I think I've had my fujifilm E510 long enough now to decide that I don't like it very much. First I should note that it's not really a bad camera, it's just not a very good camera. Here are the problems I've come across:
- The contrast is often too high. I seem to find myself in situations where the bright parts of the photo are overexposed and the darker parts are underexposed. Now, I would expect this in strong sunlight with deep shadows, but it seems to happen much more often than that.
- It needs an awful lot of light. It has an 'asa' setting, and I find I have to leave it on 400 all the time, even when I have plenty of light. Taking a photo outside on a sunny day at 100 ASA should not require 1/60th second shutter speed.
- Because it's set to 400 ASA, most of the pictures seem very grainy. I suppose grainy is the wrong term, since there's no film and hence no grain. Perhaps a better word is noisy. The pictures are very often speckled.
- It seems the CCD is of higher resolution than the optics will allow. Very often, I have noticed fuzziness (that's not just out of focus) that spans many pixels. For example, you take a photo of a person with a landscape background, and the features of the person are not crisp, even though you may have two dozen pixels for each facial feature.
- The power button is right next to the shutter release. Too often (especially when giving the camera to someone else to take a photo of me), the power button will be pressed instead of the shutter. This isn't terrible, but when you have a group holding still for a photo and you suddenly tell them to stay still for 10 seconds more, especially after several other people have already taken pictures... You get the point.
- The white balance is wierd. There are three 'flourescent' settings, an incandescent, sunny, cloudy, and auto. It often seems as though there is no correct setting, i.e. no setting that makes what the camera sees match what I see. There's also no raw setting, that would allow me to adjust the white balance afterwards (the higher end Nikon's have this feature).
- It's too easy to accidentally switch from 'programmed auto' (where I usually leave it) to 'shutter-priority' which usually has the wrong shutter speed chosen (because it keeps the last one used, which is nice). Perhaps it's not just that it's too easy, but there is insufficient feedback on the LCD. The photo may appear to be exposed correctly on the LCD, but then when you take the picture you realize that the shutter is opening for way too long (say, 1s), and when you check you realize you've accidentally switched to S. Or worse yet, it's not drastically wrong, so you don't notice it. The only time you realize you've screwed up is when you review your photos and realize that they're all under or over exposed.
- It's really hard to get the right amount of light with the flash. I constantly have to take several shots when I'm trying to get my subjects exposed correctly with the flash. It seems to lock the exposure at 1/60th of a second when the flash is on or something.
- The eyepiece has lines to tell you the offset of the digital shot vs. the visual shot (because the viewfinder and the lens are in different positions) is cool, but the lines are in the wrong place. They don't correspond to where your photo will actually be cropped. Oops.
- This isn't really the E510's fault, but I miss the 'sunset' setting I had on my nikon. It would up the contrast a bit and pay more attention to the red-orange spectrum. It produced some wonderful photos. The E510 has a normal color setting, and then a 'chrome' color setting, which is supposed to enhance the saturation or something, but I don't find that it really does very much at all.
However, to credit Fujifilm, there are a few things I like about the E510.
- The 2" screen on the back has a really bright, crisp display. Very very nice; I've yet to see its equal.
- You can adjust the strength of the flash, from +2/3ev to -2/3ev, in 1/3ev steps. That's really cool when you want to only add a little bit of light, or when you want to flash up something a little further away. You will probably note that this is slightly in contradiction to my dislike of the flash exposure above, but it's really not. The camera should be able to compensate your exposure for the amount of flash light available, and also, even on 'auto' the flash exposure bites (you can only adjust the flash power on the manual modes).
- It remembers stuff across power cycles. For example, I habitually set the exposure to produce slightly darker photos than more lit photos, because I think digital underexposure is better than overexposure. The camera remembers this, and that's a good thing. It also remembers when I tell it not to turn on the LCD. This is a very very good thing when you are trying to conserve battery power. The coolpix didn't do this, and it always annoyed me. However, combine this with two points above (ease of switching modes accidentally and disparity between the viewfinder markings and the actual shot), and I find I have to leave the LCD on anyways. Grrr....
- It will slideshow through your pictures, which is pretty cool. I don't actually use it so much because I keep my laptop with me and slideshow with that, but I do like it, as a feature.
In conclusion, I feel like the pictures I've produced with the E510 are of lesser quality than the pictures I took with the Nikon Coolpix, despite the E510 being a year newer and 5MP instead of 3MP.