Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR

While the F550EXR offers a range of excellent features for travelling photographers and a great GPS module, it is let down by average images.


7.9
CNET Rating
5.0
User Rating

About The Author

CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


Design and features

The F550EXR is a travel-oriented camera through and through. With its sleek and smooth exterior housing a 15x optical zoom, it's slim but certainly not light in the pocket. This thing means business.

Adding to the serious, sturdy feeling is the metallic finish that also coats many of the other calling cards that this camera has, such as the built-in GPS unit. Not only does it have a range of shooting options present on the mode dial (more on this later), but the F550 also offers mini-USB and HDMI output and a stereo microphone for recording sound in video mode. Behind the 24mm wide-angle lens is a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor, which affords the F550 some fast continuous shooting speeds, which you can see in our performance stats below.

One design quirk, though, is the positioning of the pop-up flash, which pops up every single time you turn the camera on. It's rather annoying, but it can be pushed down as easily as it raises itself. What's even more interesting is the fact that the mode dial is angled ever so slightly at the back of the camera, placing it in a perfect position for your thumb to twist without contorting the rest of the camera. So, with every good ergonomic choice comes a bad one...

Elsewhere, at the back of the device, the 3-inch screen is bright and chirpy, a reasonable but not ground-breaking resolution of 460,000-dots. The biggest news on the spec sheet is this camera's ability to shoot in RAW, which puts it head and shoulders above its nearest competitors. On top of the regulation automatic mode, you also get EXR mode, which lets you choose one of three different ways to use the sensor to obtain the best shot possible. You can leave it in full EXR automatic, switch to resolution priority, high ISO and low-noise priority or dynamic range priority. Additional modes include 360-degree panorama, pro focus (blurring background) and pro low light. Scene, program, aperture, shutter and manual exposure modes are also available.

The F550EXR can take full HD video in 1080p at 30fps. It uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and can take SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.

GPS tagging

The F550EXR took approximately one minute to lock on to a GPS location for the first time. You have the option of having the GPS permanently activated (even when the camera is switched off), or only activated when the camera is turned on. Location data can also be displayed on the screen when an appropriate place is found from the database provided by Navteq, which is reported to cover 85 countries across six continents.

Once images have been tagged with their GPS location data in-camera, viewing them on a computer and plotting the location is easy on Google Maps, using Picasa or any other image viewing program with mapping.

Compared to

F550EXR
Sony Cyber-shot HX9V Panasonic Lumix TZ20 Canon PowerShot SX230 Fujifilm F550EXR
16.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS 14.1-megapixel MOS 12.1-megapixel CMOS 16-megapixel CMOS
3-inch LCD (921,000-dot) 3-inch touchscreen (460,000-dot) 3-inch LCD (460,000-dot) 3-inch LCD (460,000-dot)
16x optical zoom 16x optical zoom 14x optical zoom 15x optical zoom
24mm wide-angle 24mm wide-angle 28mm wide-angle 24mm wide-angle
GPS tagging GPS tagging GPS tagging GPS tagging
HD video (1080p) HD video (1080i) HD video (1080p) HD video (1080p)

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR3.51.30.2
  • Panasonic Lumix TZ202.10.90.2
  • Sony Cyber-shot HX9V2.61.60.4

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR4
  • Panasonic Lumix TZ2010
  • Sony Cyber-shot HX9V10

While the other cameras in this comparison cannot shoot RAW images, the F550EXR can — however, it takes approximately 6 seconds between shots before the camera can take another. RAW+JPEG processing takes even longer.

The quoted 11 frames per second for continuous shooting is only achievable at a reduced resolution of 8-megapixels, and although the camera can shoot 8fps using the "Top 4" continuous shooting mode, it saves only four of those images. Fujifilm rates the battery at 300 shots.

Image quality

There's a lot of work that's gone into making this camera, and it shows — from the outward design, mostly. At reduced magnification, you can expect to see punchy and vibrant colours on images, as well as a good amount of detail resolved by the lens. There's a degree of softness the farther out from the frame you go, particularly on the right side, but hardly noticeable for the everyday photographer.

Zoom in to full magnification, and ISO levels around 400 and above is where problems start to appear. An over-processing issue makes some detail look a little too precise and crunchy. There's obvious barrel distortion at 24mm, though that's nothing out of the ordinary, especially compared to the rather dramatic effect found on similar cameras like the HX9V.

RAW vs. JPEG
F550EXR RAW vs. JPEG

The F550EXR clearly has quite a different way of processing its JPEG images to what comes straight out from the camera's sensor, as can be seen in this comparison between the two files. The JPEG image also appears overly sharpened in the 100 per cent crop (inset). (Credit: CBSi)

One area where the F550EXR fell flat, though, was on night and low-light images. Despite the best attempts of additional shooting modes, low-light shots just looked a mess. With high levels of flaring and a lack of sharpness, it's hard to recommend this camera for evening shots, even when using the dedicated low-light, low-noise profile.

Video quality is reasonable, with good audio separation from the microphone. The image itself isn't overly sharp, and unfortunately you can't use the optical zoom while filming — just the digital zoom.

Image samples

Exposure: 1/350, f/5.3, ISO 100

Exposure: 1/30, f/3.5, ISO 1000

Exposure: 1/4, f/3.5, ISO 1600

Exposure: 1/30, f/3.5, ISO 500

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

While the F550EXR offers a range of excellent features for travelling photographers and a great GPS module, it is let down by average images. Shooting in RAW and processing afterwards will get around some of these issues, if you're prepared to put in the leg work.

Previous Story

Ricoh PX

Digital Cameras
Next Story

Canon IXUS 220 HS



Add Your Review 3


* Below fields optional


Post comment as
 

Geovanni posted a comment   
Canada

I went to a camera store with an SD card and took hundreds of pictures and several videos with both the SONY & FUJI. I dumped all the footage on my PC to view on a 42" Samsung HD monitor and discovered your statement to be very true. The FinePix has excellent intelligent features for effortlessly taking great pictures. The colors are most impressive. Unlike most of the competition the images present almost 100% of the original color. Must be a RAW vs JPEG thing. Low light is not as good as the Cyber Shot but not terrible. Besides, Sony has been the king of low light sensitivity in there video devices for many decades. Both models displayed equal amount of 'noise' when images were zoomed up more than 2x on the HD monitor. Certain ISO modes delivered crisper results. Varying from camera to camera there is no winner. I was mostly interested in the video quality.(Looking for an all-in-one device) At first glance the Cyber Shot proves superior with excellent sharpness but not it's such a good thing either. Like my Sony Camcorder I find the focus sensor to cause a 'jagged' appearance around objects while the camera is stabilizing and focusing. I call it sharp blur. The FinePix's HD actually looks better once converted to an AVI format although the lag in it's auto focus (no manual) has a motion blur effect. Objects at different distances tend to phase in and out. The Fuji wins the photo battle but doesn't completely loose the video battle. If no zoom is in use and the camera is in a moderately lit room on a tripod the results will be much smoother and vivid than the Cyber Shot. Also the Fuji's menu navigation and controls for camera & picture control is far superior. Despite the accuracy of the Sony's video zoom vs stabilization it's hard not to like the FujiFilm.

Macad
5
Rating
 

"frustrating"

Macad posted a review   
Canada

The Good:Capable of taking very good photos.

The Bad:GPS is flaky, light metering is inconsistent.

The GPS function does not work about 95% of the time. I've sent it back for warranty to address the issue but they've stated that the camera works properly.
I've stood literally on the top of mountains on clear days and nights unable to get a GPS lock on *any* of hundreds of photos.
All the settings have been thoroughly checked, reset etc. it is just simply non functional.

That said the other aspects work fairly well. It does seem to have difficulty with light metering but that can be worked around if you have time to compose the picture.

If you need a fast responsive camera there should be better options. If you really would like GPS, definately look elsewhere. I had the Fuji f70exr until it was lost in the mountains and I much preferred that camera.

 

Napmatty posted a comment   
Australia

Hi Alexandra,

I have been looking for a good all round digital camera with large zoom and I am stuck between choosing the Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V. They both are very simular, but looking at both your reviews it would appear the Sony has much better video, but the Fuji has better photo capture capability with more user control. Would that be a fair assessment? Can you tell me which one would be better for indoor and low light pictures? Any help in making a decision would be appreciated.

Thanks
Matty H

Geovanni
8
Rating
 

"Most Versatile Image Control In A Point"

Geovanni posted a review   
Canada

The Good:Excellent, Effortless Point

The Bad:The Amount Of Time It Takes To Focus Distance In HD Video Mode

Which model did you purchase? I went to a camera store with an SD card and took hundreds of pictures and several videos with both the SONY




Sponsored Links
CNET's latest

User Reviews / Comments  Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR

  • Geovanni

    Geovanni

    "I went to a camera store with an SD card and took hundreds of pictures and several videos with both the SONY & FUJI. I dumped all the footage on my PC to view on a 42" Samsung HD monitor and disc..."

  • Macad

    Macad

    Rating5

    "The GPS function does not work about 95% of the time. I've sent it back for warranty to address the issue but they've stated that the camera works properly.
    I've stood literally on the top o..."

  • Napmatty

    Napmatty

    "Hi Alexandra,

    I have been looking for a good all round digital camera with large zoom and I am stuck between choosing the Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V. Th..."

CNET Speedtest

Recently Viewed Products