Fujifilm HS10 review, as a travel camera!

Fuji HS10


Firstly, I'd like to apologize for this very long post if anyone is having trouble with loading the page, it should be divided into several separate pages,  but having some issues with the new Blogger and page layout at the moment!!
Sorry about that, working on a solution!!


Hope you enjoy anyway? :-)


As promised (if a little later than anticipated!), here is my layman's opinion of the Fujifilm HS10, and why it ranks as one of the best bridge cameras for nature loving travelers.
With a 10 megapixel, 24-720mm manual zoom lens, a large tilting LCD screen and a host of new features, it has caused quite a stir since it's launch earlier in 2010.


I am no professional photographer here, just a keen amateur who knows what he likes in a travel camera, so there will be no high tech jargon about pixel count, IQ, the size of the sensor or RAW images in this review, just my likes and dislikes, a list of accessories that might be useful, a comparison with the camera it's replacing (Minolta A200), and a collection of jpeg images that may or may not have been tweaked in a free editing suit like Picassa or Live Photo Gallery.


HS10 and my old Minolta A200 which feels more like a toy in comparison!





Out of the box


I liked it straight from the off, a good size, not too bulky, it feels solid with good balance, looks every bit like one of the smaller entry level DSLR's, but without the interchangeable lenses. The body is made pretty much entirely of tough plastic and rubber with a crinkle finish which affords a good grip. 
When you grab the camera with your right hand, it seems instinctive to cradle the lens barrel from underneath with your left, sitting it on the palm. This makes for a fairly steady stance for taking photos with your eye to the EVF (electronic viewfinder), with upper arms resting down across your chest, thumb and fingers at the ready for composing your shot with the smooth zoom - just over a quarter of a turn does wide to full telephoto.... impressive!


Overall, size, finish, button layout, lens and large tilting LCD screen also impressed, and just what the discerning traveler is looking for, a compact, good handling, jack of all trades camera to cover most situations!


Now lets get down to the more important stuff!


The EVF


To be honest, I am a little disappointed. It's adequate, but could be greatly improved by being bigger and brighter. There are no adjustments other than a diopter dial on the side - for individual eye adjustment.
The EVF is my preferred way of taking pics, and I have now learned to accept it's limitations. It's far from being perfect, but then few things are!
It does have an automatic Eye Sensor setting, if you need it, that switches off the LCD when you use the EVF  (something that the Minolta has had for years). I never used it then either, but that's me, you might love it!


EVF with eye sensor to the right, and diopter wheel on left


LCD screen


This is quite a nice large 3" tilting screen that does come in handy when getting into some awkward spots. It's a little difficult to see when in bright sunshine, but then I haven't seen one that isn't! Would be even nicer if it swiveled like the A200, and had a higher resolution that many other newer cameras are being shipped with these days. I guess Fuji are trying the market with this flagship model, and all our reservations and wishes will be included in the Mk 11 version........wouldn't that be great??


Travelling to foreign countries and taking pics of local people usually leaves me in a bit of a quandary. The last thing you want to do is just snap away without a care and upset someone - I know I wouldn't like it! But sometimes, if you stop to ask, the moment has been lost and the shot doesn't look so natural. This is where the HS10 comes into it's own. Sit somewhere quite, holding the camera down low, or even resting on a table, tilt the LCD up for a clear view, zoom in, and snap! Much better than looking like one of the paparazzi!



LCD screen tilts 90 degrees up and about 45 down

Notice the GGS Pro Glass Screen Protector, a great piece of kit, and highly recommended.
 (yes it is made for the 40D/50D Canons, but that also happens to be the exact size for the HS10

Menu and Button Layout

The menu is fairly easy to find your way around, with lots of settings to choose from. There is much talk about these in places like dpreview, just search for HS10 in the Fujifilm Talk forum. Even then, play around with them till you find something you like!

              Direct Shooting Buttons

Large Mode dial and smaller one for use with Direct Shooting Buttons

Down the left side are the Direct Shooting Buttons: ISO (sensitivity), AE (auto-exposure), AF (auto-focus), AF C/S/M (focus mode), and WB (white balance) 
Simple to use, press one you wish to change and dial the correct setting with the right hand mode dial. This works very well and is a welcome addition - the use of two components at the same time makes sure that no changes are made to the settings by hitting a button accidentally.

One button that is easy to hit by mistake is the playback button. It sits on the lower right side, just below the round silver Selector Button.

Selector button has many functions, pretty commonplace these days

The amount of times I have hit this with the palm of my hand during shooting is getting beyond a joke. I plan to get a little bit of Black Fimo (a craft modeling clay that normally oven dries but can be air dried in a warm airing cupboard - given enough time) to build the body up around the right hand side of the button where my palm rests. Other types of modeling clay like Power Putty will work just as well, although you would have to change the colour. I will post the results when I finish it!


Click here to see this fix!




Video


The video button is also a great feature (the one with the orange dot). No matter what mode you are in while taking pictures, press this and you are straight into videoing whatever you're pointed at!


Video is pre-set in the menu, HD 1080p, HD 720, 640 and 320, with a multitude of high speed options. Be warned though, the higher the speeds, the lower the resolution. The maximum 1000fps renders the movie so small it's almost useless - although it is fun to play with!


My preference is to leave it on 720 at 30fps, which is very smooth and quite adequate for my needs. But it's always nice to have a little extra if needed!
When on occasion that I have used high speed video, the 120fps setting gave very good results. Do remember to switch it back to normal speeds afterwards, or the next time you go to use it, it will still be in high speed mode!






There has been concerns on the forums about severe shaking in the HD video results. All I can say is, when using a powerful lens like this one, use a tripod!! Every minute vibration will be magnified the same amount of times as the picture. Clench your fist tightly.....can you feel your blood pumping? Multiply that by 30 times and I think you'll get the picture!
This goes for any camera, so at the very least, brace yourself against a wall, car or something solid, or use a mono/tripod. Anything to minimize the human element.


The manual zoom is not the best while shooting video. I'd recommend sticking to a pre-set zoom range for each take and changing it in between. I've tried to zoom during shooting and it is jerky at best. If video is your thing, then get a dedicated video recorder. The HS10 has it as a welcome addition, but it is not meant to be it's main feature.








The Lens


This award winning lens has a huge range - 24-720mm, that's wider than average (28 is the norm) to a whopping great 30x magnification!


The perfect traveling camera, in my eyes, has to have a long reach manual zoom in a compact form, and the HS10 has that in spades. It's one of the main features that perspective buyers are looking for, and although there are other superzoom bridge cameras out there - namely the Olympus SP-800UZ and Nikon P100, which have power zoomed 28-840 (30x) and 26-678mm (26x) lenses respectively - the HS10 leads the way.


My preference has always been a manual zoom. It's just a natural and quick way to frame a picture - none of this zoom button pushing, first one way, then the other because you missed the best spot. It's also noisy, annoying and drinks battery juice (but it is handy for videoing ;-)
 



Lens fully extended


With all that range, there has to be some sort of anti-shake on board, and Fuji have added 4 options of Image Stabilization (5 if you count Off): Continuous, Shooting only, Continuous + Digital and Shooting only + Digital.
My preference is Shooting only, as it does save on battery life compared to Continuous. I've not got round to trying the Digital IS yet. Even then, it doesn't hurt to use a mono/tripod as well when at the long end for extra steady shots.


My choice of added stability as a traveler is the Velbon Ultra Stick L50 monopod. It's only 35cm when collapsed, 155cm fully extended, and uses a great twist and lock mechanism, which means there are no protruding knobs or levers to snag on anything. I've also topped it off with the excellent Manfrotto 494RC2 Ball Head
Fully extended, it is the perfect height for my 6ft 1" frame. So I'm pretty much good to go, and never leave home without them!


A super slick stick, the Velbon Ultra Stick L50





I made myself a neat strap that utilizes the Manfrotto 200PL release plate, which has a strong metal D ring underneath for tightening the thread onto your camera. It uses easily available 1 inch black webbing, a few black plastic buckles and a very strong Acetal plastic snap hook so there's no metal parts banging against your precious camera!

Manfrotto QD plate with D-ring and snap hook from home made strap

Based on other designs I've seen costing over £50,  I have made quite a few very cheaply and use them for my binoculars too. In use, the camera hangs down your side and is very quickly brought up to shooting position with one hand. When I mount the camera to my monopod, I unclip the strap, attach the already fixed plate into the Ball Head, clip the strap to the monopod and away I go!
Also works well when wearing a rucksack or underneath a jacket when it's raining.

I find this much better than having the camera banging against my chest all day!

Any reservations you may have about the strength of the tripod mounting thread on the HS10, or the D ring and snap hook, have been dispelled by months of trails and long walks, with no signs of weakness at all!
The only slight inconvenience is the QD plate must be removed to change the batteries - a once a day occurrence at most.... more about batteries later!


Even with monopod attached it is still easy to carry, and ready at a moments notice


Here are some of the first shots taken with the HS10/ Velbon/Manfrotto combo; 
this is a full wideangle of the RSPB visitor center (middle, on the horizon), 
at Rainham Marshes in Essex UK, 
on a dullish overcast day.

672 yds to the Visitor Center, as measured on Google Earth

This is at full zoom (30x) from same position.

This is full zoom plus 2x digital

As you can see from these not so interesting pics (one of my first real attempts to compare the zoom), the range is just what you need to bring in your subject from afar - so long as you keep a steady hand. 

What amazes me is how on earth did Fuji manage to cram so much into such a compact lens? No wonder it won design awards!


Hear it is with an original Fuji sun shade/lens hood attached, which does not come with the camera (come on Fuji!). Mine stays on almost permanently via the bayonet fitting, which leaves enough room for attaching filters/converters and of course the lens cap. The hood can cause a slight shadow on the bottom of the pic when using the flash on close-ups - a minor inconvenience easily cured by removing it!

I also have a Hoya 58mm UV Filter, which stays on as a lens dust cover, and a Hoya 58mm PRO1 Digital Circular PL Filter, for those snowy/sunny countries, and days that don't occur too much over here, lol!

At no time have I ever experienced any vignetting at wideangle using these filters, something that constantly plagued my Minolta's 28-200mm (7x) lens. Basically I had to zoom in a little or do some cropping in post production, so that is another very welcome addition (or should I say "omission"?) to my upgrade! :-)


The following few pics are from a recent trip to North Uist in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, showing some full zoom shots and why it is so handy to have that extra reach when hiking in the wilderness!


Meadow Pipit, f/5.6, 1/240sec, ISO-200, 126mm (full zoom)


Another Meadow Pipit, f/5.6, 1/400sec, ISO-400, 126mm


Fulmar pair, f/5.6, 1/350sec, ISO-200, 126mm



Wheatear (was very windy), f/7.1, 1/950sec, ISO-200, 126mm



North Uist sunrise (honest!),  f/7.1, 1/680sec, ISO-100, 126mm





Modes


Auto - there as a simple "point and shoot" mode, for beginners.


SR Auto - Scene Recognition, similar to the normal Auto, but cleverly adjusts settings to suit the scene.


Adv - Advanced "point and shoot" with sophisticated techniques, Pro Low-Light, Multi Motion Capture and Motion Remover. Have tried all three, but only the Pro Low Light worked to any effect on my camera and not that well then! It takes 4 consecutive shots and combines them to form a single exposure. Good in theory but maybe I need some more practice? Shame about the other two as well, the Motion modes could be a lot of fun - further firmware updates needed ....(are you listening Fuji?)


SP1/SP2 Scene Position - here we have a multitude of pre-set scene modes, from Portrait, Landscape, Night, Sport, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Flower and Text.
Set SP1 for your favorite scene mode (mine is Landscape), and SP2 for the next (Sunset), then they are instantly available when needed.


Motion Panorama - this has become a common feature on cameras recently, even in our mobile phones, but it still has a way to go before it is a reliable replacement for post production stitching software. For a start, it only works on wideangle. The image is at a much lower resolution and is reliant on how smooth you can pan the camera. There are 4 options to which direction you wish to pan: right, left, up and down.
My favorite trick is to hold the camera in portrait position and select the up or down direction. Still pan right or left, this way the end result is a larger image than if used in landscape.
But it is temperamental, and usually only works the once properly. A restart is needed to take another panoramic shot (more firmware magic needed!).


P S A M - no need to explain much here. Pretty much every camera has these settings for Program AE, Shutter Priority, Aperture and  Manual. My preference has always been P for most of my work. I'm sure my images would benefit more from experimenting with the others!


Custom - which is exactly that - sets your camera how you like it. Save the settings in Custom and it will always be there at the turn of the mode dial.
Surely there is a golden opportunity to give this setting more options? I'm sure every photographer out there has more than one favorite setting, so why not write it into the firmware to have a limitless number - or at least 10 to start with! Accessed by pressing the "Menu" button, select the one you want with the small mode dial........lets hope Fuji are listening?


I'm also disappointed about the content of the EXIF files - the hidden properties that are embedded within each  jpeg or Raw file. Unless I'm missing something when viewing them on my Win 7 laptop, there is nothing listed next to Digital Zoom (even when I know I've used it!), 35mm focal length, or Subject distance. If anyone has any ideas as to why this is, and how it can be fixed, I would be most appreciative!


A menu option to include the Macro or Teleconverter lenses to the EXIF data before shooting would be nice also. It does get a little difficult to remember which lens you used for which photo when looking through the results on you PC a day or two later!......or am I just getting old?




You can see several missed "stitches" on this pic of a Loch in Scotland, saw a wild Otter moments before this was taken!


This one is a bit better, North Uist with the tide out!


The next three pics are stitched together with the free HUGIN software

Still a slight dark cast around the stitch area, but much better result!


Have to keep an eye on the returning tide, or you can be caught out!


Make use of the wonderful early morning light!



Macro


Macro for me has become a hobby all on it's own, and the HS10 has only heightened my enthusiasm.
Two options available here: normal Macro and Super Macro.
The Macro setting comes in handy, even outside normal macro ranges. When your subject is say around 5 yards or so and you want to zoom right in on it, you'll find that the camera will not focus down far enough to catch it. Turn on Macro, try again and it should come into focus.
Super Macro lets you get really close to the action, and can focus down to 1cm from the lens, admittedly, only at wideangle, but still, that is almost too close!

Emperor Dragonfly......the Ace around the pond!



Fuji's are generally well known for their vibrant colours



taken on another "dull day"



If your into Macro like I am, then additional macro lenses are a lot of fun to play with, namely the Raynox DCR-150 and Raynox DCR 250



They attach easily using sprung loaded clips that grip the inside thread of your 52-67mm lens or filter, centering it automatically.
The Raynox DCR-150 is the easiest to use, as the depth of field is slightly wider, meaning you will get more shots in focus when first starting out. The Raynox DCR 250 on the other hand, although it gets you incredibly close, has a focus range of around 1mm, so conditions need to be perfect, with good light, no wind, tripod, and a cooperative subject! Stick with it though, and you'll be rewarded with some spectacular results.


These are just a taste of what you can achieve. Room for lots of improvement I know, but they were hand held only at this stage!


Raynox DCR-150, Orb Spider.......and lunch!




Same lens but getting closer!




Raynox DCR-250, Blue Damselfly, less than 2 inches long
 this is at a wider lens setting, notice the slight vignetting?




Same Damselfly, but with full zoom on the HS10 and DCR-250
 see how I missed focus on the eyes and got it's neck instead!


They come packed in a tough plastic box, and I can get both into one saving space, so can't wait to take then on my next trip............. what fun I would have "had" in the Amazon Jungle?




Some other useful kit for taking better macro shots that I've been trying out recently, is the Benbo BEN106-Compact Trekker Mk3 tripod and a Macro 4 Way Slider Rail.




The Benbo BEN106-Compact Trekker Mk3 tripod is a little different from the norm, and takes some getting used to after a normal tripod. Built mainly to get your camera into nearly any position - even close to the ground like in the picture above - it does this with a special central arrangement that allows all three legs and off center column to be positioned at any angle. It is well built, lightweight, and the bottom parts of the legs are also sealed so you can stand them in mud and water with no problem.


It does not however, stand that tall - 114cm being the max - without any additional ball head or 4 Way Slider. But when you consider the range it has, all the way down to ground level, it's about as universal as you can get for its size and weight!
Maybe not quite compact enough to become a traveling tripod, but I thought you might like to see it anyway!


Special linkage system of the Benbo allows independent placement of all 4 sections




The Macro 4 Way Slider Rail, although a basic piece of kit, when mounted on the Benbo and using the Raynox lenses (especially the DCR-250) it gives you that very necessary minute control over focusing distance for the best results.  We're talking about half a millimeter between a good or missed shot, so any assistance to take the human element out of the equation is good. Oh, and don't forget to use the 2 sec timer too, that gives enough time after the shutter release button has been pressed for the camera to settle before the shot is taken.
Not really something you would take traveling though, as it's a little bulky!


Two dials for forward-back, left-right, very handy for when your subject is as small as an Ant!




The combination of this set-up, along with the Raynox lenses, should yield some good results. They are not up to pro standards by any means, but as a starter into Macro photography, they are great! I haven't actually got round to giving it much of a test yet, as the weather conditions have not been very favorable (too windy), but will post some when I do!


Here are a collection of random Macros with the HS10:


Shallow DOF makes for great backgrounds!


Inside a Poppy


Macro......it's another world!


Close up of Pyramid Orchid, each flower here is about the size of an average fingernail!

Red-veined Darter, very nice of him to pose for me!


Parent taking kids to school in family 8 wheeler!!



Sony VCL-DH1758 Conversion Lens



Over much deliberation and research done with a few friends on dpreview, I bought this converter for a little extra reach. I know what your thinking......"why do you need even more magnification when you already have a 30x lens?" Well, when you get a new toy like the HS10, you like to add a few accessories, and I was interested in getting that little bit extra for shots of the moon, birds and all those creatures that are not too fond of close human contact. I have to say, it has been a worthy addition!






The model number 1758, denotes the magnification - 1.7x, and the lens thread size - 58mm, so screws straight onto the HS10 lens, or in my case, onto the UV filter thread.







As you can see, it makes for quite a unit, and although it is not really that heavy (8.9oz, 250g), it is best to support the whole lens just in case it adds unnecessary strain on the main body and lens zoom  mechanism.
I use mine with a versatile Cam-Pod bean bag - another useful travel aid for the photographer - as it is filled with HDPE plastic beads, so there is no problem getting through airports like if your bag were filled with dried beans!




As with most telephoto converter lenses, there is vignetting at around 300mm and lower, which is fine, as there is no point in going below that anyway. Most of the time this will be used at full zoom (720mm, 126mm, 30x), and again, you will need a tripod for best results as we now have a max zoom of 51x! (30 x 1.7)




There's not really much more I can say about this converter lens, other than I like it....a lot!
Combined with the HS10, it records good results. Nothing to touch a DSLR of course, but then show me a brand new DSLR and lens combo that has the same size, reach and price as the HS10, and we'd probably be talking about that instead!




I make no excuse for the majority of my subjects being birds, it's become more than a "flight of fancy!".........pun intended :-)


Short Eared Owl hunting over the fields on North Uist.......
shot at around 250yds, standing, with monopod in windy conditions!


A rare sighting of a Sea Eagle, I just happened to have the Sony DCR-1758 fitted on the camera when I saw the giant wings soaring way above me, bracing myself against an old stone wall, manual focus, this was best of the bunch, before it was gone!
I really wish I had this set-up a few years ago when on a round the world trip. I was in New Zealand, on a hike above Queenstown with an American lady (Hi Lynne!), when I looked up and saw a Wedge-tailed Eagle (very similar to the Sea Eagle above) I knew what it was immediately as I had seen lots of them in Tasmania a few months before. It then dawned on me that NZ only has three birds of prey - the NZ Falcon, Harrier and the Morepork owl - so I hurriedly took some snaps of the distant soaring beast with my Minolta, and later reported it to the Department of Conservation. 
My statement was taken and photos were duly downloaded, but they were almost useless, even if the ranger did confirm that the pics were definitely not of the 3 known species. Now if I could have submitted pics like the one above, it would have been a done deal!!
Update, the Ornithological Society of NZ have contacted me only this week. It seems my submission is going up for appraisal this month (August 2010), so keep you fingers crossed?


Birds in flight are difficult at the best of times, this Hobby was snapped at Rainham Marshes hunting dragonflies (monopod)


The humble Starling, must be the most widespread of all the birds!


Wheatear (monopod)






My best moon shot to date!






Continuous Shooting (Burst Mode)


Five settings here:
Off - for normal shooting of single frame.
Top 7 - with 10, 7, 5 or 3 fps.
Best frame capture - starts recording pics when you press the shutter release button half way down, and records a pre-set amount before and after pressing the shutter release fully.
Zoom Bracketing - basically 2 instant options of digital zoom, 1.4x and 2x, both in wide or tall mode.
AE Bracketing - each press of the shutter button takes 3 shots, one at the metered value for exposure, one underexposed, and another overexposed.


Having pre-set my option of 5 frames a second when going through the initial menu setup, I promptly forgot about High Speed shooting - until I walked down to my friends pond one day. There sat a Drake Mallard, looking like he was about to launch himself at the sky. I quickly selected the option, zoomed in and focused on the Drake sitting on the water, and off he went. I pressed the shutter release, panning with him as he made a diagonal dash of about 45 degrees to the left,  here are the results:




No editing of any sort, straight from the camera. I know they would have benefited from a faster shutter speed to limit the blur, but there wasn't enough time. I'm pretty happy with my first attempt!






Batteries


There were some concerns over battery life in the HS10's infancy, but I have not found them. I already had some of the preferred and excellent Sanyo Eneloop Batteries and a good slow charger - the Technoline BL700 for use with a multitude of gadgets - so I had no hesitation in using them with the HS10.






A lot of people are unaware (I was one till recently!), that the way you charge a battery has a definitive effect on the life of said battery. Fast chargers do as their name suggests, but are not conducive to long life. So, even though the Technoline BL700 is a bit more expensive, it pays for itself in keeping your battery collection in tip top shape.


With 200, 500 and 700mh charge settings, Refresh mode, Discharging and testing modes, where each individual AA/AAA NiCd and NiMH battery is checked simultaneously. It has an LCD screen which provides real time progress of each cell, and automatically changes to trickle charge when battery is full.


I think there are a few obvious settings on the HS10 that will gobble up juice like the LCD screen and Continuous Auto-focus  (I only use either when absolutely necessary). A fully charged set of Eneloops has always lasted more than a full day, sometimes two! Plus they are built to hold their charge much longer, only losing 10% after 6 months, 15 % after 12. Now that's super efficient compared to disposables!






There is a battery type option in the setup menu:  Lithium, Alkaline or Rechargeable Ni- MH.  Not quite sure what difference it makes if it's set to one value and you use a different type, but it's there anyway and I'm not about to test the options on mine!






Other types of battery will do the job too, but don't seem to last quite as long. The Eneloops are very reasonably priced, and work out extremely cheap when you take into account they can be charged many times over, saving loads of money in the long run - and countless tonnes of toxic waste in our landfills. In my mind, disposable batteries should be banned!


Another concern for many was the battery bay door. It does seem a bit flimsy, even loose, but it has worked flawlessly. No problems there, just extra care is needed!
The low battery warning light came on very early, before the latest firmware update (1.02) corrected it in most cases.


I must admit I was not a big fan of AA batteries in cameras. Their performance in the past was mediocre compared to the High Capacity Long Life lithium-Ion types supplied by most manufacturers, but the HS10 and Eneloop's has swayed me otherwise.


Firstly, I've lost count of the different types of dedicated Lithium batteries there are. For each new camera a company brings out there seems to be another new battery. Come on people, we're not that stupid! For goodness sake, let's see some collaboration here, and stick with a few standard models. Better still, forget them altogether and change to AA's. They are almost as good these days, and much easier to source when in a foreign land when you've just run out and forgot to pack the spare set! (Although I'm not condoning buying disposables, but if you have to, please dispose of them in a safe and sensible manor! ;-)


So, have I been converted..................you betcha!!






SDHC


Unlike Lithium batteries, SDHC memory cards are gradually becoming "the" standard across most camera manufacturers, which is great to see. Not only are they smallish and compact (nothing like the Micro version though), they now have great capacity for a reasonable price, and with cameras coming with 14 megapixels and over  these days, we need larger and faster memory to cope!


The instructions inform us that we need a "Class 4" or higher SD or SDHC card for the HS10, mainly to help with write speeds and HD video I assume. So I opted for the Sandisk 8gb Extreme Class10 30mb/s edition, just to be on the safe side!
It is fast, reliable, and slots right into my laptops card reader, so it is a cinch to copy over my pics and video. Also uses no battery power that way!



 








Flash


Being a bit of a naturalist in my photographic ways, I don't get to use the flash that often. Even though I know that nearly all good photos need good light (probably another reason why my batteries last longer!) I often get a bit flustered about which is the best setting. So I'm not really the best person to ask with regards to "flashing anything!" Still a lot to learn there, but I have had a go a few times with the HS10 (like you do!) using the SP1/SP2 Scene mode, Natural and Flash. This takes two consecutive shots, one without flash, the other with, from a single press of the shutter release.

Result is below, taken at a Living Roof training day my friends John and Dusty (in the foreground) ran down in Brighton earlier this year;


Without flash.....


.......with flash!


I was quite surprised at how far the flash reached towards the back of the room, especially as this was my first attempt with no other change of settings. Must definitely experiment more with this!


My next attempt was at a private folk music festival, and I didn't really get my camera out till the early hours, by which time it was seriously dark and the live music was getting very heavy (for a folk festival!) Beard of Slugs were doing some Metalica covers, and in hindsight, I should have used the AF-Assist Illuminator which temporarily lights up the subject for better focusing.... next time!






Beard of Slugs, rockin into the early hours!........a good night!!






Sometimes flash is not an option, so setting a higher ISO does the trick (f/5.6, 1/210sec, ISO-800, 55mm) 





Conclusion


I've tried to give you an honest account of my thoughts about the HS10, a camera that has provoked more emotions worldwide, for and against, than any other camera I have ever known!
I too got excited when I heard about this new 30x zoom camera coming from Fuji last February, and along with thousands of others, searched the Internet for any relevant information. It was slow coming!


dpreview was my savior. There I found that I was not alone, in fact, I was far from being alone!


I made new friends in the Fujifilm Talk forums there, exchanging views and new news, anything that was connected with the mystical HS10. 


Soon it was out, but where?......"Thailand!" Some early pics filtered through, so-so to start with, but not really any solid proof on the cameras performance. We will have to wait a bit longer!


Slowly it started to spread, China, Japan, then........Poland????


Casting it's spell over the masses, a spell so powerful that most places that advertised it's coming sold out their first, second and some their third deliveries just to pre-orders!


Europe waited, impatiently, while things in America reached fever pitch as the HS10 dropped in their hands next. Some were overly seduced by it's good looks and huuuuuuge lens, others were more resistant, had a quick look and returned it straight away, their curiosity quenched!


Those that stuck with it though, started to turn out some good pictures. Like with every camera, it takes a while to learn. We all knew it had some problems, mainly firmware related, and still hoped that these would be fixed in due time!


Finally it reach the UK. A mad rush of excitement, and the first batch went to a TV shopping channel (very strange!) and further shipments were nowhere to be seen. Weeks went by and at last I managed to secure one through Jessops. Paid a little more than Amazon were offering it for, but hey, I'd waited long enough!


As mention at the beginning of this post, first impressions were good. It just felt good in the hands, and not just because it was shiny and new and expectations were high. It still feels a good camera to hold today, for me anyway! It did and still does have some issues, mainly soft/firmware related, but the basic camera works very well, or should I say "much better than my old Minolta" ? And thats all I wanted!


It was not really a fair test for my aged Minolta. It had had it's day - and did a mighty fine job, from the temples of Thailand, Peru and Mexico, to the amazing natural landscapes of New Zealand, the Americas and the Amazon, and it had done it without missing a beat. The only limiting factor in it's performance was me!!!!!


Yes, it was only an 8mp, 7x zoom camera, but for me at the time, that was the the best there was!
I wished for more zoom, megapixels and a larger LCD screen, and now I've got them! 


Now, as you know, I'm no pro. Making money from my photos would be great, but thats not why I like photography. It's a hobby. I can combine three of the my most favorite things to do all at once: nature, travel and taking pics (there is a forth, but I can't write that here! ;-
I'm happiest when surrounded by wilderness in a far off land, not knowing what I will see next, and with my camera at the ready!........I like it because it's fun!


The HS10 is a fun camera, and that is the whole point. Yes it has it's flaws, but thats all part of the challenge, and that lens just gets in there when you need it. I don't want a camera that takes perfect pics every time (as if there is such a thing?), and I'm not interested in crystal clear, pixel perfect Raw/Raf/Tiff sized images that I can print up on a billboard the size of a house. I'm more interested in the photo's content, it's composition and learning how to improve that. If it looks good on my laptop screen, I'm happy! I'll leave all that other stuff to the multitude of other photographers who are much better at it than I....................that's um.... pretty much everyone then, lol!!






So, is the HS10 worth buying? Depends on where your coming from!
Will it replace a DSLR?....No, but then it was never meant to. It does handle just like one though and could be a handy addition, for those days when you really just want to leave your large and heavy bag of lenses and equipment at home.
Can it do a bit of everything?....Sort of! Kind of a jack of all trades, master of none. Although it is very good at macro, not so good in low light, but that lens can get you into places only dreamed of before!
Lets face it, a good photographer can take much better photos with a cheap mobile phone than the best and most expensive camera in the world in the hands of an amateur!............Think about it?




Would I part with my HS10.............not on your life!!






.......................well, not until the new HS20 comes out that is! ;-)






Pros
Zoom range - 24-720mm.
Manual zoom.
Large 3" tilting LCD screen
Size, weight, and handling.
Direct Shooting Buttons.
Flash.
Macro.
Good selection of modes.
AA batteries.
HD video and instant movie record button.
High speed video up to 120fps.
HDMI out
High speed shooting @ up to 10fps.
RAW if needed
Zoom Bracketing.
Price - is now cheaper than I paid for my old Minolta A1 7 years ago!


Cons
EVF viewfinder - too small and dull.
Write times a little slow, but you get used to it.
Needs good light for best results.
Some firmware issues, mostly with the new modes like Panorama, Motion Remover, 
and Multi Motion Capture, may be fixed by further updates.
Tripod mount not central to lens.....?
No lens shade as standard.
No wireless remote.





Hope this has been of some interest? if so, please feel free to leave any comments below, and please help support this blog/website by purchasing any of the products listed through the links provided.
I do get a very small commission, which helps to keep this site running.
Many thanks and happy shooting.








Fuji HS10 at Amazon.co.uk


Fuji HS10 at Amazon.com


Fuji HS10 at Warehouseexpress


Fuji HS10 at PurelyGadgets


Fuji HS10 at Jessops





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44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice review! A good break from all the pixel peeeeping technical papers!

Anonymous said...

a review from a guy who enjoys taking pics......which is exactly up my street.

thanks for time, tips and honesty

now if you want to build on this review with lessons learned i for one will drop on by

Iresh said...

You, I read first very good,descriptive and positive review. I dono either u r professional reviewer or not. But i was reading regarding hs10 since it was announced. Mostly all prefessional reviewer comparing with DSLR and that is bigggggggg mistake. Although decided to buy this camera but after reading ur full review with all usable accessories (very first time i m reading this type of review), now i m firm on my decision to buy HS10.

Thanks a looooot. I will follow ur comments and review now and future.

Iresh

David Harper said...

Many thanks for your kind comments guys, makes it all worthwhile! :-)
Iresh, I'm no pro, just a (keen) consumer like you, and I like to share my findings, learning from others and experimenting yourself,is the best way to expand your knowledge, we can all learn from each other (just shame my brain has trouble holding onto it, lol!!)
I will be continuing this post with updates and further findings, so the support is most welcome!
Regards, Dave

Raj said...

Great review Dave. Catch you later on DPR.

Barbara said...

The very well review and every angel to describe to the camera.Fujifilm FinePix HS10 where they write – ‘Ultimately though, whether or not the HS10 is for you largely depends on whether you will actually make use of the broad compositional scope on offer. If you won’t, for the price, an entry level DSLR would be a sounder investment.

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Anonymous said...

great review and a honest one not by some pro,
well done mate :)
paul....................

Anonymous said...

love ya website

hanlo

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for a very well informed blog. I really want one of these cameras and keep giving hints to hubby for xmas pressy...lol. At the moment, I use a Fuji S8000fd which is the best camera I've had so far. But I love taking pics when out walking and want the HS10 for super zoom pics.

Well done.

steve reed said...

hi dave, yes thanks for all that info. i am just a keen amateur so i am unable to follow a lot of what people are saying [too techy for me], but you r review is just what i needed, keep up the good work, and thanks, steve

Moose said...

David,

Fantastic review! Loved seeing all the photos and reading about your experience with the HS10. Best of luck!

- Moose

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful review! It has been an enormous help to me - thank you, too, for the links to accessories that you find useful!

I am now certain that this is the camera for me - all I have to do is start saving for it!!

Please can we have more of the same!

Best Wishes,

Hannah.

Amisha said...

I admire what you have done here. I like the part where you say you are doing this to give back but I would assume by all the comments that this is working for you as well.

pool

budget accommodation said...

Awsome review. I love the macro shots, excellent use of zoom. Thanks a lot for this article!
Lala

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time and trouble to do it.
I have had my HS10 for 6 weeks and read the manual twice but still learned a lot from your review.
Pete

Anonymous said...

Thank's for a great review. Exactly what I needed to be sure. I'm always a little cautious with professional reviews, I like to see real pictures taken by real people. Your review sealed the deal for me and I just ordered the camera two minutes ago.

gianlux said...

hi cna i know please where did yu take the finepix hood for the fujifilm hs10 pleae.:!?


thanks gianluca

David Harper said...

Hi gianlux, the lens hood that I have on my camera came from Fuji UK, it is the same as used for the S9600. The last I heard they were out of stock, but have just looked again and it seems there is one now dedicated for the HS10
It would be worthwhile checking your nearest Fuji stockist for availability.
Happy snapping :-)

Water Filters said...

Great Reviews.. Glad to read this blog

Anonymous said...

Excellent review, this has reassured me on my decision to order this camera. Looking forward to it's arrival and getting to grips with all it can offer.

jop said...

HS20 is on the doorsteps now! I'm looking for a P&S, had a comfortable journey with you and the HS10!
Most probably I'll go for the HS10. Thanks for the sensible review of yours!
:)

Vikas Khair said...

David wonderful review and just what I needed to confirm my decision to go for HS10 but no I am now waiting for HS20EXR and hoping that it will improve upon low light performance as well. if not then?? well then there will always be slightly cheaper HS10 available to buy .. Head or Tail alls mine. Keep the good work up ..

David Harper said...

Many thanks jop and Vikas, the HS20 does seem to address some of the HS10's shortcomings, well, on paper at least!
Even though I've enjoyed the HS10 over the last year or so, especially the zoom range and macro, it has been slightly frustrating over the winter waiting for good light!
Whichever camera you choose, happy snapping ;-)

Anonymous said...

A great review without the mumbo jumbo. Honest straight talking is what a lot of reviews miss. I am now even more convinced that this will be a great replacement for my aging DSLR. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Very-very useful and very-very well written and illustrated article.

Nicely Done. I hope I will have equally good results with my future purchase of HS10. Photography is an integral part of all my travels. This sounds like an enhancement over my current Fuji S700.

Now my only question is how much memory to buy for longer trips.

Cheers,
Alan

David Harper said...

Thanks Alan, glad this post was of some help!
I hope you know that a brand new model is coming out in March/April, called the HS20, which on paper should address quite a few of the HS10's shortcomings?
As for memory, I have at the moment an Archos 704 wifi that I can copy all my travel photos to, so a 4 or 8 gb SDHC card should be fine.
I plan on buying a netbook or 11" notebook for the same purpose (when they bring one out that I like!) and have the added bonus of being able to edit them and check my e-mail and blog!
Whatever you choose, enjoy and let me know how it goes?
Regards,
Dave

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads-up Dave.

Still very happy with my S700, for knocking around on day-hikes. Looking forward to some different format options, features, HD movies etc.

Perhaps I'll wait for the HS20. Maybe they'll upgrade and include the hard to find bayonet style hood, or at least offer it as an accessory through their US website.

If I end up with the HS20, I'll drop you a line after I have had a chance to test drive it.

Thanks again.

Sincerely,
Alan

David Harper said...

Alan,
The HS20 comes complete with a bayonet fitting lens hood, I think so many people complained about the lack of one with the HS10, they thought better of it this time!!
Look forward to hearing your thoughts on the HS20 if you get one!
Regards,
David

Anonymous said...

David,
This review of the HS10 is great, exactly the type of review i was looking for!
I too am looking at upgrading from a Minolta. An A1 DiMAGE (from 2004, i think!), and wanted a bridge camera with manual zoom that could reach around x30. The HS10 stood out from the crowd. I don't want the weight and hassle of DSLR as i also do a lot of travelling.
I had finally made up my mind to buy one when i get back to the UK this March, but now there is the HS20EXR!
I will wait to see what the reviews say about its features, but the HS10 is now coming down to a tempting price, plus it will allow me to buy some good accessories for it.....
Speaking of which, great details about the accessories you have. Very useful.
The Sony telephoto lens you have is no longer available on the link provided. Do you know how much it cost and if there are any other retailers or alternative lenses you would recommend?
Thanks
David

David Harper said...

Hi David,
Thanks for your complimentary comments, the HS10 was in my mind, one of the best travel cameras available last year, forging the way for others to follow suit, in which they have in droves!
Most manufacturers have already or are bringing out a mega zoom bridge of some description or other, even the compacts like the Fuji F550 EXR, Nikon S9100, Canon SX230HS and Sony's DSC-HX9, with 14-16x lens, HD video and GPS are looking really interesting as a back-up travel companion, and could possibly be all most people need, but for those that pursue nature etc., that 30x is just the ticket!
Sorry that the Sony telephoto is not available at the moment, I checked my purchase last May, and it came to £85 inc p&p, seems to be a huge price hike everywhere I've looked so far, but will let you know if I find anything reasonable!
Can't really recommend anything else, as have not tried any other lenses, except the Raynox Macro's, which I like a lot! Some on dpreview like the 2.2x Raynox, might be worth a look?

Happy snapping (and traveling!)
Regards
David

Anonymous said...

Hi David,
Thanks for the reply. Can i ask a couple more questions?
What bag do you use for this camera?
Do you use a screen protector?
Thanks

David Harper said...

The bag I use is a Crumpler Pretty Boy Rucksack, as can be seen on my home page.
I like it because it doesn't look like your carrying a camera bag, it's tough, gives fairly good protection, and isn't too big to lug around on a day hike!
Mine has gone round the world with me for the last 4 years, and taken quite a bashing but still looks as good as new!!
The screen protector I use can be seen on this blog post, it is a very thin glass type made for another camera, but works very well and is as hard as......well glass!!

Anonymous said...

Small world: I stumbled across Moose Montana's cameratips HS10 website, and then saw some of your posts, and then landed here. . . and discovered you're the same as me: I've just replaced my much-loved Konica Minolta A200 with, yes, a HS10. (Like, er, the day before yesterday.)

I'm trying to figure out the full user manual and get to grips with the camera, but wanted to tahnk you now for your really helpful review, and all the work that went into it.

Personally, I'm sick and tired of reading views / comments based upon the superiority of DSLRs: for Gawd's sake, we *know* they're full frame sensors; we *know* what they do; and, above all, we *know* the price to be paid and the lumbering inconvenience of all those lenses that cost a second mortgage.

I haven't used my A200 for quite a while, contenting myself instead with a humble Panasonic TZ3 P&S. It's been, well, superb. And because I post process everything, using Photoshop and Sagelight, the results on screen and at A4 print (and, a couple of times, A3 print) have been pretty darned stellar.

But then, the people who look at my photographs wouldn't know a pixie from a pixel and couldn't care less: the image either pleases in its composition and its impact. Or it doesn't.

I'll be back again on here seeking help soon -- hope you can get your blog pages sorted out (sorry, not meaning to be cheeky!) but it's awkward with long slabs of post which actually cover different topics, a problem that's evident over on Moose Montana's "HS10 User Forum".

All credit to both of you though: the effort made on behalf of strangers like myself may indeed have been considerable, but it really is deeply appreciated. Well done, David!

David Harper said...

Many thanks for your compliments, I'm sure you will find the HS10 to be a good companion for the TZ3, and exceed any restrictions you may have had with the A200!
The one I was most interested in was of course the 30x lens, a huge leap from the 7x on the Minolta.
Macro is also better in my opinion, but am still finding the Fuji rather lacking in low light, a little more experimentation need I think! (or just use your TZ3!)
You might want to check out some tips on settings etc. on dpreview (link in this post) especially from the likes of "Loydy"
Happy shooting :-)

photography said...

Superb

photography said...

Superb

paulo said...

Just bought a hs10 then read your blog ...fabulous inspiration.

Celine said...

Hi! I got my hs10 yesterday. And i really want to add some accessories on it like lenses, flash. Can you give me some suggestions? =)

David Harper said...

Hi Celine, just take a second look at this post, all my accessory favorites are here apart from flash, as a travel/wildlife photographer, I tend not to use them!
Hope you enjoy your new cam though, there is a certain learning curve, as with any new camera, but once understood, I'm sure you will find it very useful!
Happy shooting :-)

Jules said...

Hi,

I've just purchased an HS10 (for under £250) and I'm delighted with it. The manual zoom ring is a revelation. The tilting LCD is unexpectedly useful too.

Great Blog, by the way.

Jules

David Harper said...

Hi Jules,
Best of luck with your new cam, I'm so glad you like it!
Even though there are many new models available now with better specs (and more money!) I still feel that the HS10 has a lot going for it as a travel cam, you just need to understand it's limitations just as with any other camera, and I'm still learning something new with mine every time I pick it up!
Happy shooting,
David :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi all...What a fantastic review, it makes a change to read a review without all that number crunching. I'm currently on my second HS10, the first was a great camera but somehow I succumbed to all the hype of the release of the new HS20EXR and went and bought one, what a mistake. It was a inferior camera in every sense and I quickly got rid of it and went back to the HS10.

Thanks again for taking the time to put together this review and best of luck with your snapping ventures. Spud

http://www.flickr.com/photos/56098219@N06/

David Harper said...

Hi Spud,
Many thanks for your comments, sorry to hear that the HS20 didn't live up to your expectations, most reviews I've read have been mainly positive, unfortunately, this still wasn't enough to persuade me, as it shares the same viewfinder as the HS10, which is only adequate at best!
I have managed to get some great results from the F550exr though, which shares the same sensor as the HS20, but I am a little disappointed that Fuji saw fit to bring out a new camera (F600exr) instead of correcting it's faults!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pics of my band. :-) Im Coogie the Singer bending over backwards.

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