The main feature of the HS10 is of course its remarkable lens. Its focal length range equivalent to 24-720mm is bigger than anything else on the market, however it is amazingly compact. At its minimum size it protrudes less than 7.5cm from the front of the camera, telescoping out to 12.5cm at maximum zoom. It has a graduated scale printed along the top of the barrel showing both the actual and 35mm-equivalent focal lengths. The zoom action is manual, operated by twisting the barrel like an SLR lens, and it also has a manual focus ring, although this is an electromechanical linkage. Fujifilm has expressed no interest in making a mirrorless system camera (so far, anyway), but when it can offer this sort of versatility in a single lens, covering everything from wide angle to extreme telephoto, there’s really no advantage to a removable lens.
Fortunately the massive zoom range is accompanied by a very effective mechanical sensor-shift image stabilisation combined with digital stabilisation, and even at maximum zoom it can capture shake-free hand-held still images at shutter speeds as low as 1/40th of a second, an advantage of over four stops. However in video mode it is limited to digital stabilisation only, and it is impossible to capture steady video shots at full zoom without a tripod.
The video recording mode is excellent, capturing very sharp and detailed shots at 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution and 30fps, with excellent colour and exposure. The continuous autofocus in video mode is quick and effective, and manages to keep shots in focus even when zooming in and out. The manual zoom provides plenty of versatility and obviously doesn’t affect the soundtrack, but it does make it difficult to avoid camera shake, especially at longer focal lengths. Sound is recorded in stereo via two microphones mounted either side of the lens barrel, sheltered from the wind by the overhanging flash turret. The sound quality is very good and quite directional. The only thing lacking is the option to plug in an external microphone. Video is recorded in QuickTime MOV format, and maximum recording time is 29 minutes.
The HS10 also has a high speed video mode, capable of recording at 60, 120, 240, 480 or 1000fps, although at reduced resolution, with the fastest speed at only 224 x 64. This can produce some fascinating slow-motion effects, but the faster settings require very good light to produce any sort of acceptable quality.
Other high-tech features include a Motion Panorama mode shamelessly copied from the sweep panorama feature of Sony’s latest compact cameras. Even more interesting is the Motion Remover feature, which takes a sequence of shots, then combines them into one image but removes anything that has moved between frames, useful for removing distracting crowds of tourists from your holiday snaps, but only recording at two megapixel resolution. Multi-motion Capture records a sequence of five exposures in a single frame, also at 2MP size, while the Pro Low-light mode takes a sequence of four high-sensitivity low light shots and then combines them into a singe image with reduced noise. The HS10 also has face detection, tracking AF and a zoom-bracketing feature that uses digital zoom to take a sequence of three shots at different magnifications.