Fujifilm HS20EXR Super Zoom

The Fujifilm FinPix HS20EXR has been out for a few months now but still is a powerhouse of a camera. Replacing the HS10, which was a successful model for the company, the HS20 features an 16-megapixel EXR CMOS sensor that’s a significant step up from the HS10’s 10-megapixel sensor.

Fujifilm HS20
Fujifilm's HS20EXR - Perfect for your kid's soccer games

Fujifilm built the HS20 around a 30x zoom Super EBC Fujinon lens, which yields an effective focal length of 24mm to 720mm, offering an affordable alternative for consumers who want big glass features without the big glass price tag.

To keep the extreme end of the zoom stable, the HS20 includes three image stabilization features: One that actually shifts the sensor to eradicate shake, backed up by Pixel Fusion technology to increase sensitivity and boost shutter speed. Finally there’s EXR Auto, which takes four pictures in rapid succession and combines them into a single, blur-free image.

The BSI-CMOS sensor in the camera delivers good quality low-light results and the camera software includes features to push the dynamic range in tricky lighting situations and can deliver 11 frames per second at 8-megapixel resolution in burst mode.

For video the HS20 can shoot 1080 HD with stereo sound, but limited to 30fps.  The camera also has a high speed movie mode that shoots at 320 fps.

On the downside, some testers have reported some minor focusing issues and dinged it for using 4 AA batteries instead of a rechargeable lithium-ion option.

With a price tag in the $400 range, those are workable annoyances.  With the zoom and fast action capability, this would be the go-to consumer camera for people wanting to take pictures at their kid’s sporting events.

Travel Photography

Our rented Harley Street Glide in front of the Grand Tetons.
Our rented Harley Street Glide in front of the Grand Tetons.

One of the primary reasons that people practice photography is to record their travel experiences. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities can be memorialized forever, which actually generates a form of anxiety within the photographer. “I’ll only be here for a brief time, how can I guarantee that my photos turn out well? What if my camera gets stolen, or what if my memory card gets lost or accidentally erased? What gear should I take with me to cover the range of circumstances that I might encounter?” This article is going to help you answer some of those questions and relieve some of that anxiety.

There are some tricks you can use that won’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll get “the” shot, but will certainly improve your odds. First, don’t be afraid to use your camera’s automated settings – primarily “P” or “Program Mode”. This comes in especially handy if you are moving through various light levels and shooting various subject matter, moving from indoors to outdoors and back in again, if you’re in a vehicle, or if you simply don’t have the opportunity to slow down and determine the aperture and shutter speed that each shot would require. Just use a higher ISO, such as 800, which will accommodate any light level you might encounter. It won’t be a perfect ISO for every circumstance, but it won’t be too terribly high for outdoor shots, and will come in handy for dimmer lighting situations. Also, shoot in burst or continuous shooting mode. This will increase the likelihood that the shot you want is focussed and framed appropriately. Finally, shoot in RAW format so that you can improve sharpness, composition, white balance and exposure in post-processing should it be necessary. Recommended Cameras: Canon EOS 7D, Pentax K-5, Nikon D300S, Sony Alpha A580.

Next is to consider a lens that has all of the focal range and flexibility you may need for a multitude of situations, is light enough to carry around all day, and is fast enough to accommodate low light levels. Such a lens is tough to find, but you certainly don’t want to be lugging multiple lenses around, especially if you’re on foot! Choose a lens with image stabilization so that you are more successful getting hand-held shots (who wants to lug around a tripod or monopod all day?). Consider these recommended lenses: Sigma 18-250m f/3.5-6.3 (available for both Canon and Nikon), Canon EF 70-300mm DO IS USM (or the Nikon equivalent), Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS (or the Nikon equivalent).

In the spirit of keeping the weight down, consider leaving the battery grip at home and just carry a couple of spare batteries charged up and ready to go. Don’t skimp on the memory cards – put two or three 16 or 32 GB memory cards in your pocket. Some folks I know even leave off the lens hood and UV filter, trying to get the camera as light and manageable as possible. Don’t bother with an external flash unless you know you’re really going to need one. Really, the less obtrusive your camera appears, the less likely it is to draw the wrong kind of attention (like would-be thieves). Consider even getting a generic camera strap instead of the one that came with the camera, emblazoned with the brand and model.

Finally, consider traveling with your laptop and an external hard drive. Yes, this adds bulk to your traveling gear, but it also adds peace of mind. If you have the ability to off-load photos from the memory cards onto the computer hard drive or external drive, you can feel much more comfortable about the safety of the photos. It also helps to upload to photo sharing sites such as Flickr throughout your travels – dedicate an hour or so each night while hanging out in your hotel room to uploading your photos to a site, which will further protect them from loss.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you during your next trip. Happy travels!

Photo Credit: Tiffany Joyce

Fujifilm announces new 15x travel zoom: Finepix F305EXR (aka F300EXR)

This has been a busy week for new camera announcements. Following Panasonic’s stream of new cameras, both Fujifilm and Samsung have announced a number of new models.

Fujifilm’s new F305EXR (called the F300EXR in Europe I believe) looks like a very competitive travel-zoom camera. The F305EXR packs an incredible 15x zoom into a very compact body, while still achieving the widest angle lens out there of 24mm, (compared to the 28mm of the Canon SX210). It also features a high resolution 460k dots large 3″ screen.

The F305EXR faces stiff competition among other travel zooms, most importantly the ZS7 from Panasonic and Canon’s SX210 IS.

Fujifilm F305EXR vs Panasonic DMC-ZS7

  • The F305EXR has more zoom (15x vs 12x)
  • The F305EXR higher ISO sensitivity, hopefully indicative of lower noise at high ISO
  • The ZS7 features optical lens image stabilization, which likely will allow you take photos at even slower shutter speeds without blur than the F305EXR’s sensor shift image stabilzation
  • The ZS7 also has a built in GPS, great for geotagging photos

See a detailed comparison of the F305EXR vs the DMC-ZS7 at Snapsort.

Fujfilm F305EXR vs Canon SX210 IS

  • The F305EXR higher ISO sensitivity, hopefully indicative of lower noise at high ISO
  • As mentioned above, the Canon SX210 IS doesn’t have a very wide lens, only 28mm, unlike the ultra-wide 24mm of the F305EXR
  • The F305EXR has a much higher resolution screen than the SX210, making it much easier to see the quality and focus of your images as you take them
  • Similar to the ZS7, the SX210 has optical image stabilization built into the lens, whereas the F305EXR has sensor-shift image stabilization

See a detailed comparison of the F305EXR vs the SX210 IS at Snapsort.

Source: http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/f/finepix_f300exr/