Fuji FinePix HS10 Review

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor

Originally Posted: September 3, 2010

Last Updated: September 5, 2010

The Fuji FinePix HS10 ($499) is an SLR-style super zoom camera with a whopping 30X lens, a back-illuminated, high speed CMOS sensor, large articulating LCD display, full manual controls, and Full HD video recording -- to name but a few features. As of this writing, it's tied with the Olympus SP-800UZ for the "biggest lens" award (though the Olympus has a more telephoto-slanted 28 - 840 mm zoom range), but knowing camera manufacturers, that's bound to change soon.

The HS10 has some tough competition from virtually every manufacturer, though its SLR-like design (complete with manual zoom and focus rings) makes it stand out in the crowd. How does Fuji's flagship super zoom perform? Find out now in our review!

What's in the Box?

The FinePix HS10 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find the following items:

  • The 10.3 effective Megapixel FinePix HS10 digital camera
  • Four AA alkaline batteries
  • Lens cap w/retaining strap
  • Shoulder strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring MyFinePix Studio, FinePixViewer, RAW File Converter, and owner's manual
  • 23 page basic manual (printed) + full manual (on CD-ROM)

As with nearly all of the competition, the FinePix HS10 has memory built right in, in lieu of having a memory card included in the box. The HS10 has 45MB worth of memory, which holds just three RAW or nine fine quality JPEGs. You know what that means -- time to buy a memory card! The HS10 supports both SD and SDHC media, and I'd suggest picking up a 2GB card if you'll be mostly taking still images, and at least an 8GB card if movies are your thing. It's worth spending the extra dollars on a high speed card (Class 6 or above) if you'll be taking a lot of HD movies.

The HS10 is part of a dwindling group of cameras that use AA batteries. It uses four of them, to be exact, though the alkalines that come in the box will quickly run out of juice after about 300 shots. I would pick up a set or two of NiMH rechargeable batteries (plus a fast charger) to use with the HS10. Here's what kind of battery life you can expect from the HS10 with a decent set of NiMH cells:

Camera Battery life
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon PowerShot SX20 IS 600 shots 4 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Casio Exilim EX-FH25 * 500 shots 4 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Fuji FinePix HS10 */** 400 shots 4 x unknown NiMH
Kodak EasyShare Z981 475 shots 4 x 2100 mAh NiMH
Nikon Coolpix P100 */** 250 shots EN-EL5
Olympus SP-800 Ultra Zoom 200 shots LI-50B
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 ** 410 shots DMW-BMB9
Pentax X90 255 shots D-LI106
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 * 390 shots NP-FH50

* Uses back-illuminated CMOS sensor
** Full HD movie recording

Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

It's hard to really compare the HS10's battery life against the other super zoom cameras in that table, since Fuji doesn't actually tell you what strength of battery they used. Even if they used a relatively low capacity battery, the 400 shot per charge number is still above the group average. I should add that, in addition to alkaline and NiMH batteries, the HS10 can also use lithium AA batteries, which will let you take an impressive 700 shots before they're drained.

Fuji includes a sturdy plastic lens cap (with a retaining strap) in the box, to help protect that big 30X zoom lens from the elements.

There's just one accessory available for the FinePix HS10, and that's an AC adapter. Unfortunately, you have to buy two parts to make it work: the AC-5VX power adapter ($40), plus the CP-04 DC coupler (which I can't even find in stock anywhere).

MyFinePix Studio

Fuji includes two software products with the FinePix HS10, though only one of them is Mac compatible. The one that is Windows-only is known as MyFinePix Studio, and it's a flashy-looking photo transfer, editing, and sharing application. After you've copied your photos over to your PC, you'll end up at the screen above, which has a "3D" thumbnail view. Here you can filter through your photos in a number of ways (people, events, location) and create "Smart Albums", like in iTunes. Here you can also view a slideshow, print or e-mail a photo, or upload them to YouTube or Facebook.

Editing a photo in MyFInePix Studio

The editing features are fairly basic. You can do an auto image enhancement, or adjust the brightness, contrast, and gamma manually. You can rotate or crop a photo, and remove redeye. There are also numerous special effects, including classics like grayscale and sepia.

MyFinePix Studio cannot be used for viewing or editing movies recorded by the camera. QuickTime 7 is included, but unless you upgrade to the "Pro" version, you can't actually do any editing. The FPS software cannot edit RAW images, either, but thankfully Fuji includes another product for that.

RAW File Converter

Fuji's RAW editor of choice may look familiar to many of you. That's because it's based on SilkyPix, which is included by quite a few manufacturers with their RAW-capable cameras. SilkyPix will never win any awards for its user interface, but it's a powerful RAW editor that can tweak nearly any RAW property. Those include exposure, white balance, noise reduction, the tone curve, sharpening, color, and more. Both Mac and Windows versions of this software are included. You can also use Adobe Photoshop CS5 to edit the HS10's RAW images, as long as you have version 6.2 or above of the Camera Raw plug-in.

So what is RAW, anyway? RAW files contain unprocessed image data direct from the camera's CMOS sensor. You'll need to process them on your computer before you can do anything else with them, but this allows you to adjust things like white balance, exposure, and noise reduction, without reducing the quality of the original image. In other words, it's almost like taking the photo again. The downsides to RAW include the much larger file sizes, longer write times, and being unable to use it with a few of the HS10's features (such as redeye reduction).

Fuji has unfortunately gone down the same road as many other camera makers when it comes to manuals. You get a basic printed manual in the box, but if you want the full skinny on the FinePix HS10, you'll have to load up the full manual on an included CD-ROM disc. As for the quality of the manuals, Fuji has done a fairly good job of making them user-friendly. That said, if you're looking for a lot of detail about a particular, you won't find it. The documentation for the included software is installed onto your Mac or PC.