Overall Image Quality
As with my previous experience of this 2.4 megapixel SuperCCD I'm not overly fanatical about it. Looking at the images at monitor resolution (ie. reduced down) colours are vibrant and detail is sharp and pleasing, the images in the galleries (reduced 50%) look very good and are as good as (if not better than) many digital cameras with a lower pixel count (thus the SuperCCD must be doing something right). However, up close images do appear to be noisy and fine details suffer from blue/yellow moiré patterns.
Whether this noise / moiré is visible in print depends on the quality of your printer, I read a comment recently by a Fujifilm employee who stated that the only way to tell a good digital camera was to print it's output (and that if all we wanted was monitor output then a 640 x 480 TIFF image would do.. cough). Fine, but everyone has different experiences of printing and use different output devices and print sizes. If there's noise in the image then it'll be visible to someone somewhere.
Colour is another thing altogether, if there's one thing Fujifilm undoubtedly have the lead with it's colour technology. Just like it's bigger brother the S1 Pro the 4900Z can produce some really pleasing colours straight out of the camera (no fiddling required), saturated yet accurate and "just so". If only Fujifilm would dump their SuperCCD and give us a camera with their excellent ergonomics, colour balance and a 4 megapixel conventional CCD / CMOS sensor...
Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)
More good news, the 6x optical zoom lens on the 4900Z is pretty good. Hardly any visible chromatic aberrations we had to hunt for the "real life" example below which is over emphasised by CCD blooming (the overflow of charge from very bright areas of the image to less exposed areas).
|These blue fringes probably aren't chromatic but CCD blooming.|
|Our now standard chromatic aberration test shot.|
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
One of the tradeoff's you make for that big 6x zoom is some barrel distortion at wide angle and pincushion distortion from about 3/4 zoom onwards. Unfortunately the shots below were not as well framed as I'd have liked due to the 4900Z's inaccurate LCD / EVF (just 89% frame coverage).
|Barrel Distortion, 1.8% @ Wide Angle||Pincushion Distortion, 0.8% @ Full Tele|
The 4900Z offers a range of different preset white balances as well as manual preset, a simple task of aiming the camera at a white subject, selecting manual white balance and pressing white white balance preset button. Samples below give an impression of the Auto, Preset and Manual white balance performance.
|Daylight: Auto WB||Daylight: Cloudy WB||Daylight: Manual WB|
|Incandescent: Auto WB||Incandescent: Incan WB||Incandescent: Manual WB|
|Fluorescent: Auto WB||Fluorescent: Fluorescent WB||Fluorescent: Manual WB|
Night / Long Exposures
The 4900Z features a specific night program mode (in SP exposure), however it doesn't seem to do anything more than can be achieved in manual exposure (of course it's easier to take night shots in the program mode). Either way you're limited to a maximum exposure of 3 seconds which kind of limits the night exposure options.
Being a shutterbug I shot the sample below as a manual exposure. Camera was allowed to cool to outside temperatures before taking the shot. Wide angle adapter lens was used for this shot.
|2.8 sec, F2.8|
Not too bad, although I really did need to let the camera cool otherwise there were quite a few stuck pixels. Note the square shape of blown out lights.. I wonder if this in an indication of a square aperture diaphragm?
We first observed this side effect of Fujifilm's SuperCCD on the 4700Z, it reared it's head again on the S1 Pro where I dubbed it "Hair Moiré". And of course, it's back again on the 4900Z. With certain clear contrast detail (such as this half torn poster) at a diagonal or near diagonal you'll get a distinct blue and yellow moiré pattern (concentric circles). On a test print of this shot the colour pattern was visible.