Fujifilm FinePix E510

Fujifilm FinePix E510 product image

This Fujifilm FinePix E510 was my second ever digital camera.

I purchased it on 07-07-2005 to upgrade my previous camera shortly before a trip to South Africa.

It's a standard point-and-shoot 5.2 megapixel camera with all the bells and whistles of the time. It had reasonable ratings and generally favourable reviews for a device in its class. It could shoot video (320 x 240 pixels at 10 fps), had an audio annotation feature and could even be used as a webcam. Power consumption via two standard AA batteries was reasonable, and it had a capable set of automatic/manual camera settings.

Most importantly, picture quality was far superior to the 1.3 megapixel model it would replace.

It is also worth noting that the camera was originally supplied with a pithy 16MB xD-Picture Card. Along with the camera I bought an extra 128MB card, and soon after a 256MB card. Today I could get a 64GB SD card for the same money; the xD-format is practically obsolete.

As far as cameras or gadgets go, it wasn't particularly noteworthy – nor does it have any wild adventures or far-flung travels to report back on.

What is noteworthy now, in the year 2020 as this is being written, is the historical time slot during which it was purchased and actively used. Although digital photography had certainly matured by then, we also carried a Canon SLR analogue film camera – for quality photos. Somehow digital cameras couldn't be "trusted" yet – if that makes any sense. They weren't taken seriously. Whereas prints for photo albums (remember those?) came out OK, for online purposes or emailing photos to others, the images often had to get shrunk. Not only did image hosts and mailboxes have paltry limits back then, internet access speeds were far lower too.

This (German) catalogue pamphlet, in particular, speaks volumes about the accessories available for the FinePix range of digital cameras and the somehow awkward period in history they occupied. There's also evidence of a minor memory card format war.

Barely good enough for prints, yet too large for online purposes, digital photos somehow bridged the gap between those you wanted to keep and disposable selfies. Its size and stamina meant it was a camera worth taking along when you went someplace where one would be likely to take photos – on longer trips accompanied by the analogue Canon EOS and a spare set of batteries.

Eventually, cameras got integrated into premium cellular phones, and because their three megapixels (in raw numbers) allowed for passable snapshots it didn't matter much anymore if I didn't have the "decent camera" with me. Soon enough, camera phones gave way to smartphones. Despite their comparable resolution (again, in sheer megapixels) the photo quality would still not match that of a dedicated camera such as this very FinePix E510 - let alone a DSLR.

For reference, the iPhone 3GS from 2009 had a 3 MP camera.

It was a curious period in the history of consumer photography.

Looking through my Flickr "camera roll", it can be backtracked that it was in around 2011 when the number and quality of photographs taken by this camera and my first true smartphone converged.

By early 2013 my first Sony Xperia smartphone had just about rendered this camera obsolete, and each subsequent smartphone just kept adding onto the photo quality pile. Sure, the old Fujifilm got hauled out for the occasional photo safari but every time I did, I first had to replace the batteries and set the date/time. And finally, to make use of the pictures taken I had to transfer them off the camera via an xD-card reader, and then it turns out they were all in 4:3 aspect ratio while screens and monitors had progressed to 16:9. It's the permanent availability and connectivity of smartphones that ultimately led to this camera's uselessness.

Fujifilm FinePix E510 front view

More photos: Rear view | Original box | Contents and features | System requirements | Software CD-ROM

The last set of photos with the camera were taken in late 2019 - for old times' sake!

It is now May 2020. Maybe I can get something for it on eBay.

This page last updated: 23-05-2020