Friday, April 8, 2011

F550EXR – Video Exposure Test — Review Part 22

I have been concerned with the quality of the video on the F550. Not the zooming, which is poorly handled, or the focus, which is abysmal in 1080i mode at full zoom, or even the noise (which is embarrassingly loud) … rather the actual video quality.

I’ve gone out a couple of nights in a row and tried to get a decent driving video, but I really don’t like the results much. Here is the best I could get, I was playing Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Tin Pan Alley in the background at a moderate level and the microphones were still overloading. That’s very disappointing. I am starting to wonder out this camera’s potential as a concert cam.

But what really stands out with this video is how poorly the auto exposure system works. The dark scenes are almost jet black. This sensor is advertised as being very sensitive, which Fuji marketing says will improve its low light imagery.

Well, here’s that video … I’m not impressed by the dark scenes at all.

You will also note that all signage that I pass in the dark sections is unreadable. They all pretty much go pure white. The theater later on is absolutely awful … there are movies advertised on the signs and you can’t even a hint of that. Sheesh. This is an EXR sensor and it is supposed to have dynamic range.

I’ve not been impressed with daylight videos either, and for the same reason. There is a lack of ability to handle highlights, which is a tragedy on an EXR camera.

So I remembered the fact that the F300EXR will respond, albeit poorly, to exposure compensation in all scenes. Dark scenes get a small amount of very noisy boost, but they do get more visible. But what I found when I tested the two against each other was that the F300EXR responds to compensation in all scenes, but the F550EXR responds only in very bright scenes. In other words, you can save highlights with compensation during the day (whew) but you cannot save lights or make dark scenes brighter with compensation.

Score a major brain fart for the Fuji firmware team.

Fuji … do you have a testing team at all?

The evidence:

Did anyone else notice that the F300EXR does not shoot at 24mm in those videos? I verified it at both ends of the zoom and the F300EXR shoots a *crop* of the sensor. I checked the F80EXR and it too shoots a cropped sensor in HD video mode. Wow again.

Which means you don’t get wide, but you do get very long … I suspect it is like shooting a 400mm lens on the F300EXR. Wow … makes it an even more awesome concert cam, if only it did not have only continuous video AF.

Thanks Fuji for all the random changes that like to ruin your product line …

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