The Fujifilm F550 EXR is a mash-up of two types of compact camera: the super-zoom and the premium compact. Despite its slim, pocket-friendly dimensions, it totes a 15x optical zoom lens alongside a bevy of high-end features, including enthusiast-attracting full manual mode and RAW shooting.

The manual mode lets you tweak the shooting settings to your own preferences. Of course there’s an auto mode which uses the F550’s robotic brain to work them all out, but experienced shutter nutters who feel they can do better will appreciate having the option to set aperture, metering, shutter speed and so on.

RAW, huh!

RAW photos store all the data collected by the sensor, making the files much larger than compressed JPEGs but leaving them more open to tweaking in Photoshop, Aperture or your photo editing software of choice. If you’re the sort of photog who likes the scope to mess with the colour balance of your shots, do the noise reduction yourself and all the rest of it – RAW is the way to go.

Low light shooters are also well catered for because unlike most compacts the F550’s sensitivity can be boosted all the way up to 12800, allowing for shorter shutter speeds (and consequently less blur in your shots) in gloomy conditions. Okay, so the pictures are grainier than a loaf of wholegrain Kingsmill, but at least the option is there.

Tricked up

Picture quality is excellent in general, with the highly sensitive back-illuminated CMOS sensor producing the sort of clean, vibrant, noise-free shots you’d expect from a premium point-and-shoot. There are even a handful of tricksy modes available, including a range of different “films” (vivid colour, black and white etc.), and Pro Focus mode, which uses clever fakery to blur out the background while keeping the subject in sharp focus DSLR-style.

Review continues after the break…

The controls are well laid out, the menu system is idiot-simple and there’s the bonus of GPS too. It might lack the massive zoom of the Olympus SZ-30MR or Panasonic TZ20, but besides that it’s one of the finest do-it-all travel cameras we’ve clapped eyes on.

Stuff says... 

Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR review

Multitalented and tiny – a highly agreeable travel companion