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Fuji FinePix F50fd

>> Friday, January 30, 2009

The F50fd has an attractive yet ergonomic design, with a slight curve that your shutter release finger curls around. That finger can also easily reach the power and image stabilization buttons, as well as operate the zoom lever, which encircles the shutter release. All of the other controls are located on the right hand side of the camera back, within easy reach of your thumb.

The rear mounted control dial turns smoothly but not so smoothly that you're likely to turn it inadvertently and provides access to automatic, aperture priority, and shutter priority exposure modes, as well as a video mode and two photo scene mode notches that can be programmed to activate any of 14 options. A panorama mode is notably missing, but there's an underwater mode for use with Fuji's compatible underwater housing.

For low light shooting, the dial also provides Natural Light and Natural Light & Flash selections. The first boosts the ISO setting and turns off the flash, while the second takes two shots in quick succession, one with flash and one without.

The remaining option on the dial is the somewhat misleadingly named Manual mode. It doesn't provide fully manual exposure controls but instead calculates exposure automatically and provides access to metering, white balance, and auto focus mode selections that are not available in the fully automatic shooting mode.

Those controls are also available in the priority modes. Other physical controls include a review mode button, a button for activating face detection modes, and a display button that turns off icons or activates a rule of thirds grid overlay. As is typical in Fuji cameras, the menu system is split between the main menu button and a function button a setup that makes the menus short and quick to navigate.

My only complaint about the menu system is that, as in other Fuji point and shoots, the menu turns off when you make a selection so that you have to reenter the system for each setting change. The menu button also serves as a center OK button for the four way controller, which itself provides direct access to exposure compensation, flash settings, the self timer, and a macro mode. Overall, the F50fd's control layout is efficient and comfortable to use. Covering the rest of the camera's back is a 2.7 inch LCD that shows a clear, detailed image and remains viewable in most lighting conditions, as well as when it's held at high and low angles and off to the side.

You can not only adjust its brightness but also change the camera's power setting to boost the screen's clarity and refresh rate other power options include a mode that maximizes the auto focus speed and one that extends the battery life. Another nice component of this camera's design is its memory card slot, which is more likely than most to be compatible with cards you already own; accepting either SD/SDHC or xD-Picture Card media.

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