A joy to photograph with

A joy to photograph with

It’s been a while a while since I talked about a camera here but now it’s time to dig

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By Magnus Nystedt

Published: Sun 23 Oct 2011, 12:12 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:03 AM

into a very good compact camera from Fujifilm. For around $350 you get a 16-megapixel, 15x-optical-zoom camera packed with features like GPS and long- zoom lens.

Even before turning on the F550, there were some interesting aspects compared to most other competing cameras. What grabbed my attention right away was a dial on the right hand side, angled toward you, sitting snugly between the top and the rear. When holding the camera my right thumb falls very naturally on this dial in a way I’ve never experienced on a camera before. This dial lets you choose between shooting modes such as manual, aperture or shutter priority and video mode. The other controls are very much like you’ve come to expect from other cameras.

No doubt, the F550 is not a tiny compact camera, which I actually like. It won’t just slide easily into any pocket but what it offers clearly outweighs the portability.

On the back we find a 3-inch LCD that works well, even outside in the sun, and a slot for SD media card compliments the 39MB internal memory. If you want to watch your photos and video on a TV set, there’s a mini-HDMI port on the side of the F550.

So how does the camera fare where it counts, in photos and video? As it turns out, fairly well. To start with, you can shoot in a range of automatic modes, which do a good job of controlling all the settings, but you can also have full manual control. The 15x zoom-range goes from a wide 24mm to 360mm telephoto, which should allow you to capture a wide range of situations.

However, at f3.5-5.3, the lens isn’t fast, which hurts image quality in low-light conditions especially. Worth noting are a Pets Mode (the camera takes a shot when it detects a pet), Panorama 360 mode (automatic sweeping panorama, you just hold down the shutter release), and Pro Focus mode (produces a sharp focus on whatever is in focus and a soft background).

With long zoom lenses such as the one on F550 we’ve come to expect some distortion at either end of the zoom range but I can’t really see any in the sample photos I’ve taken; that’s impressive. JPEG quality out of the camera is a bit soft — very much down to personal taste whether you like that or not — but there is RAW mode if you’re willing to put in a bit more work to get higher quality.

When it comes to video, the F550 doesn’t fare as well. Especially in low light conditions, video quality suffers quite significantly.

From a handling point of view I really like the Fujifilm F550, especially with the angled mode dial. I’ve seen better quality photos and video but it’s not enough of a difference for most happy snapshooters to really notice. It’s a camera full of clever functions and shooting modes and overall the F550 is a joy to photograph with.

Magnus Nystedt, emiratesmac@gmail.com, @mnystedt

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