Customer Review

589 of 604 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small camera, big features, November 14, 2011
This review is from: Fujifilm FinePix F505 16 MP CMOS Sensor and 15x Optical Zoom Digital Camera with 4 GB Class 10 SD Memory Card (Black) (Electronics)
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I'm an unusual and especially demanding camera user, but not because I'm an expert in photography. I take thousands of photographs a day to record historical documents for my job as a professional historian. Otherwise I'm a typical camera user with a typical knowledge about how digital cameras work - the exact kind of person who would be purchasing a high-quality point-and-shoot camera like this one. It's difficult to avoid superlatives when describing this camera. I really am very impressed with its quality and features.

The good:

1. This camera produces the best-quality photographs of any small(ish) point-and-shoot camera I have ever used. It's almost impossible to take a bad photograph.

2. I believe the reason the photos are so good (per my comment above) is that the auto mode, called EXR on the Fujifilm, is simply amazing. It's way better at doing its job than comparable auto features on other digital cameras. You don't have to be an expert at photography because the camera does all the technical work for you. It makes all the right adjustments in macro, aperture, white light, shutter speed, etc. If the room is dim, the photos are bright (as they would appear to the human eye). If the scene is bright, the camera adjusts accordingly to prevent washout. When the subject is lit by incandescent or, worse, fluorescent lights, the camera adjusts the white light filter to prevent those ugly yellowish or washed-out photos that you probably get with your current camera. These are things that all cameras are SUPPOSED to do, but very few compact cameras do it as well as this one.

3. The LCD screen is huge, extremely sharp, and unusually bright.

4. The shutter and auto-focus is very fast for a compact camera - almost instant, in fact. None of that waiting around while your camera focuses and finally snaps the shot. This is a handy feature if you have pets or kids or regularly take action shots.

5. The zoom is fantastic. It's extremely rare to get a 15x zoom in a camera this small. My old semi-SLR is three times the size and only has 12x. The zoom also works pretty fast. You don't have to wait forever for the camera to zoom, focus, and take the shot. It can literally go from wide-angle to 15x and be focused for a shot in about 2-3 seconds.

6. Even better, the same lens that gives you 15x for those long-range shots also does amazing wide-angle shots (24mm). This feature comes in handy when you want to make pictures of your house or garden look more spacious than they really are. It also helps for those big group shots when the whole family gathers together for the holidays.

7. The battery life is very good. I can shoot for about 4 or 5 hours continuously without a charge and get over 1,000 photos in that time when I'm working on historical documents. I imagine you could take pictures periodically all day on one charge.

8. The batteries are cheap, lightweight, and readily available. The replacement Fujifilm brand runs about $12 plus shipping. A well-rated aftermarket replacement here on Amazon can be purchased for less than $4.00 including shipping! (...). For the price of a burrito you can have three spare batteries plus the original to keep you going for days of continuous shooting. (EDIT: I can't include a link to these batteries, but you can find them by searching for the NP-50 battery here on Amazon. You can also find out more about compatible accessories (chargers, AC adapters, etc.) on the Fujifilm website.)

9. The options in the menu help you know what exactly you're changing. You might even learn something new from this thoughtful feature, like I did!

10. The camera is relatively lightweight and pretty small for the features you get. It easily fits in the front or back pocket of my jeans. Basically this camera gives you the features of a semi-SLR but fits in your pocket with ease.

11. The camera has a handy feature for reviewing your photos - and RETURNING TO READY MODE. To review your photos you simply push the little green display button like on any camera. Ordinary stuff. But have you ever had that problem where the dial was turned to "review" and you couldn't get it back to ready mode in time for a great action shot? Yes, we all have. Well, with this camera, you simply give the capture-image button a light tap and you're back in action. It's way faster and way easier than any other digital camera I've used.

12. The video quality is really high and you can adjust it to different sizes and speeds if you need more space for a long day of shooting.

13. It's pretty ergonomic. It's big enough to fit in your hand but not so big that it's heavy or awkward. One hand picture-taking is pretty easy with this camera. There's also a little rubberized indention on the right side where your fingers can grip.

14. It has an effective built-in flash that goes down when the camera is off but rises when you turn it on. The automatic flash sensor seems to work pretty well too. It flashes when you need it and stays off when you don't: none of those annoying flashes at the wrong time.

15. The special features are better than on most compact digital cameras. (a) First there's a feature specially designed for low-light conditions. The camera actually takes multiple photos and then laces them together to get the best light and contrast. Photos in a dimly lit room, or, say, around a campfire, look as good on this camera as they do to the naked eye. This is a big improvement from every other digital camera I've owned, which have tended to take really dark, blurry photos whenever the light is low, even when I have manually adjusted the aperture and light settings to where they ought to be. (b) Then there is a portrait enhancer that smoothes the image and makes a face look better. (c) There is a feature for taking close-up shots of, say, flowers, where the camera takes multiple photos, sharpens the main object (the flower), and blurs the background. It's a very nice effect and something that normally can be done only with SLRs. (d) Finally there is a feature that takes a burst of four shots and then lets you either choose the best or keep all four. This is nice for action shots and for portraits of a big group of people who might blink or make faces.

The bad:

1. The flash is positioned bad. It rises on the top left of the camera where most people would habitually place the left forefinger. Once you get used to it, the problem doesn't seem so bad, but it'll probably be one of the first things you notice.

2. The printed user's manual is useful but not very detailed. It just gives the basics. To learn more, especially about what certain camera terms mean, you'll have to use the software that comes with it. That may not be a problem for you, but I personally would prefer to have a printed copy in my hand right out of the box.

3. The battery takes quite a while to charge - about two hours. This is OK, I guess, since the battery lasts so long once you get a charge, but it's a little frustrating if you find your battery drained and need it for instant action. That's why you should buy spares, I guess.

Despite the three reservations listed above, I'm very impressed with this camera and recommend it highly. It's the perfect way to get near-SLR quality photos in a small package that is both cheaper and easier to use. It's made my job of photographing documents much, much easier and much, much faster. And it has made my everyday photos of family and pets and scenery and sites so much better than I ever thought possible in a camera of this size. Five stars for a home run by Fujifilm!
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Comments

Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 30 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 15, 2011 8:00:22 AM PST
Brimstone says:
Can you comment on the lens 'decentering' issue that kept 'dpreview' from adding it to it's list of the comparable best compact travel cameras?

Thanks

Posted on Nov 15, 2011 9:07:23 AM PST
Yogi D says:
Great review, thanks for taking the time to write such a comprehensive review. I am an average camera user and have been very frustrated with the shutter lag on even the so-called best point-and-shoot cameras, and your specific point #4 about this camera reassured me about it. I ordered it today as Amazon had a lightning deal on it that was GREAT! Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2011 9:08:40 PM PST
Thanks for your question. I wasn't aware of a "decentering" issue with this camera. When I looked it up on dpreview, as you did, I discovered that the comment was made (as far as I know) about the Fujifilm F550, not the F505 - a similar but different camera. Do you know what this "decentering" problem is and if it applies to this camera as well as the F550?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2011 6:00:00 PM PST
Same here. Great review. Very thorough. I appreciated it!

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 6:10:17 AM PST
Ali says:
This is EXACTLY what I wanted to know! I am a genealogist and need a camera for documents. This is the first in-depth description of the benefits of a specific camera for this task. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. I really appreciate it.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2011 10:13:43 PM PST
Glad you found it helpful, Alma. Since you're interested specifically in photographing documents, I'll add a few more things about it. One thing I like about this camera is that it can focus on objects extremely close to the lens. I got clear pictures when holding the camera as close as two inches from a page. Maybe most digital cameras can do this now, but my old one definitely cannot. I have to be sure to keep my old camera at least 12-15 inches from a page or it comes out blurry. Secondly, I found that this Fujifilm focuses reliably when I just press the shutter button all the way in one quick motion. With my old camera I had to press the button half way to focus it first, then snap the picture once it was focused on the page. As you probably know, the ability of the Fujifilm to autofocus like this saves a lot of time when doing hundreds or thousands of doc-photos a day.

Finally, here's a tip for when you're photographing documents under artificial light (like on one of those document-imaging stands often found at libraries and archives):
1. Go to the "P" option -- "automatic mode with programmed settings."
2. Press the "Menu" button.
3. Scroll to the "White Balance" option.
4. Under "white balance" you will see a list of about eight options. The fourth, fifth, and sixth say "fluorescent light-1," "fluorescent light-2," and "fluorescent light-3." The seventh says "incandescent." Select one of these options (as appropriate) when photographing documents under artificial light. Using the normal EXR or auto mode will result in really yellowish (sometimes orangish) photos with poor contrast. The "white balance" options listed here will fix things and give you the right look: white paper and black text. Really a big help for people like us!

Posted on Nov 29, 2011 9:13:48 AM PST
LINDA MONTE says:
Can anyone tell me what kind of battery this F505 uses and is it included with the camera?

Thanks

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2011 9:28:57 AM PST
It uses a battery called the "NP-50," and yes, one battery comes with the camera. To find extras, just search for "NP-50" on Amazon. The search results will show about five different batteries. No need to get the Fujifilm brand ($33 at the moment): better to select one of the aftermarket brands for less than $10. I tried a couple of the $0.78 replacements and they work fine. Sorry, I can't put links on here or I could help a little more.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2011 3:16:48 PM PST
LINDA MONTE says:
Thanks for the input. That was very helpful. Happy Holiday.

Posted on Dec 5, 2011 12:21:55 AM PST
ixbreakxaway says:
Can you tell me more about the flash? Like if you have to push it down or if there's a button to raise it up and lower it. Once the flash is down, do you have to turn the camera off and on again to use it?
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