Fujifilm HS10 Review

Camera Reviews / Fujifilm Cameras i Express Review
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Fujifilm FinePix HS10
Resolution: 10.30 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3 inch
(6.2mm x 4.6mm)
Lens: 30.00x zoom
(24-720mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Extended ISO: 64 - 6400
Shutter: 1/4000 - 30 sec
Max Aperture: 2.8
Dimensions: 5.1 x 3.6 x 5.0 in.
(131 x 91 x 126 mm)
Weight: 25.0 oz (709 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $500
Availability: 04/2010
Manufacturer: Fujifilm
Full specs: Fujifilm HS10 specifications

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Imaging Resource rating

4.0 out of 5.0

Fujifilm FinePix HS10

by Dan Havlik and Stephanie Boozer
Review Date: 07/12/2010

There are some out there who may have thought the all-in-one superzoom cameras like the Fujifilm HS10 would have gone away by now. Indeed, as prices of digital SLRs have continued to come down, and smaller, compact point-and-shoots have been fitted with bigger built-in zooms, the era of the "chunky" bridge camera would seem to be on the wane. Unless, of course, your name is Fujifilm, a company which continues to offer compelling reasons why this category of camera is still alive and well.

Fuji's latest offering is the 10.3-megapixel FinePix HS10, a Swiss-Army-knife of a camera with a whopping 30x (24-720mm equivalent) optical twist-barrel manual zoom lens. Though it retails for a relatively spendy $500, the Fujifilm HS10 is packed with features including a back-side illuminated CMOS image sensor. If you are unfamiliar with back-side illuminated (BSI) sensors, they're designed with circuitry on the side of the chip not used for absorbing light. This, ostensibly, gives the pixels more room on the light sensitive side to collect light. The jury is still out on how effective this technology is for low-light shooting but more and more cameras contain BSI chips these days including, notably, the 5MP imager in the new iPhone 4.

To keep the Fujifilm HS10 steady during long zooms, the camera has sensor-shift image stabilization that compensates for handshake. The camera also has a Pro Low-Light mode which captures four nearly simultaneous shots and then combines them into one to reduce noise and blur in low light shots or in photos captured at long zooms. This is similar to technology that has already debuted on Sony's cameras. The Fujifilm HS10 also has a Motion Panorama mode -- similar to what Sony calls Sweep Panorama on its models -- which lets you capture a panoramic, stitched-together image in a single sweeping shot.

For sports and action photography, Fuji has added a high-speed, ten frames per second, continuous mode to the Fujifilm HS10 along with a Best Frame Capture Mode which records continuously from the instant focus is activated so you never miss a shot.

For video lovers, the Fujifilm HS10 can record full 1080p HD movies with stereo sound. The camera also has a mini HDMI port though like most manufacturers on the market, Fuji doesn't include an HDMI cable in the box. A high-speed movie modes lets you record up to 1,000 frames per second and then play the clips back in slow motion. We also like that the Fujifilm HS10 has an option to record still images simultaneously as JPEGs and RAW. Now that puts the pro in prosumer.

Though its designed to look like a digital SLR, the Fujifilm HS10 does not have a true optical viewfinder. There is, however, a small electronic viewfinder along with a 3-inch tilting LCD screen with 230,000 dots of resolution. A sensor detects when the user brings their eye toward or away from the electronic viewfinder and then automatically switches between the EVF and LCD screen as appropriate.

The Fujifilm HS10 uses four AA batteries which are inserted into the hand grip. As with most of Fuji's male-centric, prosumer models, it's available in one color only: black. The Fuji FinePix HS10 began shipping April 2010, priced at around US$500.


Fujifilm HS10
User Report

by Dan Havlik

If you don't want to make the leap to a digital SLR yet but desire DSLR features and performance, the Fujifilm FinePix HS10 is about as close to the real thing as you're going to get. It also does DSLRs one better by offering an extremely versatile 30x built-in optical zoom lens. Along with being able to get close to the action at a maximum 720mm equivalent focal length, the Fujifilm HS10 doesn't skimp on the wide-angle, letting you go out as far as 24mm (equivalent) for sweeping landscape photography.

Add in a slew of automated features including a low-light shooting mode which combines four shots into one to reduce blur and noise; a back-side illuminated CMOS sensor designed to absorb more light and reduce image noise; a panoramic motion mode that automatically stitches images together; and full 1080p HD movie mode with stereo sound, and you've got a camera with more features than you'll likely know what to do with. But oh what fun you'll have trying them all out!

Look and Feel. The all-black Fujifilm FinePix HS10 looks so much like a digital SLR, you'll do a double take the first time you see it. With a comfortable rubberized handgrip and a quiet manual twist-barrel zoom lens sporting a comfy ribbed focus ring (also rubberized), Fuji does it's best to make this all-in-one superzoomer look and feel semi-professional. But like a DSLR, this isn't a camera you'll be able to slip into a coat pocket and take out for a day of shooting.

Dimensions are 5.1 x 3.6 x 5.0 inches (131 x 91 x 126mm) and weight is 25 ounces (709 grams) with a card and batteries, which is about on par to small DSLRs such as the Nikon D3000. Like most entry-level DSLRs, the Fujifilm HS10's body is mostly polycarbonate, though it feels solid with good heft and balance in your hand. The main things that tell you this isn't a digital SLR are the slight curving on the sides of the camera body and the "30x Super Wide" badge on the front which indicates this is an all-in-one camera with some serious focal length.

Controls. Controls on the Fujifilm FinePix HS10 are plentiful and well-labeled. Most important is the big silver metallic shutter button on top of the handgrip which is surrounded by the on/off ring. This is very similar to how many SLRs work, so it's familiar. Though you'd think the lack of a motorized zoom would speed up the power-on cycle, it still takes a fairly long time from power-up to the first shot, about 2.5 seconds in our lab tests. As befitting a camera that has nearly a dozen significant features, the Fujifilm HS10 has nearly a dozen small raised buttons controlling everything from ISO to burst shooting options.

The Fujifilm HS10's knurled mode dial tilts back slightly so you don't have to look over the camera to determine which shooting mode it's in. And with the Fujifilm HS10 there are plenty of shooting modes along with a range of camera adjustments -- Finepix Color options, Dynamic Range adjustments etc.--- you make on the LCD screen after hitting the menu button. There's a lot to figure out here, which is why it's so frustrating that camera manufacturers don't seem to offer paper versions of manuals anymore for anything other than digital SLRs. With the Fujifilm HS10 you have grab a PDF of the manual off a CD and view it on your computer. Not great for figuring out this camera's impressive functionality on the fly.

Next to the marked mode dial, there's a black command dial that helps you adjust some of the camera's various functions such as aperture or shutter speed in the PASM manual modes. To start shooting video, just press the red button on back of the camera and wait a second for the Fujifilm HS10 to switch into movie mode before automatic recording begins. (It would have been nice if this mode switch was just a bit quicker.) Press it again to stop recording. To access the pop-up flash, just hit a button on the side of the Fujifilm HS10 and it's good to go.

The Fujifilm HS10 defaults to a mode called EVF/LCD Auto Switch which uses a sensor to detect when you bring your eye towards or away from the electronic viewfinder. This will automatically switch between the EVF and LCD Screens for viewing and composing images as appropriate. I actually really disliked this auto switch set-up -- more about this later -- and recommend turning it off in the menus. Once it's off, you can switch between the EVF or the LCD just by pressing the EVF/LCD button next to the electronic viewfinder.

Lens. The lens on Fujifilm FinePix HS10 is a beaut. With 30x capability, the lens offers actual focal lengths ranging from 4.2 to 126mm, equivalent to 24 to 720mm on a 35mm camera. For some perspective on this, picture the giant lenses you see professional photographers using on the sidelines of football games and more than double their maximum focal length.

Fuji is not alone in offering an all-in-one camera with a 30x superzoom. Olympus also released its SP-800UZ which has a 30x zoom but compared to the Fujifilm HS10, that lens has more on the telephoto end and less on the wide-angle, with a 35mm equivalent focal length of 28 to 840mm. Personally I prefer having the 24mm wide option on the Fujifilm HS10 since it makes the camera great for capturing landscapes, cityscapes and sprawling scenery when you're traveling. (Not to mention, massive group shots such as at a family or high school reunions.)

The Fuji HS10 offers 1/3EV aperture steps in a range of f/2.8 to f/11 at the wide-angle, and f/5.6 to f/11 at the telephoto end. And, of course, this is what separates the Fujifilm HS10's lens from the 70-200mm and 400mm behemoths you see on the sidelines of sporting events. Those lenses offer a constant aperture of f/2.8 which is great for shooting in low-light or when isolating a player in sharp focus while blurring out the background.

Though sharpness was decent throughout the Fujifilm HS10's entire focal range -- particularly at the widest angle and for macro photos -- there was noticeable softness at the corners which isn't unusual for a camera in this class with such a long lens in a small package. Indeed, the Fujifilm HS10's lens was better than most in this respect. In lower light and when zoomed all the way to 720mm, you'll get only passable sharpness even with the Fujifilm HS10's stabilization system, which shifts the sensor to combat handshake. Though I thought the Fujifilm HS10's 10.3-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor did surprisingly well in keeping noise down at ISO 800 and 1,600, the camera's anti-noise processing smoothed out detail which added to image softness

Powerful Zoom. 30x is quite impressive.

On an overcast day in New York City, I was able to get fairly sharp images of passengers on a site-seeing boat in the Hudson River. Even though I was up on a bluff looking down on the boat with the Fujifilm HS10's lens racked out all the way to 30x (720mm equiv.), you can clearly identify the passengers in the shot and even what they're wearing. Thankfully there was enough light to shoot at ISO 100. (At ISO 1,600, there would've likely been a lot more blur from noise and in-camera smoothing software.)

Though the Fujifilm HS10 is relatively compact, when you manually extend the lens all the way to 720mm, it telescopes out to about five inches from the body, or about seven inches total. One nice touch is that the lens provides actual and 35mm equivalent focal lengths on the lens barrel as you zoom. And while I like that its a manual twist-barrel lens -- rather than a slow electronic zoomer -- quickly adjusting the zoom takes some practice and I'd recommend looking through the 0.2-inch, 200,000-dot electronic viewfinder rather than in live view on the 3-inch LCD screen on back. Composing close-ups is a lot easier with the EVF and it won't wash out in bright sunlight. Another zoom hazard is that your thumb tends to run into the flash housing, so it's best to keep your fingers on the underside of the lens and zoom in steps rather than all at once.

Super Macro.

The Fujifilm HS10's lens also did surprisingly well for macro photos. (Some superzoom lenses suffer when trying to capture extreme close-ups.) Minimum focusing distance is ordinarily 1.6 feet at the wide-angle or 16.4 feet at the telephoto but it drops to just 0.3 feet in Macro mode at the wide-angle, or 6.5 feet at telephoto. Even better is the Fujifilm HS10's Super Macro mode which locks the lens at an unspecified focal length but allows focusing as close as 0.4 inches. I got wonderful close-ups of flower in Super Macro mode that rivaled shots I've captured with true macros lenses on DSLRs.

Modes. Modes abound on the feature-packed Fujifilm HS10 with presets for beginners; for prosumers looking to get creative; and for more experienced photographers who seek manual control. Of course there is the basic Auto mode -- red camera icon on the mode dial -- which does everything for you -- and Program which allows basic manual overrides such as ISO adjustment -- but there's also Fuji's SRAuto mode, which automatically analyzes a scene and picks the appropriate pre-set mode from a group that includes: Portrait, Landscape, Night, Macro, Night Portrait, Backlit Portrait and Auto.

Automated scene recognition modes have been around for a while and I recommend them for anyone who's in too much of a hurry to fiddle with the camera to choose the appropriate setting. Be forewarned though, they're not always accurate. In a couple of cases the Fuji HS10's SRAuto mode picked Macro when I was shooting a landscape photo. It also seemed to often default to just plain old Auto when it couldn't figure out a scene.

I don't like people or animals to be alerted when I'm taking a picture so I recommend the Fujifilm HS10's Silent Mode which you can set by holding down the DISP/BACK button on the rear of the camera for a few seconds or choosing it through the menu. It disables the camera's speaker, flash and AF assist/self-timer lamp. In the Adv. (Advanced) setting on the mode dial you're offered three interesting and useful sophisticated pre-sets: Pro Low-Light (mentioned earlier), Multi-Motion Capture, and Motion Remover.

Program mode
1/100 second, f/3.2, ISO 3200
Pro Low-Light mode
1/18 second, f/3.2, ISO 800

Use Pro Low-Light when you're shooting in mixed or low-light situations and want to shoot an image with less blur or image noise. The camera will automatically fire off four consecutive shots of your subject and then combine them through a stacking process into one. The resulting shot should be sharper and cleaner than just boosting ISO and trying to hold the Fujifilm HS10 steady in low light. On the downside, there can be an artificial, over-processed look to these images which is the same complaint I had about a similar mode on Sony's cameras. In addition, the HS10 doesn't seem to micro-align images as well as the Sonys, sometimes requiring multiple attempts to get a crisp shot. They also don't do well for action photos. If you're in a pinch though, Pro Low-Light mode can produce some unexpectedly good photos in bad lighting or when zooming in from great distances.

Multi-Motion Capture mode is more of a lark but no less interesting. It will capture a moving object -- such as a runner or a vehicle -- multiple times in a single image. Rotating the Fujifilm HS10's Command Dial will let you choose the shooting time: for slow-moving objects choose a longer interval. Motion Remover is for when you want to capture a cityscape without all the cars, buses, motorcycles and pedestrians in the foreground and background. In this mode, which also composites multiple images, moving objects magically disappear so you can shoot pristine architectural photos of the Louvre or the Pyramids of Giza without the hustle and bustle of human activity.

The SP1 and SP2 options on the mode dial are for the Fujifilm HS10's special scene pre-set modes. There are 15 of them: Natural + Flash (which is for backlit subjects: it take two photos one with and one without flash); Natural Light; Portrait; Portrait Enhancer (it gives you smooth skin effect for softer portraits); Landscape; Sport; Night; Night (Tripod); Fireworks; Sunset; Snow; Beach; Party; Flower; and Text. All 15 modes are available in both SP1 and SP2 but each position can be assigned a different scene setting if, for instance, you want to quickly switch between Portrait and Landscape.

Panorama. Not quite as good as some, the Fujifilm HS10 nonetheless makes a very wide panorama. This is 3840x720, but even wider images are possible. There is some doubling of elements in this shot, though a stand of leafy trees is indeed a challenge (note, though, that there was no wind).

The PANORAMA setting on the mode dial puts the Fujifilm HS10 into Motion Panorama mode which lets you capture an ultra-wide, stitched-together image in a single sweeping shot. Here you can select four panning directions: Right, Left, Up or Down. Press the shutter down and move the camera in the appropriate direction. Shooting ends automatically when your panorama is complete.

I loved this mode when it first appeared in a similar form on Sony's cameras, since its takes the pain out of trying to stitch together a panoramic shot on your own. Stitching wasn't as good as we've seen on Sony cameras, however. But they're good enough that I wish Sony or Fuji (or other manufacturers) would sell a panoramic frame to accommodate these ultra-wide shots. They'd certainly make a bundle.

Along with all those fancy "intelligent" camera modes, the Fuji H10 has those tried-and-true manual modes that more seasoned photographers like: Shutter Priority (S), Aperture Priority (A), and Full Manual (M).

Menu. Fuji's menu system is in drastic need of an update, especially for a camera with this many features. Though the Fujifilm HS10 has plenty of buttons for accessing basic functions, if you want to dive deeper you're going to be doing a lot of clicking and scrolling. It's a time-consuming process and a bit annoying but after a day or so of shooting you'll get used to it. In shooting mode, hitting the Fujifilm HS10's menu button calls up a two-tab layout with photography settings under the camera icon, and internal adjustments under the wrench/hammer icon.

Under the shooting settings table, you're given a plethora of options, some of which you can already access via the Fujifilm HS10's buttons. The fonts and icons Fuji uses for its menus haven't changed much in the last decade and they're also in need of an refresh, especially since the camera's 3-inch tilting LCD screen (230,000 dots of resolution) is a nice one.

On the Fujifilm HS10's Shooting Menu's first page (there are four!) options include adjusting ISO, image size, image quality, dynamic range (DR value options are confusingly listed as 100%, 200%, and 400% with the higher number designed for scenes with more contrast), and FinepixColor (standard, Fuji Chrome which boosts color, B&W, and Sepia).

The Shooting Menu's second page offers options for white balance fine-tuning, color, tone, sharpness, face detection, and movie quality. The third and four pages include adjustments for HS movie speed, normal or high speed movie, autoexposure bracketing, flash, external flash, high-speed shooting (10fps but only for 7 frame bursts), and custom settings.

When reviewing photos, the Fujifilm HS10's Playback menu offers options to erase images, run a slide show, red eye removal, protect, crop, resize, image rotate, copy, voice memo, and print. If you're playing back a movie, there are also options for movie trimming and movie join which lets you splice together two clips to make a longer one.

Set-up menu options for the Fujifilm HS10 include date/time, time difference, language, silent mode (on or off), reset, format, image display, frame numbering, operational volume, shutter volume, shutter sound, playback volume, LCD brightness, EVF/LCD mode (30 fps on the screen for improved battery life; 60 fps for better quality), EVF/LCD Auto switch (if on, viewfinder turns on when you put your eye to it) and Auto Power off. You can also adjust the Fujifilm HS10's image stabilization (IS) mode for either continuous or shooting only, red eye removal, autofocus (AF) illuminator, AE/AF-lock mode, AE/AF-Lock button, RAW (RAW + JPG or RAW only), focus check, save original image, autorotate for tall portrait photos during playback, background color, guidance on the display, and other camera settings.

Storage and Battery. The Fujifilm HS10 accepts SD and SDHC memory cards which are inserted in a slot on the right side of the camera by the handgrip. The slot is covered by a locking, slide-out plastic door. (Unlike some of Fuji's earlier models, the Fujifilm HS10 does not use xD-Picture Cards.) There is also 46MB of internal memory. When shooting at the 10MP Large (3,648 x 2,736) setting, a 4GB memory card in the HS10 can record up to 1590 JPEGs. In RAW mode, a 4GB card can record 250 image files. A 4GB card can record a 39-minute movie clip at full (1080p HD). In high-speed movie mode, it can record a 52-minute movie.

The Fujifilm HS10 is powered by four AA batteries which are inserted into the handgrip from the bottom of the camera. Using Alkaline batteries (the type supplied with the camera), the Fujifilm HS10 can capture approximately 300 frames, according to CIPA ratings. With NiMH rechargeable batteries, the HS10 can record 400 frames; and with lithium batteries it can record 700 frames.


Shooting with the Fujifilm HS10

If you like traveling light and want to bring just one camera with no extra lenses on an overseas vacation or a weekend getaway, the Fujifilm FinePix HS10 will pretty much do it all for you. And while the image quality and responsiveness of this all-in-one superzoom "bridge" camera may not match entry-level digital SLRs such as the Nikon D5000, Canon Rebel T2i or Pentax K-x, the Fujifilm HS10 is a couple hundred dollars cheaper than those models and sports a 30x (24mm-720mm) lens and a host of sophisticated features.

24mm. The Fujifilm HS10's wide-angle setting was great for capturing scenery.

I brought the Fujifilm HS10 on a trip to the Shawanagunk Mountains in New York and found it to be a very useful camera in a range of settings. First off though, it must be said that if you've shot with a good-quality digital SLR, the Fujifilm HS10 will initially feel like a letdown. The main reason is the overall speed of this digital camera can't match the performance of a true DSLR. For starters, composing images on the camera's 3-inch LCD screen or the grainy 0.2-inch, 230,000-dot electronic viewfinder just isn't the same as looking through a true optical viewfinder on a digital SLR.

What especially irritated me was that the Fujifilm HS10 defaults to a mode called EVF/LCD Auto Switch which uses a sensor to detect when you bring your eye towards or away from the electronic viewfinder. This will automatically switch between the EVF and LCD Screens for viewing and composing images as appropriate. While the sensor worked (mostly) fine, it takes a split second to engage. This is troublesome if you're trying to zero in on fast moving objects, such as wildlife, which the Fujifilm HS10's 30x lens is ideally suited for. I missed several candid shots of birds and other critters while looking at a dark screen waiting for the EVF to turn on.

Of course, you can also compose your shots on the Fujifilm HS10's nice 3-inch LCD, but I found that if I moved the camera while composing a shot, my arm or even the camera strap would trigger the camera to switch to the EVF. Pretty annoying. While the sensor-concept sounded good in theory, I recommend turning off the EVF/LCD Auto Switch and just using the EVF/LCD button to toggle between the two modes.

In terms of handling, the 25-ounce Fujifilm HS10 feels like a well-balanced lightweight digital SLR. While the market for these types of prosumer cameras is predominantly male, my wife was impressed with how light the Fujifilm HS10 felt and enjoyed shooting with it as well. We got great shots of the lake and surrounding ridgeline near the mountain lodge we were staying at and then brought the camera on a long hike through the woods.


The Fujifilm HS10's 24mm-equivalent wide-angle setting was perfect for getting shots of the "Gunks" -- as the Shawanagunk mountains are called locally -- while the 720mm telephoto setting was ideal for zooming in on the wildlife we spotted on our hike. Later at a park near our apartment in New York City, I zoomed in for close-up photos of a cute groundhog scurrying across the grass. I always liked how greens and blues are reproduced with Fuji's cameras, especially when you're shooting in the Fuji-Chrome setting which mimics the saturated look of its classic Velvia and Provia films. The Fujifilm HS10 also has a B&W setting which I used to capture area rock formations.

The PANORAMA setting, explained earlier in this review, automatically stitched together shots of the Hudson River into an impressive panoramic image just by pressing the shutter button and sweeping the camera in front of me. And while I liked the Pro Low-Light mode which captures four shots and combines them into one image to reduce noise and blur, as mentioned earlier, the results can have a synthetic, smoothed over look to them.

As a low-light camera, the Fujifilm HS10 is pretty decent even though its 1/2.3-inch imaging chip is significantly smaller than the APS-C sensors you'll find in consumer DSLRs. That's partially because the sensor in the Fujifilm HS10 is only 10 megapixels -- compared to other cameras that stuff 14MP onto tiny chips -- and also likely thanks to the BSI technology which increases space on the light gathering of the chip by moving the circuitry to the other end.

ISO range on the HS10 is 100-6,400 and I was very comfortable shooting the Fujifilm HS10 in low-light up to 1,600. Noise was relatively low at ISO 1,600 though the sweet spot for clean images on the HS10 is up to ISO 400. For trickier shooting situations in difficult lighting, use the Pro Low-Light mode.

Shot-to-shot the Fujifilm HS10 can't keep up with a DSLR, pausing for a few seconds between image capture. If you capture fast-moving wildlife -- or children -- try the rapid-fire 10fps high-speed mode. That 10fps spec is a little misleading, though since the camera can only process seven frame bursts at a time in this mode. 7, 5 and 3fps rates can also be selected.

Otter video. Easily the most active zoo patrons, otters offer an active demonstration of the Fujifilm HS10's 1080p video mode. (Click to download 30.5MB .MOV file.)

The 1080p HD shooting mode is pretty good, capturing a 1080p video, though at full zoom the results can still be a little shaky. Also, the built-in stereo microphone produced good sound. Video recordings were slow to start, though, and there was no mask to show you what areas would be excluded when you start recording, often requiring readjustment if you've been shooting in the camera's 4:3 mode.

So while superzoom, all-in-one cameras may not get the attention they once did, the Fujifilm Finepix HS10 is an excellent alternative to a DSLR with a long-range 30x zoom that will let you get closer to your subject than you'd think was possible in a camera this small and light. Along with your swim suit, you may want to consider packing the Fujifilm HS10 on your next trip.

Senior Editor Shawn Barnett took Dan up on his suggestion and brought the Fujifilm HS10 along on a recent trip to Zoo Atlanta: Though there were many walking around with expensive digital SLRs with even more expensive glass, I didn't envy them. No, the Fujifilm HS10's sensor would not deliver the quality those SLRs would, but I knew that I could get in closer to my subjects than they'd ever hope to with their expensive, relatively short-range glass. As such, a camera like the Fujifilm HS10 is tailor-made for getting great, ready-to-print shots at the zoo. Upper right is perhaps the best example, where I was able to get a portrait of this Gorilla lounging on the grass from about 30 feet away, thanks to the 720mm-equivalent lens, while those with 200mm lenses would have been restricted to a shot of the animal's entire body. I also found that the animals often looked directly into the lens of this relatively small camera.

Rendering fur is not the Fujifilm HS10's strong suit, though, and I had to wrestle with the camera a lot to get it to catch up and do what I wanted, as Dan and Lab Tech Luke also experienced. Shot-to-shot times were slow, AF was slow (tests show 0.93 second), but once I found a rhythm, I had no trouble getting good, tightly framed shots with the Fujifilm HS10. The first tortoise shot below is taken at just under 200mm equivalent, while the one beneath that was captured at 720mm equivalent.


Fujifilm HS10 Lens Quality

Note that the Fuji HS10's full telephoto focal length (126mm or 720mm eq.) is too long for our lab lens quality test shots, so the telephoto lab shots below were taken at approximately 75mm (430mm eq.).

24mm eq.
720mm eq.

Zoom: The Fujifilm HS10's optical zoom offers a very impressive 30x optical zoom range, equivalent to 24-720mm on a 35mm camera. Performance at full wide-angle is pretty good for a wide superzoom, though with some blurring and coma distortion in the corners even at f/8, and moderate chromatic aberration near the edges of the frame. At full telephoto, performance is quite good in the center, and there's less chromatic aberration, but corners are somewhat soft. Still, an above average performance overall for a lens with such range.

Wide: Sharp at center
Wide: Slightly soft lower right
Tele: Sharp in Center
Tele: Softest in lower right corner

Sharpness: The Fujifilm FinePix HS10's lens produces only slight blurring in the corners at wide-angle and telephoto, with the strongest blurring in the lower corners at both settings. However, what softening exists doesn't extend far into the frame.

Wide: Very slight pincushion distortion; hardly noticeable
Tele: Also a small amount of pincushion, barely visible
Uncorrected RAW
Wide: Strong barrel distortion
Tele: Strong pincushion distortion

Geometric Distortion: In JPEGs, there is very little distortion at both wide-angle and telephoto, with both showing about 0.06% pincushion distortion (about 1-2 pixels). A very slight dip in the target lines is visible, though it isn't strong enough to detract from the image overall.

Not surprisingly, uncorrected RAW files showed high amounts of geometric distortion. We measured 2.4% barrel distortion at wide-angle, and 2% pincushion at telephoto, though the full telephoto number is probably higher. RAW converters that fully support the HS10 should correct for this distortion automatically.

Uncorrected RAW
Wide: Moderate and slightly bright
Tele: Also moderate
Wide: High and bright
Tele: Also high and bright

Chromatic Aberration: Chromatic aberration at wide-angle is moderate and a bit bright, with noticeable reddish-magenta pixels and some bright cyan visible. At telephoto, the effect is about the same intensity.

As expected, uncorrected RAW files have much higher amounts of CA, so the camera is doing a pretty good job of removing much of the fringing in JPEG files.

Macro with Flash
Super Macro

Macro: The Fujifilm FinePix HS10's normal Macro mode captures a sharp image overall, with good detail. Minimum coverage area is on the large side though, at 4.15 x 3.11 inches (105 x 79mm). Flash performance is hindered by the long lens, which creates a strong shadow at the bottom of the frame. In Super Macro mode, the minimum coverage area is 1.70 x 1.27 inches (43 x 32mm), though exposure is very uneven.


Fujifilm HS10 Viewfinder Accuracy

Wide: EVF
Tele: EVF
Wide: LCD Monitor
Tele: LCD Monitor

Viewfinder Accuracy: The Fuji HS10's electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor both showed about 98% coverage accuracy at wide-angle and at telephoto. That's a little below average for its class, but better than Fuji's spec of 97%. There is also a slight vertical offset.


Fujifilm HS10 Image Quality

Color: Overall color looks pretty good here, though bright yellows are somewhat muted. Bright blues and reds are only slightly oversaturated, which is much better than average, and greens are nearly spot-on accurate. Only a few color shifts are noticeable, such as cyan toward blue and a very slight nudge in yellows toward green. Dark skin tones are just right, while lighter skin tones show a little pinkish-reddish tint. Still, much better performance here than average.

Auto WB:
Quite red
Incandescent WB:
Strong yellow-green cast
Manual WB: Close, though cool and magenta

Incandescent: The FinePix HS10's white balance system had some trouble with our incandescent lighting, producing noticeable color casts with each setting we tested. Though the Manual option is closest to accurate, it too shows a slight cool-magenta cast.

~1,400 lines
~1,400 lines

Resolution: Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,400 lines per picture height in both directions. Extinction of the pattern occurred at around 1,900 lines per picture height.

Wide: Inconclusive
Tele: Dim
Flash 0EV

Flash: Our manufacturer-specified testing (shown at right) doesn't work well at wide-angle when the reported distance goes beyond 16 feet, because that takes the camera out of the main lab, so the wide-angle result is inconclusive. The telephoto test came out a little dim at 8.2 feet, despite the HS10 raising the ISO to 1,600. Thus, the HS10's onboard flash should be sufficient for average shooting at close range, though its telephoto capabilities may be a little weak.

The flash produced a well exposed image of our indoor portrait scene at ISO 100 without the use of any flash exposure compensation. The HS10 chose a shutter speed of 1/60 second for this shot.

One foot-candle

2.5 sec

1.3 sec

0.6 sec

0.3 sec

1/13 sec

1/13 sec

1/25 sec

1/4 sec

Low Light: The Fujifilm HS10's back-side illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor does a pretty good job in low-light situations, and the camera's maximum 30-second shutter speed in Manual exposure mode means the HS10 can capture bright images in very low light at reasonable ISOs.

The table above shows an exposure series shot at a one foot-candle light level, roughly the amount of light provided by typical city street-lighting at night. Noise levels are quite good for an all-in-one digicam with a tiny sensor.

DR 100%
(ISO 100)
+0.7 EV
DR 200%
(ISO 200)
+0.7 EV
DR 400%
(ISO 400)
+0.7 EV

Dynamic Range: The Fuji HS10 has an expanded dynamic range feature designed to preserve hot highlights when enabled. It has three settings: 100% (the default), 200% and 400%. As you can see from the first row of flower crops, it's very effective at retaining clipped highlights in our outdoor portrait shot. As they say, though, there's no free lunch: if you look at the second row of crops, you'll see that highlight retention comes at a cost of some increased noise in the shadows and midtones. (The crops have had levels adjusted equally in Photoshop by setting the highlight slider to 100, to make it easier to see the noise.) This is because the camera raises ISO to 200 and 400 respectively.


ISO: Noise and Detail: Detail remains good in terms of definition to about ISO 200, with stronger softening beginning at ISO 400. By ISO 800, details are fuzzy, though still reasonably distinct considering the effects of noise suppression here. From ISO 1,600 to 6,400, color balance becomes muted and details blur considerably, as images take on a watercolor appearance. For more on how this affects printed images, see the Printed Results section below.

Printed: Though the onscreen 100% crops don't look super sharp, the printed results from the Fujifilm HS10 looked pretty good. Starting at 13x19 inches, the ISO 100 shots looked good, if a little soft. Printing at 11x14 inches looked a lot better, such that a little sharpening would get you to 13x19 inches pretty easily.

ISO 200 shots were better at 11x14 inches, but could also sharpen up for larger print sizes.

ISO 400 shots looked surprisingly good printed at 11x14 inches.

ISO 800 shots were quite good printed at 8x10, though low-contrast detail started to blur and fade.

ISO 1,600 images made a decent 5x7-inch print, though again low-contrast areas were more faded.

ISO 3,200 images made a good 4x6-inch print with good detail.

ISO 6,400 shots were a little soft, but managed to make a usable 4x6-inch print as well, though with slightly darker shadows.

Overall, it's a good performance, with the Fujifilm HS10 turning out usable prints at all ISO settings.


Fujifilm HS10 Performance

Shutter Lag: Full autofocus shutter lag is a little slower than average, at 0.90 second at wide-angle and 0.93 second at full telephoto. Enabling the flash raised shutter lag to 1.15 second. Prefocus shutter lag is 0.097 second, also slower than average but still reasonably fast.

Cycle Time: Cycle time is also on the slow side, as the Fujifilm HS10 captures a frame every 3.43 seconds in single-shot JPEG mode. When shooting RAW files, cycle time increases to 4.59 seconds, and RAW + JPEG increases cycle time to 5.74 seconds. However, 10fps Continuous mode is quite zippy, capturing frames every 0.07 second for a burst rate of 13.64 frames per second for 7 frames, faster than Fuji's 10 frames per second specification. There are 7, 5 and 3fps modes as well. In 5fps continuous mode, the HS10 managed 4.7 frames per second for 6 RAW frames or 5 RAW + JPEG frames.

Flash Recycle: The Fujifilm FinePix HS10's flash recycles in a sluggish 7.6 seconds after a full-power discharge.

Low Light AF: The camera's AF system had a little trouble with low lighting, able to focus down to just under the 1/2 foot-candle light level without AF assist enabled, though the camera was able to focus in complete darkness with the AF assist lamp enabled.

USB Transfer Speed: Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, the Fujifilm HS10 's download speeds are quite fast. We measured 5,585 KBytes/sec.


In the Box

  • Fujifilm FinePix HS10 digital camera
  • 4 x AA-type Alkaline batteries
  • A/V cable
  • Shoulder strap
  • USB cable
  • Lens cap
  • Lens cap cord
  • CD-ROM


Fujifilm HS10 Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Uniquely versatile 30x (24mm to 720mm) optical superzoom lens
  • Manual zoom ring
  • Lots of external controls
  • Sensor-shift image stabilization
  • Lightweight, digital SLR-like build
  • Jam-packed with sophisticated automated features
  • Excellent 1080p HD video mode with stereo recording
  • >10fps Continuous mode
  • High-speed video modes up to 1000fps
  • Backside-illuminated CMOS sensor controls noise at high ISOs
  • 3-inch tilting LCD screen good for overhead and low shots
  • Good battery life
  • Powered by easy-to-find AA batteries
  • RAW + JPEG modes
  • Expanded DR modes
  • Interesting features such as Multi-Motion Capture, Motion Remover, Pro Low-Light, etc.
  • Flash hotshoe
  • Good printed results
  • Slow shot-to-shot time
  • Slow autofocus
  • Mode switching and UI can be sluggish
  • EVF/LCD Auto switching is slow and might make you miss a shot
  • Image quality not on par with similarly priced digital SLRs
  • High-speed 10fps shooting only allows 7 frame JPEG bursts, 6 frames in RAW mode
  • Outdated menu system
  • Video recordings slow to start
  • Lab reported inconsistent exposures in some cases
  • High amounts of geometric distortion and CA in uncorrected RAW files
  • AF struggles in low light
  • Below average accuracy from electronic viewfinder/LCD
  • No printed manual (only PDF on a CD)
  • Documentation is short on details
  • Panorama mode leaves many stitching errors
  • Sluggish flash recycling time


The all-in-one superzoom digital camera is dead? Long live the all-in-one superzoom! Fuji makes that argument loud and clear with the multi-talented FinePix HS10, which packs a class-leading 30x (24-720mm) zoom lens into a chunky but lightweight camera body that handles like a digital SLR. If you're the type of person who can't decide between getting a camera that uses interchangeable lenses or one that packs everything into a single body, the Fujifilm HS10 just might make you opt for the latter. Along with its extremely versatile lens, the Fujifilm FinePix HS10 is packed with useful features including Pro Low-Light mode, Motion Panorama mode, and Best Frame Capture mode. On the other hand, if you're someone who has tried and likes digital SLRs, you may find the Fujifilm HS10 a step slow for your needs, with image quality that might be a notch lower than what you're used to. Plus, at $500 this Fuji superzoom is not significantly cheaper than some entry-level digital SLRs. The Fujifilm HS10 isn't one we can recommend to everyone, but if you really like to zoom in tightly, but still want decent optical quality -- and are willing to put up with the HS10's foibles -- then the Fujifilm HS10 is one handy long zoom digital camera to have around.


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