Fuji HS10 Review

by on May 18, 2010

in Fuji

The Fuji HS10 is a superzoom camera that ties the Olympus SP-800UZ for the largest zoom range currently available among consumer cameras.  The 30x zoom range of the Fuji HS10 covers an equivalent of 24-720mm, which is the result of having a sensor about 1/6th the size of that found in a full frame camera like the Canon 5D Mark II.

In terms of ergonomics and usability, the HS10 performs much like an entry-level DSLR in many ways.  While the flexibility afforded by the zoom range on the HS10 is the camera’s most attractive feature, the smaller sensor in the camera is a key limitation of what the camera can do.  As a result, you should not expect to get DSLR-like image quality out of the camera’s inferior sensor.

With this distinction made, let’s get into the meat of the Fuji HS10 and who will get this most out of this powerful superzoom camera.

Fuji HS10 Key Features

  • 10MP CMOS Sensor
  • 30x Optical Zoom (24-720mm equivalent)
  • Sensor-shift Image Stabilization
  • ISO 100-6400
  • 1080p Video Capture w/ Stereo Sound
  • High Speed Video Capture (60/120/240/480/1000 fps)
  • 3-inch Tilting LCD
  • P/A/S/M Shooting Modes
  • RAW Image Capture
  • 10 fps Burst Shooting
  • External Flash Hot Shoe

Fuji HS10 Handling, Ergonomics and Control

The Fuji HS10 looks and feels like a DSLR.  The body size of the HS10 is on par or slightly bigger than many entry-level DSLRs.  Additionally, the control layout and functions are more advanced than you will find on the typical point and shoot camera – and in a lot of cases entry-level DSLRs.

The HS10′s grip is a solid chunk with a well-placed groove for your middle finger.  Atop the grip, you get a shutter release that has the on/off switch wrapped around it, which is much like Nikon DSLRs. Exposure compensation and high-speed burst buttons are situated just behind the shutter release for easy access with your forefinger.

The mode dial on the HS10 sits prominently on the top of the camera  next to a selection dial.  The mode dial gives you quick access to a number of shooting modes, which include SR Auto (for Scene Recognition Auto), Auto, Program, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority and Manual exposure modes.

There is also an Adv. position on the mode dial, which offers 3 specialized shooting modes: (1) “Pro Low-Light Mode” is supposed to enhance the clarity of still subjects in low light by taking several rapid shots and using them in combination to remove noise and make the image sharper; (2) “Multi-Motion Capture” lets you take up to 5 shots of a subject moving in a frame to create a multi-exposure composite; and (3) “Motion Remover” that removes moving subjects by composting multiple images.

SP1 and SP2 settings on the mode dial offer built-in presets for Portraits and Landscapes, respectively.  The Motion Panorama setting on the mode dial works much like Sony’s Sweep Panorama function.  Finally, a Custom setting rounds out the mode dial and allows you to create a predefined setting based on your own preferences.

The selection dial next to the mode dial allows you top make exposure compensation adjustments in Program mode when used with the exposure compensation button near the shutter release. When in A, S or M modes, you can use the selection dial to adjust aperture and shutter speeds when appropriate.

On the back of the camera, you get a number of other controls, including dedicated buttons for ISO, metering mode, AF focus mode, AF drive mode, and white balance settings.  A dedicated button to the right of the EVF allows you to switch between the LCD and EVF displays.

On the right side of the LCD, you get a dedicated video record button for instant video capture operation.  An AE/AF lock button is located directly below the video record button.

A 4-way controller gives you quick access to image deletion, flash, macro focusing and self-timer options.  In the center of the 4-way controller is a Menu/OK button.  When the menu is active, the 4-way controller serves a dual purpose as navigation controls.

Rounding out the controls on the rear of the camera is Display/Back button that allows you to cycle through info options for the rear LCD or EVF, or you can use it to back out of menu options.  A preview button in the lower right brings up previously captured images and videos.

The HS10 fits quite well in the hand, and is very comfortable to use.  Due to the size of the camera, however, you’ll want to grip it with two hands.  The lens barrel zooms manually just like a DSLR lens.  The lens is quite large – even for a superzoom camera.  It feels about the size of many DSLR kit lenses in the 18-55mm zoom range.  As a result, the camera handles much like a Rebel T2i or Nikon D5000 with their kit lenses attached.  There’s a focusing ring on the back side of the lens next to the camera body that allows you to adjust the focusing manually (once you set it to the MF focusing mode).

The pop-up flash is activated by pressing a button on the left side of the flash housing.  It springs up just like DSLR.  Additionally, the hot shoe will accept an external flash that can be triggered with manual exposure mode.  This hot shoe does not communicate TTL exposure information to the flash.  Based on what I’ve been told by Fuji reps, the company has no plans to make any form of compatible flash for the HS10.  Also, there is no approved list of compatible flashes; however, I managed to fire an old Canon 540EZ in manual mode without any hiccups.

Update: See Fuji HS10 Recommended External Flashes.

While I was also able to use a wireless trigger to fire studio lights with the HS10′s hot shoe, this seems like a bit of an odd fit on a bridge camera.  I would have expected some form of compatibility with auto-exposure info as can be found in advanced compact cameras like the Canon G11.

Shooting with the Fuji HS10

Shooting still images with the HS10 was mostly an enjoyable process.  The first downer that you’ll notice though is that it takes a little too long to move from shot to shot.  This is a rather odd dilemma for a camera that touts itself as a speed king.  With 10 fps numbers thrown around in the specs, you would think that it would be a little quicker.

And, while the HS10 can blow away entry-level DSLRs with a 10 fps burst – it only lasts for 0.7 seconds.  That’s right. Seven frames and she’s done for around 10-15 seconds while it rights the files to memory. When hit with this sluggish performance, I decided to keep the camera out of the high speed capture mode unless there was a specific moment I was trying to catch.

Still yet, shutter response is quick.  Focusing is quick.  Zooming is as fast as you want it to be thanks to the manually zooming lens barrel.

Image stabilization impressed the heck out of me with the HS10.  I found myself using slow shutter speeds that I wouldn’t dream of using at long telephoto settings.  You really have to be way out of the ball park to get a blurry photo from camera shake with the HS10.

While the EVF serves the camera well as a superzoom point and shoot, it doesn’t compare to an optical viewfinder.  The LCD, on the other hand, is great.  While it’s a lower resolution than I would have expected Fuji to deliver on such a high-spec’d camera, the tilting function is great for low-angle and over the crowd shots.  The one downer about the LCD is that it only tilts on the horizontal axis, which means you’re stuck with a flat view when shooting vertically.  A swiveling, vari-angle screen would have been more appreciated here.

Shooting video with the Fuji HS10 has its own ups and downs.  The continuous autofocus does a good job when filming.  However, zooming in and out can be challenging.  Other cameras have noisy motors that effect your audio recording.  While the HS10 has a manual zoom ring (and, as a result, no noisy zoom motor), it is nearly impossible to move in a smooth manner suitable for video capture.

There are a number of video options with regard to resolution and frame rates: 1,920 x 1,080 pixels / 1,280 x 720 pixels / 640 x 480 pixels / 320 x 240 pixels all at 30 fps and with stereo sound.  The High Speed Movie mode does some cool frame rates at declining resolutions: 60/120/240/480/1000 fps.  Once you get past the 240 fps frame rate though, the resolution becomes practically unusable.  At 480 fps, you get a resolution of 224 x 168 pixels.  At 1000 fps, you get 224 x 64 fps, which you may as well not even waste the memory with.

When the rubber meets the road, the Fuji HS10 offers some serious versatility.  I took the HS10 with me to one of my son’s school musicals.  Normally, I would pack a DSLR with a rather long lens on such a trip; however, that’s really overkill for grabbing a few snapshots of my son up on the stage, which will ultimately result in 4 x 6 prints or just being shared with family in an online gallery.

Even with a 70-200mm lens on a DSLR, the reach is nowhere near what you get out of the HS10.  Using the HS10, I was able to lean against a support column near our seats at the back of the auditorium and snap several shots at 720mm, ISO 3200 and 1/100s (thanks to the great image stabilization).

Granted, these images are noisy and nowhere near the quality that I would have gotten out of $3000 DSLR and lens combo but, as I said earlier, that’s not what you should expect out of this sub-$500 camera.  As a point and shoot camera though, the Fuji HS10 helps you capture images that other cameras in the same price range just can’t get for you.

Fuji HS10 Image Quality

I’ve already let the cat out of the bag somewhat.  The Fuji HS10′s strong suit is not image quality.  Remember, it’s still a compact camera’s image sensor inside that DSLR-looking body.

In good light, the HS10 does fine.  You can shoot up to about ISO 800 without worrying too much about noise.  Once you hit ISO 800 and beyond though, you need to understand that your image noise will limit your acceptable printing and display sizes.

As I alluded to earlier, images at ISO 3200 will be acceptable for most casual user’s family album and web gallery standards.  I have no qualm about throwing some ISO 3200 images from the Fuji HS10 as 4 x 6 prints into my own family album.

The biggest concerns about image quality will come from enthusiast and advanced amateur users.  If you fall into this category, I encourage you to take a close look at the full resolution samples provided below and on other sites.  Unfortunately, I think most advanced users will agree that the HS10 does not deliver the kind of image quality that they are looking for in a camera.  In such cases, I recommend looking into an entry-level DSLR (Sony A330, Nikon D5000, Canon Rebel T1i) or interchangeable lens camera (Olympus E-PL1).

Below you will find a sample of images captured across the ISO range from the Fuji HS10, along with a number of images captured in various settings and environments during my review of the HS10.  All images were captured in JPEG format.  I have noted the basic shot info below each image, including the approximate 35mm format equivalent focal lengths.  Feel free to download any of these sample images for your personal inspection (not for republication).  You can get the original files by right-clicking on any of the images and choosing “Save link as…”


ISO 100


ISO 200


ISO 400


ISO 800


ISO 1600


ISO 3200


ISO 6400


ISO 100 – f/8 – 1/125s – Studio flash triggered via wireless hotshoe transmitter (in Manual exposure mode)


24mm – ISO 100 – f/5.6 – 1/450s


720mm – ISO 100 – f/6.4 – 1/600s


Autostitch Panoramic – ISO 100 – f/5 – 1/500 (while panning)


Chrome Film Style – 24mm – ISO 100 – f/5 – 1/400s


35mm – ISO 100 – f/3.6 – 1/180s


200mm – ISO 800 – f/5 – 1/280s


90mm – ISO 200 – f/4 – 1/120s


Chrome Film Style – 90mm – ISO 200 – f/4 – 1/110s


60mm – ISO 200 – f/3.6 – 1/80s


720mm – ISO 1600 – f/5.6 – 1/160s


720mm – ISO 1600 – f/5.6 – 1/125s


65mm – ISO 100 – f/3.6 – 1/60s


132mm – ISO 400 – f/4.5 – 1/6s (pretty impressive image stabilization at this shutter speed)

Fuji HS10 Accessories

Rechargeable AA Batteries – The HS10 comes with 4 AA batteries, which are required to power the camera.  If you don’t have any, it would be a good idea to pick up some rechargeable batteries to help out your wallet and the environment.  Otherwise, you’ll be shelling out a lot of money on alkalines.

Memory cards – I used a number of different speed cards with the HS10 and couldn’t tell a difference in performance between SanDisk Extreme cards and basic Kingston SD cards. Cheap cards from reputable brands should work just fine. The HS10 is compatible with all SD and SDHC cards – but not SDXC cards.

Memory card reader – If you don’t own a memory card reader, they make transferring images to your computer a world faster. I highly recommend picking one up with the HS10. They’re cheap and big time saver. Lexar makes a good card reader for about $15.

Conclusions

The Fuji HS10 is in a unique position as it has the look, feel and operation of a DSLR camera; however, it still delivers the image quality of a compact camera.  For most casual users, this will be a perfectly acceptable trade-off.  The zoom range is truly astounding on the HS10, and will be enough to seal the deal for many.

For some advanced users, however, the Fuji HS10 will leave you wanting a bit more out of the final images.  In those cases, you will be better served with a DSLR or other interchangeable lens camera.

Those who appreciate the Fuji HS10 for what it is will come to love it.  The HS10 is a not-quite-do-it-all camera, but it’s close.

I truly enjoyed using the Fuji HS10 every time that I took it out.  I have continued putting off this review because I wanted to take the HS10 out on a trip “just one more time” on several occasions.  I haven’t even covered all of the features and options of the camera (like the amazing 1cm super macro mode) but, alas, I have to end the review at some point.

The Fuji HS10 will suit a wide range of users – from true beginners (thanks to the Auto modes) to advanced shooters.  It has enough power and features to let the user grow with the camera for quite some time.

If you are in the market for a superzoom camera, the Fuji HS10 deserves a spot high up on your list.

The Fuji HS10 is available from Photography Bay’s trusted retail partner, B&H Photo, at the following link:

Fuji HS10 at B&H Photo

By making your photography purchases at B&H Photo through these links, you are helping Photography Bay to continue bring quality camera tests, news and reviews. Thanks for your continued support.

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{ 18 comments }

1 dennis galloway May 21, 2010 at 12:18 am

Your review of the Fuji HS10 was generally fair but I still don’t understand how you can publish a sample image made at 24mm eq without noting that it is pure mush at ISO 100.

Did I miss something?

And pixel density trumps, forget the backlit CMOS sensor. On the Image Resource ‘camera comparator’ the Panasonic LX3 beats the Fuji HS10 at ISO 1600.

2 Robert May 21, 2010 at 7:50 am

I am considering a Casio ex-fh25. Do you have any info on this camera?

thank you

bob

3 Jon Fackler May 21, 2010 at 8:21 am

I just bought my Fuji HS10 last week. I am still in training as I dissect all the bells and whistles that this camera came armed with.
I can’t say enough good things about this camera.
I bought my camera through B&H at a very good price and the shipment was on time. I have B&H locked in on my “Fave File”.
To those of you who are not sure of just what this camera is capable of go out on You Tube. There are a lot of examples out there showing the power of this little guy. I say “little” because my wife can handle this camera with ease and she is a very petite woman.
My final comment about the Fuji HS10 is….wow…Wow…WOW !
J.F. Hollywood, Fl.

4 Yasir May 21, 2010 at 8:59 am

Hi there Eric!
This review is usefel. One thing I would like to suggest you to mention HS10′s performance with both 30x optical and digial zoom! Also publish its shots in complete darkness using flash.
Last, do publish a review of the KODAK Z981 (14mp, 26x zoom) soon!
I would be thankful!
Yasir.

5 Don DeCoursey May 21, 2010 at 9:22 am

I have been a Fuji fan since owning the S602, S9000 and my present S100fs and was excited about the HS10. To my mind the S100fs is far superior to the HS10 so I’ll wait for the “HS12″ or what ever the next version of this camera is, and I would still keep the S100fs. The only reason I don’t own a D90 Nikon is I don’t want to be a “lens caddy”.

6 Paul Rutherford May 21, 2010 at 9:48 am

I (unfortunately) bought one of these.

I can’t believe it – THERE IS NO REMOTE/CABLE RELEASE facility.

(Yes, I know you can use the timer – but that’s not the same).

This thing has a super-super-zoom lens just calling out for tripod use.

What muppet at Fujifilm left remote release out – it’s been on all the HS10′s predecessors.

And a black mark to the reviewer – for missing this.

7 John Kussee May 23, 2010 at 11:54 am

Finally a good review of this camera for the casual user! The others I have read have all put up a red flag do to image quality between shot delay, and have suggested going to various DSLR’s. Those all require multiple lenses, special lithium ion batteries you have to remember to pre-charge, etc. etc.
After your thoughtful review I plan to purchase this camera for shooting the grankids and taking on daytrips. I will buy from B&H Photo to help support your work.

Thanx

8 Henry Posner May 24, 2010 at 10:22 am

@Jon Fackler:
I bought my camera through B&H at a very good price and the shipment was on time. I have B&H locked in on my “Fave File.”

@John Kussee:
I will buy from B&H Photo to help support your work.

Thank you. This is very gratifying.


Henry Posner
B&H Photo-Video

9 Tom May 24, 2010 at 7:15 pm

I took my new HS10 on a cruise and the photos seemed sharper than my old Cannon SD1000 which is a great little camera.

My biggest problem is NO OPTICAL VIEW FINDER. I have the screen brightness set to max but still the bright sun of the Caribbean is just too much. You can barely see an image and the electronic viewfinder is not any better. It is driving me up a tree.

If anyone has an idea about a fix for this problem… I tell everyone who buys a camera these days…. DON’T BUY A DIGITAL WITHOUT A TRUE VIEWFINDER.

Good luck with your HS10, I may sell mine.

10 Joe Dyer May 25, 2010 at 3:38 am

I have been using a Fuji S8000fd (18x zoom)for the last two years and love the camera. I run a dog walking and care service that provides loads of photo opportunities, my second use for the camera is recording my birdfeeder activity. I dropped the 8000 the other day and have jammed the shutter, what great timing my new HS10 is on order! This type of camera is all about zoom although in good light conditions very good images can be achieved. Looking at the sample images on this review I know the image quality of the HS10 will be more than acceptable to me. Trust me zoom is addictive, can’t wait for the 30X Big Boy to arrive.

11 vic magsy May 28, 2010 at 3:57 am

I think we are like those little critters being led by the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
I looked at these amazing features of the Fuji HS 10 and, like a little boy
lured by the smell of grilled burger, bought this camera hook, line and sinker.
Yes, the numerous features are awesome. But when it comes to the basics-
the quality of the pictures–it SUCKS! If you are a beginner and does not
know much about the captured image quality, this is fine. But if you have
owned another camera (I have a Fuji S7000), I was surprised to see how
my 6-year old brother of HS10 fared so MUCH well when it comes to result.
I made my final decision when I saw all these “quality” images above. Yes,
they seem good. But once you tried the real McCoy, you will be surprised
that the S7000, though of older technology, beats this one when it comes
to quality results. No wonder Don DeCoursey left a comment here that says
his S100fs is far superior. One more thing: Why did Fuji has to make an
EVF which you could hardly peep through? The S7000 though small when
I first used it is at least not a joke.

12 sommel June 3, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Looking for a superzoom camera.
Already have a serious dslr with accompanying wide angle and fish eye lenses but acknowledges the fact that serious telephoto lenses are way off my budget.
The HS10/11 seems to be the perfect partner for me – but before buying I would like some info on what types of flashes are supported by the hotshoe – and – does the HS10/11 have support for wireless flash?

13 Peter Nixon June 22, 2010 at 7:44 pm

This last caught my eye – “but before buying I would like some info on what types of flashes are supported by the hotshoe” – one of the nice things about Fuji p&s cams is that you can easily attach traditional flashguns – i use Vivitar 285, Metz 45 and on occasion studioflash.

The bundled RAW software is downright poor – Jpeg output only, and all that implies. I’m looking for an alternative as I will not give a firm like that money.

14 Oswaldo July 2, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Is possible to use a timer or intervalometer with HS-10, if have a good zoom then with time-lapse I think we can get good shoots and movies. Somebody know something???.

Thank you.

15 David M. Gaskin July 5, 2010 at 11:46 am

I like the RAW mode available on the HS10 and was a bit disappointed that the review did not mention it, never mind experiment with it and supplied and/or available image processing software. I have a Panasonic FZ5 (now going on 6 years old) whose image quality was always complained about by all who reviewed it. However I found post processing the noisy photos with “Neat Image” (to remove noise) and SilkyPix (to extend the dynamic range) almost always produced excellent results. I suspect that post processing with RAW images should produce even better results that with jpegs.

Thank you.

16 jon gordon July 11, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Hi,

A very good review of the HS10. I have been using a Fuji S9600 bridge camera for 3 years, shooting approx 2/3000 images at the very least. The reproduction of the lens/sensor SEEMS to be matched by my Panasonic TZ6 which is a puzzle to me. Any comments?
Also I still have had a Ricoh XR7, a great A/P camera, which to my knowledge was the only pre A/F SLR to have a aperture lock. JG

17 mihai giurgiu July 27, 2010 at 9:45 am

The 1080p movies seem to be “choppy” when panning. It’s awkward, don’t you think ? ( The camera is equipped with a 32GB SDHC A-Data ).

18 Panayiotis - Cyprus EC September 6, 2010 at 12:47 pm

I have my HS10 for morthan a month now. For its € price the fetures are the TOP in the market. One piece, art of engineering! I own 2 Pentax, 1 Canon, all using film, one Kodak digital and now the Fuji HS10.

All cameras take good pictures day time with good light! When it comes to night or indoors (using artificial lights) then only the real cameras take GOOD pictures. HS10 is one of them, very smart SR-Auto (sinery auto) I call it SUPER AUTO does it all for you just shoot! The on camera flash in combination with the AUTO ISO (80-6400)takes best pictures on every shoot.

One problem is that I use 4 AA PHILIPS 2600mAh batteries, in full auto, continues focus, indoor using flash, and 3″ display, took 120 pictures only with new fully charged batteries (within 30min camera on all the time and taking pictures). Good thing that I had some alkiline batteries with me!

More info later…

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