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Fuji HS50 EXR First Look at CES 2013
by Laura Hicks -  2/5/2013

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Summary of the Camera
Recently, FUJIFILM announced their new flagship camera, the FinePix HS50EXR. The HS50EXR features a manual zoom lens with a 42x focal length range (24-1000mm) and a new 1/2 inch EXR CMOS II sensor with phase detection. This sensor claims to achieve the world's fastest autofocus speed in its class of just 0.05 seconds. Also, the camera comes equipped with an Intelligent Hybrid Autofocus system.  It allows the camera to automatically select between phase detection autofocus or contrast autofocus in low light to ensure the best focus system is used. The HS50EXR can shoot in burst mode of 11fps at the full 16MP resolution.

The HS50EXR comes with a built in stereo microphone and is capable of full HD movie recording (1080p) at up to 60 frames per second. You also have the ability to connect an external microphone to the dedicated input to allow for even better sound quality. In addition, the phase detection pixel technology and scene recognition modes also work while recording movies. The HS50EXR features several "Film Simulation Modes." Users can choose from ten different modes which simulate the effects of traditional Fujifilm films.

The FinePix HS50EXR will be available in March 2013 at the price of $549.95. 

My First Impression
My first experience with the camera was at CES 2013. I was especially drawn to the Fuji HS50EXR due to the DSLR look and feel of the exterior. As a DSLR shooter for over 10 years, the camera appeals to me in both a visual and tactile way. It is the size of a small, entry-level DSLR. It feels solid and well-made. The camera has a plethora of physical buttons that are, again, reminiscent of a DSLR. One thing that really sets this camera apart from others in the ultrazoom category is the presence of a manual zoom lens. That's right, a manual zoom lens with a 42x zoom (24-1000 equivalent on a 35mm camera)! Plus, the aperture on this lens, f/2.8-f/5.6, is actually very good for the vast focal length of 24-1000. Included on this camera is built-in image stabilization. Also featured is a super macro mode that allows you to focus from only 1cm away from your subject.

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The room where I was briefed was small, white and did not have good lighting. So I don't feel like I had a good opportunity to test this camera's color quality or long zoom capabilities, but I did notice that the autofocus was very fast and responsive. The images that appeared on the 3-inch variable-angle LCD screen were crisp and bright. The camera was easy to hold due to an ergonomic grip that is rubberized and beefy. The lens was relatively smooth and easy to adjust. Personally, I prefer this type of lens. I feel like I can grab the exact focal length easier and faster than I can on the motorized zoom lenses you find on most ultrazoom cameras.

The focus peaking feature in manual mode is fantastic. I can't wait to see this technology used more widely across all camera genres. If you are like me, you generally don't use manual autofocus because you tend to trust the cameras ability to grab the focus faster and more accurately than you do your own eyes. However, the focus peaking feature on this camera takes the guess work out of manual focusing and allows you more flexibility and creativity while composing shots.

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Another feature that I really love is the 920k dot, electronic viewfinder (EVF). Although a tad bit too small, it is perfect for those of us that still like to hold the camera to our eye while composing a shot. It was bright and easy to use. It also comes equipped with an eye sensor that detects whether you are using the viewfinder or the screen.

The Fuji HS50 EXR is a great option for those interested in getting into the DSLR world, but not quite ready to make the plunge. It is also good for those of us that have used DSLRs for years, but would rather have a more compact camera for traveling, sightseeing or for a family gathering.

I am looking forward to reviewing this camera. If the HS50 EXR has the same great Fuji color I am used to, has the speed I've always wanted from this brand and delivers great image quality, I can see adding this camera to my already overstuffed camera bag. Traveling across the US with a camera of this size would be so much easier than lugging around my DSLR equipment. Hummm...I might just have to get another camera bag.   


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