The Fuji Finepix E550 is a 6.3 megapixel digital camera with a 4x optical zoom lens. The zoom lens is the equivalent to a 32.5 - 130 mm lens on a 35mm camera. The Finepix E550 is likely to appeal to anyone who is looking for a step up from a standard point and shoot camera, but does not want the expense of a fully featured, top of the range digital camera. The camera offers fully manual control and will also interest families where one member is looking for a more advanced camera that can still be used as a simple point and shoot model.
105 x 63 x 34.4mm
I found the outdoors shots to be impressive. The Finepix E550 had little trouble with exposing the scenes correctly. The only places where detail tended to be lost were in very dark areas. Overall I would describe the outdoor shots as being above average.
Elsewhere the results produced in two of the tests were very good indeed. These were the tests for colour and macro shots. The colours are deep and true and again I would say the Finepix E550 performs well when compared to rival cameras. Likewise with the macro test. There is a tiny amount of flare on the outside of the watch used in the test, but other than that the macro shot is bright and clear, showing up the details very well.
One area where the camera could be better is with the indoor shots. Under artificial light the camera does have a problem with being able to focus correctly and both the indoor portrait and the sample image of the bottles are less than pin sharp.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
Shutter lag is the time it takes to take each picture. A constant criticism of digital cameras is the delay in between clicking the shutter button, the picture being taken and also the camera being ready to take the next picture. From a pure shutter lag view the Finepix E550 seems to have little problem with taking a single picture and recording to the memory card.
In terms of recycling times I was able to take five pictures in the space of 6.86 seconds. That works out at a rate of 1.37 seconds per picture. I am not claiming that this is the most scientific tests, but it should give you an indication of the recycling speed of the camera. At the time of writing this is a new test I have added for my reviews. Early indications are that this is very fast indeed. My test is carried out indoors under standard conditions and it is possible that you would see better results outside.
For composing images and accessing the menu system there is a 2" LCD screen. This size is above standard and the larger size is definitely an advantage. If you prefer there is also an optical viewfinder for composing shots.
When you first use the Finepix E550 you will probably just place the camera in automatic mode and start taking pictures. In this mode all the decisions relating to the exposure settings are taken by the camera. To support automatic mode there are also four pre programmed scene modes (Portrait, Landscape, Sports and Night Scene). These work in a similar way to automatic mode. All you need to do is select the most appropriate scene type for the picture you are taking.
The pop up flash unit has a maximum range of 4.5m. This decreases when the zoom lens is being used and can drop down to around 2.2m. The flash modes available to use are Auto, Red-eye Reduction, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash (Slow Synchro, Red-eye Reduction + Slow Synchro: in manual mode).
For when you would like to appear in the picture there is a self timer. This can be set to a two or ten second delay. To help capture the memory of each shot you can add up to thirty seconds of voice commentary.
To back up the optical zoom there is also a digital zoom facility. The amount of digital zoom available depends on the resolution you are shooting at. For example if you are shooting at the highest possible resolution you can use the digital zoom to zoom in a further 1.4 times. At the lowest resolution the digital zoom capacity increases to 6.3 times. For close up work there is a macro facility that allows you to take pictures from 7.5cms away from the subject.
You can shoot television standard movies with the Finepix E550. It has a high resolution of 640 x 480 pixels and can capture footage at a rate of 30 frames per second.
To add variety to your still photographs you can shoot in black and white or use a chrome effect.
Fuji supply all the necessary cables and software to connect the Finepix E550 to a computer, television and a PictBridge compatible printer.
There are a number of more advanced features available to the more serious photographer. These include fully manual exposure, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual focus, shutter speeds between 3 seconds and 1/2000 seconds and aperture settings between F2.8 and F8.
Sensitivity can be varied between 80 and 800 and you can choose between multi, spot and average metering settings. Images can be saved as RAW as well as Jpeg and there are a number of white balance controls you can select from. These are Custom, Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White) and Incandescent light. There are also different continuous shooting modes that you can use.
You can also buy wide and telephoto converter lenses, expanding the camera's capability.
Ease of Use
Fuji digital cameras tend to be amongst the easiest to use and the Finepix E550 upholds that reputation. A dial on the top of the camera lets you select the mode you wish to use. For example automatic, movie, manual or one of the pre programmed scenes. On the back of the camera you will find buttons for selecting the flash mode, for placing the camera in macro mode and for accessing the menu system. The colour coded menu system is one of the easiest you are likely to find.
You can pick up a Fuji Finepix E550 for around £215. This compares to around £205 for a Canon Powershot A95 and £250 for a Sony DSC P200.
The Finepix E550 has a fairly standard design. It has a typical rectangular shape, but with a handy grip on the front. It feels good in the hand. Its dimensions are 105 x 63 x 34.4mm and weighs 200g.
Batteries and Memory Cards
Two AA batteries are used to power the camera. Fuji supply two rechargeable batteries and a charger with the Finepix E550. I think supplying rechargeable AA batteries is the ideal scenario for a digital camera. By keeping the batteries charged running costs are kept to a minimum and buying a set of spare alkaline AA batteries costs little and ensures you never run out of battery power at the wrong moment.
Images are stored on xD Picture cards. Fuji supply a 16mb card with the camera which I would describe as rather mean when you consider the Finepix E550 is a six megapixel camera. It certainly won't be long before the card is full. Therefore you have little alternative, but to pick up an additional xD Picture card when you buy your camera. Click here to save money on xD cards
Points I like:
Virtually no shutter lag
Very fast recycle times
Easy to use
Good macro shot
Where it is not so hot:
Indoor shots in poor lighting
Only a 16mb xD Picture card supplied by Fuji
There are many points to like about the Finepix E550. The camera's specification offers something a little different from many other digital cameras and it is not often you find a six megapixel model in this price range. Outdoors shots came out well in my tests, but it was the colour and macro tests where the camera outperformed many of its competitors. The camera struggled with indoor shots under artificial lights and you need to keep this in mind before deciding whether this is the right digital camera for you.
Fuji Finepix E550 Front View
Fuji Finepix E550 Back View
Fuji Finepix E550 Top View