The Fujifilm HS50 EXR sits at the top of Fuji's long-zoom offerings, with a 42x zoom and EXR technology. Find out how it performs in the What Digital Camera Fujifilm HS50 EXR review
The Fujifilm FinePix HS50 EXR heads the brand’s current range of long-zoom offerings with the outward appearance akin to a DSLR. From the outside it appears as just another camera to take on the likes of Panasonic’s popular FZ series, but if Fujifilm’s claims are to be believed there’s plenty to get excited about.
Fujifilm FinePix HS50 EXR review – Features
Fujifilm states, for example, that the HS50 EXR boasts the world’s fastest AF system of any compact camera in its High Performance mode, with focus times being as short as 0.05 seconds. This is partly thanks to the incorporation of sensor-based phase-detect pixels, which, with the more standard contrast-detect method provide an Intelligent Hybrid AF system, but it’s also attributed to the HS50 EXR’s processor.
Dubbed EXR Processor II, this is said to achieve processing times twice the speed of the previous-generation EXR Processor. Fujifilm also claims this enables a start-up speed of just 0.5 seconds, while also facilitating an 11fps burst mode (at full resolution) for up to six frames.
The HS50 EXR 1/2in 16MP EXR CMOS II sensor works on the same principle as previous EXR sensors, in that it can alter its colour filter array depending on the shooting situations. Its three modes allow it to switch between High Resolution, Wide Dynamic Range and High Sensitivity and Low Noise options.
Other features of the HS50 EXR include an articulated LCD screen which presents details with 920k dots. Above this there’s an electronic viewfinder, with an equally impressive 1.44m dots, while the top-plate’s hotshoe allows external flashguns to be used with the camera.
The HS50 EXR is one of the few superzoom cameras to also offer a Raw shooting option for those who want to take processing into their own hands, while full HD video recording can be set to capture at up to 60fps. There’s also the option to shoot at 11fps (at maximum resolution for up to five frames), as well as focus peaking when manually focusing.
Fujifilm FinePix HS50 EXR Review – Design
The HS50 EXR breaks away from the norm somewhat by having a rubber-like casing, in contrast to the more matt plastic finishes of its peers, which feels pleasing. The grip is significant, as is the space on the rear devoted to the thumb rest, and as both are lined with a mottled rubber the user is able to get excellent purchase.
It’s also great to find the indicator lamp bright and prominently positioned in the back, something which is sadly not found across all such cameras as standard.
The rubber ring around the lens also has a deeply ridged texture and is around an inch-and-a-half long, which goes some way to providing a DSLR-like handling experience.
The command dial moves easily when turned with the thumb, while the mode dial shows just enough resistance to keep it in place throughout general carrying around and operation. True, it’s not a small camera, but it’s largely because of this that it can be handled so well.
Fujifilm FinePix HS50 EXR Review – Performance
Fujifilm’s claims of speedy focusing with the HS50 EXR are borne out through testing; at the wideangle end in particular the camera confirms focus in a remarkably short time, and even at the other end it copes admirably, despite the hunting common to all such models in low light. Focusing is also remarkably silent, which makes the camera more suitable when discretion is required.
The HS50 EXR’s write times are also excellent, with no slowdown when capturing JPEGs on their own in quick succession, and only around seven or eight simultaneous Raw and JPEG captures starting to slow the camera down. Fujifilm also claims that the camera’s shot-to-shot time is just half a second; even when shooting Raw images it appears to be about this fast. Shutter lag is also virtually non-existent.
The performance of the HS50’s viewfinder is perhaps the camera’s most impressive feature. It’s detailed enough for manual focusing, even at longer focal lengths, while the LCD only really falters when used in particularly bright conditions (although a Sunlight-specific brightness option is on board).
There’s little that really lets the camera down, aside from the slight lagging throughout menu operation, which makes selecting options in a hurry slightly more difficult.
Fujifilm FinePix HS50 EXR review – Image Quality
The HS50 EXR’s metering system is generally sound, although it does have a slight tendency to underexpose at times, particularly when faced with large, bright areas such as skies. Typically this only requires exposure compensation to be adjusted by no more than 1EV stop, although it does have the effect of keeping details in highlights and retaining colour in skies.
Colours are relatively lifelike, although the Auto White Balance system can at times render the scene with a slightly cold cast. This is easily remedied by the WB Shift function which allows a slight bias to be applied towards specific hues.
Noise control is perfectly reasonable throughout the ISO range, although the highest few settings are JPEG only, and images captured at ISO 6400 and above are output at a lower resolution. Naturally there is some loss of detail through noise reduction, which leaves images a little smooth, but then the same is true of many other cameras when pushed to their highest sensitivities. Nevertheless, a good amount of detail prevails, and if you shoot Raw images you can eek even more out with some careful post-production.
Sadly, the HS50 EXR is let down by relatively poor video quality. Although footage is smooth, there’s far less detail than in video from similar models, and worse audio quality too. It’s also awkward to operate the zoom as this needs to be adjusted manually by turning the ring around the lens, which introduces camera shake.
Fujifilm FinePix HS50 EXR review – Verdict
The HS50 EXR is one of the most fully-featured superzoom cameras currently available, with a superb focusing system, excellent viewfinder and ergonomic design to recommend it.
Despite sub-par video quality, images are detailed and relatively noise-free throughout the range and the ability to capture and process Raw files only furthers the standard achievable from the camera. It’s not the smallest or lightest superzoom currently available, but it’s certainly one of the best for around the £400 mark.
1920 x 1080 pixels @ 60fps
Auto, 6 preset, custom
SD, SDHC, SDXC
EXR; Auto; PASM; Panorama; SP1; SP2; Adv
TTL 256-zone metering; Multi, Spot, Average
3in, 920k-dots vari-angle TFT LCD
16 million pixels, 1/2in EXR CMOS II
USB 2; HDMI Mini connection; 2.5mm external microphone
Auto (super i-flash)
Li-ion NP-W126; approx 500 frames
100 – 3200 (up to 12800 in reduced resolution)
42x optical zoom, 24 – 1000mm in equivalent terms
134.9 x 101.3 x 145.9mm
30 – 1/4000 sec
JPEG, Raw, Raw+JPEG