The Fuji Finepix E500 is a standard point and shoot digital camera. It is likely to appeal to anyone who is looking for a digital camera that is easy to use, but also offers a number of more advanced features. It is aimed more at the social photographer who enjoys taking holiday shots and family pictures than the more serious photographer.
The Finepix E500 is one of a series of 'E' cameras introduced by Fuji in 2004. This is a four megapixel model, while the Finepix E510 has five megapixels and the E550 has six megapixels.
One of the added attractions of this group of cameras is the fact that the lens has a wider angle than the majority of similar cameras. It is the equivalent of a 28-91mm on a 35mm film camera. In a nutshell this helps you to squeeze more into the shot. This is particularly useful when you are taking pictures of landscapes and groups of people.
101 x 60.5 x 32.6 mm
When taking shots outdoors the Finepix E500 performed well. It correctly exposes pictures and the colours are true. I found some the images were not as sharp as I would have liked them though. Not surprisingly landscape shots came out particularly well.
I have to be honest that indoors the camera was inclined to struggle. Despite this, the flash works very well. It has a good range and the fact that it pops up on top of the camera and is therefore a little further from the lens is a plus point. The problem that I found was in focusing. As conditions grew darker the images became progressively less focused. So although the camera produces well lit photographs they tend not to be as sharp as you would expect.
Macro or close up shots were fine.
As mentioned above one of the main features of the Finepix E500 is the 3.2x optical zoom lens. The way that the lens has been designed gives it a wider angle than other cameras. There is a trade off and it is that the telephoto capability of the lens is reduced. This means that you can't zoom in as far as you can with other 3.2x zoom lenses.
To help you take pictures in different lighting and exposure situations there are pre programmed scene modes covering Portrait, Landscape, Sports and Night Scenes.
For composing and reviewing images, as well as accessing the camera's menus there is a 2" LCD screen. This is above average. There is also an optical viewfinder to aid composition.
Short movies can be captured. These are up to three minutes in duration at a resolution of 160x120. The duration falls to sixty seconds when the resolution is increased to 320x240.
With still images you can add up to thirty seconds of commentary to help you remember exactly what was happening when you took the picture. There is also a self timer with a ten second delay. You can use this when you would like to appear in the shot yourself.
The flash unit pops up on the top of the camera. It has a range of up to four meters when the zoom lens is not in use. I found the flash to be powerful when compared with similar digital cameras. The flash modes that you can use are: Automatic, Red eye Reduction, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash (Slow Synchro, Red eye Reduction + Slow Synchro in manual mode).
Fuji supply all the cables and software you need to connect the Finepix E500 to a television set and a computer.
For more advanced photographers you can take full control over the image by placing the camera in fully manual mode. Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes are also available. Shutter speeds range between 2 and 1/2000 seconds and aperture settings between F2.9 and F8.
Ease of Use
There are no problems with ease of use. In fact the Finepix E500 is very straightforward to use.
When you first get the camera you can place it in automatic mode and start taking shots. The Finepix E500 will make all the key decisions for you relating to the exposure. To switch from automatic mode to try out the pre programmed scenes, the manual controls or movie mode all you have to do is move round the dial on the top of the camera.
Zooming in and out is controlled by two clearly marked buttons on the back of the camera. Further buttons give you easy access to macro or close up mode and the various flash settings. There are also menu and fast menu buttons.
The fast menu allows you to change the image quality, ISO settings and the colour (standard, chrome or black and white).
The main menus show you the range of options that are available to you in the selected shooting mode. All in all I like Fuji menus and I find them easier to use than those found on most cameras.
You can buy the Fuji Finepix E500 for around £175. This should include postage and packaging.
Looks wise this is a fairly typical digital camera. It is shiny silver and similar in style to a compact film camera. It is not one of the smallest digital cameras, but this has advantages too. With a handy grip on the front you can get a good firm hold on the camera when you are taking a shot. This means that your pictures should not be spoilt by camera shake and it should help you to produce sharp pictures.
Its dimensions are 101(W) x 60.5(H) x 32.6(D) mm and it weighs 170 grams.
Batteries / Memory Cards
Two AA batteries are used to provide power to the Finepix E500. Fuji supplies two alkaline batteries with the camera. My standard advice is to consider buying a set of rechargeable batteries. They last longer than alkaline batteries and help to keep running costs to a minimum.
Images are stored on xD Picture cards. The one supplied by Fuji with the Finepix E500 only has a 16 megabyte capacity. It is well worth picking up a second high capacity card when you buy the camera.
There is a lot to like about the Fuji Finepix E500. The flash works well, the LCD screen is a generous size and the wide angle lens is very good for taking pictures of groups and landscapes. Without doubt the main area of weakness is indoor photography when the light gets low. To be fair this is an area where many digital cameras struggle, but it is a drawback nonetheless.