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Old Jun 25, 2010, 7:17 AM   #1
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Default My Review of the Fuji HS10

Here's the review I just posted to my popular Taiwan blog:



I've had the HS10 for some time now, taking it on trips, using it by night and day and in different weather conditions, and I've a few observations to share. Hope you find them helpful. In this discussion, the Canon is my previous generation Canon Powershot S5 IS.

Things I like
The lens is awesome -- so awesome it nearly makes up for the many flaws in this camera. The telephoto is sharp and clear, with no noticeable barreling. The super macro is like walking around with a microscope in your hand. Simply amazing.

At the higher ISOs the images are relatively clean of noise. That picture of the Mikado Pheasant I took in Taroko was taken at 1600 ISO. [Note for this forum: I don't agree with Steve's conclusions on the ISO, pic of pheasant provided]



Some of the functions are really nifty. The tracking function is pure fun -- I was experimenting with it today on traffic going by the 85C where we had stopped for slushies. The red car above is one of the shots I took -- I set the focus on TRACKING and just followed the car. The result is excellent. The scenery setting, as you can see in the Taroko pics a few posts down [Note for this forum: I've got many pics in that post], is outstanding, much better than my old Canon. Sometimes the arrangement of camera functions is very sensible. Instead of having all the functions on the dial where they are not needed, there are three settings -- ADV., SP1, and SP2, that enable you to access many different settings and keep three of them up at all times. Really an economical approach, meaning that you don't have to turn through 100 settings on the dial to reach the one you want.

The lens cap does not come off easily. This is a great quality when you put the camera away, protecting the lens.

The Fuji HS10 takes AA batteries. I detest proprietary battery systems.

Fuji has absolutely mastered making the camera feel right in the hand. No other camera brand I've ever owned has that property: the grip makes it seem like your hand was born to hold that camera.

Things I don't like
The manual control of the lens is clunky and requires a little effort to use. It lacks the smoothness of a true SLR lens.

The manual focus is nuts. In theory it is a great idea. You set the camera on manual focus and manipulate a second ring to make the function work. In practice it requires two hands, and because one is moving the ring, the camera shakes -- making it harder to focus! In other words, it has a built in Catch-22: the more you use the manual focus, the harder it is to achieve a good focus. This is especially if, as so often, you are leaning over or out to get the shot you want. The manual focus needs to be automated with a thumb button on the right side of the camera.

The layout of controls was clearly done by an engineer for engineering purposes, not for user convenience. Except for the macro and ISO, all of the camera's major controls require two hands, one to hold the button down and the other to select the setting. My Canon Powershot does everything with one hand with a set of efficiently nested menus and is vastly superior to the layout of the Fuji. This is a real problem since I do lots of shooting while moving on a bike or in my car, and I need one hand free, but then shifting the hands around is a problem in any shooting situation. The lens cap requires two hands to remove -- the Canon pops off when the lens extends as you turn on the camera. It also requires two hands to put back on. While riding my bike, I can pop the lens cap off with my mouth, but I lack the coordination to put it back on the same way. I suspect that if I try to use the Fuji on my bike, my last words are going to be something like Wow, look at that beautiful -- SPLAT!

My Canon used the UP/DOWN/LEFT/RIGHT arrow function to control the increase/decrease of most functions, very intuitive. The Fuji has an additional dial on the top of the camera that controls some functions, others are controlled elsewhere. Clunky, inefficient, and sometimes difficult to remember. For example, while you are sitting there contemplating the insect on the leaf you want to shoot, you ask yourself Do I increase the exposure compensation by turning the dial while holding the button, or by pressing that other button on top of the camera and holding down another button? You next adjust the manual focus, which takes ages because your hands are shaking from holding the bulky camera at full extension while stretching and turning your fingers around holding buttons down like some new and painful game of Miniature Twister. By then, from studying your contortions, the insect has mated, reproduced, and founded a new, superior civilization that threatens mankind's grip on the earth. On the Canon, needless to say, I did all those functions with one thumb.

The Fuji has only basic color controls; the Canon Powershot has a wider range.

The shutter lag is like something out of 2002. WTF?

The panorama function is a joke. So far I have not been able to get it to produce a decent panorama and I have basically given up trying to use it. The Canon Powershot took the sensible route of providing stitching software that produces excellent panoramas, which I now use with the Fuji.

The HS10 does HD video but I have not used that function yet. The Canon Powershot has a sound recorder in addition to the video, the Fuji lacks one. Fuji does not permit you to shoot an image while videoing, but the Canon does. Overall, despite being the next generation camera, the functionality and ease of use of the Fuji appears to be lower than the Canon, despite some areas where it offers greater functionality.

One annoyance I have with all cameras, not just the Fuji, is the firmware wasted on functions I don't need. The IMAGE controls in the HS10, for example, include CROP and RESIZE. Who the hell crops inside a camera on that tiny screen? Instead of giving me these controls I don't use, why not spend the firmware space on more useful shooting functions? Especially since firmware hacks are available that allow you to shoot in all sorts of modes not original to the camera (on the Canon I had a hack that allowed me to shoot stereo 3-D shots). Or better yet, why not give users a basic set of firmware and then have them download firmware add-ons that they desire. After all, it is highly unlikely I will ever use the SNOW SHOOTING function here in Taiwan. Shouldn't I be able to discard it for something like TRUE BETEL NUT SPIT COLOR? User involvement can be solicited this way too, with people writing scripts for cameras (already going on in the informal firmware hack world) just as today people write iPhone Apps.

Great moments in "God Help Us, We're in the Hands of Engineers"
In image review system in the camera Fuji establishes a new WTF? benchmark: after you delete a photo it returns to the last image in the series. Yes, that's right: if you take 500 pictures in a day, like I often do on long trips, and as you scroll through, decide you don't like image 203 in the series, the Fuji HS10 helpfully returns you to image 500 at the end after you delete, not to image 204 or 202, meaning you have to scroll back 300 images to get to where you were. Welcome to 1996. This tiresome 'feature' alone is enough to make me recommend that you wait for a more intelligently designed camera with a massive lens.

Overall Recommendation
If you are looking for that bridge camera between a prosumer camera and a true SLR, this isn't it, even with that awesome lens. I'd wait until Nikon or Canon comes out with a similarly massive lens system and a CMOS sensor before upgrading from your current camera. Fuji gave it the old college try, but they missed the mark. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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Old Jun 25, 2010, 10:29 AM   #2
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I agree on some points, but if you break a camera down on the controls that you are not use to on some place or function, because you had a different camera which fits like a glove so to speak..... that is not objectively i think. Same thing as comparing cars a Merc will drive "differently" than a small Kia ,remember you get what you payed for, and it aint much

I also ran in to some strange things with this HS10, the first one i had was a second hand, the man i bought it from said it is good but to slow for me, ok.
At that moment i had a Nikon D90 with just one lens 18-200 VR.
I sold the Nikon on the same moment that i bought the HS10, and boy was i disappointed ! Of course i was blinded by the zoom and the tilting lcd and Full HD video...Also i had the first firmware update installed on the HS10 but no avail .
The D90 took always razor sharp pics with the correct exposure, the HS10 did it 4 out of 10 , mostly trough my stupidity, but i missed something. Not the weight because the D90 with lens and bat grip weighs a little over 2 kg, yes more weight is less small vibrations..
So after a few days and a lot of bad pics i sold the (first HS10 again) and bought myself another D90 with the same lens etc, and it worked again as it should all good pictures, maybe good software is half the picture.., but also i got a new HS10 again just to play around .
The HS10 i can hang around my neck under my coat when i drive on my motorcycle, something that is not really possible with the big DSLR.
I must point out that my first HS10 was not so sharp at full tele as the second one , it is a very big difference, but the second one has some problems with macro i believe.
Let's see if another company can build something as good as this or better for the same price
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Old Jun 25, 2010, 2:34 PM   #3
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uh... Steve beat you to it ( http://www.steves-digicams.com/camer...10-review.html ) and, personally, I like his style a lot better. His review didn't make me feel as if I were a moron for buying this camera and was a LOT more objective. Of course, he should have tested it while riding a bike and trying to put the lens cap on with his mouth. But, oh well - ya get what ya get.
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Last edited by gjtoth; Jun 26, 2010 at 9:15 AM.
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Old Jun 26, 2010, 10:32 AM   #4
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This is from another forum I frequent. Just get a little more feedback for you.

Quote:
I spent a little time on the Fuji forum today at Steves. Being an Oly guy I was lucky I wasn't caught and whipped beyond recognition, but it was interesting : )
I wanted to see what peoples opinions on the HS10 were and as with all cameras they were mixed. This made me think, what does a good review really need in it. Besides technical or mechanical abilities it dawned on me what every review really should focus on is user expections within reason for the money spent. I see people with really negative reviews expecting a 450 dollar camera to perform like a Nikon D3x 24 megapixel 8000 dollar camera ?
If you're not happy with IQ then stop complaining, spend 2000 dollars and be done with it. Don't put paragraph after paragraph on the cons of a camera like the one guy did like he was reviewing a BMW. The pictures I've seen from the HS10 are very good and if they aren't perfect every time it is the person behind it not the camera. It has limitations, a small sensor which somehow Fuji has managed to get the most out of, very good IQ from what I've seen, it is not perfect in low light but I can tell you the ISO abilities seem to be as good as my 510 from what I've seen, and it has that terrible zoom, just can't reach out far enough can it : )
From what I see it's one of the best cameras out there under 500 bucks non dslr and I'm trying to be objective about it.
Bottom line, find a camera that has the ability to do what you want it to and have fun. If it doesn't, don't spend hours degrading it, go buy one that does. For the happy non negative people on the forums it's about taking pictures and sharing your experiences with others. As for the others, well some people wouldn't be happy if they were hung with a new rope : )
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Old Jun 26, 2010, 11:48 AM   #5
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By and large I'll agree with the overall post, up to the points where it makes the Canon sound like a marvel of engineering. I DO understand that the OP is making the point that other camera companies have been able to achieve thus and so, the technology is out there, so why didn't Fuji do that in this instance or other - still, it does taint the objectivity of the review (Which camera are you reviewing? The Fuji or the Canon?). The impression I came away with wasn't so much that the camera was being reviewed on its own merits, as that it was being reviewed for its personal fit with the OP's style of photography. Okay, I like to shoot on the fly from my car also (a practice I DO NOT RECOMMEND, let me be clear on that, okay - grin) but I sure don't think it's fair to ding a camera because its lens cap is difficult to remove and put back on while biking. If you can find a camera that makes that particular exercise easier for you, be my guest - but it's not A FAULT in the camera

Having said that, I'll agree with many of the OP's points. Lens is great, period. IQ is pretty dang good, and as he said, I too think that Steve's commentary on noise was off base - for a small sensor cam, it does REALLY WELL on noise control (sometimes TOO good!) - I've gotten some excellent images at higher ISOs that would not be possible from my other two cameras at the same ISO level (an Oly SP570 and a Panasonic FZ28). I'd wish that Fuji would allow us to turn NR off and on as we wish, as do both my other cams, but there's no denying that the Fuji's surprisingly good in the higher ISO's.

I like cameras that take AA's too, I'll freely admit that ability has saved my butt on more than one occasion. Still, it's not exactly relevant to image quality - I get good pictures out of the Panny FZ28 with its proprietary batteries too

Others have echoed the OP's comments on the Fuji's in-camera panorama function, so that's no big surprise. Personally, there's plenty of software alternatives, and it's not a function I've ever used even on my SP570, which also offers it -I don't really much care if a camera lets you do that or not. Which, I suppose, is sort of an echo to the OP's other comment on Fuji's firmware feature set - I don't think that the OP intended that as a specific complaint against functions that won't ever be used as much as it's a wish that the space reserved for that would be put to more pragmatic purposes (Such as allowing one to turn of NR!!) and to that extent I'd have to agree with it.

I'll also echo the OP's comments on the image review function - that's tripped me up a few times also, as it's a bit alien compared to the other cams I own. It's not a thing I'd use to decry the camera itself (i.e., "it's crap because its image review sucks"), but in commentary on ergonomics and design these statements do have value.

My bottom line with a camera, irrespective of its "features" (which is admittedly becoming more bloated by the day on camera after camera) is "Can it take a good photo?". At the end of the day, the HS10 certainly can. I've seen it in post after post. I'M not yet getting consistent results, but I know my frailties in this area - I would have to say the fault lies more with my skill set than the camera's feature set

Honestly, I don't think there IS such a thing as the "perfect camera", even if one spent the thousands on a full DSLR kit. I've seen negative reviews and detractions on any and every camera sold. For what the HS10 is, I think it's achieved its purposes very well. Is it a better fit for some folks than others? Most assuredly. Does that mean it's a crappy camera for some folks? Naturally. But review the camera on its own merits, and it comes out pretty dang good.

Last edited by AnniM; Jun 26, 2010 at 3:53 PM.
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