E510 ($349) is one of three cameras in Fuji's
new E-series of digital cameras. Here's a quick look
at the lineup and what differentiates one model from
|Lens focal length
||28 - 91 mm
||32.5 - 130 mm
||80 - 400
||80 - 800
||320 x 240,
||640 x 480, 30 fps
|| 4.0 x 2.4
x 1.3 in.
|| 4.1 x 2.5 x 1.4 in.
After spending some time with the
E-series, I realized that this is Fuji's answer to
Canon's tremendously popular PowerShot A-series, although
the Finepix's have some tricks up their sleeves that
make them stand out from things like the A85 and A95.
Those tricks include a wider-angle lens and larger
/ higher quality LCD display.
None of that matters if the camera
is slow, poorly-designed, or if it takes bad pictures.
How does the 5.2 Megapixel FinePix E510 perform? Find
out in our review!
What's in the Box?
The FinePix E510 has an average bundle.
Inside the box, you'll find:
- The 5.2 effective Megapixel FinePix
- 16MB xD Picture Card
- Two AA alkaline batteries
- Cradle adapter
- Terminal cover
- Wrist strap
- A/V cable
- USB cable
- CD-ROM featuring FinePix AX software
- 112 page camera manual (printed)
Fuji includes a 16MB xD card with
the camera, which holds a grand total of seven high
resolution pictures. So consider a larger card "a
must". xD cards are currently available as large
as 512MB, and I think 128MB is a good starter size
for most people. Be warned that xD cards tend to be
more expensive than CompactFlash and SD cards.
The E-series cameras use two AA batteries
for power. Fuji includes two alkaline batteries which
will quickly find their way into the trash (or preferably
a recycling bin), so you're going to want to buy a
set or two of NiMH rechargeables. Fuji also sells their
own NiMH battery pack but you'll get more juice out
of the higher-power cells now available.
Fuji says that'll you'll be able to
take about 290 photos per charge using 2300 mAh NiMH
batteries (using the CIPA battery life standard). Canon
says that the PowerShot A95 can take 400 shots per
charge, but that's not using the CIPA standard, so
these two numbers are not directly comparable.
Along with those batteries you'll
want to buy a fast charger as well, so factor all of
this into the cost of the camera.
The E-series cameras support the optional
CP-FXA10 PictureCradle ($50), which can be used to
transfer photos to your computer, view photos on your
TV, and charge the Fuji NiMH battery pack. Note that
the cradle only charges the Fuji battery pack -- regular
NiMH cells are not supported. You don't need to use
the cradle to use the camera to its fullest.
The E510 has a built-in lens cover
so there's no lens cap to worry about.
There are a few accessories available
for the E-series cameras, and I've already mentioned
two of them (the battery pack and cradle). Those most
interesting ones are the lens accessories. The WL-FXE01
wide-angle conversion lens ($95) reduces the focal
length by a factor of 0.76, thus bringing the wide
end of the camera down to just 21.3 mm. For those disappointed
with the 91 mm top end of the E510's lens, the TL-FXE01
1.94X teleconverter ($95) brings the telephoto power
up to 177 mm. To use either of these lenses you must
first buy the AR-FXE01 conversion lens adapter ($19).
This adapter lets you use any 43 mm filter, as well.
The only other accessories worth mentioning
are an AC adapter ($39) and soft case ($30).
4.2 for Mac
Fuji includes their FinePixViewer
software with the E510. The version numbers are 4.2
for Windows and 3.3 Mac OS 9 and OS X. Even with the
differing version numbers, the software acts about
the same on each platform. FinePixViewer is for basic
image organizing and editing, and is no substitute
for something like Photoshop Elements. Fuji also includes
a RAW File Converter (not needed for this camera),
and ImageMixer VCD (for making video CDs, Windows only)
on the CD.
One other software note: Windows XP
users can also use the E510 as a webcam for videoconferencing.
The E510's manual is typical of those
included with most digital cameras. It's complete,
but finding what you're looking for may be difficult.
There's lots of small print as well.
Look and Feel
The FinePix E510 is a midsize camera
made of a mix of metal and plastic. In terms of build
quality, I'd rank it about average, and maybe a notch
below the Canon A85/A95. The camera does feel a little "cheaper" than
the A-series cameras.
While the controls are logically placed,
I didn't care for the "feel" of all of them.
Despite having a fairly small right hand grip, I found
it easy to hold the E510 with one hand. While not what
I'd call a small camera, the E510 fits into most pockets
The official dimensions of the E510
are 101.0 x 60.5 x 32.6 mm / 4.0 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions), and it weighs 170
grams / 6.0 ounces empty. Compare that with the Canon
PowerShot A95, whose numbers are 4.0 x 2.5 x 1.4 inches
and 235 grams, respectively.
With that out of the way, we can begin
our tour of the E510!
The FinePix E510 has an F2.9-5.5,
3X optical zoom lens. But not just any 3X lens. While
most digicam lenses (especially on cheaper cameras)
start at 35, 37, or even 39 mm, the one on the E500
and E510 starts at 28 mm -- making it great for wide-angle
interior shots. The full focal range of the lens is
4.7 - 15.1 mm, which is equivalent to 28 - 91 mm. And
there's the tradeoff: while the lens starts out nice
and wide, it's got very little telephoto power. You
can use the optional teleconverter of course, but that's
just one more thing to carry around. Personally I'd
rather have more wide than tele, but that's just me.
The E510 allows you to attach conversion
lenses, as I mentioned before. Just hit the button
to the lower-left of the lens, remove the plastic ring,
and attach the conversion lens adapter (and then your
To the upper-right of the lens is
the optical viewfinder and flash sensor. On the other
side is the microphone, with the self-timer lamp further
left. There is not AF-assist lamp on the E510, one
of its few flaws.
At the top of the picture is the E510's
pop-up flash, which has a working range of 0.6 - 4.1
m at wide-angle and 0.6 - 2.0 m at telephoto. The flash
range on the PowerShot A95 is just a little better.
You cannot attach an external flash to either camera.
On the back of the camera is where
you'll find another one of the E510's standout features:
it's large 2.0" LCD display. While I like the
rotating LCD on the A95, there's something to be said
for this beautiful screen which is sharp and bright.
It has 154,000 pixels and shows 96% of the frame. LCD
brightness is adjustable in the setup menu.
On area in which the LCD wasn't so
hot is in low light conditions. Unlike some cameras,
the E510 doesn't "gain up" automatically
in such situations, rendering that big screen useless
in dim light. This made taking my night test shot picture extremely frustrating.
The Canon A-series camera do better in this regard.
To the upper-left of the LCD is the
E510's optical viewfinder, which is average-sized.
It shows approximately 80% of the frame. It lacks a
diopter correction knob (as does the one on the A95),
which is used to focus what you're looking at. Just
to the right of the viewfinder is the button which
pops up the flash.
To the left of the LCD is the exposure
compensation button, which has the usual -2EV to +2EV
in 1/3EV increments range.
At the top-right of the photo is the
zoom controller. This controller moves the lens quietly
from wide-angle to telephoto in just 1.3 seconds. I
counted nine steps throughout the zoom range.
Below that is the switch used to move
the camera between record and playback mode.
Photo mode menu
Continuing downward we find the "F" or
Photo Mode button. Pressing this opens the menu above,
which has the following options (in record mode):
- Image quality (see chart later
in review) - I always like how the camera tells you
how many shots you can take at each resolution
- ISO (Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400)
- FinePix color (Standard, chrome,
black & white)
Just so you know, the "chrome" color
mode boosts the contrast and color saturation.
Next to the Photo Mode button is the
four-way controller. This is used for menu navigation,
adjusting manual settings, and more. I don't care for
how these buttons feel -- they're too flush with the
body and they don't have a lot of "play".
The additional functions of this controller are:
- Left - Macro (Off, macro, super
macro) - more on this later
- Right - Flash setting (Auto, auto
w/redeye reduction, forced flash, slow synchro, redeye
reduction + slow synchro)
The final button here is the display/back
button. This is used for toggling what's shown on the
LCD, turning on thumbnail view while in playback mode,
and "backing out" of a menu.
On top of the camera you'll find the
power and shutter release buttons as well as the mode
dial. The flash is in the closed position, as you can
The items on the mode dial include:
- Auto record - point-and-shoot,
some menu items locked up
- Program mode - still point-and-shoot
but with full menu access; a Program Shift feature
lets you select from several aperture/shutter speed
- Shutter priority mode - you choose
the shutter speed, camera chooses the aperture; shutter
speed range is 2 - 1/1000 sec
- Aperture priority mode - you choose
the aperture, camera chooses appropriate shutter
speed; aperture range is F2.9 - F8
- Full manual mode - you choose both
the shutter speed and aperture; shutter speed range
expands to 2 - 1/2000 sec
- Movie mode - more on this later
- Night scene - allows for 2 second
- Sports - ISO fixed at 200 here,
beware of noise
While I'm thrilled to see another
low-cost camera with full manual controls, I must admit
that I'm scratching my head over that 2 second speed
as the slowest option available. Surely there are people
with low budgets who want to shoot for longer than
that! Even the more expensive E550 cuts you off at
On this side of the E510 you'll find
the speaker as well as the I/O ports.
The I/O ports here include A/V out,
USB (1.1), and DC-in.
The E510 has one of those design decisions
that makes you say "huh?": it has a plastic
cover for those I/O ports -- that's untethered. That
means that it's super-easy to lose. Judging by the
fact that Fuji gives you a spare cover with the camera,
it seems that they realize that you're going to lose
this thing pretty quickly.
Nothing to see on this side!
On the bottom of the E510 you'll find
the battery compartment, xD card slot, and plastic
tripod mount. The batteries and xD card are kept behind
a fairly sturdy plastic door. As you can see, the camera
takes two AA batteries.
The tripod mount is located right
in the center of the camera. Do note that removing
the memory card is not possible while the camera is
on a tripod.
Using the Fuji FinePix E510
It takes a little about three seconds
for the E510 to extend its lens and "warm up" before
you can start taking pictures.
to be found here
Autofocus speeds were average, with
a 1/2 second delay in most cases before the camera
locks focus. If the camera has to work a little to
lock focus, that number could jump closer to 1 second.
Low light focusing was not good -- here's where an
AF-assist lamp would've really helped. In addition
the LCD was too dark to see anything in those situations.
Shutter lag was not an issue, even
at slower shutter speeds where it sometimes crops up.
Shot-to-shot speed was good, with
a 1.5 second delay between photos, assuming you've
turned the post-shot review feature off.
The E510 lacks the ability to let
you delete a photo immediately after it is taken (you
must enter playback mode).
Now, let's take a look at the resolution
and quality choices available on this camera.
||Approx. file size
images on 16MB card
(2304 x 1728)
(1600 x 1200)
(1280 x 960)
(640 x 480)
There's no TIFF or RAW mode on the
E510 (nor is there one on the Canon A-series).
The camera names files as DSCF####.JPG,
where # = 0001 - 9999. The camera maintains the numbering
even if you erase the memory card.
The FinePix E510 has a nice looking,
easy-to-use menu system. The camera has an auto mode,
where many of the menu options are locked up. If you
want full access to the menu, you need to switch into
one of the manual modes. Here's a look at the menu
now, with the manual mode-only options in bold:
- Self-timer (on/off)
- Photometry [metering] (Multi, spot)
- White balance (Auto,
sunlight, shade, daylight fluorescent, warm white
fluorescent, cool white fluorescent, incandescent)
- no custom option available
- Focusing (AF, MF) - see
- Sharpness (Soft, normal,
- Flash brightness (-2/3EV
to +2/3EV, 1/3EV increments)
- Option (Set-up menu, LCD brightness)
There are a few things worth mentioning
here. The first thing is that the E510 lacks any custom
white balance feature (the A-series has this), which
comes in handy if you're shooting under unusual lighting.
Second, there's no continuous shooting mode (the A-series
has this as well).
The third thing is manual focus. When
this is turned on, you hold down the exposure compensation
button and use the zoom controller to adjust the focus.
Unfortunately there's no guide on the LCD showing the
current focus distance, nor is the center of the frame
enlarged so you can verify that your subject is in
focus. The A95 does both.
In addition to that one, there's also
a setup menu, with the following options:
- Image display (on/off) - post-shot
- Power save (Off, 2, 5 min)
- Format card
- LCD (on/off) - whether LCD is on
- Beep (Off, 1-3) - camera operation
- Shutter (Off, 1-3) - fake shutter
- Date/time (set)
- Time difference (set) - for setting
a different time when you're on the road
- Frame number (Continuous, renew)
- USB mode (DSC, web, PictBridge)
- the second option lets you use the E510 as a webcam
for videoconferencing (Windows only)
- Start image (on/off) - startup
- Language (Japanese, English, French,
German, Spanish, Chinese)
- Video system (NTSC, PAL)
- Discharge - discharges rechargeable
- Reset - settings to defaults
Well enough about menus, let's do
photo tests now.
Despite not having a custom white
balance feature, the E510 did a good job taking a macro
picture of our famous subject under my 600W quartz
lamps. The subject is sharp and colors are accurate.
There are two macro modes on the E510:
regular and super. In regular macro mode, the focal
range is 6.7 - 80 cm, while in super macro mode that
drops to just 2.6 - 15 cm. Do note that the optical
zoom is limited to 1.0X - 1.4X in regular macro mode,
and is locked at the wide-angle position in super macro
I had a heck of a time getting a decent
night shot on the E510. Probably 90% of my photos were
blurry. I used auto and manual focus. I made
three trips to the photo spot with the E510 and got
bad results each time. Because of that, the shot above
is all I could offer -- my attempts at the ISO test
that I normally do failed miserably. For what it's
worth, the Canon A95 took a great shot the first time.
The E510 leaves much to be desired in the low light
For some odd reason, the slowest shutter
speed on the FinePix E510 is just 2 seconds, which
is about 1.5 seconds too little for this photo. As
a result, the camera didn't bring in enough light and
the picture is pretty dark. There is a bit of purple
fringing but nothing horrible.
There's a moderate amount of redeye
in our flash test shot. Even with a pop-up flash, the
fact that the lens and flash are in close proximity
tends to make this annoyance worse. Expect to clean
up some redeye in software if you buy this camera.
There's moderate barrel distortion
at the wide end of the E510's lens. You'll notice this
especially indoors or when taking pictures of things
like buildings. Wider lenses like the one on the E510
tend to have more of this.
Overall, the E510's image quality
is good, though not without it's flaws. Color was always
very good and exposure was accurate most of the time.
I did notice an above average amount of purple fringing,
and not just in our torture
test photo either. You'll find purple fringing
in almost every photo. Another thing I noticed is an
overall softness to the images, probably due to the
noise reduction algorithm on the camera (noise levels
are quite low). This softness tends to reduce the detail
in certain things like grass, plants, and roof tiles.
Comparing these two images (taken at the same time)
gives you an idea as to what I'm talking about: Canon
A85 | Fuji
If you're printing images no larger
than 8 x 10 or sharing them on the web, these are non-issues.
For larger prints, on-screen viewing, or for perfectionists,
the issues raised here may bother you.
Don't judge this camera on my words
alone, please visit our photo
gallery to see for yourself!
The E510's movie mode is pretty lousy.
You can record up to 60 seconds of 320 x 240 video,
with sound, at a sluggish 10 frames/second. If you
want to take a longer movie, you'll have to use the
160 x 120 resolution which lets you record for 3 minutes
(the frame rate is the same). Those recording times
are fixed: it doesn't matter how big your memory card
is, they'll still be 1 or 3 minutes!
You cannot use the zoom lens during
Movies are saved in AVI format, using
the M-JPEG codec.
Here's an exciting sample movie for
to play movie (1.9MB, AVI format)
Can't view it? Download QuickTime.
Playback mode on the E510 is typical
of those on other cameras. Basic features are here,
including slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection,
thumbnail mode, voice annotations (30 seconds worth),
and zoom and scroll. The camera is PictBridge-enabled
for direct printing to a compatible photo printer.
The zoom and scroll feature lets you
enlarge your image by up to 14.4X, depending on the
resolution of the photo, and then move around in the
zoomed-in area. Once you're zoomed in, you can use
the trim feature to crop your images right on the camera.
The E510 doesn't show you any exposure
information about your photos, which is a shame because
the E550 does.
It takes the E510 a little over a
second to move from one image to the next in playback
mode. There is no low resolution placeholder shown
-- it goes from one high res photo to the next one.
How Does it Compare?
While the Fuji FinePix E510 has a
lot going for it, I don't think that Canon's A-series
has been dethroned just yet as the "best in class" entry-level
camera. There are many things to like about the FinePix
E510: it has good photo quality (though with some issues
described below), reasonably fast performance, a wide-angle
lens, large LCD display, and support for conversion
lenses. The two standout features on that list are
the lens and LCD. The lens, which starts at 28mm, is
great for indoor shots. Usually you have to buy a conversion
lens to cover that much area, but not on the E510.
The downside is that the camera doesn't have much telephoto
power. The camera's LCD is a nice 2 inches in size,
and it's bright and fluid. The problem with the LCD
is that it becomes useless in low light conditions,
since the screen doesn't "gain up". The E510
also features a nearly full set of manual controls,
though it lacks custom white balance and the manual
focus feature leaves much to be desired. Build quality
on the E510 is about average.
Now here's what I don't like. While
I'd rank the photo quality as good overall, images
tend to be soft, and purple fringing levels are above
average. Shooting with the E510 is frustrating in low
light, as you can't see a thing on the LCD and the
camera has great difficulty focusing (it needs an AF-assist
lamp). While I appreciate the manual controls on the
camera, I'm not thrilled with the 2 second shutter
speed limit (on the slow end), the lack of a custom
white balance feature, and the uninspired manual focus
feature. And speaking of uninspired, the camera bundle
isn't great and the movie mode is below where it should
be in the year 2004 (not that the Canon A-series does
much better in either area).
While I do recommend the E510 (and
its 4 Megapixel sibling, the E500,
as well), I do think that the Canon A85/95 are the
still the leaders of the pack, unless you're really
set on the E510's wide-angle lens or its considerably
lower price. I don't prefer the A-series for stupid
reasons like movie
size of the included memory card: I'm talking about
things like photo quality, and low light focusing and
LCD visibility. One camera that has impressed me a
lot more than the E510 is the more expensive E550.
It takes better pictures (at the 6M setting), has better
performance, a much nicer movie mode, and more manual
controls. Of course, it costs $150 more and the lens
isn't as wide. You can't have everything, I guess!
What I liked:
- Great value for a 5.1MP camera
with these features
- Lens starts at 28mm
- Generally good photo quality
- Quite a few manual controls
- Larger-than-average 2" LCD
- Supports add-on lenses
- Very easy to use
- Can be used as a webcam (Windows
What I didn't care for:
- LCD becomes useless in dim light
- Images tend to be a bit soft; above
average purple fringing
- Poor low light focusing / no AF-assist
- Manual focus feature poorly-implemented;
no custom white balance
- Slowest shutter speed is 2 seconds
- Outdated movie mode
- Some redeye
- Bundle isn't great
Other cameras in this class worth
looking at include the Canon
PowerShot A95, HP
Photosmart R707, Kodak
EasyShare DX7440, Nikon
Coolpix 5200, Pentax
Optio 555, and the Sony
Cyber-shot DSC-W1. I already mentioned the FinePix
E550, which is also worth a look.
As always, I recommend a trip down
to your local reseller to try out the FinePix E510
and it's competitors before you buy!
Want to see some pictures? Check out
the photo gallery!
Feedback & Discussion
If you have a question about this
review, please send them to Jeff.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me
asking for a personal recommendation.
To discuss this review with other
DCRP readers, please visit our forums.