The J50’s overall performance is nothing special either. It starts up in just under over 2.5 seconds, which isn’t too shabby, and shuts down again in under two seconds. The autofocus system is quite slow, which means that in single shot mode it takes on average over three seconds between each shot, which is definitely on the sluggish side. It has one of those annoying shutter actions which refuse to operate if you press the button too quickly after taking a shot, which slows it down even further. It doesn’t really have a continuous shooting mode, just a three-shot burst mode, but even this is very slow at approximately 1.5 seconds per shot. The only bright spot is low-light focusing, which is very good, although the lack of an AF assist lamp means it can’t focus in total darkness.
The J50’s biggest let-down is its image quality, which I can only describe as terrible. It’s a pity, because the lens actually performs very well, with virtually no distortion at either end of the zoom range, and good edge-to-edge sharpness, but it is let down by the lousy sensor. Even at the lowest ISO setting there are problems with image noise, and despite only having a maximum setting of 800 ISO, images at this setting are unusable. The combination of image noise and massive over-compression robs the images of any fine detail. File sizes at the highest quality setting average under 2MB, which is very small for an 8MP camera. Adding to these problems is very poor dynamic range, with shadow and highlight detail lost from high contrast shots. About the only good thing I can say about it is that colour rendition is fairly accurate, at least in good light and low ISO.
The Fujifilm FinePix J50 is a good-looking camera, well made and sensibly designed, and the 5x zoom range and large, sharp monitor should be useful. It performs well in low light too, but even at under £100 it isn’t good value for money. Indifferent performance, a lack of even fairly basic features and seriously substandard image quality mean that this is one to avoid.