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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Fujifilm FinePix S9100

Fuji Digital Cameras

   


Fujifilm FinePix S9100 Review

Review Date: Feb 27, 2007

Category: Prosumer - Advanced Amateur

Fujifilm FinePix S9100

HANDLING & FEEL

The Fujifilm FinePix S9100 incorporates the new 6th Generation Super CCD HR image sensor and a larger 2-in. LCD monitor with 235K pixels resolution. Otherwise, the FinePix S9100 is basically unchanged from the S9000 it replaces.

The camera is very well designed and this is apparent from the moment you pick it up. Controls click precisely and rings rotate smoothly. Overall construction feels solid and the build is very good. There is a large and deep rubber-coated handgrip (though your little finger will be tucked under the camera) and the camera looks quite professional in its black high-impact polycarbonate body.

Startup time is fast at less than 1 sec. and there is no practical shutter lag. Autofocus is fast and precise, and shot to shot time is approx. 1-2 sec.

STYLE
- Colours: overall black with silver and chrome accents
- Looks: professional, DSLR-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: 128W x 93H x 129D mm / 5.0W x 3.7H x 5.1D in
- Weight: 645g / 22.9oz. (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 less than 1 sec.
- Shot to shot time in about 1-2 sec.
   

Included in the box are 4 AA Alkaline batteries; we recommend purchasing rechargeable NiMH batteries and optional battery charger. The Fujifilm S9100 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 (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, near the bottom, is the Flash Synchronizing Terminal, which is covered with a rubber plug.

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. The Mode Dial has the standard AUTO, PASM (Programmed Auto, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority, and Manual) modes, plus Movie mode and 5 Scene Modes: Picture Stabilization, Natural Light, Portrait, Landscape, Night.

The Mode Dial is rotated with the thumb and has a positive locking click to it. It freely rotates both clockwise and anti-clockwise.

The Natural Light Scene Mode started on Fujifilm digital cameras and has now been copied (using other similar sounding names) by other brands. 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 6th 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 Picture Stabilization scene mode is now also extensively used in many other cameras, and is variously known as 'Anti-Blur,' 'Digital Image Stabilization' and other such names. It is not true optical or CCD-shift image stabilization, but a scene mode that favours a high ISO so that a high enough shutter speed can be used to negate the blurring effects of camera shake and subject movement.

You can record movies with monaural sound at either 640 x 480 pixels 30fps (you'll be able to record about 14m 34s on a 1GB CF card) or 320x240 30fps (record about 28m 40s on a 1GB CF card). Since the zoom is manual, you can (silently) zoom during recording.

TOP OF CAMERA
- Mode Dial (AUTO, PASM, Movie, Picture Stabilization, 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 mechanical cable releases
- Hot Shoe accepts ordinary external flash units (with some exceptions)
   
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 chances 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.)
   

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

Fujifilm FinePix S9100 - 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 (Standard, Chrome, B&W)
- 4 Way Arrows (Digital Zoom)
- MENU/OK
- DISP/Back
- Diopter Adjustment Dial besides EVF
   

The Chrome color option gives a more saturated image. If anyone at Fujifilm is reading, a number of readers have written to express the desire to also have a Sepia color option.

SIDE VIEW
- Flash (manual pop-up button)
- INFO button
- Focus Mode Selector Switch (difficult to select) with One-Touch AF button in the middle
- Macro/Super Macro button
- Rubber Terminal Cover for 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) is fly-by-wire
- Zoom Ring
   

LCD & Menus

There is an electronic viewfinder (EVF) with a large eyepiece and diopter correction, as well as a 2.0 in. LCD monitor with a standard 115,000 pixels resolution and approximately 100% coverage. The EVF and LCD are clear and bright. The diopter adjustment dial works very well (which cannot be said for many cameras) and is easy to rotate and adjust.

The LCD has a fast refresh rate for a smooth display. It gains up slightly in low-light situations.

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 view the image.

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

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. Select AF Area mode in the MENU to turn this feature on. When you want to move the AF frame around, simply depress the One-Touch AF button and use the arrow keys to move it around the screen. Note that, regretably, exposure is always set using the area in the center of the screen.

It is possible to save images in the RAW file format. It takes about 7 sec. to save an image in RAW. Continuous Shooting is not available for RAW.

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

MENU 1 of 2

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

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)
- CCD-RAW
- EVF/LCD Mode (30fps / 60fps)
- AE-Lock Mode (AE-L 1, 2)
- AF Illuminator
- Auto Power OFF (5m, 2m, Off)

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
- No AUTO ISO available in PASM

PROGRAMMED AUTO MODE

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

NATURAL LIGHT MODE

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

Picture Stabilization 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
- Focus Check not available in High Speed Shooting and/or 60fps LCD

FLASH MODES

- Auto flash
- Red-eye reduction
- Forced flash (fill-in flash)
- Slow synchro
- Red-eye reduction + Slow synchro

CONTINUOUS SHOOTING MODES

- Top 4-frame
- Auto bracketing
- Final 4-frame

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 S9100 is a well-designed long zoom digital camera with excellent handling and fast operations. It has excellent proportions and successfully captures the DSLR-like handling. A couple of often-used features are still menu-bound and would gain much in practical usability if they were more directly accessible. All in all, a very well designed and thought-out digital camera which feels and handles as you would expect a professional digital camera to.

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