Testing / Performance
With each camera we review, we test the camera's color accuracy and measure its variance from the ideal using a GretagMacbeth color chart and Imatest Imaging Software. The modified color chart below expresses these results. For each color tile, the outer square is the camera's reproduced color, while the interior square is the color-corrected tone and the small, vertical rectangle in the center is the ideal.
The graph below portrays the Fuji FinePix E550's color reproduction capabilities using the 24 tones of the color chart, represented with both circles and corresponding squares. The circles are the tones produced by the camera, while the linked squares signify the ideal. The longer the length of the line connecting the two, the greater the error for that color.
The Fuji FinePix E550 received an overall color score of 7.4, indicating strong color accuracy and naturalistic representation of tones. As you can see in the chart above, few of the produced tones are 'spot on,' however, most do not stray too significantly from their ideal. The E550 earned an 8.01 overall mean color error score, which is very high. This score reflects the averaged variance from each tone and indicates the overall accuracy of the camera. The camera's accurate representation of color is facilitated by minimal over-saturation of hues, an element greatly exaggerated on many digital cameras. The subtle shades produced by the FinePix E550 result in a realistic overall representation of scene and naturalistic portrayal of color.
**Still Life Scene
**Below is a shot of our artistically brilliant still life scene photographed with the Fujifilm FinePix E550.
Click on the above image to view a full resolution version (CAUTION: the linked file is very large!)](../viewer.php?picture=Fuji-E550-Still-LifeLG.jpg)
**Resolution / Sharpness ***(4.95)*
To test the resolution of the Fuji FinePix E550, we recorded a series of exposures of our ISO resolution chart, taken at various settings to maximize the camera's performance. We imported the images into Imatest Imaging Software to determine the true pixel count within each image. When this is done, there is always some variance between the camera's marketed pixel count and the actual number of pixels used to record exposures. Cameras that record 70-79 percent of the largest image size are considered 'good' performers, while cameras that score 80-89 percent are perceived as 'very good' and any camera that exceeds 90 percent is 'excellent.'
The Fuji FinePix E550 recorded 4.95 pixels consistently in its images. This is 81 percent of the advertised pixel count and an impressive score. The E550 is one of the most consistent imagers we have tested, repeatedly recording images that exceed the 80 percent mark. This is a strong resolution score for any camera, but is particularly remarkable considering the E550 can be found online for under US$300.
**Noise - Auto ISO ***(2.89)*
The Fuji FinePix E550 appears to falter when shooting in the camera's automatic ISO mode, producing an abundance of discernible noise. This is a major performance flaw of the E550 because the majority of the camera's users are likely to be automatic, point-and-shoot snapshooters. Unfortunately, users of this variety will have to make the effort to set the camera's ISO sensitivity, as the E550 does contain alterable ISO settings. If they do not do this, they will have to endure the distortion that is sure to accompany many images that are recorded without the use of the camera's flash.
**Noise - Manual ISO ***(7.09)*
When manual ISO settings are offered on a camera, we test the perceivable noise at each ISO rating using Imatest Imaging Software. We put the results into a regression analysis to determine an overall manual noise score. The graph below illustrates the results, with the horizontal X-axis plotting the ISO ratings and the vertical Y-axis depicting the produced noise.
The FinePix E550 received a 7.09 overall manual score. This is a dramatic improvement over the camera's ability to handle noise in automatic ISO mode; however, the score does indicate that additional lighting may be needed in certain instances to reduce the possibility of noise-ridden images. The E550's noise levels were nearly identical in the ISO 400 and ISO 800 settings, despite the 800 setting only being available in the 3MB image quality setting.
**Speed / Timing
***Start-up/First shot (8.48)*
Taking 1.52 seconds to turn on, orient itself to the shot and capture the image, the FinePix E550 is unexpectedly quick for a point-and-shoot camera and blows away most competing models within its price range.
Shot to shot(8.61)
Successive shooting speeds on the E550 are also quite rapid, recording consecutive images in 1.39 seconds. This is amply speedy for most casual events and should even be adequate for some subsequent motion captures. Again, this is impressive speed for a sub-$300 point-and-shoot camera.
Shutter to shot(8.44)
The Fujifilm FinePix E550 takes just 0.28 seconds to record an image from the time the shutter release is depressed. This is extremely responsive and rivals the speed of nearly all non-SLR digital cameras. The rapid shutter to shot time dramatically reduces shutter lag and will cut down on the possibility for unwanted movement blurring the image after the shutter is released.