Fujifilm FinePix F550 / F500 EXR

January 5, 2011 | Mark Goldstein | Digital Compact Cameras | 32 Comments |
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The Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR and F500 EXR are two new premium compact cameras. New features include an innovative 16 megapixel EXR CMOS sensor, advanced GPS functions (F550 model), high speed shooting capabilities, a 15x wide-angle zoom lens, Full HD video functionality and an improved user interface. The FinePix F500EXR and F550EXR will be available in mid-March 2011 for $329.95 / £279 and $349.95 / £329 respectively.

Fujifilm UK Press Release

FinePix F550 EXR – the perfect compact, anywhere in the world

Packed with features and loaded with some of the latest technological innovations, the new Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR is set to take the premium compact camera market by storm.

Following in the footsteps of the award-winning FinePix F200 EXR and F300 EXR models, this latest recruit to the range is the ideal camera for discerning point-and-shoot photographers or SLR users who want to travel light but don’t want to compromise image quality and picture-taking versatility. Superb results are assured with exciting new features including an innovative 16 megapixel EXR CMOS sensor, advanced GPS functions, high speed shooting capabilities, a 15x wide-angle zoom lens, Full HD video functionality and an improved user interface. With a stylish design and pocketable dimensions, the FinePix F550 EXR is set to become the must-have compact in 2011.

Perfect pictures in every situation
Thanks to a brand new hybrid sensor, the FinePix F550 EXR delivers extra fast, high quality results in a wide range of lighting conditions. The 16 megapixel sensor developed by Fujifilm is a clever combination of Back Side Illuminated CMOS (BSI-CMOS) and EXR technologies, which delivers superior results to a conventional sensor; particularly in low light conditions, and also offers high-speed shooting facilities and Full HD movie capture.

Light falling on ordinary sensors has to pass through a layer of wiring before it hits the light-sensitive photo diodes. This layer of wiring reduces light transmission. On the EXR BSI-CMOS sensor, however, the wiring layer is positioned behind the photo diodes so light sensitivity is vastly improved. Add to this the triple-layer EXR technology pioneered by Fujifilm in the F200 EXR and the result is a sensor that is capable of outstanding results, time after time.

Users can still select from the usual three different EXR shooting modes, or simply leave the FinePix F550 EXR to choose the best option itself by selecting Auto EXR. Those preferring to take control can pick from:

• High Resolution mode where the sensor utilises the full 16 megapixel resolution for high quality results that can be printed out at A3-size without the need for any re-sizing using software.
• Dynamic Range mode where the camera employs dual capture technology to provide a range up to 1600% - almost a full stop wider than any other camera. Two images are captured and then merged together to produce superb results on high contrast scenes.
• Signal to Noise mode utilises Pixel Fusion, doubling pixels up to increase sensitivity. Coupled with the BSI technology, this mode delivers superb images in low lighting conditions.

A Fujifilm first – built-in GPS
Fujifilm recognised the benefits of GPS tagging way back in 1997 when they became the first company to introduce an optional GPS recording device for a digital camera on the DS-300. Today, the FinePix F550 EXR becomes the first Fujifilm model to have the facility built in and offers a wide range of user benefits to make the most of the technology.

Regardless of where you are in the world, the FinePix F550 EXR will recognise your location and display it either as longitude and latitude co-ordinates or by place name thanks to the camera’s embedded list of locations. A tag is also placed on the image which, when using place names, can easily be searched for, enabling you to quickly find shots of a specific location or point of interest.

Once images are found using the search function, it’s simple for users to create a photobook using the Photobook Assist function. Just choose the images you want in the book, mark them (including which image you want to use on the front cover) and then you can even preview the book on the rear LCD.

Additional functionality is also provided by the Photo Navigation function, where you can find your way back to where a photo was taken. For example, if you took a shot at a restaurant that you’d like to return to, simply find the picture and the FinePix F550 EXR will provide the distance and direction you need to travel from your existing location to get back there.

For those who want to re-trace their steps and map a route of their travels, the Route Logging function is sure to appeal. The FinePix F550 EXR stores location data every 10 minutes* and, once the images are downloaded to a PC, a map of the route, along with the pictures you took along the way is created using Google Maps.
* Anytime On or Only Power On must be selected for data to be logged.

Keep up with the action – no matter how fast it’s moving
The FinePix F550 EXR isn’t just clever; it’s quick as well, boasting a range of features that will keep pace with even the fastest moving action without compromising picture quality.

At full 16 megapixel resolution, the FinePix F550 EXR will deliver up to 8 frames per second for up to 8 frames before it has to pause to take a breath. If you want a longer burst of images or a faster frame rate, it can capture 11 frames per second at 8 megapixel resolution for up to 16 frames or the same frame rate for up to 32 frames at 4 megapixel resolution. At these sorts of speeds and resolutions, no other compact camera comes close.

If you’re worried that your reaction times might not match the camera’s speed, select the Best Frame Capture mode, which takes pictures before you’ve even pressed the shutter! With this mode selected, the FinePix F550 EXR automatically starts recording images the moment the shutter release is half-pressed to lock the focus. Then, when the picture is actually taken, it records the seven frames before or after the shutter was released to ensure you get at least one shot that’s pin sharp and perfectly framed.

RAW image capture
With the ability to shoot in RAW or in JPEG format (or both simultaneously), the F550EXR will have real appeal to those that want to be in true control of their images. By shooting in RAW mode you can ensure that you get the true uncompressed image just as the camera sees it.

Huge zoom range, tiny camera
It’s a minor miracle that Fujifilm has managed to pack such a high level specification into the FinePix F550 EXR’s compact dimensions, but it’s even more impressive that the camera also features a 15x optical zoom.

Despite having a body that measures just 22.9mm wide, the zoom range extends from a wide-angle setting of 24mm through to 360mm (35mm equivalents) giving users a huge range of shooting options from sweeping landscapes through to tightly-cropped details. Plus, image quality and sharpness is assured thanks to the Fujinon lens and new triple core EXR processing engine that automatically reduces colour fringing and boosts corner resolution for uniform image sharpness.

Using the longer focal lengths can cause camera shake, but the FinePix F550 EXR has the bases covered fighting camera shake on three fronts. First, the sensor moves to counter any hand movements. Second, sensitivity is boosted using Pixel Fusion to allow faster shutter speeds and third, users can select “Advanced Anti-blur” mode when in EXR Auto where a sequence of four images are taken and then combined to provide one, shake-free result.

Full HD for stunning videos
People don’t just want to capture their memories as photos any longer, there’s a big demand for high-quality video capture too. Not only does the FinePix F550 EXR record videos in stunning Full HD (1080p) at 30 frames per second, it also boasts stereo sound for high quality audio and outputs the files in H.264 (MOV) format. Favoured by broadcasters and Blu-Ray manufacturers, H.264 produces file sizes that are smaller and more manageable than the conventional AVI format. What’s more, they’re compatible with a wide range of websites and applications, which makes it easier for users to share content on sites including YouTube.

New to the F550 EXR, Fuji’s EXR SN mode is now available when shooting videos. “Pixel Fusion Movie technology” fuses pixels together to create superpixels which are extra sensitive to light (and therefore capture much crisper low-light videos with lower levels of noise.

And finally, if it’s speedy video capture you’re after, the F550 EXR also offers a class-leading selection of high speed video capture options. No other compact camera comes close to the F550 EXR’s incredible 320 frames per second capture at 320 x 100 pixels. But if it’s higher quality you’re after, you can also capture the action at 160 frames per second at 320 x 240 pixels or 80 frames per second at 640 x 480 pixels.

Wave goodbye to pixellated graphics and menus
The FinePix F550 EXR’s three inch rear LCD doesn’t just benefit from an increased pixel count – now 460,000 – it also uses a brand new Rich User Interface, which dramatically enhances the user experience and kicks pixellated menus and graphics into touch.

By employing Vector fonts and graphics, camera menus and readouts use smooth text and icons. The graphics are scaleable so they take on the same appearance whether you’re viewing on the read LCD or a 50 inch HDTV via the camera’s HDMI output.

Don’t want GPS? No problem
While the FinePix F550 EXR with its GPS features is a great camera for photographers who like to travel, Fujifilm recognises that not every user requires GPS functionality. For this reason, a second model – the FinePix F500 EXR – has been introduced, which offers a virtually identical specification, without GPS.

Other differences between the two models include high speed capture on the F500 EXR of three frames per second at 16 megapixels for up to three frames, six frames per second for six frames at eight megapixels or 12 frames per second for 12 frames at four megapixels. The F500 EXR will also be available in a choice of five colours for the style-conscious photographer, while the F550 EXR is only available in a stylish black finish with red highlights.

Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR /F500 EXR key features
• All-new 16 megapixel EXR CMOS sensor
• 15x optical zoom covering 24-360mm (35mm equivalent)
• 3.0 inch rear LCD with 460,000 pixel and new Rich User Interface using Vector fonts and graphics
• GPS functionality*
• RAW shooting*
• Advanced Anti-blur technologies*
• 1600% wide dynamic range
• Full resolution high speed shooting at 8fps**
• Full HD movie capture (H.264 MOV file format)
• Advanced 27 scene mode EXR Auto
• Film simulation modes
• 360° Motion Panorama mode
• Photobook Assist function

* Only available on the F550 EXR
** 3 fps on F500EXR

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32 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Marcello

Ok, it's an enteresting camera but i'd like to see some sample images and how it compares to other models like Sony dsc hx5v & Panasonic tz10,noise levels at high ISO etc. I look forward.

8:43 am - Wednesday, January 5, 2011

#2 Will

Looks good. 16mp? Guess that means high noise levels! Nice to see they've increased the resolution of the screen. It would be great if they've upped the resolution of the EVF, but I doubt it.

8:49 am - Wednesday, January 5, 2011

#3 mihalis

unfortunately in such cameras the megapixels and the zoom capabilities count more than low level noise or the evf resolution. Looks stylish and compact though. If it delivers it will be a really good addition toy the super zoom group

9:14 am - Wednesday, January 5, 2011

#4 Low Budget Dave

Looks like Fuji has already shown their hand for the CES. I am looking forward to the reviews. If Fuji has finally figured out how to take advantage of their odd EXR technology, these could be very strong competitors. If this is just a new version of an old gimmick, then no one will even pause on their way to the booth with the x100.

2:36 pm - Wednesday, January 5, 2011

#5 zebarnabe

If it's a real EXR sensor (and not just software pixel binning), it could well be a surprise ...

3:53 pm - Wednesday, January 5, 2011

#6 Peter Harris

@Will: Too bad you didn't read the details about the camera before being dismissive.

If you read about the exr sensor it has 2 settings that make it interesting: the ability to double the size of the photo-site (reducing to 8mp resolution) and the ability to simultaneously take an over and under exposure and combine them (8mp).

Respectively - you get better lowlight and better dynamic range.
This is coupled to a large for point and shoot sensor (kind of like the worlds largest midget - but what are ya going to do)

(In truth lowlight performance (high iso) with P/S sensors is going to be pretty poor. It's the price paid for small. If it's a real concern don't look here. )

The question I have is can it do this in raw mode. If so - this looks very very good.

5:26 pm - Wednesday, January 5, 2011

#7 zebarnabe

@Peter Harris,

Let's just hope it's a real EXR sensor with photo sensitive area between binned photo-sites... or else software binning would do it anyway (at the very least with RAW filters)...

5:31 pm - Wednesday, January 5, 2011

#8 kelsci

I believe this camera shoots in stereo sound. I noticed that what appears to be a left and right stereo microphone built into the camera are both to the left of the lens. I hope these things are aligned properly.

2:37 am - Thursday, January 6, 2011

#9 Peter Harris

@zebarnabe

The photosites that are binned are adjacent to each other. The net result is - I think - twice the lowlight sensitivity. I think with these tiny sensors it's a best not to expect too much.

The potential DR in raw is what i find very interesting.

3:01 am - Tuesday, January 11, 2011

#10 F100 User

I am curious to know if this camera has the dual focusing technology that the F200 EXR and F300 EXR camera uses. Does any one know this?
The press release described that the camera uses TTL sensoring that DSLRs use. So it may be a different technology for focusing.
I am looking to replace my F100 after nearly 5 years of good use. I want a camera that will take excellent sharply focused photos and hope this new FujiFilm offering will fill this requirement.
Thanks in advance to those who care to respond to my queries.

9:12 pm - Sunday, January 16, 2011

#11 JeffP

Everyone gets hung up on mega pixels. Unless you are printing big it really doesn't make a difference how many MP you have. I already have the F550 on pre order from Amazon. I can't see anything but good things coming from this model. After all it's a P & S. Expectations can't be too high. The high speed video looks awesome as well as the GPS functions.

6:45 pm - Monday, January 24, 2011

#12 Mikepix

Perfect... on the paper. But why 16mp ??? It's gonna be very hard to reach a good quality at high isos. I really hope that the image quality will be better than the f300 !!!

4:08 pm - Sunday, February 6, 2011

#13 dt804a

Can the zoom be used while shooting video?

2:46 am - Sunday, February 20, 2011

#14 F200EXR user

Good question dt804a, one thing that's pretty important but still quite a rarity. I don't see how hard it can be to bring in, not least on a camera costing £300+.

5:55 pm - Monday, February 28, 2011

#15 dt804a

A month ago I posted a question concerning the usage of the zoom feature while recording vid. In the meantime, the online manual became available and I confirmed that indeed the zoom can be sued. Now I have a second concern:

The manual states that the vid format is 1080i, not 1080p as some articles say. Does it matter? Is the quality of 1080p superior to 1080i?

11:25 pm - Saturday, March 19, 2011

#16 zebarnabe

dt804a,

Depends on aquisition framerate.... Panasonic GH1 packages the video stream in a 50i or 60i (several frames 'contain' information of one frame)... while this is technically 1080i the aquisition it's done at 1080 vertical lines at 25fps (PAL case)

Basically it states the vertical resolution of a single frame has being complete (progressive) or completed by the next frames...

I don't know about 500/550 exr, after checking some sample video it's possible to indicate something more exact...

A 'cinematic' effect it's given at 24/25fps with 1/50s exposure time (inverse of twice the frame rate) per frame, F550EXR specs point to 30fps, not exactly 'cinematic', however, some people prefer higher frames per second and faster shutter speeds, this gives higher temporal resolution that might be good for sports, it also allows for smooth slow motions... F550EXR allows for 640x480 at 80fps or 1280x720 at 60fps, quite nice for slow motions :]

Many cheap cameras use interlaced formats where aquisition rate is at 12,5fps this looks quite bad, lacking smooth motion...

Other cameras, and quite more common, use interlace as a 'trick' to cut vertical resolution in half, this is the so called 1080i, that has 540lines per frame, having the odd lines in one and the even ones in the next one.

Effectively in static scenes this might be equivalent to 1080p, making them being branded as FullHD cameras, however when there is movement some thin lines might be noticed in the edges and contours of objects in scene, these are de-interlacing artifacts, some video players have filters that minimize them, but there is always some loss of detail.

Some websites state this video modes for F550EXR:
1920x1080 @ 30 fps,
1280x720 @ 60 fps,
640x480 @ 80 fps,
640x480 @ 30 fps,
320x240 @ 160 fps,
320x112 @ 320 fps

Most of the time the panorama features on these kind of cameras use the video feed to create them, F550EXR creates horizontal panoramas with 1080 pixel of height, this is a good indication that video has 1080p, however the aquisition framerate can only be proved once there are sample videos available.

HS10 did some nice videos, HS20EXR has probably the same sensor that F550EXR has, so I doubt Fujifilm would make such feature worse... but with 16MP you would never know....

Hope it helps.

12:23 am - Sunday, March 20, 2011

#17 dt804a

Thank you, zebarnabe, for your comprehensive reply.

The specs you gave are the ones I also find in the online manual, except that the manual specifies 1080i (p. 127 of the manual). You can read the manual at

http://www.fujifilm.com/support/digital_cameras/manuals/pdf/index/f/finepix_f500exrseries_manual_01.pdf

One final question: Given the specs you quoted, should I ignore the fact that I don't get 1080p and assume that the quality of the 1080i is just as good? In the final analysis, this is the crucial question.

Thanks.

2:38 pm - Sunday, March 20, 2011

#18 zebarnabe

In that manual it state 720p as being 30fps, not 60fps as well.... hmmm ... In the website where points to features it states:
(...) crisp and colorful full HD video (1080p; 30fps/High Profile) with impressive stereo sound (...)

HS10 was also stated as having 1080i on some places but, if i'm not mistaken, it has 1080p :/

So I guess it's really better to wait and see the samples once they are available... Perhaps F500 does only 1080i while F550 does it 1080p? Only after there are reviews about it we would know it for sure :/

I really don't like interlaced formats as some of them are poorly encoded and artifacts are annoying, 720p offers a lot of detail already and I often prefer a good 720p than 1080i ...

Yep, it seems to be best to wait... also some HS20EXR preview pointed out that this is not a real EXR sensor with extra photo-sites to increase DR... sad thing... looking at fujifilm website samples there is a certain smudginess even at ISO100 and even if you resize the pictures to 50% (8MP) it's still noticeable... I guess NR must be tweaked before presenting a production firmware...

Wait and see ... and good luck!

4:09 pm - Sunday, March 20, 2011

#19 SMiThaYe

The video does shoot in 1080p 29.970 fps from footage I've been shooting with the Fujifilm FinPix F550exr. The scan depth is progressive and shoots in .MOV format at an overall bitrate of 12.2Mbps. Audio is in stereo at 48.0KHz, 16-bits and records at 1,536Kbps. I can put some test footage on my youtube page "SMiThaYe" and provide more information. For the price and features, it's a great little camera with some great advanced features.

3:34 am - Friday, April 1, 2011

#20 zebarnabe

SMithaYe, thanks for sharing, youtube videos are overly compressed, but they can give a rough idea of what quality is... specially sound quality.

Vimeo allows you to share the original video footage with registered users :]

2:09 pm - Friday, April 1, 2011

#21 dt804a

I am totally confused. Page 127 of the online manual, in the site I quoted above, states explicitly "full HD, 1929x1080 (1080i) 30fps". So I can't understand how you discerned that you get 1080p. Since this is crucial for me, could you please explain?

Thanks.

2:33 pm - Friday, April 1, 2011

#22 zebarnabe

He probably checked the media info on the media player he is using...

VLC Player does that and KMPlayer does it when you press Tab during the play.

I wonder if 720p mode is at 30 or 60fps as well... If someone has a sample video with original file (not youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtTyEjsBdg8); one can check it quite easily by using a proper video player or editor...

4:41 pm - Friday, April 1, 2011

#23 SMiThaYe

I checked the media info to get those stats (Media player classic x64 1.5.0.2827 + Sony Vegas Pro 10). There is lots of useful information to help you decide what to do with it in terms of rendering/uploading/burning- http://img402.imageshack.us/img402/4790/fuji550.png

According to the camera menu, both 1080/720 are 30fps but they are actually 29.970 fps which is usual for NTSC and smooth motion on the net these days. On playback, there are no signs of tearing which is typical of interpolation.

What I find odd is that I have a spacious 32GB SDHC 15MB/s card and maximum recording time for 1080p and 720p is both 29 minutes - shouldn't I be offered 5 hours if 6:32=643MB. Must be a hardware limit??

6:34 pm - Friday, April 1, 2011

#24 dt804a

Well... I am still on the horns of a dilemma. If the user manual states explicitly 1080i, and I'm advised that editing with Apples's iMovie9 causes flicker, then that is a deal breaker for me.

11:03 pm - Friday, April 1, 2011

#25 SMiThaYe

dt804a : I've edited the video I was referencing at 1080p with Sony Vegas pro 10 (PC) and worked great with no flickering. So it should work fine otherwise use another video editing software if you can. I'm not familiar with iMac but I'm sure there's an alternative or solution.

And regarding the recording, you can record up to 29 minutes each time - total recording at 1080p should give you 5 hours of high quality video on a 32GB card. My new battery ran out of juice after 1hr 15mins so I'd advice investing in another NP-50 battery.

11:14 pm - Friday, April 1, 2011

#26 dt804a

SMiThaYe : Thank you for your reply.

11:29 pm - Friday, April 1, 2011

#27 zebarnabe

SMiThaYe,

Thanks for sharing!

Regarding to the 29mins limit, that is probably to avoid licences/taxes on europe... panasonic TZ and micro four thirds and canon cameras have the 29:59 limit in european versions but it's 'unlocked' in US and Japanese versions... sometimes companies only distribute one version that to cope with that they all have that limit...

Some hacked cameras can be 'unlocked' ... but those are usually canon ones with CHDK or, more recently, Panasonic's GH1/G1/GF1 ... also one voids the warranty when hacking them (on the case of Canon is a bit dubious, as you don't change the camera firmware)

Now to wait for some full reviews ... this camera looks quite nice :]

3:15 am - Saturday, April 2, 2011

#28 SMiThaYe

zebarnabe; Thanks, that explains the limit. I thought it was a hardware limitation. As it's to avoid additional cost the end user, fair enough. Once my 1 year warranty expires, I will look into changing the firmware to increase the limit or additional features.

On another point of the write speeds. I bought the 550exr because of the GPS function and slightly faster write speeds. But when I take a photo either manually or on Auto EXR mode at full 16MP and view it back, the loading box on the screen shows it can take 2-3 seconds to view it back (green play button).

I've owned many cameras (dSLR/compacts) over the years and this is certainly the slowest by at least a second. I hope it isn't too bad for people who bought the cheaper 'up to 5Mb/s' cards but it is recommended you buy a Class 10 card for full HD recording.

As my 15M/s card exceeds this, what is the actual read speed of the camera - and could someone test various cards to see what times you get on previewing the images (would be vital insight)?

3:15 pm - Saturday, April 2, 2011

#29 zebarnabe

Fujifilm cameras are known by being slow... HS10 was quite bashed because of that... usually a good class 4 is more than enough for most of consumers and a class 6 is usually the maximum you would need as most of compact cameras only write at 5MB/s or so...

I have a 16Gb Sandisk Ultra 15MB/s read/write speed (class 4) and a 8Gb Sandisk Extreme 20MB/s read/write (class 6)... classes on SDHC cards state the minimum sustained rate speed for writing at MB/s on a freshly formatted card ... so a class 6 respecting the spec should write at 6MB/s.

That speed is the minimum, the card could write a lot faster, up to 20MB/s, above that you would have to use some 'tricks' that need to be supported by the card and the host reader...

A nice example I usually give about the cards speed is my 4GB micro SD class 4 card that I use on a micro USB drive as a pen drive, that little card and reader combo can read at 18MB/s and write at 8MB/s ... on an USB 2.0 port ...

You don't need a class 10 card for full HD recording, 24Mbps equals to 3MB/s a reliable class 4 card should meet those needs ... but it sure is better to have something a bit faster... just in case ;]

9:43 pm - Saturday, April 2, 2011

#30 Mike

Can anyone tell me the battery life for still images. Thanks

11:17 am - Monday, April 18, 2011

#31 SMiThaYe

So far i've been getting 300 imgages per charge.

There is a shortage of official Fuji batteries as it's taken a few weeks to track down companies that actually have them in stock - try to order them at purchase of camera. Even Fuji didn't have any in which is worrying. Off to pick mine up today as there was only 2 left in stock here in the UK.

Are people managing to get additional batteries ok elsewhere?

11:28 am - Tuesday, April 19, 2011

#32 Penny Southwell

I am a great Fujifilm fan. I am keen on updating my camera but REFUSE to buy one that does not have a viewfinder.
I have a slight visual disability and a hand tremor.
I therefore NEED to hold a compact camera to my eye and steady camera against my face If I wish to take a decent photograph (rather than a snapshot)

9:27 pm - Friday, June 24, 2011