Using the F550 EXR exceeded our expectations. While Fuji is easily one of the most prominent digicam manufacturers, others like Sony and Canon have stolen a lot of the point-and-shoot thunder. And with its untraditional setup and well-publicized new technology, the camera might have too steep of a learning curve for those new to the photography arena. Or so we thought: But in reality, the F550 EXR actually seemed geared for novices but came packed with technology that more advanced photographers can appreciate.
To begin with, the camera’s size and weight feels sturdy and secure while shooting, but isn’t exactly pocket-friendly. This isn’t terribly important, especially when investing this much in a camera – it’s about the last thing most people will think about. Otherwise, it’s a nice size for shooting and isn’t so tiny you need child-sized fingers to use any of the buttons. And despite its unique setup, the camera is fairly simple to navigate. The display’s UI mimics the camera’s physical setup, so while switching through the various modes, you’re given a brief explanation of the setting, what it means, how and when to use it. For example, when selecting Aperture, a half-circle with a large “A” pops up with the message “automatic mode with user setting aperture.” Sure, useless for experience photographers, but learners will appreciate the explanation. Selecting “SP” bring up “Scene,” and from there keeps you from button mashing by telling users to press “menu” to scroll through their other options. Trial-and-error, or a decent amount of experience with point-and-shoots eliminate the convenience this may offer, but it just adds a little safety net to any learning curve that might exist.
While the camera’s UI well designed and easy to navigate, the F550 EXR’s image quality was easily the most impressive element. The AF and shutter were incredibly fast, making it very difficult to take a blurry photo. Photos stayed sharp when we pushed the zoom to its max, and the F550 EXR’s sensor technology indeed made it incredibly capable of handling poorly lit settings. Of course, pushed to its ISO limits (100-12,800), images were somewhat noisy – which is to be expected. We also found the camera’s sweep panorama function a nice bonus. This is becoming more and more common with point and shoots, and it’s a great, easy to use feature we were impressed with.
The GPS, geo-tagging function will likely catch the eye of avid travelers (or maybe just geo-social addicts), but it probably won’t be a big draw for most. That said, the camera records your coordinates and comes preloaded with more than half a million popular locales for easy tagging.
There’s no denying the F550 EXR is a remarkable device and packs a punch in its small package. It’s fun to use, and while it isn’t the most convenient pocket cam to carry around, it still falls in that arena. The most difficult thing to accept with the camera is its price. Were it close to the $300 mark, it would be a more justifiable purchase, but it seems like one of the main features users are paying for is the GPS function. Fujifilm also has a similar device, the F550 EXR, which doesn’t include GPS and retails for $329.95. But it also doesn’t come equipped with the ability to shoot RAW images, which is something we aren’t willing to give up in the F550 EXR.
- Quick shutter
- Impressive display resolution
- Simultaneous RAW and JPEG capture
- Intuitive physical and digital UI
- Battery life
- Some might be scared off by its size – a little too big for the average pocket
- Digital noise above ISO 1,600
- Price – paying more over $300 for a point-and-shoot can be a hard sell