 pixels in landscape orientation and 1280 pixels wide in portrait mode, in the shortest dimension. In practice, this mode is extremely difficult to use since it requires steadiness and smooth panning. Most times it seems to fail for an unknown reason and, even when it does produce a panorama, artifacts are obvious.
The AE-L button either locks the exposure while it is pressed or sets it until it is pressed again. The Focus-Check button magnifies the center of the live-preview, to facilitate manual focusing or validating the auto-focus. While the display has improved compared to previous models, neither the LCD nor EVF is precise enough to make this entirely accurate.
Fuji HS10 Facts
|10 Megapixels Ultra Zoom||ISO 100-6400|
|30X Mechanically Linked Ultra-Wide Optical Zoom||Shutter 1/4000-30s|
|Built-in Stabilization||Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|0.20" Built-in EVF 200K Pixels||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|Automatic Eye-Start sensor||Spot-Metering|
|10 FPS Drive, 7 Images||Hot-Shoe|
|1920x1080 @ 30 FPS Video Recording||Standard AA Battery|
|3" LCD 230K Pixels||Secure Digital High Capacity|
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