Fuji's F series have in the past excelled in low light. The F50fd is certainly strong in darker conditions, but there was a disappointing amount of noise at higher ISOs. Noise is dealt with more efficiently at higher ISO levels than most similarly-sized compacts can manage, but images taken at ISO 3,200 and 6,400 still show enough noise to confine these settings to snapshots and small prints. We found that dropping the resolution to six megapixels in darker conditions helped cut down on noisy pictures.
Picture quality is excellent. There's no trace of barrel distortion in the lens. We had to try pretty hard to manufacture purple fringing in our high-contrast lab tests and we didn't detect any in our general test shots. Colour reproduction is a particularly strong point, with vibrant skin tones and good dynamic range.
We generally give face-detection systems the benefit of the doubt -- the technology still has some way to go -- but this is one of the best implementations of the idea we've seen.
Our only concern is that the F50fd is a little slow. It could take more than 2 seconds between shots, and up to 3.5 with the flash enabled. Continuous shooting is much better though, consistently managing 3 frames per second.
The Fujifilm FinePix F50fd's 12-megapixel resolution may be a marketing ploy to beguile megapixel junkies, with a corresponding premium price, but this is still one of the best compact cameras on the market. Our expectations for the F50fd's low-light performance may have been too high, but it still deals with noise better than most and produces great pictures in nearly all conditions.
Low-light quality gives it the edge over the similarly excellent 12-megapixel, but as 12 megapixels are rather excessive, the 8-megapixel Fujifilm F40fd would still be a perfectly acceptable alternative and save you £50 or so.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide