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Fujifilm FinePix S9000 Review
Date: Sep 14, 2005
- Advanced Amateur
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;
- Software CD: FinePixViewer 5.1 (3.3 for Mac),
ImageMixer VCD2 LE for FinePix, RAW File Converter
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
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
- 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.
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.