This question is being asked a lot on the Fuji Talk Forum from what I have seen. I peek in now and again to see what the topics are, but there is little real info on the site any more … still, the HS10 appears to completely dominate the forum now.
So the short answer to the question in my title above … your opinion of its image quality is *really* gonna depend on how wide your image quality latitude goes.
The good news is that it looks pretty excellent at tiny web sizes right up to 3200 ISO. Bravo Fuji!
The bad news is that its image quality does not stand up at all to close scrutiny. It’s just bloody awful when you zoom in, which means that printing above 5x7 is probably folly.
This, by the way, appears to be a property shared by all of these tiny (1/2.3”) BiCMOS sensors … the ones with the wiring in the back. They do a surprisingly good job at high ISO, where fine detail is obliterated by noise so expectations are low. But they make a hash of low ISO imagery, where expectations are justifiably high.
Now … in a compact like the WX1 this mess might just be tolerable. But the HS10 is Fuji’s new flagship bridge camera with a massive zoom, a hot shoe and serious controls for everything. It also shoots RAW. People are going to shoot birds with this thing and want to be able to print lovely 8x10s or even larger with very fine feather vein detail in them … well, good luck with that.
If I sound critical, Fuji have only themselves to blame. My opinion comes from examining their own sample images. I focused particularly on sample number 2 on their global web site.
Here is the image:
Remember to click on it to get a larger version. Here is my critique of each of the highlighted areas. Note that this image is not touched in any way and these inserts are 100% crops.
From left to right:
- Brick. With no texture. Really, all the bricks in the distance are total mush. Very heavy noise reduction is evident.
- Roof tile. Edges are a complete hash. No definition and absolutely no crispness.
- The umbrella shaped roof in the middle (just above the boat) appears to have tiles, yet a large area of it is simply smooth. I don’t think it is supposed to be.
- Boat pillar. Pure white. I mean completely blown. This is *not* an EXR sensor, and it suffers for it.
- Brick again. Mush again.
- Flowers. Even this close to the lens, and not quite into the corner, the blur is evident. This lens appears incapable of fine definition at 100%. Of course, what does one expect in a 1 billion x zoom …
Now, I’m not a candidate for one of these things anyway. If I’m going to carry something large and fairly heavy, I want a sensor larger than the pupil of my eye. But I was curious to see what the fuss was all about, and now I know. It’s about the lens and the feature. It cannot possibly be about the image quality.
So to revisit my answer to the title question. The answer is a simple no, not really. But I’ll bet it’s a lot of fun to fool around with.