Cameras

Fujifilm FinePix XP150 Digital Camera Review

This waterproof, shockproof, GPS-equipped tough-cam is a crummy point-and-shoot in expensive clothing. Skip it.

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Introduction

A long time ago, in the year 2009, any ol' waterproof camera was OK, as long as it was actually waterproof. In modern times, tough-cams actually need to take decent pictures.

The Fujifilm FinePix XP150 takes us on a trip down memory lane. It's a cheap junker of a camera in a durable shell. Read on if you must, but the short version is that the XP150 is a big loser.

The XP150 is available now in black, blue, orange, silver, and green for an MSRP of $279. Two variations are available, including the non-GPS XP100 available now for an MSRP of $249, and the WiFi-enabled, non-GPS XP170 available soon at an MSRP of $279.

Check out our 7-camera waterproof shootout to see how the year's best tough-cams compare.

Design

Front

Front Tour Image

Back

Back Tour Image

Sides

Sides Tour Image

Top

Top Tour Image

Bottom

Bottom Tour Image

In the Box

Box Photo

• Fujifilm FinePix XP150 digital camera

• wrist strap

• USB cable

• rechargeable lithium-ion battery (NP-50A)

• battery wall charger (w/ removable prongs)

• CD-ROM

• basic user manual

Lens & Sensor

The Fujifilm XP150 is built with an all-internal lens, encased in a glass barrier. The maximum aperture range is pretty narrow, at f/3.9-4.9, though the 5x optical zoom is typical, and it covers a the usual range of 5-25mm (28-140mm equivalent). Since it's stuck in the upper-left corner of the front panel, wandering fingers tend to get in its way.

The XP150 is built around a 14-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, which are typical specs for tough-cams and point-and-shoots in general this year (give or take a few megapixels).

Display(s)

A $280 tough-cam deserves a better screen than the 2.7-inch, 230,000-pixel LCD that Fuji slapped onto the XP150. It's bright enough to see reasonably well underwater and in direct sunlight, but details are grainy, colors are flat, motion lags, and viewing angles are too shallow.

Flash

The flash is rated for a wimpy 3.5 meters of effectiveness, so it's only really suitable for crude indoor portraits or as a fill flash. It's placed next to the lens, so red-eye will be an issue (though there's a built-in red-eye reduction setting).

Flash Photo

The flash emitter pops up from the top of the body via a mechanical release.

Connectivity

Like most cameras circa 2012, the XP150 has two ports: one combined USB/AV hookup, and one HDMI jack (micro-HDMI in this case). Both are behind the double-locking door on the side of the camera.

Battery

The XP150 runs on an NP-50A rechargeable lithium-ion battery, rated for a respectable 300 shots per charge. That figure will drop significantly with GPS activated, but that's the case with any GPS-equipped camera.

Battery Photo

Memory

The XP150 records to the usual SD/SDHC/SDXC media cards.

Memory Photo

The K2000 accepts inexpensive, easy to find SD cards.

Media Photo

Durability

Based on the XP150's official durability ratings, it's right up there with some of the toughest tough-cams.

It's waterproof to 33 feet. A few models can dive down to 40 feet, but 33 feet is still respectable, and enough for most folks' gentle waterproofing needs. It isn't designed for use in hot water (like hot springs) and it needs to be rinsed in fresh water after any amount of time in salt water. It isn't a good idea to keep it underwater for longer than an hour at a time, and the waterproofing may be compromised if you drop it (even though it's designed to be shockproof as well).

It's shockproof to 6.6 feet, tied with a few other cameras for the title of least-smashable camera. It's more than enough to survive some tumbles from chest- or shoulder-height, let alone toddler time. If it hits the pavement too hard, the waterproofing might be compromised, so think of the shockproofing as an insurance policy, not a party trick.

It's freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. This rating is common to just about every tough-cam. Basically, you can take it skiing, and it'll work correctly.

And finally, it's dustptoof. All of the moving parts are protected by glass, plastic, or rubber, so the lens won't get jammed up by an errant grain of sand.

The XP150 should be durable enough for most folks' vacations, basically. It'll survive the beach, the pool, the slopes, the state park, or whatever. Serious divers should invest in underwater housing for a more capable camera; the photos will be much better, and you'll be able to dive deeper.

Image Quality

Outdoor photography is fine with the XP150, good enough for sharing on Facebook or Flickr. But even in great lighting, shots still might have weird colors, loads of grainy noise, warped corners, and soft, sloppy details. Those problems are unmistakable indoors and in low light. Even worse, the metering and focus are inconsistent from shot to shot. For anyone with even modest standards for image quality, it borders on unusable.

Sharpness

The XP150 takes almost-hilariously fuzzy, imprecise photos. At the center of the frame, at the wide-angle setting, we measured a respectable 1827 MTF50s (measurements of edge sharpness). Pretty good, but that's as sharp as it gets, and the drop-off everywhere else is quick and ugly.

We measured fewer than 400 MTF50s at several areas of the frame at a few different focal lengths, bottoming out at a lowly 328 MTF50s in the middle of the focal range, partway between the center and right edge of the frame. Most point-and-shoots that we test in our labs can take sharper photos than that when they're strapped into our stabilization rig, shaking violently, with stabilization turned off. More on how we test sharpness.

Image Stabilization

Stabilization works reasonably well. Photos were 37% sharper with stabilization turned on. Experience tells us that's about two, maybe three stops of usefulness in the real world.

Color

Easy, outdoor nature scenes look decent, but otherwise, the XP150's colors are pretty inaccurate. The lack of a custom white balance setting basically doomed it to blow chunks all over our lab test. In the real world, the flat, greenish shades of yellow are behind the ugliest results, particularly with light skin. Colors are way too undersaturated, which is particularly bad for underwater photos. More on how we test color.

NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.

The XP150 has the technically worst color accuracy among this year's tough-cams, and the least appropriate for outdoor and underwater photography, too. Plenty of tough-cams have unrealistic color profiles, but they punch up and oversaturate colors to make skies and oceans bluer, trees greener, and flowers redder.

Color Modes

Four color modes are available: Standard, Chrome, B&W, and Sepia. Standard is the most accurate of the bunch, though that's a relative term.

White Balance

The XP150 is limited to auto white balance and a handful of presets—there is no custom white balance option. Do most point-and-shoot photographers use a custom white balance? Probably not. There should still always be an option, because anyone who has figured out how to set a custom white balance will use it.

AWB does a reasonably good job of balancing shots, but is always at least a few hundred degrees warm. In daylight and under cool fluorescent lights, the yellowish cast is somewhat noticeable, and very noticeable under incandescent lighting, though not as obviously as many point-and-shoots.

White Balance Options

Aside from auto white balance, presets include Fine (sunny), Shade, three Fluorescent Light options (daylight, warm white, and cool white), and Incandescent. No custom white balance option, and no underwater setting.

Noise Reduction

Noise performance is a mess. Grainy chroma and luma noise is visible at ISO 100, where we measured a noise-to-signal ratio above 1 percent. The ratio drops below 1 percent at ISO 400, which indicates some incredibly heavy-handed noise reduction—looking at the sloppy detail reproduction, that's definitely the case. Shots at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 look like the picture on an old tube TV with poor reception. More on how we test noise.

ISO Options

The ISO range stretches from 100 up to 3200, all at full resolution, adjustable in full stops. An auto-ISO option is available as well.

Dynamic Range

We haven't started publishing the results of our new dynamic range test just yet. For what it's worth, the XP150 can properly expose the ground and sky at the same time when it's very bright. It struggles more when parts of the frame are very shadowy, or when the sky is very overcast. That's typical of point-and-shoots, so nothing too significant to report here. More on how we test dynamic range.

Low Light Performance

Low-light photography is a no-no with the XP150. Sure, you can turn on the flash and grab a group photo if you have to (though that'll still look pretty crummy). But the lens is too slow and the noise too out-of-control to take anything resembling a crisp, clean shot in dim lighting.

Noise Reduction

Noise performance is a mess. Grainy chroma and luma noise is visible at ISO 100, where we measured a noise-to-signal ratio above 1 percent. The ratio drops below 1 percent at ISO 400, which indicates some incredibly heavy-handed noise reduction—looking at the sloppy detail reproduction, that's definitely the case. Shots at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 look like the picture on an old tube TV with poor reception. More on how we test noise.

ISO Options

The ISO range stretches from 100 up to 3200, all at full resolution, adjustable in full stops. An auto-ISO option is available as well.

Focus Performance

Focus is reasonably quick in good lighting, though not as reliable as it should be. Speed and reliability drop off more in dimmer lighting.

Video: Low Light Sensitivity

The XP150 picked up our acceptable amount of light down to 25 lux. That's really dark. If you're trying to shoot darker scenes, you really shouldn't be using a point-and-shoot anyway.

Chromatic Aberration

Color fringing is noticeable at all focal lengths, particularly on the right side of the frame. The silver lining is that the aberration doesn't hurt image quality all that much, since the miserable edge sharpness already screws it up.

Distortion

Through the LCD, straight lines look like they're distorted in a carnival funhouse mirror (at least at the wide angle and telephoto settings). But there's some impressive in-camera correction at work, because those same lines are as straight as an arrow in actual photos. The XP150 earned our top distortion score (as do 80% of cameras these days, roughly), and line distortion is only visible when you're looking for it.

Video Sharpness

In bright light, sharpness was decent, through slightly below average. We measured 400 horizontal and 350 vertical lw/ph. More on how CamcorderInfo tests video sharpness.

The drop-off in sharpness in low light was predictable but not severe, down to 325 horizontal and 300 vertical lw/ph.

Low Light Sensitivity

The XP150 picked up our acceptable amount of light down to 25 lux. That's really dark. If you're trying to shoot darker scenes, you really shouldn't be using a point-and-shoot anyway.

Usability

The XP150 is meant for casual photographers, no know-how required. It's fine for automatic shooting, but frustrating for photogs who like to fiddle with settings. It offers even less control than most tough-cams, and the small body can be tough to handle. The low-quality LCD really hampers the user experience though, and performance is clunkier than we usually see these days.

Automatic Features

Like most tough cams, the XP150 is meant to be used in auto mode. Auto mode comes in two varieties: regular auto, and SR (scene recognition) auto. In practice, they both basically accomplish the same thing, which is easy, hands-off shooting.

Buttons & Dials

The XP150 has the usual number of buttons for an entry-level point-and-shoot. Most of the functionality runs through the four-way pad. The rear panel also has dedicated playback and movie buttons, plus a multi-purpose display and navigation key.

Up top, there's a stubby zoom tilter (a rarity for tough cams, which typical have separate rubber buttons for zooming in and out, probably for waterproofing reasons), decent shutter, a power button (which you really need to lean on to power up the camera, though that seems like a software issue), and an extraneous GPS button, to remind you why you spent an extra $30 on this model.

Effects, Filters, and Scene Modes

The XP150 has a bunch of scene modes, a few in-camera HDR modes, and a useful motion panorama mode. They're all mish-mashed together in a broad, long modes menu.

The all-in-one menu system is tedious to navigate. There's no "quick" or "function" menu here, nor are there many direct access keys. Any and all changes have to be done through the main menu, a clunky, multi-page list of other clunky, sometimes multi-page lists.

It's a similar setup to higher-end Fujifilm models, but those cameras have quick menus and better physical controls for navigating the main menu system.

On the bright side, this camera is best when left in auto mode anyway, so you probably won't bother fussing with the menus too much.

Instruction Manual

The XP150 comes with a basic user manual, as well as a full PDF version on a CD-ROM. A maintenance guide is included as well. This is a typical setup for modern tough cams.

Handling

The XP150 looks and handles like a featureless pocket shooter with a layer of rubber glued around the edges. There's a tiny grip on the front panel, but it provides very little leverage, and the back panel offers no thumb rest or any kind of grip. The plastic finish is pretty slippery, too. It isn't impossible to hold, but it isn't particularly comfortable.

Handling Photo 1

It is, however, the smallest tough-cam with serious durability. It's the only one of this year's bunch that comfortably slides into a pants pocket. It's a bit bigger than the Panasonic TS20, but they're in the same wheelhouse.

Handling Photo 2
Handling Photo 3

Buttons & Dials

The XP150 has the usual number of buttons for an entry-level point-and-shoot. Most of the functionality runs through the four-way pad. The rear panel also has dedicated playback and movie buttons, plus a multi-purpose display and navigation key.

Up top, there's a stubby zoom tilter (a rarity for tough cams, which typical have separate rubber buttons for zooming in and out, probably for waterproofing reasons), decent shutter, a power button (which you really need to lean on to power up the camera, though that seems like a software issue), and an extraneous GPS button, to remind you why you spent an extra $30 on this model.

Buttons Photo 1

We could stand for an extra multi-function button in place of that GPS key. A button for cycling through scene modes would be a nice substitution, though leaving the camera in auto mode is probably the best bet for most users.

Buttons Photo 2

Display(s)

A $280 tough-cam deserves a better screen than the 2.7-inch, 230,000-pixel LCD that Fuji slapped onto the XP150. It's bright enough to see reasonably well underwater and in direct sunlight, but details are grainy, colors are flat, motion lags, and viewing angles are too shallow.

Image Stabilization

Stabilization works reasonably well. Photos were 37% sharper with stabilization turned on. Experience tells us that's about two, maybe three stops of usefulness in the real world.

Shooting Modes

Two auto modes are available: regular auto and scene-recognition auto. There's a program mode, two HDR modes, a motion panorama mode, and about 18 scene modes.

Manual Controls

User control is extremely limited on this camera, offering nothing that we would consider to be manual control, or even pseudo-manual control like saturation, sharpness, or contrast adjustments. It doesn't even have a custom white balance option.

Focus

Focus is reasonably quick in good lighting, though not as reliable as it should be. Speed and reliability drop off more in dimmer lighting.

Recording Options

The XP150 maxes out at 14.4 megapixels, at a 4:3 aspect ratio in JPEG format. Two compression levels are available, normal and fine. It can also shoot in 16:9 and 3:2 formats, at a few different sizes each. RAW output is not offered.

Speed and Timing

Despite the CMOS sensor inside, the XP150 is very slow by current standards.

It offers no full-res continuous shooting mode, only a handful of reduced-res modes—six of them to be exact, though they're really just variations on the same theme.

Since there's no continuous drive mode, we performed our speed test by shooting single pictures as rapidly as we could muster. We measured an average of about 1.5 seconds between shots, or roughly 0.67 frames per second. That's absolutely glacial by current standards, where even the "slow" cameras can crank out at least two frames per second.

The self-timer options are pretty standard: 2-second and 10-second options, plus a few group-shot options using the camera's face-recognition technology. Pretty straightforward, except that the XP150 reset the timer to zero after every single shot.

Focus Speed

Focus is reasonably quick in good lighting, though not as reliable as it should be. Speed and reliability drop off more in dimmer lighting.

Features

Durability is the XP150's main feature, hardy enough to withstand most bumps, bruises, and splashes. Like most of this year's tough-cams, the XP150 a built-in GPS antenna for geo-tagging photos. It works relatively well. Otherwise, the feature set is pretty sparse for a point-and-shoot, with no special effects or filters.

Effects, Filters, and Scene Modes

The XP150 has a bunch of scene modes, a few in-camera HDR modes, and a useful motion panorama mode. They're all mish-mashed together in a broad, long modes menu.

Other Features

Durability

Durability is the main attraction on the XP150—that's how Fuji thinks they can get away with charging $279 for this thing. See our Durability section for more.

GPS

The XP150 has a built-in GPS antenna for geo-tagging photos. For some adventurous photographers, it’s a must-have feature. It allows them to map their photos and figure out exactly where they took their favorite shots—and share that info online with friends and other outdoor enthusiasts.

GPS works best in wide-open areas. The GPS can be disabled entirely; used only while the camera is turned on; or with the tracking data activated, it pings the satellite every few minutes to track its movements. This last setting really kills the battery life, especially if it's left on overnight.

If GPS is a critical feature for you, the XP150 works fine, but the best in-camera GPS system we’ve seen is in the Panasonic TS4.

Recording Options

The XP150 can capture 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second, in the MP4 h.264 format. 720p, VGA, and a number of high-speed options are available as well. Find out how the performed in our video image quality test./r:link_to_content

Video Controls

Auto Controls

Video mode is all-auto here. Press the movie button and start filming—that's it.

Zoom

Optical zoom is available in video mode, controlled by the zoom tilter on the top of the camera.

Focus

Movie autofocus is surprisingly quick and fairly accurate on the XP150, as long as there's enough light.

Exposure Controls

Users have absolutely no control over video exposure. White balance, exposure compensation, and ISO settings cannot be selected or altered—it's entirely up to the camera.

Audio Features

The XP150 has a mono microphone and a mono speaker, and that's it as far as audio features go.

Mic Photo

In the Box

Box Photo

• Fujifilm FinePix XP150 digital camera

• wrist strap

• USB cable

• rechargeable lithium-ion battery (NP-50A)

• battery wall charger (w/ removable prongs)

• CD-ROM

• basic user manual

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