The FinePix HS50EXR is Fujifilm’s latest offering in the super zoom segment, replacing the HS30EXR. Though difficult to differentiate at first glance, the two cameras are poles apart when it comes to what they offer. “HS50EXR” suggests that the camera boasts a 50x zoom lens like most flagship cameras by other brands, but you get 42x optical zoom too. A unique feature of the lens is being able to zoom manually using twist-barrel mechanism, like in DSLR lenses. One of the biggest upgrades over the HS30EXR is a new sensor. While the size of the sensor and resolution remains the same (1/2- inch type CMOS sensor with a resolution of 16 megapixels), phase detection pixels on the sensor helps achieve quick autofocus. The rear panel is elaborate, but is not like the HS30EXR, where a stack of hotkeys are located to the left of the LCD monitor. In the HS50EXR, the hotkeys are replaced by the swivel mechanism of the fully-articulating LCD monitor—the HS30EXR featured a display that could be tilted. You lose out on a few useful hotkeys, but a Q button in the top right corner brings up a screen with tiles displaying shooting parameters such as ISO, dynamic range, white balance, movie mode, image quality, noise reduction, and sharpness. The shooting modes will appeal to beginners as well as advanced users. Half the dial comprises of PASM modes and a custom mode. The other half has the EXR mode, auto mode, Advanced filters, two scene preset positions and Panorama mode. The EXR mode is similar to the Smart Auto mode available in many digital cameras, but it also allows you to prioritise the dynamic range, low noise at high ISO and reproduction of details. Photos and videos look a bit too punchy on the LCD monitor in playback mode; but they look just perfect with good saturation, brightness and contrast level on the PC. Flaws only surface when you view the photos at 100 percent zoom. The details are a bit patchy even at ISO 100 due to slight noise and JPEG compression. You get acceptable quality up to ISO 400, beyond which the details go for a toss. The HS50EXR excels when it comes to shooting close ups, macro shots and portraits. Not to mention, the forte of this camera—super zoom. At full zoom, the heft of the camera helps keep the hand steady. The optical image stabiliser is very effective and it’s easy to get crisp, shake-free shots at 42x zoom with the camera hand-held. Considering the features and the performance, we feel it’s a bit overpriced. Our recommendation is still the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, which features 50x optical zoom and performs significantly better. It doesn’t feel as solid as the HS50EXR, but weighs a whole 200 grams less!


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