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Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent colour reproduction, probably the best in its class (caveat: some saturation control would be nice)
  • Resolution as good as the best 3 megapixel digital cameras (performed well on our resolution tests)
  • Big 6x optical zoom provides a lot of flexibility
  • Lens is good quality, very little chromatics, fast (F2.8 - F3.1) for it's "reach"
  • Very fast 5 frames per second burst speed
  • Wide selection of manual controls
  • Excellent implementation of manual focus (nice live view zoom button, nice focus ring, autofocus one-touch button in MF mode)
  • White balance works well, lots of pre-programmed and two manual presets
  • Fast operation, very good shot to shot times, though file flushing can 'hold up' menus
  • Can be used as fully automatic point-and-shoot, more advanced scene modes or fully manual
  • Flash hot-shoe supports third party flash units
  • Logical, simple, menu system
  • All major controls on outside of camera
  • Program AE has "program shift"
  • Relatively good macro ability
  • Excellent build quality, feels good and solid, nice ergonomic touches
  • Lighter and smaller than you think
  • USB connectivity
  • AC Adapter / Charger included


Conclusion - Cons

  • Barrel distortion at full wide angle
  • Electronic viewfinder isn't the best I've used
  • Browsing through images in play mode can be frustrating due to the delay between each image
  • Normal sharpening level is too hard
  • LCD and EVF don't provide 100% frame view
  • Still no control over colour / tone camera algorithms
  • Auto focus at full telephoto can feel slow (in low light / difficult focus situations)
  • Hot pixels at not-so-long exposures
  • White balance control should be on the outside of the camera
  • Some 'flat noise' visible in shadow areas
  • Biggest SmartMedia currently available is 128 MB, a 6 mp FINE JPEG is 2.2 MB
  • Poorly positioned tripod mount
  • No AF assist lamp
  • Histogram not implemented in review mode


Overall conclusion

Here's my rating of the Fujifilm FinePix 6900Z: (3 megapixel prosumer)

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 8.5
Features 8
Image quality 8.5
Lens / CCD combination 8
Ease of use 8
Value for money 8.5

Fujifilm have done a good job of fixing some of the bug bears we had with the 4900Z. The 6900Z produces well exposed, colourful, detailed and sharp images. The big 6x zoom lens has good quality (if some barrel distortion at wide angle) and sharpness and is fast for it's range (F2.8 - F3.1). The camera is smaller and lighter than you'd think looking at pictures in a brochure or on the net, and it's comfortable in your hand, all the controls are where they should be and you'll hardly ever have to dive into the menu (except for white balance, which should really be on the outside of the camera).

The other important thing is you must consider this a 3.3 megapixel digital camera, as such it performs very well.. Resolution is up there (and a little better than) the best of the bunch, add to that the 6x optical zoom lens and it's currently one of a kind. Even the street price of the 6900Z is pretty good if you consider what you're getting.

Reasons I didn't give this camera a Highly Recommended? I'm still not happy with the 'purity' of SuperCCD images at 1:1, the camera exhibitied hot pixel noise at even mildly slow exposures, flat area noise in ISO 100 shots, occasional slow focus at long zoom, cropped LCD and EVF view, other cameras have a far richer feature sets.

Recommended

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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