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Timing & Performance

The F31fd was one of the fastest compact cameras on the market and luckily the F50fd follows in its footsteps. In many respects the F50fd's performance is very similar to its predecessor's although in some areas Fujifilm's new flagship compact has slowed down a little, due we'd presume to the increased processing and writing times required for the now larger 12MP files.

In terms of shutter lag the F50fd is up there with the very best in its class at 0.02 sec. Focus speed is very quick as long as the the light is good, in dim conditions the AF can start hunting around, especially at the long end of the zoom. Focus speed can also become an issue if you have to switch into the much slower macro mode. Due to the F50fd's relatively long minimum focus distance you might have to do that more often than you'd wish, for example when taking a picture of somebody across the table in a restaurant. The power management option in the F-menu option can be set to AF speed priority. This will speed AF up by around 50 percent but shorten batterly life and increase the minimum focus distance to around 100cm.

In typical social shooting situations you'd sometimes probably wish for faster flash recycling times too. Your subjects might have to wait for the flash to recharge longer than they would like to, especially when the battery is weak or when subjects are further away.

The slow AF in macro mode and flash recycling is something that the F50fd inherited from its predecessor but overall the camera rarely feels anything but very responsive and is certainly one of the more snappy compact cameras to work with.

Timing Notes

All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 4000 x 3000 Fine JPEG image (approx. 4,470 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1GB Sandisk Extreme III SD Card.

Action Details
Time, secs
Power: Off to Record Ready to take first picture 1.9
Power: Off to Play Image displayed 2.2 *1
Power: Record to Off All activity ceased 1.6
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty, lens retracted 0.8
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty, lens extended 1.8
Record Review Image displayed 0.6
Mode: Record to Play   1.2
Mode: Play to Record Lens already extended 0.6
Play: Magnify To full magnification (6.6x) 12MP image 2.2
Play: Image to Image Time to display each saved image 0.8
Play: Thumbnail view 2 x 2 thumbnails 0.4

Action Details
Time, seconds
Zoom from Wide to Tele 35 to 105 mm (3 x) 1.0
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle 0.5
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle, AF speed priority*2 ~0.3
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto ~0.6
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto, AF speed priority*2 ~0.4
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD live view ~0.02
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle 0.3-0.6
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle, AF speed priority *2 ~0.3
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view ~2.5
Shot to Shot Flash off 2.8
Shot to Shot Flash on (with red eye reduction off) ~4.0
Shot to Shot Flash on (with red eye reduction on) ~4.3
*1 You have to hold down the play button for around a second to start the F50fd in playback mode - to prevent accidental activation.
*2 The power management of the The FinePix F50fd can be set to AF speed priority. This speeds up focus noticeably. The downside is a reduction in battery life and a slight increase in the minimum focus distance (from 60cm to 100cm).

The lab tests confirm our real life experiences. The performance is very responsive overall – apart from the flash recycling times which increase even more if the e anti red eye flash is activated. You can however opt to remove red eyes at a later stage, after the shot has been taken. Just make sure face detection is turned on when you take the picture.

Lag Timing Definitions

Half-press Lag (0->S1)
Many digital camera users prime the AF and AE systems on their camera by half-pressing the shutter release. This is the amount of time between a half-press of the shutter release and the camera indicating an auto focus & auto exposure lock on the LCD monitor / viewfinder (ready to shoot).
 

(Prime AF/AE)
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (assuming you have already primed the camera with a half-press) to the image being taken.
 

(Take shot, AF/AE primed)
Full-press Lag (0->S2)
The amount of time it takes from a full depression of the shutter release button (without performing a half-press of the shutter release beforehand) to the image being taken. This is more representative of the use of the camera in a spur of the moment 'point and shoot' situation.
 

(Take shot, AF/AE not primed)

Continuous mode

The tables below show the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take another shot. The media used for these tests was a 1GB Sandisk Extreme III SD Card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.

Continuous drive mode

Image Type
Mode
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst *1
After
burst
*2
12MP JPEG Fine Long Period 0.3*3 no limit n/a
12MP JPEG Fine Final 3 2.0 3 ~12.2s delay
12MP JPEG Fine Top 3 2.0 3 ~12.2s delay
6MP JPEG Top 3 2.0 3 ~8s delay
3MP JPEG Top 12 5.0 12 ~5.6s delay

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).
*2 Once the buffer is full the F50fd stops for a few seconds(dependent on the file size) as the images are saved to the memory card
*3 The F50fd refocuses between each shot in 'Long Period' continuous shooting mode, so this figure in an average - the actual frame rate will depend on how fast the camera can focus.

The F50fd has five continuous shooting modes; Final 12 and 3, Top 12 and 3 and Long Period. The 'Top 3' option is a standard - if rather uninpressive - burst mode; 2 fps for a maximum of three frames. The 'Final' option is fairly interesting; if you hold down the shutter the camera will take up to 40 shots at around 2 fps respectively until you release the shutter. At this point the last three shots are saved to the card. The Top and Final 12 modes work in the same way but image quality is restricted to 3MP and ISO400 and above. In the unlimited 'Long Period' continuous mode the camera shows a preview image and refocuses between each shot, which really slows things down, but there is no practical limit to how long you can keep shooting for apart from available space on your memory card.

The measured frame rate of approximately 2 fps is not bad for a compact camera. The three frame limit and the time it takes to clear the buffer limits the usefulness of the Top and Final modes though. The Top and Final 12 modes only provide limited image quality but can still be useful to capture that special moment. The Long Period mode is also something of a compromise - at the best quality 12M/Fine setting you can only take one shot every 3 seconds or so. This is because in the Long Period mode the camera assesses exposure for each frame (and attempts to refocus) - in the Top or Final modes focus and exposure are fixed with the first shot.

File Write / Display and Sizes

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when the activity indicator went out. This means the timings also include the camera's processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 1GB Sandisk Extreme III SD card.

Image Type
Time to store
(secs)

Time to display
(secs)

File size *1
(approx.)
Images on a *2
1GB Card
12MP JPEG Fine ~3.7 ~0.8 4,470 KB 210
12MP JPEG Normal ~3.7 ~0.8 2,900 KB 336
6MP JPEG ~3.2 ~0.5 1350 KB 658
3MP JPEG ~3.2 ~0.2 710 KB 1264
2MP JPEG ~3.2 ~0.2 570 KB 1588
0.3MP JPEG ~2.8 ~0.2 110KB 7745

*1 All file sizes are an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (detail and noise).
*2 Camera estimation.

The F50fd's write performance is, at just over 1MB/s, fairly unimpressive, something that's not helped by the limited buffer. This explains the long delays after shooting a 3 frame burst and rather lackluster shot-to-shot times. Most buyers of the F50fd probably would not intend to use it as an action camera, so writing performance should not be a show stopper, although it can make you miss a crucial shot.

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