Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR: COMEX 2011 Offer

Sometimes, great offers come to you without even looking.

This morning, on the back cover page of TODAY, I saw the Fujifilm advertisement promoting their digicam offers. What caught my eye was the trade-in offer for F500EXR and F550EXR (after trade-in price of S$349 and S$399 respectively). It so happens that I have a 4-year old F31fd, still working perfectly, albeit old sensor technology.

The F31fd is a legend, its start-up, high ISO, and shot-to-shot performance are benchmarks for my digicam reviews over the past years. Alas, time has caught up, the battery isn't doing quite well, and the features, miserly.

So, I originally intended to make my way to COMEX at Suntec to buy it, but then I read a fine-print that this offer is valid at all authorised dealers. So I called MS Color to ask if they have the same offer, and they replied that instead of 16GB SD card offered at COMEX, they will give 8GB instead. Weighing the cons of traveling all the way down to Suntec and having to hustle through the crowds, I decided to just get it from MS Color.

When I arrived there, the shop staff recognised me as a regular, and so without further bargaining, he offered me at $330 with free LCD protective cover. How can I refuse! I left the shop a happy man (and farewell, F31fd!)

Here's a look at the F550EXR specs:

If you are on a budget, you can consider the F500EXR at SRP $50 cheaper. Only the following functions are absent compared to the F550EXR:
The F550EXR is actually an old model announced in Jan 2011, now superceded by F600EXR announced in August 2011. However, the design is identical and the features mostly unchanged, but with some minor enhancements to keep up with the competition.

Good impression points on the F550EXR:
The design of the camera is impressive, from the rubber grip to the red lining around the lens to the placement of the mode dial, the F550EXR is just curvy all around.

Shooting Modes. Apart from the usual PASM, Scene (SP), and Auto modes, the F550EXR comes with the EXR mode and the "Adv." (advanced) mode. The EXR mode lets you shoot using the EXR features to boost image quality. The "Adv." mode has 3 shooting effects: the Motion Panorama 360, the Pro Focus and Pro Low-Light. The Motion Panorama 360 mode lets you shoot panorama by sweeping your camera in one shutter press. The Pro Focus mode processes the image to blur the background more and create a better depth of field effect. The Pro Low-Light mode captures the scene in high ISO over 4 frames and combines into one image to reduce noise.

Continuous Shooting Options. Unlike conventional continuous burst modes, the F550EXR has 2 modes to capture your desired burst shooting.

First is "Top n", where n refers to the maximum number of frames you want to burst. Once you lift off the shutter button, the camera will stop capture. You can also choose the shooting speed, between 3 to 11 fps. But note that the camera will automatically reduce the image resolution size depending on the maximum number of frames and fps in order to process all the required images.

Second type of continuous mode is "Best Frame Capture". In this mode, the camera starts to capture x images once you half-press the shutter, and y images after you press the shutter. The number of frame before and after can be configured before you shoot. Again, like the first mode, the number of frames and the fps you choose will restrict the image resolution size captured by the camera.

Video capture modes. You can capture video in various frame rates - from the standard 30fps to 80fps (640x480), 160fps (320x240) and even 320fps (320x112). Audio is recorded in stereo.

Silent Mode. By holding the "DISP" button, the camera goes into stealth mode, disabling flash, sound, and self timer lamp.

What I dislike:
For a limited time, free hard casing with every purchase.

This is one of the moments that I write a review blog within 24 hours of experiencing the subject matter (in fact, I broke my own record of blogging this within 6 hours!). Admittedly, the F550EXR is not a camera with outstanding image quality or functions, and if price was not a factor, I would not think of purchasing it. But like I mentioned in my opening paragraph, the timing is just so right and the price-value is simply astonishing. This is a lightweight ultra-zoom camera good enough for general family use and for documenting your travels. It works for me thanks to its speedy AF and fast shot-to-shot response. Four years on since F31fd, I'm still with Fujifilm Finepix.

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