My Fuji HS50EXR Review

Started Apr 21, 2013 | User reviews thread
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jcmarfilph
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My Fuji HS50EXR Review
Apr 21, 2013

I have the camera for almost a month now and here are my impressions compared to my previous HS30 and other superzoom cameras. I will make this short and straightforward.

Speed and Performance

Although undocumented, Fuji put a new sensor on the HS50EXR. Sporting a FSI(?)-CMOS EXR II sensor with phase-detect pixel. This new sensor together with a more powerful processor dramatically reduced the shutter lag and shot-to-shot time and vastly improved the AF speed with its hybrid Phase-detect AF or Contrast-detect AF depending on the scene. A stunning 0.05sec AF speed and 0.5sec STS time and start-up time. * Under low-light condition and on the long-end zoom, AF speed will slight decrease but still faster and accurate than HS30 camera. Fuji introduced optical image stabilization now instead of the usual sensor-shift IS from previous HS camera.

Taking 1000mm EFL shot handheld is really achievable even at 4-5 stops below the suggested shutter speed of 1/1000s. HS50 is great for capturing action shots like running dogs, flying birds and running kids even indoor. Now you won't miss any shot, the way you want it, where it happens, when it happens. I gave it great only because a camera with larger sensor and brighter lens is the best for capturing action shot. * - When High-performance mode is enabled and light in is optimum condition.

Ergonomics and Handling

If there is any camera that will give your the true-DSLR feel, HS50 is one of them. The size and weight are perfect for person with average or big hands. Excellent built and design and unmatched manual zoom for quick framing of that critical shot. When it comes to scene requiring quick framing, fast AF and manual zoom will give you more keeper shots.

Image Quality

Not scientifically proven, FSI-CMOS delivers better IQ than BSI-CMOS sensor. As seen on various comparisons, HS50 has a slightly better quality than HS30 especially on low ISO. Coupled with a sharper lens and longer reach, the detail on distant subject that you've always wanted is now at your fingertips. I have vast experience in birding using superzoom for years so I can definitely say that my birding has improved further with the added reach, speed and sharper lens of HS50.

Below is my unscientific ISO ladder to show that HS50 delivers at par quality even on high ISO.

View: original size

View: original size

View: original size

Below are some of the comparisons that I have made against SX40. I've also included the great LSize and MSize comparison showing how good is the HS50 in retaining detail at LSize and how good it is in protecting DR at MSize. I have reduced HS50 to 12MP so as to avoid false assumptions that SX40 is better at 100%. Originals can be found in my gallery. Fuji image starts with SXXXX or DSCXXXX while Canon starts with IMGXXXXX. Click the original link for proper viewing.

SX40 left, HS50 right.

View: original size

Here another comparison against SX40 at the widest FL. At the expense of noise (which can be removed easily during PP) on the HS50, you can clearly see the detail is really there and no painterly effect as seen on some reviews online. CA/PF is also less-pronounced on the HS50. SX40 left, HS50 right.

View: original size

Moving on to the center of the scene. SX40 shows sharper result but again in terms of detail, HS50 is at par in this comparison. SX40 left, HS50 right.

View: original size

And moving on the right side of the scene, HS50 is sharper. SX40 left, HS50 right.

View: original size

Zooming in on the center of course will favor HS50 as it has 160mm EFL advantage over SX40. SX40 left, HS50 right.

View: original size

LSize versus Msize

This has been debated endless times already. One is saying MSize DR400 produces better detail overall than LSize. Which is which? My take on this is, if you want maximum detail/resolution, go for LSize. Simply upsizing the MSize to LSize does not create magic. Detail is not there so don't be fooled with those crappy crafted comparisons. Below is resolution comparison between LSize, MSize and the SX40 at the widest FL.

No more talking, LSize produced the best detail albeit with more noise than MSize and SX40. Sky is a lot nicer too on the Fuji. Love that Fuji colors!. HS50 LSize left, HS50 MSize center, SX40 right.

View: original size

Dynamic Range Comparison

I've made this comparison simple. I took the same scene using MSize DR400 and LSize DR100

MSize DR400 produced nicer sky and protected highlights better than LSize DR100. MSize DR400 left, LSize DR100 right.

View: original size

Note that that comparison is SOOC JPEG so you still definitely recover highlights on the LSize. Of course with careful look at the exposure, you can avoid blown highlights and blocked shadows regardless of DR setting you will use. Shoot in LSize RAW, you'll have highest latitude both on resolution and DR.

Macro Capabilities

HS50 has two modes to shoot in macro or close-up mode. It has improved in Super Macro mode because you can literally stick the lens on the subject and still be able to focus on it. The drawback though is you cannot use on-board flash or any flash unit. On the other hand, HS50 lost its magic in macro mode. If you are familiar with the "150mm <6 inches" trick then you will be surprised that it will no longer work on the HS50. That trick is to get the highest magnification and still be able to use flash and at the same time giving enough distance not to scare away insect or small critter. See my settings below for the optimum result.

Here are sample macro shots...

View: gallery page

View: gallery page

View: gallery page

View: original size

Image Stabilization

I've found out that Continuous IS is the best stabilization mode of the HS50 and this applies to all HS cameras I have handled. Below is the comparison of Continuous, Shooting Only and Off

Continuous (left), Shooting Only(center), IS OFF (right)

View: original size

Conclusion

As I have been telling all the time, I am not one of those reviewers giving personal conclusion and awards on the camera they have reviewed because that will affect the judgement of the viewer so I will leave it to you to judge the camera using the information and results I have posted.

My settings for variety of shots

I normally shoot wildlife so here I am using C-Mode with these settings:

Static/Semi Static critters

C-Mode set to Aperture-Priority (Go to Aperture Priority mode then save to C-Settings)

ISO = Auto 400 (shoot first with this then if the critter stays shoot with lower-ISO)
DR = Auto
EV = -0.33

Aperture = F/2.8 (it will become f/5.6 on the long end automatically and vice-versa)
Image Size = L 4:3 RAW
Image Quality = Fine
Film Simulation = Velvia/Vivid
Color=Mid
Sharpness=Standard
Tone=Standard
File format = RAW+JPEG
Noise Reduction = Low
Intelligent Sharpness = Off
Face Detection = Off
Face Recognition = Off

Image Stabilization Mode = Continuous IS
AF Illuminator = On
EVF/LCD Mode = 60 fps
Quick Start Mode Power Saving - High Performance Mode = On

Continuous Shot Mode at 6 frames/s

Photometry(Metering) = Spot (Note: This is the preferred for shooting critter, for general use consider center-weighted mode).
White Balance = Auto
AF-Mode = Center
Focusing = AF-Single

LCD on Best Framing (RO3 guide)

For Bird-in-flight or other flying critter

Shutter-Priority Mode

Shutter speed = 1/1000s

Focusing = Continuous

For Macro

Aperture or Program Mode

Flash ON for insects and other critters under shade

To achieve Maximum magnification/Shallow DOF set the focal length to 200mm (EFL) and lens at around 12 inches away.

For Low-light

EXR-SN or PAS mode

ISO=Auto ISO1600
Image Size = M 4:3
DR = DR100
Film Simulation = Standard
Noise Reduction=Low
Sharpness=Standard

For General purpose type of shooting like events

Program Mode

ISO=Auto ISO400
Image Size = M 4:3
DR = DR400
Film Simulation = Standard
Noise Reduction=Low
Sharpness=Standard

Notes:

  • If you want extra resolution shoot in L-Size and set DR to Auto, File-type to RAW and PP it. After careful post-processing, resize it down to 50-75% (depending on the quality of the shot).
  • I am using Silkypix to PP my RAW files but sometimes especially on macro mode, JPEG is more than enough.

You can find more shots in my Flickr gallery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joms_birding/

Cheers,

-=[ Joms ]=-

 jcmarfilph's gear list:jcmarfilph's gear list
Fujifilm X20 Fujifilm FinePix HS50 EXR +1 more
jcmarfilph's score
5.0
Average community score
4.8
bad for good for
Kids / pets
excellent
Action / sports
excellent
Landscapes / scenery
excellent
Portraits
excellent
Low light (without flash)
great
Flash photography (social)
excellent
Studio / still life
excellent
= community average
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