- Why need digital zoom at all? One doesn't "need" it... But, you see, apart from being "Official" recording devices, and "Very Serious" artistic devices - cameras can also be "Fun"....
You don't have to be 62, with some disabilities - as I am - to like having Fun with a camera. It's quite possible that there are folk well-under
60 - who enjoy having Fun with their cameras...
Also - not everyone has a Youthful Olympic fitness and mobility - they can find it too difficult to climb a Mountain to take close-up images of it. So might need an at least recognisable image of the Mountain from a greater distance.
Combine limits on access to some things, limits on mobility by some people, with the desire to have some Fun with a camera - and "extensions" to optical zoom can be quite Fun.
You might note that I said about the HS10's "2x integrated zoom". Which is similar to the "integrated TeleConverter" idea in the Canon SX10/20/30. Those also have the "usual" 4x digital zoom - which is different.
In the HS10, the 2x integrated zoom does a 5Mpix image - which is then re-interpolated by the camera's processor to a 10Mpix (3648 x 2736) image. The results are somewhat better than with cameras that just use 2/3/4x plain digital zoom. Though not, of course, as good as straight optical zoom.
But what you do get - at "virtual 60x" or "enhanced 1,440mm" - if you reduce that 3648 x 2736 image to a display size below 1600 x 1200 - is a better than you might expect "shareable", if not printable, quality image.
Now - if that integrated 2x zoom did work with the RAW files - as a 15MB+ RAW file has a lot more information than a 3-5MB JPEG - one might be able to get better results when it was processed... (A camera, when "taking JPEGs" has to create the RAW data first, before converting that into a JPEG.)
Which would be Fun to Play-Around-With - y'see...?
But of course
- it would be FAR better to have a fairly good crop-body DSLR, say, $5,000.00 - and a nice 1,000mm prime - about 1,500mm on a crop-body, to "get out to" that 1,440mm or so - "on optical only". That'd be Fun, too! Sadly - my pension doesn't quite run to a "good" body and a "modest" 1,000mm lens... So until I get my Pentax K-R in a few months (but not with a 1,000mm lens...) - I'll keep Having Fun with the HS10...
- What Fuji hasn't done is fix the worst of the glaring faults with the HS10... Which is "not" a good camera in "Auto" or "Program". Which is why so many early Users - and some, later - sent it back. It just doesn't "make it" as a good-images, easy-use "snaps" camera. Do that with it - and you'd get better results with a camera half the price, but designed for such use.
If you use Aperture and Shutter Priority - and teach yourself to use the - pretty good - full Manual, handheld - you'll get good results. Over about 24x - use a rest, or tripod. The Shake-Reduction "could be better". I find I'm using Shutter priority - for anything moving - and Manual, most, now. There's little "difficulty" difference between Aperture Priority and Manual - but Manual gives you full Control - and you can "Tell-It-What-To-Do...!"
But that certainly means it's no "easy-use-snaps" camera, at all. Which is something Fuji should be fixing, or the HS-Series is going to disappoint a lot of Buyers.
Just to be contrary - I love my HS10 - it's been, and continues to be - Highly Educational....! I'm no longer "scared of" or "don't think I know enough" to use - a good entry-level DSLR properly!
IF one can get a good percentage of "keepers" with a Fuji HS10 - doing that with a Pentax K-R - and my building collection of M42 and K-mount Film-SLR lenses - shouldn't be too difficult...
And yes - the 1973 SMC Asahi-Pentax f/1.8 55mm prime is said to do that lovely "real bokeh" so nicely, too... As I said - Experimenting is Fun...
- And somebody will ask - "Why use old FSLR lenses - manual on a Digital Body - when Everything is Automatic, these days...?"
- There is an answer to that, of course....