Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Fuji HS50 - The Zoom War Continues

Fuji has now joined Nikon (P510) and Canon (SX50) in producing a 'bridge' camera with very long lens that is ideal for wildlife photography (see my post of 14 October 2012). I have sung the virtues and few vices of the P510 — it was first on the scene and clearly established that there is a demand for light cameras with a long lens (and, of necessity, a small sensor).

The specifications of the Fuji HS50 are very similar to the P510 with (as with the SX50), a few key differences: zoom range of 24-1000 mm in 35 mm equivalents; a slightly wider maximum aperture (f2.8 at 24 mm, decreasing to f5.6 at 1000); similar size of output (4609 x 3456). Like the Canon, but not the Nikon, there is RAW and full HD (1080) video output. In terms of weight, the Nikon (555 g) scores over the Canon (595 g) and the Fuji (758 g).

The prices of these cameras today on Amazon UK were:

Fuji HS50 £419.99
Canon SX50 £394.99
Nikon P510 £235.82

I also see that the Nikon P510 has disappeared from the WEX website. It is still on the Nikon UK list but its obvious replacement, the P520 (labelled 'new') is a disappointment. Nikon have gone for the same basic camera with the same lens but have added 3D and a few other irrelevant features (why? — stereoscopic photography has only ever had short waves of popularity and already looks on the wane again). An opportunity to add RAW output has been missed. For a price today of £399 for the P520, the Fuji and Canon seem more suited to the wildlife market. Nikon may have missed a trick after having been first in the field.

The value of a camera like the P510 to the birdwatcher wanting to get a picture quickly before a bird flies away has been demonstrated by my Number 2 son. The P510 I so kindly bought him for his birthday has already been used to provide evidence, acceptable to an expert committee, for a range extension of a rare bird, as well as allowing rare migrants to be identified in the comfort of air-conditioning and with the assistance of the full range of reference books. He keeps the camera set up with a central 'sniper' autofocus site when he is out, as I described in my post of 31 August 2012.

With Canon and then Fuji joining in the zoom war, will Panasonic come up with something longer than 600 mm to join them?