The FinePix HS50EXR is Fujifilm’s latest offering in the super zoom segment, which replaces the HS30EXR. Mind you, it’s not a cosmetic upgrade along with higher zoom and a few other improvements over its predecessor. Although it’s difficult to differentiate between the two at the first glance, they’re poles apart when it comes to what they offer. Let’s find out how exciting the HS50EXR is and how it fared in our tests.
Fujifilm's latest flagship with 42x zoom lens and loads of features
Design and features
Before delving into what’s packed inside the shell, it goes without saying that the HS50EXR is built like a rock. It feels extremely sturdy and weighing in at slightly above 800 grams (with the battery), it’s a whopper of a digital camera. With the design akin a DSLR camera, all-black body and a massive telephoto lens that can’t go unnoticed, the HS50EXR comes across as a serious shooter.
Top panel and the lens at full zoom
Starting with the lens, it’s a step up from the 30x zoom lens in the HS30EXR. “HS50EXR” suggests this camera boasts a 50x zoom lens like most flagship cameras by other brands do, but you get 42x optical zoom. The equivalent focal length ranges from a nice and wide 24 mm to a whopping 1000 mm, making it practical both indoors and outdoors. Be it wide group photos, portraits, extreme close ups, wild life and sport photography, the all-purpose lens lets you do everything. The largest aperture at the wide end is f/2.8, which is quite bright in low light. At the telephoto end, you can stop down to f/5.6, which is respectable for an equivalent focal length of 1000 mm. A unique feature of the lens is manual zoom using twist-barrel mechanism, like in DSLR lenses—twisting the barrel clockwise extends the lens to zoom in. At full zoom, the lens measures around six inches in length. The actual and equivalent focal lengths are indicated on the tube that extends outwards. The manual zoom does give you fine grained control over zoom while taking still shots, but it can be painful while shooting videos. You don’t get steady, gradual zoom that you get with motorised zoom.
10x optical zoom—240 mm
42x optical zoom—a whopping 1000 mm!
One of the biggest upgrades over the HS30EXR is the use of a new sensor. There’s no change in the size of the sensor and resolution. The HS50EXR uses a 1/2-inch type CMOS sensor that has a resolution of 16 megapixels. However, the inclusion of phase detection pixels on the sensor helps achieving quick autofocus. Fujifilm claims the HS50EXR can autofocus in as little as 0.05 seconds in ideal conditions.
A pair of stereo microphones is placed in the front, just above from where the lens starts. The top panel is identical to that of the HS30EXR, except that the print on the pop-up flash is changed to bear the new model number. The hot-shoe located behind the flash allows using flashguns with this camera. The right side is home to the mode dial, shutter release, hotkeys for drive mode and EV that double as zoom in and out respectively in playback mode, and a jog dial for navigation.
Fully-articulating display allows shooting from odd angles
The rear panel is quite elaborate, but not as much as that in HS30EXR wherein you had a stack of hotkeys on the left side of the LCD monitor for ISO, metering, AF, help and white balance. In the HS50EXR, stack of hotkeys is replaced by the swivel mechanism of the fully-articulating LCD monitor (the HS30EXR featured a tilting-type display). You lose out on a few useful hotkeys, but you get a Q button in the top right corner that brings up a screen with tiles displaying various shooting parameters like ISO, dynamic range, white balance, movie mode, image quality, noise reduction, tone and sharpness. The bottom row has tiles for metering, AF mode, IS mode and LCD brightness. You get to see all the shooting parameters in one place, plus rotating the jog dial cycles through the available options of the selected tile.
Moving to the right, there’s the EVF/LCD button to the right of the Q button to switch between the EVF, LCD and eye sensor mode, which automatically turns off the LCD monitor and switches to the EVF when you bring the camera to your eye. A dedicated button for video recording is placed above the top right corner of the LCD, within easy reach of the thumb. A slightly recessed thumb grip layered with textured rubber— for almost the entire thumb and not just the tip— takes up the top and a little area to the right of the D-pad. The D-pad offers a customisable Fn button and shortcuts to flash mode, self-timer and macro/super macro mode. The Fn button can be assigned one of the 13 available functions in the settings, including ISO, image size, white balance, movie mode, AF mode and IS mode.
Ridged rubber grip on the lens barrel and focus mode switch
The left side of the camera has a new addition, which is a switch to set the focus to single servo AF, continuous servo AF and manual AF. The button in the centre toggles zoomed view to check the focus in manual AF mode. You adjust the focus by rotating the ridged ring on the lens barrel, towards the body. Also present on the left side are jack for external mic, miniHDMI port and USB port, all housed under rubber flaps for protection. The right side houses the SD card slot, which is covered by a plastic flap that slides out and opens. So, you don’t have to open the battery compartment to eject and insert memory cards. The camera draws power from a 1260 mAh Li-ion battery pack that goes into the compartment on the bottom.
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