Fujifilm FinePix F50fd Zoom Review
By Movable Type Admin
The newest addition to the Fuji's "F" series is the F50fd. This is an ultra-compact stuffed with high-end features. It sports a 3x optical zoom, 2.7" high resolution LCD screen, a 12 megapixel super CCD imaging sensor, and several other new features. One of these features is Face Detection 2.0. When using this mode, the camera can detect faces from a wide variety of angles, not just straight on like most other cameras. It can also detect up to 10 faces at a time. While in playback mode it allows you to view each face that was detected, one at a time, with just a push of a button.
Another new feature is the Dial IS system. It combines the usually image stabilization with a gyro sensor and image stabilization chip to steady your images. The camera estimates the amount of camera shake that is present and then adjusts the imaging sensor by shifting it when you take the picture. The xD memory card is not the only form of media accepted by this camera, it will also accept SD and SDHC cards. The last major new addition is the portrait enhancer mode, which uses a "double noise reduction" process with the face detection software. This softens the images giving them a smooth, silky appearance.
The camera is very compact and well designed. Its small size and slightly above average weight give it a very sturdy, well-built feel. It is very easy to use with the right hand only, or with both hands using the pinch technique. The zoom controls are very nice and easy to operate, because of their convenient location around the shutter release. New button have been added for the face detection and image stabilization modes, so you do not have to search through the two separate menus to find them. The mode dial on the back makes it very easy to choose your shooting mode. The 2.7-inch LCD screen takes up the remains space on the back of the camera, and performs nicely. It is very easy to see in all lighting conditions, including bright sunlight and low light situations as it "gains up" to help you frame your shots. The menus are very easy to navigate, but since there are two, you need to know which features are under which menus, or you will spend more time than you would like searching for settings.
The overall performance was just about average for a camera in this class. It took 2.5 seconds to capture its first image from startup. When prefocused, it takes less than 1/10 of a second, slowing to about 1/2 second including the autofocus system. When in normal shooting mode, it can capture an image every 2.7 seconds without the flash and every 3 or more seconds with the flash, depending on battery life and subject distance. The continuous shooting modes were a bit disappointing, as the long continuous mode was no faster than the regular shooting mode at 1 image every 2.7 seconds. If you only need 3 images, then the top 3 option worked well capturing all 3 in less than a second. There is also a top 12 that completes the photos in just 2.1 seconds, however, the image size is looked at only at 3-megapixels. All tests were done using an Olympus xD H 1GB memory card, 12M Fine mode, flash off, and all the rest default settings, unless otherwise noted. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
The image quality of this ultra-compact is very good. Both indoors and out produced crisp, clear images that were well exposed and had very vivid, well saturated colors. Helping aid you in framing you shots is a Fujinon 3x optical zoom lens. It has a 35mm equivalent of 35 - 105mm. This is very useful for taking individual portraits (telephoto end), group portraits and landscapes (wide angle), but wont be able to single out objects from a distance very well. The lens performed nicely, with average barrel distortion and very slight chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) in areas of very high contrast.
The indoor portrait shots also turned out very well. If you stay within the range of the flash, it produces very natural skin tones, and well exposed images. When shooting in auto mode you are not able to change the white balance from auto which did have a little problem when shooting at the local pool (as do most cameras, including some pro-level dSLR's) but did pretty well under normal lighting. When using higher ISO settings the flash is capable of lighting up even some larger rooms, but once the ISO is over 400 the noise levels become apparent when viewing the image on your computer at less than 100%, and could start to show in your smaller prints.
This camera has the option of recording video with audio at either 640x480 or 320x240 at a rate of 30 frames per second. The 3x zoom is operational when you are NOT recording, but you may use it for setting up your shot. The quality of the video is good when shooting in well lit situations, such as outside. I was disappointed to learn that you are not able to change the white balance in movie mode (something I do often when shooting at the pool). This left an unpleasant warmness to our movie samples. In 640x480 mode, the video will consume more than 1-megabyte per second, so a large memory card is recommended if you plan on shooting video often.
Powering the F50fd is Fuji's NP-50 3.7v 1000 mAh rechargeable battery, that is charged in the included AC power adapter (BC-50). Fuji claims you can capture up to 230 images on a fully charged battery pack. I found battery life was quite good. It allowed me to complete all of the tests that I had, capture about 50 pictures (using the flash often), and several videos, with repeated viewing of pictures, and there was never a concern of the battery being low.
Bottom Line - There were several changes to the features of the F50fd that make this camera very easy to use. With Manual, Aperture and Shutter Speed priority modes, this model will allow the novice photographer to have as much fun with this camera as a beginner can with the fully automatic mode and 16 pre-programmed shooting modes. We feel this is a nice ultra-compact that will please any user, whether for home use or in an office. The image quality won't disappoint when shooting indoors or out, and with 12-megapixels you can create beautiful 13x19-inch or larger prints. With a price tag of US$299 or less, it offers a good value for a very capable consumer model.
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