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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Fujifilm FinePix S9000

Fuji Digital Cameras


Fujifilm FinePix S9000 Review

Review Date: Sep 14, 2005

Category: Prosumer - Advanced Amateur

Fujifilm FinePix S9000

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2005 Award


Wednesday, Oct 19, 2005 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • FinePix S9000
  • 16MB xD-Picture Card
  • 4x AA type Alkaline Batteries
  • Shoulder Strap
  • Lens Cap and Lens Cap Holder
  • Lens Hood
  • USB and A/V Cables
  • Documentation (English only): QuickStart; Owner's Manual
  • Software CD: FinePixViewer 5.1 (3.3 for Mac), ImageMixer VCD2 LE for FinePix, RAW File Converter LE 1.1

The Fujifilm FinePix S9000 sets a new standard for prosumer digital cameras with dSLR-like handling and very good to excellent image quality up to ISO 400.

Returning to a tried-and-proven SLR camera body design, with correct proportions, a comfortable handgrip, a shutter release button that falls naturally under your index finger (it's surprising how many cameras get this wrong) and conventional Mode Dial and Command Dial, the Fujifilm S9000 both looks and handles like a SLR.

The Zoom Ring (manual) is smooth and allows fast adjustment across the entire zoom range. [Zooming is one of those things that is much better done manually using a zoom ring than electrically using a zoom lever.] The focal length markings on the zoom ring are in 135 (i.e. 35mm) equivalent.

Behind the manual zoom ring is a thinner ring for manual focus. This one is achieved "by-wire" -- i.e. turning the focus ring really activates an electronic motor to perform the focusing. By itself, this manual focusing is slow, but used in conjunction with the One-Touch AF, it allows you to quickly finesse your focus in difficult-to-focus situations. Press the Focus Check button to enlarge the central portion of the image. A Focus Indicator Mark (a yellow arrow pointing left or right) appears when focus is nearly achieved to hint at the direction you should be turning the focus ring. The focus circle ( ) turns from white to yellow when focus is achieved.

The Fujifilm S9000 has what most of us miss in a dSLR and appreciate in a fixed lens digital camera: a live LCD monitor (that swivels up from 0° to 90° for shooting from the hip or close to the ground, and down 45° for shooting above crowds); video with sound (at 640x480 30fps); and a relatively compact lens with a long 10.7x optical zoom (that starts with a decent 28mm wide-angle coverage perfect for landscape and goes to a full 300mm tele perfect for sports); very fast startup and operations; very fast and reliable auto focus.

The Fujifilm S9000 has all the features we've come to take granted in a SLR, plus some: a shutter speed range that goes from a satisfyingly long 30 sec. for beautiful night shots to ultra fast action stopping 1/4,000 sec.; multiple exposure; a traditional cable release socket; accepts both a xD-Picture Card and CF memory card; a large clear electronic viewfinder with diopter adjustment, a comfortable eyecup, fast refresh rate, and that gains up in low-light; ISO from 80 to 1600.

The image quality on the Fujifilm S9000 is very good to excellent, though not approaching the exceptional low noise capability of the F10. Nevertheless, this disappointment aside [editor: and it's a big disappointment for many fans who were expecting nothing less], the Fujifilm S9000 trounces its competitors. None of its competitors offer ISO 800 or 1600, and the S9000's ISO 1600 is comparable to their ISO 400. Very impressive, so don't lose sight of this accomplishment.

Here are my wish list / improvement suggestions:
- The Photometry (Light-Metering) Selector Dial is quite small and I find it difficult to turn. With gloves on (remember: 6 mos of Winter in Canada, North US, and Europe, too), it won't budge. Perhaps use something like the Power Switch.
- You still need to set WB and RAW in the MENU. RAW is 17 button presses away on SETUP screen #2. When you select RAW and press the F (Photo Mode) button, Image Quality displays "RAW". Don't see why RAW cannot be moved from its current SETUP position to the F button.
- Needs more internal memory for better Continuous Shooting performance and to permit Continuous RAW shooting.
- ISO is selected by pressing the F (Photo Mode) button. It would have been nice if it could be done by lifting and turning the Mode Dial.
- Anti-Blur is clever scene mode to favour fast shutter speed at long focal length, but not a replacement for true image stabilization. Though this is not a show stopper and most of us still use a tripod (with image stabilization turned off) for those 'gotta be knife sharp' landscapes, it would be nice to have it on a long zoom.
- Reduce megapixels resolution and/or increase image sensor size (perhaps move to a 2/3 in. size) so we can have low noise up to ISO 1600.

FinePix Viewer

The FinePixViewer software is one of my favourite because all the information is contained in one screen. Each image's filename is clearly visible and you do not need to launch another window to view the EXIF info. You can also do basic image editing, re: brightness, saturation, hue, sharpness.

The Fujifilm S9000 Owner's Manual is well illustrated and written, though the print font is very small. Surprisingly, there is no French version included (the Quick Start Guide had a Spanish version), so be sure to request French documentation if this is what you desire.

The Fujifilm FinePix S9000 should be at the top of your list if you are considering a prosumer level digital camera. It is absolutely no nonsense and meets all the requirements an advanced photographer would demand from such a camera. No other long zoom prosumer digital camera currently matches its low noise capability up to ISO 400.

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