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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Fujifilm FinePix S9000

Fuji Digital Cameras

   


Fujifilm FinePix S9000 Review

Review Date: Nov 14, 2005

Category: Prosumer - Advanced Amateur

Fujifilm FinePix S9000 - Front View

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2005 Award

HANDLING & FEEL

The Fujifilm FinePix S9000 has the great looks and feel of a dSLR. The camera fits well in the hands, and the large lens barrel helps provides a secure way to hold it rock steady. The camera is very well designed and looks quite professional in its black high-impact plastic body. Overall construction feels solid and the build is very good. Startup time is fast at around 1 sec. and there is no practical shutter lag. Autofocus is fast and precise.

STYLE
- Colours: overall black with silver accents
- Looks: professional, SLR-look, very attractively designed
   
FEEL
- Comfortable to hold and operate
- Non-slip rubberized handgrip
   
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
- Best way to carry this camera is slung over the shoulder or around the neck
- Dimensions: 128 x 93 x 129 mm / 5.0 x 3.7 x 5.1 in
- Weight: 645g / 22.8oz. (excluding batteries and xD-Picture Card)
- Takes 4 AA type alkaline batteries (included) or 4 AA rechargeable NiMH batteries (optional)
   
SPEED OF OPERATION
- Fast startup - no lens extension required and LCD turning on in about 1 sec.
- Shot to shot time in about 1 sec. (including AF lock and time to write to card)
   

Included in the box are 4 AA Alkaline batteries; we recommend purchasing rechargeable NiMH batteries and optional battery charger. The Fujifilm S9000 has dual memory card slots and accepts both the xD-Picture Card and CompactFlash (CF) memory cards.

Controls

The circular projection between the flash and the handgrip is the AF-assist illuminator (and which also does double duty as Self-timer lamp). The AF-assist illuminator (green light) is very effective, allowing focus even in near complete darkness. You have to remember not to get your fingers in the way; also, the relatively long lens barrel can be in the way of the AF-assist light illuminating a subject that is very close (e.g. in macro photography).

Besides the AF-assist Illuminator is the External AF Sensor.

Below them is the Flash Synchronizing Terminal.

FRONT VIEW
- Shutter Release button is angled; has a release socket for a cable release
- External AF Sensor
- AF-assist Illuminator (also Self-timer lamp)
- Flash Synchronizing Terminal
   

There are lots of control buttons placed where they make sense -- and, for the advanced photographer, that's good! The Mode Dial has the standard AUTO, PASM (Programmed Auto, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority, and Manual) modes, plus Movie mode and 5 Scene Modes: Anti-Blur, Natural Light, Portrait, Landscape, Night.

The Mode Dial is rotated with the thumb alone or with thumb and index finger, and has a positive locking click to it. During an actual shooting session, there is not much risk that the Mode Dial is inadvertently switched to another shooting mode.

The Natural Light Scene Mode is currently unique to Fujifilm. It disables the flash (even if it is popped open) and takes full advantage of the low-light capability of this camera (made possible by the use of Fujifilm's 5th Generation SuperCCD HR image sensor and Real Photo Technology) to capture an image that retains the natural ambience of low-light photography (indoors, by candlelight, in restaurants and museums).

The Anti-Blur scene mode is a new scene mode. Anti-Blur tells the camera to use a fast enough shutter speed to minimize camera shake (generally, the slowest shutter speed required is approx. the reciprocal of the 35mm equivalent focal length in use). Having decided first on the shutter speed required, the camera then figures out the appropriate aperture and ISO required for a correct exposure. This works quite well in the Fujifilm S9000 thanks to the low-light capability of its image sensor.

You can record movies with monaural sound at either 640 x 480 pixels 30fps (you'll be able to record about 14.9 min on a 1GB card) or 320x240 30fps (record about 29.3 min on a 1GB card). Since the zoom is manual, you can zoom during recording.

Fujifilm FinePix S9000 - Top View

TOP OF CAMERA
- Mode Dial (AUTO, PASM, Movie, Anti-Blur, Natural Light, Portrait, Landscape, Night)
- Exposure Compensation
- Continuous Shooting
- Flash (only when the flash is popped up)
- Command Dial (controls Program Shift, shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, flash, continuous shooting)
- Shutter release button has a release socket that will accept ISO 6053: 1979-compliant cable releases
- Hot Shoe accepts ordinary external flash units
   
CONTINUOUS SHOOTING
- Top 4-Frame: allows you to shoot up to 4 frames at 1.5fps
- Auto Bracketing: takes 3 shots of the same image with different exposure settings (correctly exposed, over-exposed, under-exposed). The Auto bracketing settings can be specified in the MENU as ±1/3 EV, ±2/3 EV, or ±1 EV; available only in PASM modes
- Final 4-Frame: This is an incredibly useful feature for increasing your chance of catching action at just the right moment. Press and hold the shutter release button down as the action nears the point where you want to take the shot. The camera will take up to 40 shots as you follow the action. When you let go of the shutter release button at the right moment (say, as the puck or soccer ball goes into the goal), the camera retains the last 4 shots.
- Long Period: allows you to take up to 40 continuous shots (max. 1.1fps); available only in AUTO and Scene modes
   
EXPOSURE COMPENSATION / HISTOGRAM
- Once set, the Exposure Compensation Indicator conveniently stays displayed on screen until it is reset to "0"
- Range: -2 EV to +2 EV (13 steps in 1/3 EV increments)
- The screen brightness will increase or decrease to reflect the value you use
- Note: the exposure compensation value selected is retained even when mode is changed or camera is turned off (so remember to reset to "0" after using it or the next time you turn the camera on, your shots may be over- or under-exposed.)
   

In MF mode, you use the focus ring to focus. It's a bit slow but the LCD resolution is enough to see the image come into focus. You can magnify the center part of the image by pressing the Focus Check button. To further aid in the focusing, press the One-Touch AF button to do a quick AF; a yellow focus indicator mark (yellow arrow) appears at the bottom of the (now circular) AF Frame to indicate the direction to turn the focus ring.

Playback is on the power switch around the shutter release button between OFF and ON (which Fujifilm calls, Photography Mode).

Fujifilm FinePix S9000 - Back View

BACK OF CAMERA
- Photometry (Light Metering) Selector Dial (a bit difficult to turn) with AE-Lock button in the middle
- EVF/LCD monitor selector
- Focus Check (magnifies central portion of image)
- Photo (F) Mode (Image Quality, ISO, Color)
- 4 Way Arrows (Digital Zoom)
- MENU/OK
- DISP/Back
- Diopter Adjustment Dial besides EVF
   

Fujifilm FinePix S9000 - Left View

SIDE VIEW
- Flash (manual pop-up button)
- INFO button
- Focus Mode Selector Switch with One-Touch AF button in the middle
- Macro/Super Macro button
- Rubber Terminal Cover opens (and stays open) wide for easy access to USB, A/V, DC IN
- LCD pulls out for easy view looking up above crowd or looking down for ground level shooting
- Focus Ring (thin, closer to the body)
- Zoom Ring
   

LCD & Menus

There is an electronic viewfinder (EVF) with a large eyepiece and diopter correction, as well as a 1.8 in. LCD monitor with a standard 115,000 pixels resolution and approximately 100% coverage. The LCD has a fast refresh rate for a smooth display. It gains up slightly in extreme low-light situations to permit you to compose.

You can also brighten the LCD monitor (and, by extension, the EVF) by holding the Exposure Compensation button down and pressing DISP/BACK. This is not the same as the LCD 'gaining up' in low-light; you are literally adjusting up the brightness of your monitor. This feature is also useful when the sun is shining on the LCD, and increasing the brightness of the LCD helps you to view the image.

The LCD tilts from 0° to 90° up, and 0° to 45° down.

There are 2 MENU screens and 4 SETUP screens. The user interface is well implemented.

Depending on your type of photography, some of the functions that are often used in the MENU screens are:

- White Balance
- AF mode (Center, Multi, Area)

A great feature is the AF Area focusing mode with (7 horizontal x 7 vertical =) 49 positions. You can move the AF target point to any of these 49 positions and the camera will focus where the AF target point has been moved. I find this very helpful in macro photography and whenever the subject is off-center.

Depending on your type of photography, some of the functions that are often used in the SETUP screens are:

- RAW
- Format

ISO is selected by pressing the F (Photo Mode) button.

Advanced photographers will be glad to know that it is possible to save images in the RAW file format. It takes about 9-10 sec. to save an image in RAW. Continuous Shooting is not available for RAW.

MENU 1 of 2

- Self-timer: 10 sec. or 2 sec.
- White Balance: AUTO; Custom1; Custom2; Fine (Sunny); Shade; Fluorescent 1, 2, 3, Incandescent
- High-Speed Shooting
- AF: Center, Multi, Area
- Flash Brightness Adjustment

MENU 2 of 2

- Sharpness: Hard, Standard, Soft
- Saturation: HIgh, Standard, Low
Contrast: Hard, Standard, SOft
- Auto Bracketing Setting: ±1/3 EV, ±2/3 EV, ±1 EV
- Multi-Exposure
- External Flash (On/Off)

SETUP 1 of 4

Image Display
Shutter Volume
Beep Volume
Playback Volume
Frame No.
LCD Brightness

SETUP 2 of 4

- Media (xD or CF)
- RAW
- EVF/LCD Mode (30fps / 60fps)
- AE-Lock Mode (AE-L 1, 2)
- AF Illuminator
- Auto Power OFF
- LCD Power Save

SETUP 3 of 4

- Format
- Date/Time
- Time Difference
- Language
- Background Color
- USB Mode (DSC/PictBridge)

SETUP 4 of 4

- Video System (NTSC/PAL)
- [Ni-MH] Batteries Discharge
- Reset

Photo (F) Mode - Image Quality

- Ships from factory set to 9M N

Photo (F) Mode - ISO

- Ships from factory set to ISO 200

PROGRAMMED AUTO MODE

Clockwise from Top Left:
- Super Macro ON
- Multi AF
- High-Speed Shooting ON
- Image Quality 9M F
- Available frames: 222
- ISO 80
- Camera Shake warning
- AF target point (bottom right)
- Shutter Speed and Aperture values (Program Shift)
- Exposure Compensation Indicator

NATURAL LIGHT MODE

- Camera disables flash and selects a higher ISO for correct exposure

ANTI-BLUR MODE

- Camera selects a fast shutter speed to reduce camera shake (aperture and ISO are adjusted accordingly for correct exposure)

AF AREA

- Select AF Area in the MENU

AF AREA

- You can move the AF target point to any of (7 horizontal x 7 vertical =) 49 positions on screen
- Very useful anytime your main subject is off center, esp. in macro photography
- Framing Guide displayed
- Manual Mode with Exposure Indicator
- Press the Info button to display the Live Histogram

INFO (Playback)

- Displays when you press the Info button
- Besides a Histogram, Highlight Warning will flash the areas that are overexposed

MANUAL FOCUS

- Press the Focus Check button to magnify central portion of image
- Press One-Touch AF button for a quick AF, then turn focus ring in the direction of the Focus Indicator Marks (yellow arrows) to achieve focus

LCD BRIGHTNESS

- Hold Exposure Compensation button down and press DISP/BACK button

MODE WHEEL DISPLAY

- When you turn the Mode Dial, it displays on the monitor
- This is very convenient when it's too dark to see the markings on the dial or simply not to have to take your eye off the monitor/viewfinder as you select a different shooting mode

The Fujifilm FinePix S9000 is a well-designed long zoom digital camera with excellent handling and super fast operations. It has excellent proportions and successfully captures the SLR-like handling we all love.

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