Cameras

Fuji FinePix F50fd Digital Camera Review

Read an expert independent digital camera review of the Fuji FinePix F50fd digital camera.

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Testing/Performance

Color*(7.97)

Every camera reproduces colors differently, from the shades of a blue sky to skin tones. Sometimes cameras oversaturate colors, making them more vibrant but less natural, or undersaturate colors, making them appear muted or dull. We test cameras’ color accuracy by photographing an industry standard GretagMacbeth ColorChecker test chart and comparing the colors the camera reproduces with the colors of the test chart. The ColorChecker is made up of 24 color tiles, representing colors that vary in both hue and saturation. The image below shows how well the Fuji F50fd*’s colors match up with the ideal colors. The outside squares show the colors the camera reproduces, the inside squares show the ideal color of the chart corrected for luminance, and the inner rectangles show the ideal chart colors under a perfectly even exposure.

F50fd-Colors.jpg

As you can see in the image, a number of the F50*fd*’s colors stray from the ideal colors in both hue and saturation. In particular, notice how different the inside square is from the outside square in the yellow and blue tiles in the third row. The camera’s colors are quite undersaturated. The graph below shows this same information in a different way. The background of the graph shows the entire color spectrum. The ColorChecker’s colors are represented by squares and the camera’s colors by circles. The length of the lines connecting the squares and circles shows the amount of color error.

F50fd-ColorER.jpg

The white circle in the center of the chart indicates an almost perfect manual white balance, but the accuracy of the colors surrounding it is less than perfect. Blues and yellows are particularly inaccurate. Overall, there is a trend toward undersaturation, making colors appear muted and dull, as we saw in the image above. This will have a noticeable impact on your photos, such as a shot of a sunset. The sunset’s yellows will be considerably dulled, and blue sky will have a purple tinge. We’ve seen much worse color accuracy than this, but we’ve also seen much better.

F50fd-Scores-Color.gif

Resolution*(14.93) *

With a whopping 12.1 megapixels, the Fuji F50*fd* is one of the least expensive 12-megapixel cameras released to date. We test camera resolution by photographing an industry standard resolution test chart at varied focal lengths, apertures, and shutter speeds. We then run the images through Imatest to determine the camera’s best possible resolution. Imatest measures resolution in units of line widths per picture height (lw/ph), which refer to the number of alternating black and white lines that can fit in the picture frame before becoming blurred.

F50fd-Res-sm.jpg


Click to view the high resolution image

Other high-resolution cameras we tested this year have been impressive, but the resolution of the Fuji F50*fd* is truly astounding. The camera resolves 2776 lw/ph horizontally with 6.6 percent oversharpening, and 2420 lw/ph vertically with 5.9 percent undersharpening. Not only are these the highest lw/ph values we’ve ever seen, but the sharpening levels are just right, so there isn’t much image artifacting. Clicking on the resolution chart photo above brings up the full resolution version, where you will notice that every line on the chart is sharply resolved, even the long, thin trumpets. The one problem with the F50*fd*’s resolution is that it isn’t maintained over the entire frame. As you can see in the image above, the right edge of the photo is blurred and shows signs of chromatic aberration. Photos taken with this camera will stand up to extensive cropping and enlarging, but beware of blurry edges. In terms of resolution, the F50*fd* is leagues ahead of any other point-and-shoot we have tested this year, including much pricier models such as the Canon PowerShot G9.

F50fd-Scores-Res.gif

**Noise – Manual ISO ***(5.42) *

A drawback of increasing the amount of megapixels is more image noise. Image noise appears as sandy grains or splotchy patches, scattered randomly around a digital image. Noise becomes much more apparent in low light or at high ISO sensitivities. More megapixels packed on a sensor of the same size means the pixels are smaller, and smaller pixels lead to more noise. We test noise levels by photographing our test chart under bright studio lights at all ISO speeds a camera offers. We then run the photos through Imatest, which determines noise levels by the percentage of image detail the noise drowns out. The graph below shows the F50*fd*’s noise levels throughout its ISO range.

 

F50fd-NoiseGR.gif

Noise levels are manageable at ISO 100, but images are very noisy above that. At ISO 800 and 1600, the noise is overwhelming. Close inspection reveals the noise is extremely splotchy and jagged, and contains random patches of purple, yellow, and blue. It is apparent in smooth tones at ISO speeds as low as 200 (see the still life images further down the page). Overall, the F50*fd* is slightly noisier than average, but significantly noisier than its predecessor, the F40*fd*. This shows the tradeoffs Fuji had to make when creating a high-resolution camera.

F50fd-Scores-ManNoise.gif

Noise – Auto ISO*(1.29) *

We also evaluate noise levels with cameras set to Auto ISO under the same bright studio lights. Under our studio lights, the F50*fd* chooses ISO 400, which results in a lot of noise and a poor Auto ISO score. This is a camera you will want to keep at ISO 100 as often as possible.

F50fd-Scores-AutoNoise.gif

**White Balance ***(4.96) *

Every type of light source, from fluorescent lights to broad daylight, has a different color cast. The human eye automatically adjusts for this, and cameras must too. For cameras, this is called white balancing, and the Fuji F50*fd* has three methods for it: Auto white balance, white balance presets, and Manual white balance. Manual white balance is usually the most accurate, but requires the use of a white or gray card. We test cameras’ Auto white balance and presets by photographing the ColorChecker test chart under four types of light: flash, fluorescent, outdoor shade, and tungsten.

Auto (3.84)

*Using the Auto setting, the camera does a mediocre job white balancing under fluorescent light, and a poor job under flash, outdoor shade, and tungsten. These results send a clear message: avoid using the F50
fd*’s Auto white balance.

*Preset (6.09) *

The camera is quite accurate under fluorescent light (using the "Fluorescent 3" setting under our white fluorescent lights), and mediocre under outdoor shade and tungsten. The presets’ performance isn’t stellar, but it’s a lot better than using the Auto setting.

F50fd-Scores-WB.gif

**Still Life Sequences

***Click to view the high resolution images.*

**

Low Light ***(5.61) *

Consumers are often confronted with less-than-ideal lighting situations, which is why we test low light performance. We photograph the ColorChecker test chart at light levels of 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux, and analyze color accuracy and noise levels. Sixty lux represents about the amount of light in a living room lit with two soft lamps, 30 lux is about the amount of light in a room lit by a single 40-watt bulb, 15 lux is how bright a room gets with a large television on, and 5 lux is as dim as a closet illuminated by the light of an MP3 player’s LCD screen. All shots are taken at ISO 1600 to find the limits of the sensor.

The F50*fd* can’t properly expose below 30 lux in Manual mode. Only when the shutter speed is manually adjusted in Shutter Priority mode can the camera obtain an accurate exposure. Also, color accuracy suffers in low light, becoming significantly oversaturated. However, this is better than the undersaturation we saw in bright light in the Color section above. Noise levels are extremely high, suggesting users should avoid ISO 800 or 1600 on this camera whenever possible.

We test long exposure performance in low light with the camera set to ISO 400 to standardize our testing. The F50*fd* has a long shutter speed option in the Setup menu, and turning this on unlocks shutter speeds as long as 8 seconds, but only in Night mode. The problem with this is Night mode can only be used at ISO 100. The longest shutter speed you can get at ISO 400 is 1 second, where the camera has significant color error and fairly high noise levels. Overall, low light performance is below average.

F50fd-Scores-LowLight.gif

**Dynamic Range ***(4.36) *

Dynamic range, which describes the amount of gray shades a camera can discern, is an important image quality factor. A camera with good dynamic range can detect many shades of gray, preserving details in both bright highlights and black shadows. Good dynamic range helps prevent highlights from blowing out and shadows from becoming entirely black. We test dynamic range by photographing a backlit Stouffer test chart, which is made up of a long row of rectangles, each a slightly darker shade of gray, ranging from brightest white to darkest black.

F50fd-DynRangeGR.gif

The Fuji F50*fd* has very disappointing dynamic range, even at its lowest ISO speed setting, ISO 100. At this setting, the Fuji F50*fd*’s dynamic range is comparable to what most point-and-shoots produce at ISO 200 or above. At higher ISO speeds, the F50*fd*’s dynamic range drops even lower. This camera blows out highlights and loses detail in shadows, which hinders shooting in high contrast scenes. The poor dynamic range is due in large part to the camera’s high noise levels, and shows yet another tradeoff for its amazing resolution.

F50fd-Scores-DynRange.gif

**Speed/Timing **– All speed tests were conducted using a Kingston Ultimate 120X 2GB SD Card, with the camera set to highest resolution and best quality unless otherwise noted.

Startup to First Shot (7.4)

The F50*fd* takes 2.4 seconds to turn on and snap its first shot.

*Shot-to-Shot (9.5) *

The F50*fd* has a plethora of Burst modes: Final 12, Top 12, Long Period, Final 3, and Top 3. Final 12 and Top 12 both fire only at a resolution of 3 megapixels. Final 12 takes shots every 0.2 seconds for 8 seconds and saves the last 12 images. Top 12 takes 12 shots every 0.2 seconds, lasting 2.1 seconds total. Long Period shoots full resolution photos every 2.8 seconds until the card fills. Final 3 takes full resolution shots every 0.5 seconds for 20.5 seconds, only storing the last three photos. And finally, Top 3 takes a quick burst of three shots, each 0.5 seconds apart.

*Shutter-shot (9.0)

*The camera has no measurable lag time when prefocused, but a 0.4-second lag when not prefocused.

Processing (3.0)

The camera takes a very leisurely 3.5 seconds to process one 4.5 MB full resolution fine quality photo shot at ISO 100.

**Video Performance ***(2.10) *

Bright Indoor Light – 3000 lux

We evaluate Movie modes’ color accuracy and noise levels by recording footage of our color charts under bright studio lights set to 3000 lux. In tungsten lights, the F50*fd*’s video has tremendous color error, and white balance can’t be adjusted. Noise levels, however, are nice and low.

Low Light – 30 lux

The camera has extreme color error in low light, as well, in large part because it can’t properly expose at 30 lux. Noise levels are incredibly high. This isn’t a camera you’ll be able to use to take videos at night or in a dark nightclub.

*Resolution *

We recorded footage of our resolution test chart at 1700 lux to test the Movie mode’s sharpness. The camera resolves 260 lw/ph horizontally with 21.9 percent undersharpening, and 343 lw/ph vertically with 15.8 percent undersharpening. These are mediocre numbers for a digital camera’s Movie mode. The crops below show how underexposed the footage is, as well as the ugly color cast.

*Motion *

We record footage of moving cars and pedestrians on the street to see how cameras render motion. The video of the F50*fd* has very jerky motion, streaky highlights, and terrible moiré problems. The Movie mode on this camera may be fun to fool around with, but does not have many practical uses.

F50fd-Scores-Video.gif

Components

Viewfinder*(0.0) *

The Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd* lacks an optical viewfinder. Instead, the 2.7-inch LCD screen serves as the viewfinder. The resolution is great and the view is 100 percent accurate of what is recorded.

The LCD’s viewing quality can be changed by pushing the "F" button and browsing the power management options: power save, quick AF, and clear display. The first two choices have the slowest refresh rates and the latter option is the highest quality option. It brightens the screen as well as speeds up the refresh rate to about 60 fps instead of 30 fps.

There is a display button to the lower left of the multi-selector. It allows users to view a blank LCD screen or to add file info and/or grid lines. The screen blacks out for a moment before the image taken is displayed and then returns to the live view. The blackout is typical of compact digital cameras and the F50*fd* still returns to shooting faster than most other models.

LCD Screen* (7.0) *

F50fd-lcd.jpg
The 2.7-inch LCD screen takes up most of the tiny camera’s back. The large fonts and 230,000-pixel resolution make menus easy to read and images easy to review.

The amorphous silicon TFT LCD is only slightly larger than the 2.5-inch version on the F40*fd*, which also has 230,000 pixels of resolution. The screen boasts fairly wide viewing angles – although not quite as wide as the big screen on the Canon SD870 IS. The Fuji’s screen can be seen when held to the sides and below the eyes, but it fades out when held above eye-level.

The screen has good contrast and its clear display mode is nice and bright. Its brightness can be adjusted on a +/- 5 scale. Despite this, it is still difficult to see when outside. The screen has a shiny surface that reflects light and makes it hard to see what’s happening on the screen. The 2.7-inch LCD screen has great resolution and looks fabulous when viewed indoors or under clouds, but any harsh lighting renders it useless.

Flash*(4.75) *

F50fd-flash.jpg
Unfortunately, not every component was improved on the F50*fd*. The older F40*fd* has a fantastic flash that can reach 21.3 feet, but the FinePix F50*fd*’s flash can only reach 14.4 feet at best. That’s when the lens is zoomed out, but once it is zoomed in the flash is only effective to 7.9 feet. In Macro mode, the flash is effective from 1 to 2.6 feet.

The F50*fd* still has the intelligent flash system, which Fujifilm calls i-Flash. This system measures lighting on subjects as well as background lighting and then regulates its flash output to retain details in images. It does this quite well. Portraits look good and subjects' foreheads aren't overexposed as they sometimes are with compact digital camera flashes. Backgrounds are also visible, avoiding that common bright subject and black background look.

The Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd*’s flash can be turned off, on, or set to Slow Synchro or Auto using the right side of the multi-selector. There isn’t a spot in the menu or on the selector to choose red-eye reduction, but all the modes include it. If, for some reason, red eyes still sneak into an image, they can theoretically be removed in the Playback menu. This is a new feature on the F50*fd*. When we set the Flash mode, we didn’t spot any red eyes. However, almost every shot in the Natural Light & With Flash mode ended up with red eyes. We ran those pictures through the red-eye removal feature in the Playback menu and most were rejected with a "cannot detect" message. One picture was accepted for red-eye removal, but the red eyes were not actually removed, despite the long processing time. Disappointing, to say the least.

The flash reach isn’t as impressive as its predecessor, but is still great for taking portraits of people within 14 feet. It keeps details in the background and properly exposes subjects. The bottom two corners of the frame are darker than the rest of the frame, but this won’t be noticeable unless photographing blank walls.

Zoom Lens*(7.0) *

F50fd-lens.jpg
The camera’s Fujinon 3x optical zoom lens isn’t very impressive. It measures 8-24mm, equivalent to 35-105mm in the 35mm format. It’s not exceptionally wide, so group photos will be tough to pose.

The lens is the same one found on the older F40*fd,* and its control is also identical. There is a tiny zoom ring that surrounds the shutter release button. When tapped lightly, it can only settle on six focal lengths zooming in and out, respectively. To its credit, it doesn’t hiss and backfire like some digital cameras’ lenses do.

Like the F40*fd*, the F50*fd*’s lens has an f/2.8-f/5.1 aperture range. This range is sufficient when the lens is zoomed all the way out, but is a little small on the telephoto lens.

The Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd* has more digital zoom than its predecessor at 8.2x, but it should be used sparingly because it degrades image quality. It can be turned on and off in the Setup menu.

The F50*fd* is the first Fujifilm digital camera to include mechanical image stabilization, which reduces blurry images caused by shaking hands or moving subjects. Other models only have a "picture stabilization" system that combines high ISO and a fast shutter speed to reduce blur. High ISO brings noise with it, so the mechanical image stabilization system is far superior. Fujifilm uses a mechanical CCD-shift stabilization system that can work together with the older picture stabilization.

The mechanical image stabilization system can be set to run continuously or only when the exposure is locked just before the picture is taken; this preference can be specified in the Setup menu. The system itself can be turned on and off with a small designated button to the right of the shutter release button.

Overall, the mechanical image stabilization system works nicely in conjunction with the 3x optical zoom lens. However, the lens isn’t very wide, doesn’t have the greatest control, and shows significant barrel distortion when shooting close-up subjects.

Design / Layout

Model Design / Appearance*(6.75) *

The Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd* is a thin, plain-looking camera. The metal housing is sleek and there are a few highlights on the sides and back, but the front looks a bit tacky with all the logos and text.

This camera is designed to be portable above all else, with mostly flat surfaces. Many cameras this size also opt for trendier shells that come in multiple colors. The F50*fd* comes only in silver. Fujifilm leaves the trendier look to its Z-line of digital cameras. The FinePix F10*fd*, for instance, comes in five colors, including Wasabi Green and Sunset Orange.

Size / Portability* (7.0) *

The Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd* is 0.2 inches shorter lengthwise than its predecessor, but otherwise shares the same measurements. The camera is 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.9 inches, so it doesn’t quite qualify as an ultra-skinny model. The camera’s surfaces are fairly flat, so it is easy to cram into a pocket. The camera is a bit heavier than anticipated for its size: the 6.2-ounce weight isn’t going to cause any damage, but makes the camera feel like a substantial chunk of metal.

Handling Ability* (6.5) *

Handling isn’t as much of a priority as portability and convenience on the FinePix F50*fd*. There is hardly anything to hang onto. The front of the camera has a lump that is hardly a ledge; it is supposed to be a finger grip but is too shallow to provide any actual comfort.

The index finger sits on the shutter release button and the thumb supports the back of the camera around the mode dial, although this feature doesn’t really provide much protrusion or texture. The camera can either be held with one hand or two, although if held with one hand the palm will have to lend support to the bottom, as the weight seems to be more concentrated in the left side.

Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size*(7.0)*

F50fd-buttons.jpg
The small camera and large LCD screen don’t leave much room for buttons and controls. The power button on the camera’s top is tiny, as is the image stabilization button. The image stabilization button is also located on the far right edge of the top – traditionally where the shutter release button sits. The button is so tiny that it can’t be mistaken for the larger shutter release button to its left, though.

Around the shutter release button is a zoom ring that is small, stiff, and uncomfortable to use. On the back of the camera is a mode dial that is very convenient for locating exposure modes. The dial is small, but large enough to easily read the icons and text on it.

The multi-selector is a traditionally styled single ring surrounding a menu/OK button. The ring doesn’t provide much tactile feedback or differentiation of directions, so navigation is a gamble at times. There are icons labeling each direction; they are at least intuitive, as are the rest of the buttons on the back of the camera.

Menu*(7.0) *

The Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd*’s menus are typical of those on other F-series digital cameras. The text in the menus is spelled out in all capital letters. This may be personal preference, but all capital letters bother me. Fujifilm seems to have cursed its cameras with the all-caps text, but its split menu system makes it easy to access a few items. The button to the upper right of the multi-selector is labeled with an "F" for the "F-mode menu."

The ISO and quality options are appropriately placed in this menu. The Color modes probably won’t be accessed as much by most users, but may be used often by some. The placement of the power management option is puzzling. It’s hard to imagine users will actually tweak the refresh rate of the display more often than the White Balance or Burst modes. Most digital cameras bury this feature in the Setup menu, so it’s odd that it’s the headliner in a menu that should include the most frequently used features.

The standard menu system is available by pushing the button in the center of the multi-selector. When the mode dial is turned to the manual position, the following options are available. Less options are available in more automated modes.

The Setup menu is accessed from the bottom of the Recording menu. Once in the Setup menu, five tabs appear across the top of the screen. The first two tabs have camera icons, and the last three tabs have wrench icons. All options under each tab can be seen in a single screen, so users need only to scroll left and right through the tabs to find a feature, rather than scrolling up and down through a massive list. This makes navigation a bit easier, a plus since the multi-selector’s shape doesn’t give the user tactile feedback.

The standard menu isn’t convenient if users are trying to access and change more than one feature; it kicks users out of the menu after a single option is accessed. The display/back button doesn’t take users back a step in the menu, rather it returns users to the live preview, as does the shutter release button. This is annoying if trying to change a few options in the same menu; it’s not possible.

Ease of Use*(6.5) *

The mode dial on the F50*fd* makes it simple for beginners to pick up the camera, find and select the Auto mode, and take a picture. Figuring out how to take pictures in the Priority modes is more difficult. The Aperture and Shutter Priority modes share the same position on the mode dial, so the desired mode must be selected in the Recording menu and the manual exposure setting selected with the top portion of the multi-selector. That’s not very intuitive.

The Fujifilm F50*fd* has a few features that enhance ease of use. There is a "virtual mode dial" that appears on the LCD screen when the physical dial is rotated. The virtual dial shows larger icons and an explanation for the selected mode. This is very helpful for beginners.

Modes

Auto Mode*(8.75)

The Auto mode is the only colored icon on the mode dial, making it easy to find. The F-mode menu is nearly the same except it truncates the vast ISO options to the three automatic ISO options (ISO 400, 800, and 1600) only. The standard Shooting menu is shortened to include only the Continuous shooting mode and a portal to the Setup menu. Above all, the F50fd*’s is easy to find and use, as it should be.

Movie Mode*(6.0) *

Some digital cameras’ Movie modes are buried in a menu, but the Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd*’s has a prominent position on the mode dial. This makes it easy to access.

Don’t get too excited; the Movie mode isn’t that great. There isn’t any exposure control - no white balance, ISO, or exposure compensation. The only option that can be changed in the F-mode and Recording menus is the video size, which can be set to 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 pixels.

Both operate at 25 frames per second (fps), just short of the F40*fd*’s 30 fps that is also the standard for most digital cameras. Motion recorded by the Movie mode is jerky, although the mechanical image stabilization system makes clips bump-free.

The optical zoom can’t be used, a downer because more and more compact digital cameras are offering it. The Sony T100’s 5x optical zoom is functional in its Movie mode – and it has image stabilization, too. The Casio V8’s 7x optical zoom lens is also enabled in the Movie mode. Many compact digital cameras that don’t offer optical zoom in the Movie mode at least offer a bit of digital zoom – the Fuji doesn’t even allow that.

The Motion JPEG files don’t render colors realistically and the resolution isn’t fantastic. Monaural audio is captured, but it sounds muddled. Overall, the Movie mode is not great.

Drive / Burst Mode*(7.0) *

The F50*fd*’s Continuous Burst mode is quicker than its predecessor’s, a serious feat considering it shoots 12-megapixel files. The older F40*fd*’s burst snaps 1.3 frames per second (fps) for only two pictures. The F50*fd* improves upon this by lengthening the burst to three pictures and speeding up the rate to 2 fps.

There are several burst options available in the Shooting menu: Top 3, Final 3, Long Period, Top 12, and Final 12. The Top 3 is the standard full-resolution Burst mode, while the Final 3 allows users to snap long strings of images but only saves the last three. The Long Period mode shoots an image about every two seconds, and can do so for quite awhile. The Top and Final 12 modes shoot quickly – about 5 fps – but only at a 3-megapixel image size. Using both xD-Picture and SD media, the F50*fd* takes about 12 seconds to write the burst of images to the card.

Photographers who wish to hop in the portrait or eliminate the possibility of hand-shake from pushing the shutter release button can activate the self-timer. Pushing the bottom of the multi-selector brings up 2 and 10-second self-timer options that fire out a white beam from the front of the camera to alert subjects the camera is about to snap their picture.

Playback Mode*(7.0) *

The Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd* has a 2.7-inch LCD screen with smooth resolution that provides a good medium for the Playback mode. The Playback mode isn’t located on the mode dial. Rather, it is accessed by pushing a button on the back of the camera. This makes it easy to enter the Playback menu and then resume shooting.

Users can scroll through pictures and videos individually and magnify them for a closer look. Users can review faces in an image by pushing the face detection button, which automatically zooms in on faces that it recognized while recording. Users can also scroll around the magnified portion of the image while viewing a smaller full-screen image that shows what portion of the selected image is being viewed.

There is a long delay when scrolling through individual pictures – and it only gets worse the longer the camera is turned on. The Fuji F50*fd* has a serious problem with processing delays; it thinks long and hard before it does anything. This is annoying because users push the multi-selector to scroll, but there is a delay before the image appears.

If users push the zoom toggle a few times, an expanded thumbnail view appears. Two large thumbnails appear in the center of the LCD screen and are flanked by two smaller thumbnails, one on the top and another on the bottom. Users can scroll through thumbnails this way or by pushing the "W" side of the zoom ring to view nine thumbnails at a time in the more traditional view. A calendar view is also available. And if users keep pushing the "W", eventually they’ll end up on a screen with 100 thumbnails, which are so small they can hardly be seen.

Many features are outlined in the Playback menu.

Many recent digital cameras are including red-eye fix features. The Fujifilm F50*fd* jumps on the bandwagon with a version that operates in conjunction with the face detection system. There is a problem with this: if the face isn’t initially recognized then the eyes can’t be fixed, either. "Cannot detect" appears on the image when users attempt to activate the feature. After taking a few hundred images, only three of them were marred by red eyes. Unfortunately, the system only recognized one picture as having a face and it didn’t fix the red eyes even after the few-second delay of supposedly fixing the red-eye.

Deleting pictures isn’t the most streamlined process. Users can delete them one at a time or all at once. Most digital cameras allow users to delete batches of pictures at a time, but this camera only allows users to delete them one by one in a laboriously slow process.

If the F-mode button is pushed, another small batch of menu items appears: IR communication, trimming for blog, slide show, and print order. This is where the IrSimple wireless image transfer process begins: the camera can send and receive pictures. The trimming for blog mode allows users to trim pictures and then send them via Ir in the same menu option. The slide shows aren’t very elaborate but allow a few transition effects: normal, normal face detection, fade-in, fade-in face detection, multiple, and IrSS. The print order can be selected with or without the date printed on the pictures, and the order can be reset from here, as well.

Overall, the LCD screen provides users with a nice review of their images. There is a good amount of options to view and manipulate images, though the red-eye removal tool is pretty much useless.

Custom Image Presets*(8.0) *

F50fd-mode.gif
The Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd* has 16 Scene modes. There are two scenes accessible directly from the mode dial: Natural Light and Natural Light & With Flash. These modes are related, of course. The first disables the flash and increases the ISO to keep illumination and reduce blur. The second fires two pictures, with the first image using the Natural Light mode and the second firing the flash instead. The two images are then displayed next to each other on the LCD screen while the camera saves them (unfortunately this takes way too long).

Besides those two positions on the mode dial, there are two scene positions labeled "SP1" and "SP2." These allow access to the same list of Scene modes, but by having two positions they save the last mode accessed and therefore two more scene modes are directly accessible from the mode dial.

The following scenes are found in the F-mode menu when a scene position is chosen: Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Underwater, Museum, Party, Flower, and Text. When the modes are scrolled through, a brief explanation describes the selected mode, along with a sample picture. For instance, the Sunset mode comes with this explanation: "For shooting sunsets, making colors more vivid." There is a picture of a sinking orange sun reflecting over a calm body of water.

The Portrait Enhancer mode is a new one to the list. It reduces the appearance of blemishes – useful for everyone’s portraits.

Control Options

**Manual Control Options

**The F50*fd* has a Manual exposure mode on the dial, but it isn’t entirely manual. It doesn’t allow the shutter speed and aperture to be independently controlled. Control options are limited to white balance, ISO, and exposure compensation. That said, the Fujifilm F50*fd* has more manual controls than most compact digital cameras in its class. That’s because it has Aperture and Shutter Speed Priority modes along with its fleet of other exposure options.

Focus

Autofocus (8.25)

The Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd* has a through-the-lens autofocus system that can function continuously or only when the shutter release button is pushed halfway. The autofocus frame can be set to fix upon the center or tackle multiple points.

The F50*fd* can focus from 1.5 feet when zoomed out and 2 feet when zoomed in – unless the Macro mode is activated. In that case, the Fujinon lens and the autofocus system can focus from 2.8 inches to 2.6 feet (wide) and 1 to 2.6 feet (telephoto). When the Quick AF mode is activated (curiously, this is done through the power management portion of the F-mode menu), it can focus from 3.2 feet to infinity. This feature speeds up the autofocus system.

The autofocus assist beam shoots out when needed; it has a white beam that isn’t as intrusive as other cameras’ orange or green lights.

One of the major upgrades on the F50*fd* is its face detection system. Fujifilm was the first to introduce face detection on the F31*fd* in 2006 (besides Nikon’s ineffective "Face Priority mode"). The F50*fd* includes what Fujifilm calls "Face Detection 2.0." The older system recognized faces from the front, but the new system can detect them from profiles, as well. It can recognize when faces are tilted 135 degrees up and down, and 90 degrees to each side. The angling of the face detection is the big improvement; the F50*fd* can still only detect 10 faces at a time in 1/500 of a second.

Fuji’s face detection system has a formidable opponent in Canon. Recent Canon digital cameras, such as the PowerShot SD870 IS, can recognize up to 35 faces at a time from many angles. The Canon is really only better if photographing very large group portraits often, though. Fuji’s system is very fast and effective at recognizing, focusing on, and tailoring the exposure to faces.

Manual Focus (0.0)

Despite all its other manual controls, the Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd* does not have manual focus control.

ISO*(8.25)

This digital camera has an expanded ISO range, something Fujifilm F-series cameras have been doing for awhile. The F31*fd was one of the first compact digital cameras to offer ISO 1600 at its full 6-megapixel resolution. The F40*fd* also has ISO 1600 available in its manual ISO range and 2000 for anti-blur and Natural Light modes. The Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd* has ISO 100 to1600 options at full resolution, but offers ISO 3200 when resolution is decreased to a still-decent 6 megapixels. The resolution is chopped much lower, to 3 megapixels, for ISO 6400. The F50*fd*’s images aren’t as noise-free as some of its predecessors. In fact, the F50*fd* has a considerable amount of noise above ISO 100. Read more about the camera’s noise performance in the Testing/Performance section of this review.

The F50*fd* has automatic, auto 400, auto 800, and auto 1600 ISO options in its F-mode menu, as well. With all these automatic modes, they hardly seem automatic anymore. It does allow the automatic ISO to expand farther than it normally would, but this is something most point-and-shooters are unlikely to set. And if they do, noise will likely follow.

F50fd-iso.gif

White Balance* (7.75)*

The white balance can be changed in the more manually-oriented exposure modes from the standard Shooting menu. The live view shows the effects of the various white balance settings via the live preview. Auto, fine, shade, fluorescent daylight, fluorescent warm white, fluorescent cool white, incandescent, and custom are the options available. The custom white balance can be set by pushing the shutter release button when prompted by the on-screen directions. It isn’t terribly difficult, but may intimidate beginners.

F50fd-wb.gif

Exposure *(8.5)*

The exposure can be manipulated in several ways. In the Aperture Priority and Shutter Speed Priority modes, the particular manual control can be changed along with the exposure compensation. The exposure compensation is also available in most other modes. It offers the same +/- 2 range in 1/3 steps that is on almost every digital camera on the market – and it comes with a live view.

F50fd-exposure.gif

Metering*(7.75) *

Fujifilm masks its Metering mode under the title "photometry," which will likely confuse point-and-shooters who pick this camera up. Once users find it in the Shooting menu, though, they will find the standard options available: Multi, Average, and Spot. The Fujifilm F50*fd* uses a 256-zone metering system and incorporates the brightness of faces when the face detection feature is activated.

F50fd-metering.gif

**Shutter Speed ***(4.25) 

The Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd has shutter speeds that range from 8 to 1/2000 of a second, although the range is limited depending on the selected exposure mode. The Fireworks scene mode keeps shutter speeds at 4 seconds or less. The Night scene mode keeps pictures in the 1 to 8-second range. There is a Shutter Speed Priority mode, but its range is shortened to 1 to 1/1000 of a second. This is an improvement over the F40*fd*, which had shutter speeds that slowed only to 3 seconds.

F50fd-shutter.gif

Aperture*(4.0)*

The Fujinon lens is the same one included on the F40*fd*, so these cameras share the same 3x power and 10-step aperture. The aperture opens as large as f/2.8 at the widest end of the lens, but that quickly diminishes to f/5.1 when the lens is zoomed in. The aperture can be manually controlled in the Aperture Priority mode. The exposure compensation portion of the multi-selector must be pushed for the following aperture choices to appear: f/2.8, f/3.2, f/3.6, f/4, f/4.5, f/5, f/5.6, f/6.4, f/7.1, and f/8.

F50fd-aperture.gif

Image Parameters

Picture Quality / Size Options*(8.0) *

F50fd-size.gif
Previous F-series digital cameras have been very impressive in terms of resolution. They have been incredibly effective: even the 6-megapixel F31*fd* performed better than most other higher-pixel models of its time. Still, Fujifilm decided to jump into the megapixel race and squashes the competition.

The Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd* has an insane 12 megapixels on its 1/1.6-inch Super CCD. This is the newest megapixel standard, as almost every manufacturer is releasing a camera in 2007 with this amount of resolution. Canon has its SD950, Casio the Z1200, and Panasonic the FX100 (more about these cameras in the Comparisons section) – all with 12 megapixels. The Fujifilm F50*fd* is one of the least expensive options with this amount of resolution though, so could it really outperform the others? It’s likely. In short, the F50*fd*’s resolution is incredibly impressive. Check out the Testing/Performance section for more analysis.

In the F-mode menu, the image size can be set to its most massive at 4000 x 3000 pixels at Normal and Fine compression settings. The following image sizes are also available: 4224 x 2816 (3:2), 2848 x 2136, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, and 640 x 480.

There isn’t a resizing function in the Playback menu, but there is a trimming function. Users can zoom in and out of the picture and scroll around to choose what portion they want cropped. The camera automatically chooses the image size, though: it chooses the largest size it can while still retaining quality. In the F-mode menu, there is a "trimming for blog" feature that resizes pictures to 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels, whichever is preset in the Setup menu.

Picture Effects Mode* (7.0) *

In the F-mode menu, there is a meager selection of Color modes: Standard, Chrome, and Black & White. Neither color swapping nor contrast adjustments can be made in this camera. This menu provides a live view that is helpful in choosing the proper mode.

F50fd-colors.gif

Connectivity / Extras

Connectivity

Software (6.75)

The Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd* comes with a CD-ROM with FinePix Viewer version 5.4 for Windows and FinePix Viewer version 3.5 for Macintosh.

FinePix Viewer takes about five minutes to install, and another few to restart the computer. Pictures can be viewed in thumbnail screens of four, 12, or 35 at a time. A larger preview of a single image with a strip of seven thumbnails below it can also be viewed. Finally, there are thumbnails listed with details such as file type, file size, date and time, and image size.

f50browse.jpg

FinePix Viewer version 5.4

Users can view shooting info and can rotate images with on-screen buttons. There are also buttons to delete, magnify, and scroll through images. There is also a "face zoom" button that magnifies detected faces much like the button on the camera in the Playback mode.

The column on the left side of the FinePix Viewer’s window has easily accessible tasks for pictures. Pictures can be printed, organized into folders, or edited. Slide shows can be played, e-mails can be sent, and comments can be added. The actual image manipulation isn’t very impressive.

Images can be rotated, text inserted, image quality adjusted, size shrunken, and red-eye corrected. Sort of. We tried the red-eye correction, but it looked very unnatural. The software program inserted green dots over the red eyes, shown in the image below.

f50badredeye.jpg

Red-eye removal screen

An operation guide appears when users activate the few editing features, and the software is fairly intuitive. The FinePix Viewer is good for users who simply want to organize, print, and e-mail pictures. If they want to edit pictures, however, they’ll have to look into purchasing additional photo editing software.

*Jacks, ports, plugs (7.25) *

F50fd-ports.jpg
The camera has a single port on its right side, where a nicely hidden door folds out. The jack fits the USB 2.0 cable that is included; this function can be set to PTP or MTP (media transfer protocol). The AV-out cable also fits in this jack: it can be set to NTSC or PAL in the Setup menu.

The F50*fd* has IrSimple wireless transfer technology that allows it to communicate and send images to other compatible devices. There are a few downfalls, though: IrSimple technology isn’t abundant in North America and many other places around the globe, and the camera has to be within about three feet of the compatible device (computer, printer, phone, etc). If it has to be within three feet, it seems logical to get out a cable. It’s probably faster to transfer via cable too – although we couldn’t try these transfer protocols head-to-head because nothing here is Ir-enabled.

*Direct Print Options (6.0)

*Users can select images and create print orders through the F-mode button in the Playback mode. The print order can be made with or without the date printed on the pictures. The order can be reset from the menu, too. Pictures can be scrolled through – slowly, of course – and up to 99 prints can be made from each image. A DPOF total appears at the top of the LCD screen. Users can transfer images to PictBridge printers with the included USB cable. If the printer has IrSimple wireless technology, then the images can be wirelessly transferred – but only one at a time.

*Battery (5.5)

*The battery fits under the right side of the camera in a compartment with a nice springy door. The battery is very skinny and light. The NP-50 battery has about 1000 mAh of power that translates to 230 shots on a fully charged battery. The lithium-ion battery takes about 2.3 hours to charge in the included wall-mount charger. The wall-mount charger is small and convenient for packing away on long trips. There is an optional power adapter available that comes with a coupler so it can fit in the single USB/AV jack on the camera.

Memory (3.5)

The Fujifilm FinePix F50fd
comes with 25 MB of internal memory, the same amount as the F40*fd*. However, the new model comes with more resolution, so it holds less pictures. Only five full-resolution images, in fact. The older F40*fd* has only xD-Picture card compatibility, though, and the new version expands its compatibility to include SD and SDHC as well as xD-Picture. This expansive offering should attract consumers who have been loyal to other brands of cameras that accept SD media while not forgetting the xD tradition on its digital cameras.

Other features*(7.0) *

IrSimple Wireless Transfer – This feature is included on most new Fujifilm digital cameras. It is a relatively low-cost and effective way of wirelessly transmitting photos, but there are some major drawbacks. First, the technology isn’t as widespread as competitors such as Bluetooth. Second, it is only effective when in close range. The camera has to be within three feet of the other IrSimple device. There are printers, cell phones, computers, and other devices out there with IrSimple, but they are still few and far between. At the least, users can transfer photos from one FinePix to the other. But what practical use is that? The IrSimple transfer is intuitive and is found in the F-mode menu in Playback mode. Does it actually work? We don’t know: there are no other IrSimple products around to test it on. There lies the problem.

Option Waterproof Case – When enclosed in the case, the F50*fd* can go underwater up to 131 feet. At the time of publication, pricing and availability were not yet available for the case, but the F40*fd*’s retails for $179.

Overall Impressions

**Value ***(8.0) *

At $299, the Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd* is the least expensive 12-megapixel compact digital camera on the market. It isn’t exceptionally trendy or gorgeous, but it has very impressive resolution for the price. It has a nice smattering of manual controls, along with a slew of automated modes and features, and it throws in IrSimple wireless technology. It’s a deal for $299.

Comparisons

f40.jpg
Fujifilm FinePix F40*fd* – This is the predecessor of the F50*fd* and it has the first generation of face detection technology, which recognizes faces from straight ahead but has trouble with those that are slightly turned. This 8.3-megapixel FinePix has a 3x optical zoom lens that does not have mechanical image stabilization. It has a smaller 2.5-inch LCD screen but the same 230,000-pixel resolution. The F40*fd* also has the same IrSimple wireless transfer technology and the same initial retail price of $299. 

sd950.jpg
Canon PowerShot SD950 IS – This is Canon’s most expensive SD-series camera. It includes 12.1 megapixels and a 3.7x optical zoom lens wrapped in a sturdy 1.09-inch titanium body. It has an optical image stabilization system and a 2.5-inch LCD screen with 230,000 pixels. There is also an optical viewfinder, something omitted on the Fuji camera. The Canon SD950 has 11 Scene modes, a great Movie mode, and a Playback mode that includes red-eye correction. The Burst mode snaps 1.5 fps. The SD950’s face detection system can recognize up to 35 faces at a time. All of these features come at a steep price, however: $449.

z1200.jpg
Casio Exilim EX-Z1200 – This 12.1-megapixel digital camera comes with a whopping 34 Scene modes, including an eBay mode that optimizes pictures for quick uploading to the online auction site. It has interesting features such as face detection, tracking autofocus, and a 3x optical zoom lens with CCD-shift image stabilization. The Z1200’s Movie mode can record standard 640 x 480-pixel videos or widescreen 848 x 480-pixel videos, but at a choppy 20 fps. Its Burst mode is disappointing. It can snap away at 3 fps – but only when the image size is shrunk to 3 megapixels. This Casio has a 2.8-inch LCD screen with 230,000 pixels. The Z1200 sells for $399.

fx100.jpg
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX100 – This digital camera has a lot of familiar specs: 12.2 megapixels, optical image stabilization, and high ISO settings. The FX100 has a smaller 2.5-inch LCD screen with 207,000 pixels, but it has a longer 3.6x optical zoom lens with a wide 28mm focal length. Its flash is much more powerful, reaching up to 52 feet. Its Burst mode can snap 2 fps at full resolution or 8 fps when the image size is reduced to 2.5 megapixels. The Panasonic FX100 can record standard videos or wider 1920 x 1080 and 1280 x 720-pixel videos at 15 fps.

w200.jpg
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W200 – This digital camera is a bit thicker at just more than an inch, but still packs in a lot of the same features. It has 12.1 megapixels and a 3x optical zoom lens that is helped by an optical image stabilization system. The W200 has a smaller 2.5-inch LCD screen with less resolution at 115,000 pixels. It has full manual control of shutter speed and aperture, but is missing a few features, such as custom white balance. It has only nine Scene modes and requires the use of Sony’s proprietary Memory Stick Duo media, and a Pro card for the Movie mode to operate at its full 30 fps capacity. It has slightly more internal memory at 31 MB and expands its ISO range another step to 3200 at full resolution. Its 2 fps Burst mode lasts a lot longer than the three shots available on the F50*fd*: the W200 can shoot for 100 shots in a row at full resolution. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W200 costs a bit more at $349.

Who It’s For

Point-and-Shooters – The F50fd is compact enough to stuff in a pocket. The mode dial with its clearly labeled Auto mode makes it a breeze for point-and-shooters to use.

Budget Consumers – At $299, it isn’t the least expensive Fujifilm on the market, but is a good price considering its manual control, trendy features, and metal body.

Gadget Freaks – Improved face detection, optical image stabilization, and IrSimple wireless transfer technology are big draws for this crowd.

*Manual Control Freaks *– There isn’t a completely Manual mode, but there are Shutter Speed and Aperture Priority modes, along with a host of other manual controls.

Pros / Serious Hobbyists – This tiny camera may have 12 megapixels, but likely won’t attract the eye of this crowd.

Conclusion

Conclusion

We really want to love the Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd*. It has a lot going for it: 12 very effective megapixels and a bargain $299 price tag, to name a few. It has a good amount of manual control for a palm-sized digital camera, and it has a wide ISO range, mechanical image stabilization, and an i-Flash system that nicely illuminates subjects.

The Fujifilm FinePix F50*fd* is great for portraits. It uses the flash without overpowering subjects, and can also use natural light and still look just right. It has a fast and effective face detection system that keeps faces in focus and properly exposed. The F50*fd* creates excellent high-resolution portraits when its ISO is set at its lowest 100 rating. Beyond that, dynamic range plummets and noise skyrockets.

We want to love the F50*fd*, but we can’t give it our full recommendation. Yes, it’s packed with lots of features at a great price. But its noise and dynamic range performance are terrible, and its colors aren’t anything to brag about, either. The resolution may be fantastic, but the processing time is so annoying that it’s hard to enjoy much about this camera. It takes too long to open up the Playback mode, scroll through pictures, and write images after a 3-shot burst. Those logistical concerns coupled with the lackluster performance overpower the excellent resolution and great price.

Sample Photos

Sample Photos

Click to view the high-resolution image.

Specs / Ratings

Specs Table

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