Has a fellow who enjoys to combine a good flick of the fly rod and snap on the camera I often find myself in situations that have the potential to get my gear wet. So a real nice Nikon like the D5200 or D7000 is out of the question as well my price range and the old Fuji XP series compact was starting to show the signs of age.
I decided it was time for not one but two new cameras with altogether different purposes. Enter the Gopro hero 2 for chest mounted action shots while playing salmon or wide angle landscape shots between casts and the Fuji Finepix HS25 EXR a camera I hoped would solve a problem I had been having for some time.
The XP series of Fuji cameras in my opinion are good at two things, close up shots of fish and producing good underwater video in low light. You see there in lies the problem, when ever I would see anything more than 5 yards away the the XP series camera came up short. I needed something for less than $500 I could afford to replace, be able to get down range with while still getting quality shots of the fish and the friends holding them.
The HS25 boasts a zoom equivalent to a 720mm telephoto lens however it obviously lacks a full frame sensor so comparing it to pro gear is not really fair but it is actually quite good. I took the pictures below without a tripod on an auto setting at full zoom with less than desirable lighting. Basically unhanded the rod picked up the camera and here are the results.
The FinePix HS5 pretty much fixed my five yard problem with the quality zoom. The other side of the coin is the HS25's close range and macro capabilities which are stunning for the price. The frog below could easily sit on a dollar coin.
I think this camera could also do quite well for people who tie their own flies, it takes shots of small insects in rather fine detail and the flies you may of tied can be showcased online in excellent quality a nice bonus for the internet fisher.
There are a few other points to note as pertaining to fishing and photography has opposed to just the photography side of things. As a fisherman on a fishing trip I would rather not be forced to carry a easily damaged 400mm lens that costs twice or three times that of my HS25 to get the odd shot of a passing eagle or moose. The HS25 will grab the passing wildlife shot without much fuss and it works great along side the Gopro capturing most everything it will not. The HS25 sadly has rather poor video capabilities but with the Gopro on hand it's not to much of a problem, the two really balance each other out very well.
As well the camera comes out of the box with a default 16 mega pixel mode turned on and the manual does not say anywhere that for long range photos the camera should be set on 8 mega pixels to capture finer detail. Perhaps such important info could of been listed in the zoom section of the manual, just saying the eagles could of been better.
The HS25 does have a nifty way to correct the problem, by holding down the function button for a few seconds a menu will appear where in you can set up the function to be a switch for changing the pixel settings quickly or you may set up manual mode to a 8 mega pixel setting and switch back and forth on the upper dial. I did read through a few complaints about the HS25 using AA batteries but to be honest with the Gopro I have three batteries that need charging so the ability to have one camera where I can change the batteries with out the need to charge or leave the river is nice and I also did read it was a reason for the cameras price to be lower than it's big brother the HS30, a nice bonus.
To wrap things up would I recommend the Fuji FinePix HS25 to a serious wildlife or a want to be full time photographer, no but i most certainly would to someone who has a Gopro and wants to fill in the blanks. I guess I could say the thing I am most certain on is as a fishing accessory the HS25 complements my fly rod as well as the reel that hangs from it and the next time a lovely, shining, wet fish is looking into my lens I'll be ready to take a quality snap.