Fuji Cameras …The Road Ahead – Pt.1

After the somewhat disappointing news from CES in January that the only new bridgecamera for 2014 ( to date ) was the S1, and that the likelihood of a XS2 being all but a dream wish at this point, left me wondering as to the direction I would need to take for future photographic endeavors.

So far I have resisted buying into a new Pentax DSLR and going the multi lens route. I would say though that this could now be a possibility with the arrival of Pentax’s 18-200 lens. Add to that the cropping ability of an APS sensor and we have something that would yield around 400mm in equivalent zoom, and at very good image quality.

But I would still prefer an all in one solution.

I have been watching some of the image galleries and talking to HS50 owners, and to this point if I want to replace my HS20 then the HS50 really is the only choice in the sub $1000.00NZD bracket. All prices will be quoted in New Zealand dollars unless specified. The limit comes from what I paid originally for my HS10 when it launched here. It was expensive but I recognized that this was the style and direction I wanted to take with my photography. Suffice to say it was enjoyable to use but a little limited in performance.

I replaced the HS10 with the HS20 about 6 months after the HS20 was released here and was able to buy one for $630.00NZD. This became my new price ceiling for Fuji bridge-cameras.

The HS50 has been around for a while now and debate still rages as to how much better than its predecessor it actually is. To date it appears to be substantially better in ergonomics and to a lesser degree in image quality. It would in all likelihood be a reasonable upgrade to my aging HS20. Personally I would have liked to see an HS60 with a shorter zoom and sporting a 1/1.7 sensor.  ( More to come on this later.)

There is, according to some reviews better IQ to be had from other makers such as the Canon SX50HD, but image quality isn’t necessarily the only criteria when considering a new camera. Fit & Feel is just as important, especially so for someone who has large hands like me. This is even more apparent when you do a size comparison.

Compared to the Fuji HS50 all the other makers have superzoom “toy cameras”

This might sound a little harsh but when you look at the size comparisons, its really no contest. The Fuji looks like a mid sized DSLR, has a good many of the controls you would expect to find on a DSLR, has the reflexes to keep up with some of the entry level DSLR’s, while offering a huge zoom and very good wide angle, coupled with Fuji’s geat macro ability. While the macro isn’t quite as good as the HS20/30 because of the bigger lens it is still a whole lot better than what you can get from a kit lens setup with an entry level DSLR.

Add to this the manual zoom (alah DSLR style ) and you have quite a compelling argument for the HS50’s existence. While it doesn’t match a DSLR for IQ ( no surprise there ) in capabale hands I’ve seen of late some very fine images with this camera. One other plus, and for the first time I actually feel its a plus where the HS series is concerned is the very good RAW output from thee HS50. While not a RAW shooter myself, having seen what the RAW files can produce in the right hands has made me reassess the value of the RAW format for this camera.

While it may not be everything I was looking forward to in a new Fuji bridgecamera, I think there is enough here to make me feel comfortable in purchasing one, certainly as an intermediate stop gap until a better alternative comes to market, of which  some are now starting to appear. I will cover this aspect of the market in future writings.

the front

full range top

the rear

The cameras shown in this comparison are what I would consider the “Main Stream” bridge-cameras in today’s market. There are others, but they tend to be less of a premium quality. These five would be the most likely to been seen in cameras stores here. The Fuji stands out considerably in size, while the Sony is the only one not showing an articulated LCD which seems at odds with the rest of its competition.

camera compareIn this image I have compared the HS50 to the HS20/30 and S1 and included the new entry level Pentax K500 with 18-85mm lens to provide a sense of scale.

The Pentax twin lens kit is available here for $799NZD and is outstanding value for money. The same company also stocks the HS50 for $788.00NZD, which isn’t brilliant, as they are available here –  Expertinfotech  – for $575.00NZD, which is around what I would be happy to pay given how inexpensive the Pentax is.

Its exactly this type of scenario that has me thinking about my future photographic needs, as I also have a cupboard at home with some very good Pentax glass and a very nice 50mm prime as well.

The all in one solution still has a lot of drawing power for me but is being hotly contested by some very good Penatx equipment. At this point I am still undecided and hope that later in the year we may have some more promising news from Fuji.

And to finish, I’m sure that some of you will be aware of the new Fuji XT-1. If there ever was or is a perfect Fuji camera, the XT-1 would have to be very close. If I were in the market for a sytem camera, then the XT-1 would be very very hard to pass up.

This video from the Fuji guys is a most interesting watch.

Heres a comparison of the physical size of the XT-1 with the 18-55mm lens attached. Its a deceptively small camera when compared to some of its kin, or the Pentax K500.

fuji & pentax

If nothing else 2014 looks to be a highly innovative year for Fuji, lets hope there’s even more Fuji goodness to come

Our thanks to camera size for the comparator images.

2 thoughts on “Fuji Cameras …The Road Ahead – Pt.1

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