The Fujifilm FinePix JZ500 is a pocketable pocket megazoom compact camera, thanks to a curvy 1-inch-deep body that's significantly slimmer than those of rival cameras.

Unfortunately, the Fujifilm FinePix JZ500's performance was also comparatively anaemic. Its shortcomings aren't entirely surprising: This model is Fujifilm's bargain pocket megazoom for 2010, playing second string to the higher-end FinePix F80EXR.

In our subjective evaluations for image and video quality, the JZ500 turned in a disappointing score of Fair. Our jury noted that sample images taken with the Fujifilm FinePix JZ500 were murky and soft, posting well-below-average scores for both exposure quality and sharpness.

The Fujifilm FinePix JZ500 doesn't make up for its imaging shortcomings with battery life, either. The camera has a rating of 230 shots for each charge of its lithium ion battery, which is well short of some of the more feature-loaded cameras in our latest test group.

Video performance was at the bottom of the pack, especially in our low-light tests - and that tells only half the story when it comes to shooting video with this camera. Due to the Fujifilm FinePix JZ500's noisy zoom-lens motors and laggy autofocus, taking 720p clips with this camera is often a study in frustration.

The Fujifilm FinePix JZ500 lacks manual shutter and aperture controls; you're limited to the camera's scene modes, program mode (which lets you adjust ISO, white balance, autofocus, and other basic settings), auto mode, and automated scene-selecting mode. It's certainly easy to use, but it lacks the polish and image quality of the similarly robot-like Nikon Coolpix S8000.

The most interesting aspect of the Fujifilm FinePix JZ500 is its pet-detection scene mode, which is a face-detection mode for dogs and cats. You can set the camera to snap a photo automatically as soon as your pet turns toward the camera, although our hands-on tests revealed that the shutter isn't quick enough to capture particularly fast-moving dogs or cats. If you opt to snap the shutter button manually, it does take a fine pet photo.

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Fujifilm FinePix JZ500: Specs

  • Digital camera compact
  • 14.1 Megapixel CCD 1/2.3in
  • ISO 100, ISO 800, ISO 400, ISO 200, ISO 1600, ISO auto, ISO 3200 (3Mpix)
  • Optical Image Stabiliser
  • AVI, MJPEG, JPEG
  • Integrated Memory: 40MB
  • Built-in flash
  • Built-in Red Eye Reduction
  • Lens Aperture: F/3.3-5.6
  • 10x optical zoom, 6x Digital Zoom
  • 2.7in TFT active matrix, 230,000 pixels
  • built-in mono electret condenser mic
  • USB, composite video/audio output, SD Memory Card
  • Fujifilm NP-45A Li-ion rechargeable battery
  • 97x29x57mm
  • 148g
  • Digital camera compact
  • 14.1 Megapixel CCD 1/2.3in
  • ISO 100, ISO 800, ISO 400, ISO 200, ISO 1600, ISO auto, ISO 3200 (3Mpix)
  • Optical Image Stabiliser
  • AVI, MJPEG, JPEG
  • Integrated Memory: 40MB
  • Built-in flash
  • Built-in Red Eye Reduction
  • Lens Aperture: F/3.3-5.6
  • 10x optical zoom, 6x Digital Zoom
  • 2.7in TFT active matrix, 230,000 pixels
  • built-in mono electret condenser mic
  • USB, composite video/audio output, SD Memory Card
  • Fujifilm NP-45A Li-ion rechargeable battery
  • 97x29x57mm
  • 148g

OUR VERDICT

The Fujifilm FinePix JZ500 is an also-ran among the big players in the pocket megazoom class, but it has a bigger, more-powerful sibling. For Fujifilm fans pining for a pocket megazoom, we suggest holding out for the FinePix F80EXR, which boasts the company's higher-end EXR sensor along with a 10X-optical-zoom lens.

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