Fujifilm FinePix F500EXR: A Step Beyond?



Fujifilm FinePix F500EXR

Fujifilm FinePix F500EXR

The successor to the F300, the Fujifilm FinePix F500 EXR is a bundle of features fit into a compact body. Supriya Joshi finds out more.

The EXR sensor is now an established technology that Fujifilm has been using to attract users who demand higher quality than regular compact cameras. There are cameras of different price ranges, all of which use the EXR technology, with varying results. After all, a camera’s performance is also determined by the quality of pixels, features and overall speed. This time, Fujifilm have decided to do something new, and announced the first ever EXR CMOS sensor. With previous EXR sensors using CCD technology, it was obvious that this change was aimed at improving video and low light performance.

Besides the new CMOS sensor, the F500 EXR has an increased resolution of 16MP, as compared to the F300EXR that was only 12MP. With a 15x zoom lens that starts as wide as 24mm equivalent, this is a camera that is versatile and can be used in various situations.
The other features of the camera are quite similar to most Fujifilm cameras. A special EXR mode shoots at reduced resolution, in order to improve the camera’s noise performance and dynamic range. The F500 EXR also has a fully functional Manual mode. Due to the benefits of CMOS technology, the camera now shoots Full HD video. The video functionality is quite advanced, with stereo sound recording and the ability to use zoom during videos. However, we found a very slight whirring noise while doing so during the video.

The camera itself is quite pocketable and lightweight, considering the zoom range it packs in. It takes a good two seconds for the camera to switch on and when it does switch on, then the flash unit on the top left immediately pops up, even if you are not going to use it. Unfortunately, the flimsy nature of this flash is a compromise on the overall build quality. Also, since it is always raised, it ends up being a little distracting, while using the camera on field. Moreover, it is located at the top left of the camera, and disturbs the natural way of holding the camera. This is one design flaw Fujifilm really needs to look into for its future camera models.
The right hand side of the camera features a rubberised hand grip, which is not common in a camera of this class. It turns out to be a great help while holding the camera, considering that the rest of the body is quite smooth. The menu options of the camera are quite exhaustive, but the interface is simple and intuitive. The back of the camera features an F button, which gives you quick access to certain shooting options—ISO, Image Size, Shooting Mode as well as Film Simulation.

I used the camera in a variety of situations, including fast-paced action, as well as places with contrasty light. I even took the camera out to photograph festivities during the night time. In varied lighting situations, the F500 EXR does not disappoint. Its lens is of very good quality. Flare is completely absent and even fringing is controlled quite nicely in contrasty light. The AF of the camera is also commendable. I was able to focus on my subject quite quickly and efficiently.
Considering the 24mm focal length at the wide end, the camera does a good job at minimising barrel distortion. The flash works well too, but there is a noticeable amount of light falloff that occurs when shooting at 24mm. The Macro mode of the camera is quite decent as well, and one is able to photograph subjects from as close as 1cm.
Overall, the image quality is superior to most other cameras in its price range, with excellent sharpness and efficient colour reproduction. The camera also did a good enough job in controlling noise. ISO 400 sees a slight loss of detail, but the images are usable up to ISO 1600.

If your budget is a little high, you should consider investing a little more and get the F550 EXR, a GPS-enabled camera that also shoots RAW. But if you do not need that added control, the F500EXR’s price tag of Rs. 18,999 is quite a winner. The camera has useful features, is good to use and most importantly, gets its quality right—a great combination that any hobbyist would enjoy.

Final Ratings
15x optical zoom, 1080p Full HD video
26 /30

Good colour reproduction, fast AF

Build Quality
Lightweight, pocketable

User-friendly buttons, easy menu controls

Warranty & Support
Three-year warranty, limited number ofservice centres.

Value For Money: 4/5 stars

Tags: Supriya Joshi, November 2011, Compact camera review, Superzoom compact, Fujifilm FinePix F500 EXR, Fujifilm FinePix F300 EXR, Full HD video, 24–360mm zoom, 12MP EXR CMOS Sensor