"Could have been a contender"2.0 starson by Biglensbob
Pros: Great Mega Zoom Lens, fast burst speed, full set of manual features,
Cons: Slow shot to shot speed, low image quality, manual focus nearly unusable, unable to focus on objects in low contrast conditions. low light shooting capability not as good as expexted
Summary: The hype preceding the release of this, Fuji Film's flagship Digital Camera, gave me every reason to expect a camera that could compete with the best of the entry level DSlR's currently available. Fuji's "Backlit imaged sensor" coupled with the fast 30x mega-zoom lens was going to give users the ability to capture high quality images in both normal and low light conditions. Unfortunately, the HS10 does not live up to expectations. After spending a couple of weeks with this camera, I was less than impressed. My first disappointment was the slow shot to shot speed of as much as 2-3 seconds. This coupled with the cameras lack of ability to quickly focus in situations where the contrast between an object and its surroundings are low, meant a lot of missed shots. In these low contrast situations, the user guide suggests you switch to manual focus. The manual focus system is nearly useless. The focus ring is about 1/4 inch wide and butted up against the camera body, making it hard to adjust and the focus magnifying box that is supposed to make it easier to see the image in the view finder actually makes it very hard to understand what you are looking at. Switching the magnifier off, gives you a strange slider that is supposed to indicate when the image is in focus. None of the manual images I shot were in anything near sharp focus.
Then there is Fuji's claim of great low light capability. I found that in most situations, shooting at ISO's over 400 resulted in image noise levels slightly better than my Nikon D300 DSLR. That being said, I wasn't able to duplicate Fuji's results as shown on their website. Noise levels become severe above ISO 800.
The camera shoots full 1080 HD video with full stereo sound by way of 2 small microphones on the camera body, one on either side of the lens mount. The lack of a jack for an external mic is an unfortunate oversight. The camera allows you to use the zoom while shooting movies, but the focus tends to drift and you cannot use manual focus while in video mode. When using image stabilization with the video,it seems to add little jerky spots where it's trying to compensate for the camera's movements. I found I got better results with this feature turned off.
The camera has an interesting and useful feature for producing in camera panoramic images. Once in panorama mode, you just push the shutter release and pan the camera and it captures a sequence of images and stitches them together to create one panoramic image. It's not perfect; there were some strange artifacts in the images, generally very minor. But the panoramas were quick and easy to produce.
Overall, the camera has a large feature set, a great zoom lens and could have been a real champion if it could just to the one thing a nearly $500.00 camera needs to do; produce high quality images.