Friday, April 29, 2011

Fuji FinePix HS20: good for newspaper reporters

The HS10 captured both the speaker and the screen image.
For more than three decades I was a staff photographer for a daily newspaper. First, I worked in Sault Ste. Marie and then, after earning my BAA in filmmaking from Ryserson, I went to work for the Blackburn Group in London, Ontario, owner of The London Free Press.

During my time at the papers, reporters rarely took pictures. Double-threat folk were rare. Today all that has changed. Reporters shoot both still pictures and video and photographers carry video cameras, do online reports and write the occasional story.

I humbly suggest that the new Fuji HS20 may be the camera that today's reporters should be carrying. It is an even better camera than its predecessor, the HS10, and I use the HS10 for shooting news and posting to the web.

Colour excellent but Photoshop needed for sharpness.
The other night I covered an indoor event at the Covent Garden Market downtown. I set the camera to capture indoor scenes, triggered the Best Frame Capture (BFC) and easily grabbed some shots to illustrate my story. Using BFC is important as it is hard to time picture-taking perfectly with a point-and-shoot. There is less shutter lag with the new camera.

I was very happy with the exposures, although the images did benefit from a brief visit to Photoshop. This was mostly to sharpen the shots before posting to the web. Using the lens zoomed to telephoto indoors meant that I was shooting at a wide-open aperture setting with a very long lens. Absolute sharpness was, I hate to admit, poor. Thanks to  Photoshop the images were fine for the web and would be equally good for publication in a newspaper.

I would not like to make a huge enlargement from the two images shot with at telephoto.

Newspaper reporters cannot devote a lot of time to their pictures. Remember, they are covering a news story. They need to follow what's happening and grab some good quotes as well. This means they must learn to think pictures. They must know what they want and then get it and be done with it. Reporters can't waste time taking too many pictures.

I staked out a position where I hoped I would be able to line up a monitor in the background with a speaker in the foreground. When a slide appeared on screen announcing the name of the event behind councillor Judy Bryant, I wasn't lucky, I was ready. Likewise with the mayor, Joe Fontana. With publishable pictures of both Fontana and Bryant captured, I grabbed one last shot showing the density of the audience and showing some of the well-known Londoners in attendance.

(Below) The fellow in the lower right is sketching out his vision for downtown London. This is perfect. This image captures both the reason for the event while, at the same time, illustrating its success.

At wide angle the images were sharp as expected.
My story, complete with art, ran here and here. I'm still not a great reporter but I am proving that both jobs can be done successfully by one double-threat reporter/photographer.


  1. your report gives more confidence to go forward with my plan to buy Fuji fine pix hs20. The single thing am disappointed about the camera is its inability to zoom smoothly, as we have to do it mechanical, and the camera seemed a little confused to lock focus on subject at the maximum zoom. Anyway i am ready to bear those as hs 20 is having the bigger sensor size of its class.

  2. Since writing this, I have read mixed reviews of the HS20. Bigger files are not always better files. My HS10 has the problem you describe when it comes to focus. One must always keep in mind that these are relatively inexpensive bridge cameras. They are not SLRs. If covering a fast moving, short lasting, scrum situation for a paper, I would not want to use my HS10. For this a photographer with a full-blown, top-of-the-line, would be my choice. That said, I have had excellent results shooting both amateur day today stuff and some news pictures for an online digital news outfit. In my situation, I do not miss my high end cameras.

  3. Their report gives more confidence to go ahead with my plan to buy Fuji Fine Pix HS20. The only thing is disappointed the camera is its inability to zoom smoothly, as we have to do the mechanics and the camera seemed a bit confusing to lock the focus on the subject at maximum zoom.