If nothing matters but the megapixels, take a look at the Fujifilm FinePix E550, one of the few cameras of its size (or price) to top 6 megapixels. It delivers stunningly detailed, well-exposed shots with good color. Leather, fur, the nubbly texture of stucco — no matter what your fetish, the textures will look good in pictures from this camera. Videos look great, too, at 640 x 480 pixels and an unusually high 30 frames per second. The E550 sports a generously sized 2-inch LCD (something we wish every camera had) and it’s a downright speed demon, booting up in just 1.9 seconds, squeezing off a shot within a tenth of a second after you push the shutter button, and recovering to take another shot just a second later.
There are some nagging design details that spoil the FinePix E550’s otherwise excellent performance, however. The mode dial is small and doesn’t click positively into each position, so it can be unclear what mode the camera is in. The plastic port cover isn’t permanently attached (you have to remove it to access the power, USB, and AV ports), so it’s guaranteed to get lost. And overall, the look of the camera is chunky and angular — not the kind of camera you’d use to impress someone on a first date.
Still, the Fujifilm FinePix E550 offers the best image quality of these three, and it’s a great deal at $350, making it our top pick for this roundup. -Dylan Tweney
Fujifilm FinePix E550
Weight: 9.2 ounces
Size: 4.1 x 2.6 x 1.8 inches
Specs: 6.1 megapixels; 4x optical zoom; 640 x 480-pixel, 30 fps AVI video recording with audio; 2-inch LCD; xD card slot; USB 1.1 port; AV port; pop-up flash; PictBridge compatible; requires two AA batteries (NiMH batteries and charger included)
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Link: FujiFilm FinePix E550
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