The Fujifilm FinePix E510 digital camera packs 5 megapixels and a handful of advanced features into a sturdy and efficiently designed silver body. With its many tweakable priority modes and a pop-up flash, the E510 aims for the newcomer who wants a camera to grow with. However, below par performance and several image quality flaws severely limit the E510's overall effectiveness.
Form follows function in the E510's well-conceived design. The camera's rounded and protruding right edge impedes portability but makes for a highly comfortable grip, one that leaves your thumb within easy reach of the E510's mode dial and zoom controls.
There's a bright, easily readable 2-inch LCD screen sandwiched between the E510's four-way selector on the right and its exposure control button on the left. But if you prefer composing your shots with an optical viewfinder, we're pleased to report that the FinePix E510 has one that's surprisingly effective and usable, even at night with the LCD on.
The E510 uses AA batteries instead of a proprietary, rechargeable lithium-ion cell. So on the one hand, it's easy to get batteries in a pinch, but on the other, you may have to opt for rechargeable AAs if you want to save money. We were able to take more than 700 shots before the E510 burned through our test set of rechargeables.
There are nine stops within the E510's 3.2x optical-zoom range, although we found that the wide-angle and telephoto buttons are prone to sticking, thus making intricate composition more difficult than it should be. However, the camera's 28mm-to-91mm focal-length range (35mm equivalent) makes it a wide-angle camera option, and landscape and real-estate photographers will likely not care about a couple of sluggish buttons.
Using the mode dial, one can access a full range of manual features, from shutter- and aperture-priority modes to a full manual mode. One slightly glaring omission from the E510's feature set is its lack of a continuous-shooting mode; fans of high-speed shutter drives will have to get used to the E510's poorer-than-average shot-to-shot times; 3.7 seconds without flash, 7.6 seconds with.
As evidenced by its poor shot-to-shot abilities, the E510's performance offers a mixed bag. On the plus side, we recorded a reasonable 3.7 seconds for the camera's time from start-up to first shot; though you'll miss the most fleeting moments, that should give you enough time to fire up the camera in more leisurely situations. In our shutter-lag tests, the E510 logged a decent 0.6 second in both bright and dim light.
Unfortunately, the FujiFilm FinePix E510 has some serious image-quality issues that negate our largely positive impressions of its design and feature set. This camera has a tendency to overexpose shots, thus blowing out highlights and increasing noise, even at relatively low ISO settings. We also noted purple fringing at the periphery of our shots, as well as radically inconsistent focus across the board. That said, the bumped-up exposure will make for more direct-from-the-camera detail in low-light situations, and given the E510's decent shutter-lag performance indoors, it may deserve a look from photographers who work in poorly lit environments.
Edited by Lori Grunin
Additional editing by Tom Espiner