Why Buy A Superzoom Camera?
When there’s a camera in every pocket ( think mobile phone) why would anyone want a Superzoom style camera?
For those of us who have a passion/profession for photography the Superzoom range of cameras brings a range of features together in the one format.
Personally I dislike the tag “Superzoom” as its too simplistic and doesn’t portray what these cameras are really designed to do. Originally (and still to my way of thinking ) Bridge Cameras were aimed at the enthusiast or semipro who wanted an alternative to the 35mm SLR’s or DSLR’s. An all in one solution so to speak. Arguably the best iteration of this design in the past went to the Fujifilm Finepix s100fs
This is the whole point of a Bridge Camera, to offer the user an alternative to the DSLR format but with the styling and functionality of the DSLR. Essentially the idea was and still is to provide an all in one solution that gives all the functionality and IQ of an entry level DSLR in one package, complete with an excellent set of optics.
There are now several manufacturers chasing this particular goal as they recognize that a good many people are in the market for a high grade all in one camera solution. We see the same type of marketing when we view the quality range compacts with Fuji’s two new entries, as well as offerings from Samsung, Sony, Leica, Canon to name but a few.
Recently Fuji announced its new ‘X” series cameras. There is a whole new range of cameras now being offered to the market including a new generation of mirror-less interchangle lens camera ( similar perhaps to the Sony SLT models ) but squarely poised to bring Fuji back into the DSLR realm again. I for one hope they do. The Fuji S5 & S3 pro cameras were legendary units. Based on Nikon bodies with Fuji’s fit-out these cameras did and still do provide excellent images.
So where does that leave us at the moment?
After having owned the Fuji HS10 and shot over 9000 images with it and now the owner of the HS20EXR, shot count is now over 5500, I’m happy with what I have up to a point.
The HS20 was a very big improvement over the HS10 which was obviously the test model for the design direction of future Fuji bridge-cams. This is born out with the change in sensor type and functionality of the Cmos-EXR sensor, used in the HS20.
If you were to ask which had the best IQ of the two HS series cameras I would have to say that the HS10 lens to me has always seemed that little bit crisper.
This may in part be simply that the newer sensor in the HS20, as others have said, is more directed at low light imagery improvement with a slight trade off in image crispness. Thats why I almost always shoot the HS20 in EXR Resolution Priority mode. The IQ crispness is definitely better for what I shoot. I then post process the images as necessary.
By way of improvement in the HS series there are really only a few things that would need to be changed to take this camera from “very good” to “stellar” performance.
- Faster AF. While better in the HS20 its still not good enough.
- Faster write times, improved in the HS20 but room for improvement.
- Greatly improved EVF. Simply not good enough at this level of camera.
- Expand Ev control to +3.0 to -3.0, this has always been too limiting at Ev 2.0 to -20.
- Be able to have Noise Reduction set to off when required.
- Improved video performance when panning & focus speed.
These are the six main items that I feel are in need of greatest improvement from the HS20 specifications. Hopefully these issues will be dealt to in the new generation bridgecam the X-S1. With a 2/3 Cmos EXR sensor as found in the Fuji X10 this should result in high quality imagery. Coupled with good noise control and IQ Fuji may well find themselves in a good place in the market. While I dont ordinarily like to change the equipment I own and use on a yearly basis, I have had to do so recently. If the X-S1 lives up to the expectations we have for it I may have a tool that will perform well for some time. This new offering from Fuji may well be close to what I have always wanted from a bridge camera. High quality imagery in an all in one package.
The one killer item for me in bridge cameras has always been the manual zoom. Its the one thing that makes the Fuji’s stand out from its competitors. Having owned SLR’s and used DSLR’s to have to give up a manual zoom is just not something I would want to consider.
So if you are currently in the market or about to become so, you may want to hold off on buying that new unit until early 2012 when the new cameras come on-stream. If the IQ is anywhere near as good as the preliminary images are from the Fuji X10 then we will have a camera hopefully able to at least compete at the same level as our entry level DSLR’s. Now that really would be something.