The Power Of The Lens

Fuji HS20EXR ..Using the Power of the The Lens

One of the most obvious attractions for a photographer thinking about buying a superzoom/bridge camera is the reach of the lens. The trade off of course is having to reduce sensor size to incorporate such long focal lengths, in the HS10/HS20 that’s 30x or 24 to 720mm equivalent if you were using a DSLR.
The obvious thing here is that all that has been put into a package that is easily transportable, a not too insignificant feat in its own right. The argument among the DSLR purists is that image quality is the big loser in this equation. To be fair that’s so to a degree, however like anything in life its a matter of choice. Both the HS10 and the HS20 are capable of very good images when used to the camera’s potential. To expect DSLR IQ out of a small sensored camera is not practical. However the quality of the images these cameras produced when used correctly are very good and in some instances as good as an entry level DSLR.
What sets the HS series apart from its competition is the manual zoom function. All the competing manufacturers have so far stayed away from manual zoom.This sets Fuji apart, and is the reason that I and many others bought the HS series cameras. And will do for the foreseeable future.

So is the lens as bad as several reviewers claim? No its not. It does however have a few limitations. The varying aperture versus focal length is one of the limitations that I consider most import. This article from a previous post shows some of the basic differences in aperture and focal length.
This begs the question of how best to use the lens when shooting different subjects. There is no one rule to answer this question, but as a guide I would suggest that if you are in good light and shooting at longer than 300mm use the camera between f6.4 and f7.1, this sharpens up a little of the softness in the lens at long range, you do need to be in manual mode to effect this or in A aperture Priority mode.

Changing the look with ISO and aperture & focal length.
There is another effect the lens has other than its obvious range that both the HS10 & HS20 share.
In my post Manual Mode @16mp there is a photo of a magnolia flower taken at ISO 400 and 69.1mm focal length with f5.0. 
This effect I first noticed in the HS10 and its the same with the HS20, and can be used to very good advantage for warming an image or also cooling an image, and it is well worth the while to experiment with this method.
Changing the ISO setting to 100 or even ISO 200 will vary the amount of warming the image undergoes.With the new LCD of the HS20 its much easier to see and assess the amount of change in the image. In the three images below the aperture is set to as wide open as possible given the focal length for the shot. Always use the lowest aperture first. In the first shot ISO and, aperture and shutter speed are faster than the following two images. The latter images have ISO and aperture as well as shutter speed identical, with only the focal length changing. What we see here is the softening of the lens at the extreme telephoto end  which can be both a blessing or a bane depending upon circumstance.What I was able to achieve at this time was a very nice color transition from bright white & pink, slightly over exposed, to a very delicate pink.This softening effect by changes in focal length can work very well for increasing or decreasing color range at the point of taking the image.

1600×1200 pixels – 1445KB
Filename: DSCF2823-edit.JPG
Model: FinePix HS20EXR
ISO: 400
Exposure: 1/320 sec
Aperture: 5.0
Focal Length: 69.1mm
Flash Used: Yes

Jun 22, 2011
1600×1200 pixels – 1353KB
Filename: DSCF2834-edit.JPG
Model: FinePix HS20EXR
ISO: 100
Exposure: 1/125 sec
Aperture: 5.6
Focal Length: 102.3mm

Jun 22, 2011
1600×1200 pixels – 1322KB
Filename: DSCF2835-edit.JPG
Model: FinePix HS20EXR
ISO: 100
Exposure: 1/125 sec
Aperture: 5.6
Focal Length: 126mm

These images were all shot in manual mode with White Balance set to Auto.Metering was spot. AF set to single shot focus.This method of shooting can enable the photographer to change the temperature of the image simply by using the lens itself as the tool to do so. In these images the second photo is the most accurate colorwise, while the warmest is photo number three and the coolest being the first one.
For pure color rendition however I prefer the soft and subtle pink of the third image.
So try this out and see what you can achieve, you may just be pleasantly surprised.

Posted by R. McKenzie at 12:51 PM 

  1. … Ralph: Again, many thanks for your excelent site.
    … The HS series, alone in it’s class, should come with a link to your site.
    … I am still absorbing your last lesson.


  2. … Perhaps, your thoughts on whether the 1.03 firmware update is worthwhile?


  3. Hi Iain,
    Funny you should mention that. I was thinking along those line myself. I see someone on the Dpreview forums thought it made a reasonable difference so I was going to give it a whirl.
    I’ll keep you posted.


  4. Hmmm … changing focal length causes the field of view to narrow, which changes what the spot meter sees somewhat, raising or lowering exposure, depending on the subject. Dropping ISO removes extraneous noise and interacts significantly with the dynamic range processing if you happen to shoot at high resolution. I think you ought to look at color temperature and saturation as something that is affected by exposure (we always underexpose slightly to boost saturation) and that exposure is what is changing when you fool around with exposure related settings and change what the meter sees.


  5. Hi Kim.
    I agree with your assessment,it’s one of those little things with digital cameras with long zoom that people seem to overlook.
    In the previous Fuji cameras we have had this transitory nature of the long zoom wasnt really all that noticeable, until we got the HS series cams. No doubt long time users of the S100 and s200exr would have noted this effect.

    I’ve got so used to this now I find its almost like having an extra set of settings for you to use. The down side of course is that there is a risk you can completely blow a one shot, and I confess I have been the victim of my own experimentation more than a few times with this camera 🙂

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