Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
    Fujifilm JX580 product photo 275.jpg
  • 16-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch CCD image sensor
  • FUJINON 5x optical zoom lens (26 - 130 mm equivalent) 
  • F3.5 aperture lens
  • 3.0-inch LCD (230,000 dots)
  • Up to 3,200 ISO
  • 720p HD video recording
  • Smile / Blink Detection
  • Face Detection
  • Scene Recognition Auto (SR AUTO)
  • Tracking Auto Focus
  • Digital Image Stabilization
  • i-Flash Intelligent Flash
  • Rechargeable Li-ion battery 
Pros
  • JX580 is low-priced
  • Very easy to use with only basic features
  • On-screen explanations of features are nice for beginners
  • Small, thin, lightweight design
  • 16MP of resolution
  • Camera works well for shooting images for use on social networking sites
  • Control buttons are small, but they're well placed and comfortable to use
  • Flash portrait photos are of a decent quality
  • Lens retracts fully inside camera when powered down, and lens glass is protected by an automatic cover
Cons
  • Battery life is poor
  • Compartment cover for battery and memory card slots is flimsy
  • Camera's focus is soft more often than it should be
  • For a 16MP camera, it's going to be difficult to make large prints because of softness
  • 5x optical zoom lens is below average in today's market
  • Menu structure is confusing and poorly organized
  • No mode dial to make it easier to pick shooting modes
  • Shot to shot delays and shutter lag are slower than most
  • Start-up is slow
  • LCD suffers from significant glare issues
  • USB port has no cover, which could lead to damage
  • No full HD movie mode; no HDMI port
  • When shooting movies with zoom, the camera has a focus lag, leading to blurry portions of the video
  • Very limited manual control options
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 3.7 seconds (with start-up image turned off)
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = about 0.6 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay without flash = 5.3 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 4.8 seconds with review Off
  • Shot to shot delay with flash = 5.7 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 5.1 seconds with review Off
  • Continuous Mode = 3 frames in 2.8 seconds @ 16M
  • All tests were taken using a PNY Class 10, 16 GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, Flash off, Review on, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
Fujifilm's FinePix JX580 camera may look like a tempting option, as it has 16-megapixels of resolution in a camera that costs just a little over $100. However, the JX580 has quite a few significant drawbacks -- even for a camera in its price range -- that are going to leave photographers who own this model frustrated with some of their results. Even if you're just looking for one of the cheapest cameras you can find, it's tough to recommend this model. It will create very nice photos on occasion, but it simply isn't consistent enough, even for a budget camera. Only the most basic beginning photographers will want to consider this camera.
Pick This Up If...
You're a beginning photographer whose main consideration is finding a really low-priced camera that does an OK job with flash portrait photos, and you don't mind some significant performance issues and you don't plan to make large prints. 
If you're someone who hasn't shopped for a digital camera lately, you're going to be pretty amazed at the features you're going to find. It's especially surprising to see what's available in the budget area of the market. Cameras around the $100 price point have features and specifications now that would have been almost unthinkable three to five years ago.

Which brings us to the FinePix JX580, one of Fujifilm's latest budget-priced models. This camera sits just above the $100 price point, but it has 16-megapixels of resolution, as well as a 3.0-inch LCD. Both of these features are pretty impressive for a low-priced model. In addition, the JX580 is a really thin, lightweight camera that's available in black, blue, or red camera bodies. It only weighs a little over 4 ounces with the battery and memory card installed, and it feels really light and small while using it.

Like most Fujifilm low-priced cameras, this model isn't particularly stylish, nor does it have many advanced features. It's simply aimed to be a low-priced, point-n-shoot option for beginning photographers.

Unfortunately, even for a camera in this price range, the FinePix JX580's photography features and results are a disappointment. The JX580 is pretty inconsistent in its results and its performance levels, which means that you probably aren't going to be able to feel like you can rely on it for those once-in-a-lifetime photos. And if you can't rely on your camera, it really isn't worth purchasing, no matter how great the price is.

The list of disappointing features with the JX580 begins with the life span of its battery, which is well below average, even for a budget-priced camera. The battery is pretty thin, which helps to make the JX580 a lightweight camera, but the first time you run out of battery power in the middle of a photography session, you'll be more than willing to trade a little extra bulk for a better battery. With most cameras, I'd recommend purchasing a second battery to alleviate this problem, but if you're going to pick the JX580, its low price is going to be the primary reason, so adding the cost of a second battery to this model likely will drive it out of your price range.

The JX580's response times are below average as well. Shutter lag is a significant problem for this camera, making it tough to shoot moving subjects, which likely will move out of the frame before the camera can record the image. I'd recommend pre-focusing by holding the shutter button halfway every time you use this camera. Shot-to-shot delays are significant with this camera, meaning you may miss some spontaneous photos. However, the JX580's delays when using the flash aren't too much worse than when you aren't using the flash, which is rare in a budget camera. Most low-priced models perform much worse when using the flash than not using the flash.

You can try to work around these delays and shoot three photos at full resolution in about three seconds with the FinePix JX580's continuous mode. However, the camera must process these images after they're recorded, requiring several seconds of processing time, during which the camera cannot be used. 

Although you'll find 16MP of resolution with this camera, don't expect to make a lot of large prints. The camera's autofocus mechanism produces soft photos much of the time, which makes it tough to make anything but smaller prints. At least the JX580's photos usually will look pretty good at small sizes on a computer screen, so if you're just looking for an inexpensive model to use for photos for social networking sites and e-mail, this model may work adequately.

The JX580 does shoot some really nice photos at times, so there may be times where you can create large prints. It's a consistency problem with this camera. 

Most digital cameras in the market right now can easily surpass the 5x optical zoom lens on this FinePix model, so don't expect to shoot a lot of images over a distance with this camera. Portrait photos and wide-angle nature photos are going to be the best options for this model.

With a low-priced camera, one area where you normally can count on creating good images is in outdoor photography. The JX580 does do a pretty nice job with color accuracy in outdoor photos. Still, this model's image softness and slow responsiveness are noticeable in outdoor photography, which detracts from its usefulness outdoors. The LCD screen has some significant glare problems, which makes it difficult to frame images properly when there's bright sunlight. Although you can combat the glare by increasing the LCD's brightness level, this will cause the already poor battery life to become even worse.

Video performance with the FinePix JX580 is a bit of a disappointment, and it doesn't offer full HD video capabilities, either. Although you can use the optical zoom lens when shooting video, it moves a little slowly and the autofocus mechanism works pretty slowly, which may cause you to end up with some portions of your video that will be out of focus for a second or so. 

One area where the JX580 performed better than expected was in flash photography. Even though the off-center built-in flash may end up creating some dark spots in your images, the overall quality of flash photo images is pretty good, especially for a model in this price point. I thought the JX580's effectiveness in portrait flash photos was one of the few areas where this model performed at an above average level. I also like the Natural & Flash mode that Fujifilm offers with this model, which is a great mode for beginners. In this mode, the camera shoots two photos in succession of the same scene, one without flash and one with flash. You then can later pick the one you prefer.

Fujifilm did create a camera that's pretty easy to use with this model. As you make various menu selections, explanations of the features appear on the screen, which is great for beginners. There aren't a lot of advanced shooting options or confusing buttons with the FinePix JX580, so for those beginning photographers who simply want a basic point-n-shoot camera with no frills, this one will fit the bill. However, that's part of the problem. Once you begin to advance beyond the basic beginner level in your photographic skills, you're going to notice the variety of flaws in this camera, leaving you very frustrated.

Despite being a really small camera with small control buttons, I thought the JX580 was pretty comfortable to hold and use. You can easily reach the controls on the back with your right thumb while keeping your finger near the shutter button. It's pretty easy to use this camera one-handed when needed.

Bottom Line - The Fujifilm FinePix JX580 has a tempting price point, but the frustrations that this camera will cause for photographers, other than the most basic beginners, are high enough that it's tough to recommend it. The JX580's battery life is extremely poor, which means that you aren't going to be able to shoot extended photography sessions with this camera. With 16MP of resolution, you'd expect to make large prints with this model, but focus softness makes that impossible much of the time. The JX580 only has a 5x optical zoom lens, and it can't shoot full HD video. Parts of the camera feel as if they have a really flimsy construction. Thhe JX580 will create some really nice photos from time to time, and its flash photos are of a decent quality for a low-priced model. Overall though, the nice photos don't occur often enough for my liking due to the JX580 being an inconsistent performer. Even for the photographer who has a really limited budget, there are better options around this price point in the market.



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