Wednesday, April 27, 2011

FijiFilm FinePix F550EXR digital camera - Hands on review

My FijiFilm FinePix F550EXR digital camera arrived today after a few days delay because of

The battery is not charged and I had to wait 2-3 hours. After playing with the camera for only few days and taking about 40 pictures the low battery dropped to 'low' then suddenly to the dreadful 'empty' but the camera didn't turned off automatically.

The software CD

While trying to install the software, the installer already failed on me. Nothing unusual. The same happen with the installer from my old Fuji camera. After some work I have manged to start the installer by running the application in 'Viewer' folder manually. But now that I managed to install it, I see that the new software is improved compared with the FinePix A610 version.

The relevant software is located in the following folders.


Program for working with the raw RAF files created by the F550EXR. The RAW Converter EX is a full-featured application that lets you manipulate the raw data before saving it as a TIFF or JPEG (more on this below.)  You can quickly convert a raw file to TIFF using RAW Converter LE. You can extract the 1280x960 JPEG preview image from the raw file or you can convert the 13MB raw
file into a space-saving compressed 9MB format with the RAW FILE COMPRESSOR.

Folder 'VIEWER'

FUJIFILM My Fine Pix Studio. Software to manage your photo collection and to share your files with others (on Fuji web site).

The amount of relevant software is about 150MB (including PDF manual)



Absolutely spectacular number of features (Auto EXR, panorama, GPS, soft background, multiple face recognition, navigate to photo locations, POIs, etc, etc, etc) !!!
The design of the camera is damn nice. Camera is slim. The LCD screen is large.
Super-mega compact.
15x zoom.

Excellent image quality in sunny days - the images taken in normal shooting conditions (semi-cloudy to sunny) are really bright and crisp.
Very good LCD image.
Low price.

Some minor negative aspects:

The camera has its own proprietary battery so I cannot use my batteries (a have quite a large amount of high quality rechargeable batteries).
I will have to carry the charger with you whenever you go in a trip. This is really really really bad if you want to travel light.
The CD contains software based on DotNet and QuickTime. I hate them both because it installs extra garbage in my computer.
The software provided is big (takes ages to start) and extremely simplistic (I would say even 'rudimentary') and pretty much non-intuitive.
The USB cable is only 50cm long.
The battery is a bit loose in the charger.
The image quality could have been better.
Convoluted menu. Some useless features are in the first menu, while others, more important are in the 2nd and 3rd menu.
Mini-USB connector difficult to access.
The lenses external protection is easily pushed away so you can easily touch the lenses (accidentally of course).
After upgrading to the new firmware version Fuji offered I have discovered 2 bugs in the software.


Battery is the weak point of this camera. Fuji should have been provided a spare battery! I will definitively have to buy a second Fuji NP50 battery when I go in a nature trip (no power grid available) I want to take lots of pictures or to use the flash. Don't think to leave in holidays with this camera without a spare battery (or two or three).
There is not enough space to firmly grip the camera. I always put my singers above the flash, then when I turn on the camera the flash cannot raise.
There is no printed manual inside the box! Nasty, considering that the PDF is 130 pages long!
Noisy images in poor lit environment EVEN if they advertise otherwise.
The manual is extremely poor. I really need to dig on forums for additional explanations.
Heavy pink reflexes on lenses. My old camera had the same problem, but I hoped they improved this in F550.
Noisy microphone
The camera can be easily started accidentally. I accidentally started the camera twice while it was in my pocket. Not good for lenses! (Edit: now I have a scratch on lenses also - and remember this is a bran new camera).


There are few aspects that makes the camera less than perfect. The annoying thing is that those aspects (such as a proper user manual and a spare battery) could have been easily corrected by Fuji. I still recommend the camera.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"How to use FastMM 4" explained in exactly 150 words

FastMM does wonders because it catches ALL memory leaks in your program and in most cases also detects memory corruption and access on objects that have been already freed.

In the DPR file of your projects do this:

program MyProject;
FastMM4,             <--------- FastMM ALWAYS on the first line
FormMain in 'FormMain.pas' {frmMain};

Then user FastMM4Options.exe (do a Google search for it) to switch between the debug mode and the release mode. You can do it also manually/without FastMM4Options but it takes more time. FastMM4Options is better. Even better, you can generate two configurations files (one for debug and one for release) with FastMM4Options and use a BAT script to instantly switch between them.
When you are Debug mode, your compiled Delphi program will need access to FastMM_FullDebugMode.dll which is delivered with FastMM.

To use it, just switch to debug mode, build and run your program. When you close it, FastMM will generate a report where it lists all memory leaks (if any) and the trace back to them. In Project's Options you need to have Stack Frames activated and Map File set on 'Details'.

NOTE: Use FASTMM only with Delphi 7! The newer versions of Delphi have integrated FastMM already.

Related article: How difficult is to write a solid software protection (licensing) scheme?