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Monster of a lens

Fujifilm’s latest trick has more zoom than any other camera around. But does that make it tick?

india Updated: Mar 25, 2011 19:16 IST
Rossi Fernandes

One of the key features of this Fujifilm superzoom camera is the 30x optical zoom and a 10.3 megapixel sensor. The HS10 has a flip-out style screen that will allow you to take photographs from unconventional angles. There’s an electronic viewfinder as well, but quality of the image is so deplorable that it’s better to use the LCD instead.

Manual focus ring
The mammoth lens features a manual zoom ring along with a manual focus ring. As a downside, the zoom isn’t motor-operated meaning you have to manually twist the ring like with a D-SLR. The HS10 uses four AA batteries to operate. As a result, battery life is unimpressive — the camera finished a set of four cells within two hours of shooting.

Although the HS10 looks like a D-SLR, it’s rather compact. The quality of dials isn’t too bad, but we weren’t fond of the directional buttons at the back panel. The buttons are made of plastic and the finish is cheap. There are two dials — one for the shooting mode and the other for adjusting settings. There are many buttons that simplify shooting. For example, ISO, auto-exposure, autofocus and white balance buttons can be operated easily by holding them down. If you’re used to shooting with SLRs, you’ll find it easy to use.

Camera on a tripodGet a tripod

One of the things we noticed while shooting is that image stabilisation doesn’t work as well as we’d like. Using a camera with this level of zoom makes it difficult to keep the image stable. In fact, we’d recommend you to use a tripod, for things can get pretty shaky without one.

Focusing at the short end of the zoom is quick and so is the video frame rate shown on the screen. But things go for a toss when you zoom or increase the sensitivity levels. The frame rate on the screen drops too.

Washed out colours
The zoom lens at its extreme end works pretty well. There isn’t too much of noise or distortion and it is effective. There isn’t a big improvement in low-light performance. By default, the HS10 tends to select a slow shutter speed, which make images better exposed but also increases the level of blur. Noise is clearly visible at ISO 800 and above. Colours appear a little faded out in Auto mode. Overall, the image quality can be summed up as average.

Verdict
The Fujifilm HS10 is a thorough camera that has all the features you expect of a prosumer device. The folding screen, manual focus and zoom controls are especially convenient. But so-so image quality and a dated user interface are disappointments. Priced at Rs 27,999, it’s a lot of money for what’s basically a point-and-shoot camera with a large amount of zoom. At this price, there are better options to consider. If you’re looking for tonnes of zoom without burning a hole in your pocket, then this is probably for you.

Rating ***1/2

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