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Fujifilm FinePix S9000 / S9500 Review

October 2005 | By Simon Joinson


Review based on a production Fujifilm FinePix S9500

Announced at the end of July 2005, the FinePix S9000 (S9500 in Europe and Asia) is the latest in a long line of Fujifilm 'prosumer' camera designed to bridge the gap between fixed lens compacts and interchangeable lens SLRs, and effectively the replacement for the popular S7000. With each generation that gap has been closed a little bit more, and with the arrival of the S9000 Fujifilm's marketeers have taken the brave step of openly positioning it as a true alternative to a digital SLR... even going as far as to say in many ways it's actually better... And certainly, on paper, they've got a point; it's designed to look and feel like an entry-level SLR, it has a broadly comparable feature set, and it has a big zoom covering a useful 28-300mm focal length range. It's also got an SLR-like sensitivity range (80-1600), fast startup and a screw thread for filters and add-on lenses, hot-shoe and pc-synch flash compatibility, and movie mode and live preview - something many compact users upgrading to an entry-level DLSR sorely miss. Let's find out if the S9000 really is an SLR-slayer, or merely a sheep in wolf's clothing..
Here's a quick run through of the main selling points to get us started:

  • New Fujifilm Super CCD sensor with 9.0 million effective pixels
  • New 28-300mm (10.7x) Fujinon zoom lens with manual twist-barrel zoom control
  • Class-leading sensitivity setting of ISO 1600 for photography in low light conditions
  • 1.8” tilting LCD screen for easy high and low angle shooting
  • 0.01 second shutter lag and 0.8 second start-up
  • Real-time histogram
  • Highlight Warning feature for displaying highlight areas in playback
  • VGA movie capture of 30 frames per second with zoom capability and sound
  • Closed unit design to eliminate dust accumulation on the CCD
  • Hot shoe and PC sync terminal
  • RAW format shooting
  • Dual storage options (CompactFlash and xD-Picture Card)

*Note: The FinePix S9500 used in this review is the same camera as the S9000 sold in the US. Throughout this review any reference to the S9500 applies equally to the S9000.

Fujifilm FinePix S9500/9000 vs S7000 (differences)

 

Fujifilm FinePix S7000

Fujifilm FinePix S9000
Sensor 1/1.7 inch Super CCD 1/1.6" SuperCCD HR
Effective Pixels 6.0 million 9.0 million
Maximum file size 4048 x 3040 (interpolated)
3488 x 2616
Lens • 35-210mm F2.8 - F3.1
• Minimum aperture F8
• 55 mm thread (via optional adapter)
• 28-300mm F2.8 - F4.9
• Minimum aperture F11
• 58mm filter thread
Zoom control Electronic (buttons) Mechanical (zoom ring)
Multi-zone metering 64-zone 256-zone
ISO settings • Auto (ISO 160 - 400)
• ISO 200, 400 (manual)
• ISO 800 (at 1 / 2 / 3 MP only)
• Auto
• ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
Shooting modes Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Night Portrait, Black & White, Auto, Program (with shift), Aperture Priority, Manual Portrait, Landscape, Night Portrait, Anti-Blur, Natural Light, Auto, Program (with shift), Aperture Priority, Manual
Continuous shooting • "Top 5" (3.3 fps up to 5 frames)
• "Final 5" (2 fps, up to 40 frames, records last 5)
• "Long period" (1 fps, up to 40 frames at 1 MP / 2 MP / 3 MP only , only available in Auto exposure mode)
• "Top 4" : up to 4 frames (1.5 fps)
• "Final 4": last 4 frames before releasing the shutter button
(1.5 fps)
• Long-period continuous shooting: up to 40 frames (1.1 fps max.)
AF illuminator No Yes
LCD Screen • 1.8", 118,000 pixel • 1.8", 118,000 pixel
• Tilt (hinged at top)
Flash Range
(auto ISO)

• W: 0.3 - 8.5 m (11.8 in - 27.9 ft)
• T: 0.9 - 7.9 m (3.0 ft - 32.2 ft)

• W: 0.3– 5.6 m (1.0–18.4 ft )
• T: 0.6– 3.0 m (2– 9.8 ft)
Weight
(inc batteries)
597 g (1.3 lb) 745 g (26.3 oz)
Dimensions 121 x 82 x 97 mm (4.8 x 3.2 x 3.8 in) 128 x 93 x 129 mm (5 x 3.7 x 5.1 in)
Other   High speed shooting mode
Optional 60 fps LCD refresh rate

Key specifications

Street price • US: $699 (FinePix S9000)
• UK: £480 (FinePix S9500)
Body Material Polycarbonate
Sensor

• 1/1.6 inch 5th-Generation Super CCD HR
• 9.24 million pixels total
• 9.0 million effective pixels

Image sizes

• 3488 x 2616
• 3696 x 2464 (3:2)
• 2592 x 1944
• 2948 x 1536
• 1600 x 1200
• 1280 x 960
• 640 x 480

Movie clips

• 640 x 480 (30 fps)
• 320 x 240 (30 fps)
• With sound
• M-JPEG (.avi) format
• Duration limited only by card size (streaming)

Lens

• 28 - 300mm equiv. (10.7x optical zoom) Fujinon
• F2.8 - 4.9

Focus • Contrast-detect through-the-lens (TTL) AF
• Auto and manual focus
• Continuous and single shot AF
• AF illuminator
• Area, Center and Multi (manual AF point selection) autofocus
• 1cm closest focus (Super macro mode, wideangle)
Shooting mode

• Programmed AE with program shift
• Aperture Priority AE
• Shutter Priority AE
• Manual
• Auto
• Anti-Blur
• Natural Light
• Portrait
• Landscape
• Night
• AE-Compensation -2.0 to +2.0 EV in 0.3 EV steps
• AE-Bracketing
• Multiple exposure option

Metering TTL 256-zone metering
Multi, Spot, Average
Shutter Speeds P / A / S: 4 sec to 1/4000 sec
M: 30 sec to 1/4000 sec
Bulb: up to 30 sec
Apertures F2.8 - F11 up to 13 steps in 1/3 increments (wideangle)
Sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 80,100,200,400,800,1600
White Balance • Auto
• 6 presets
• Manual (two custom settings)
Image parameters • Contrast (3 levels)
• Saturation (3 levels)
• Sharpness (3 levels)
• Color options (standard, chrome, black & white)
Continuous Top 4-frame: up to 4 frames (1.5 fps max)
Final 4-frame: last 4 frames before releasing the shutter button
(1.5 fps max)
Long-period continuous shooting: up to 40 frames (1.1 fps max.)
Flash • Built-in pop-up flash
• Auto, Manual on/off, Red-eye reduction: on/off, Slow sync: on/off
• Range (Auto ISO):W: 0.3– 5.6 m (1.0–18.4 ft ); T: 0.6– 3.0 m (2– 9.8 ft)
• Hot-shoe for external flash
Storage • XD-Picture Card
• CompactFlash Type I / II (inc. MicroDrive)
Viewfinder • 0.44 inches, 235,000 pixels electronic viewfinder
• Approx coverage 100%
• Dioptre adjustment
LCD monitor • 1.8" TFT, 118,000 pixels
• approx 100% coverage
Connectivity • USB 2.0 High Speed (480Mbits/second)
• A/V out
• DC-IN
Power • 4x AA batteries (Alkaline included)
• Ni-MH batteries recommended
• AC-5Vx AC adapter (optional)
Supplied accessories*

• AA-size alkaline batteries (LR6) (4)
• 16 MB xD-Picture Card™
• USB cable
• Audio/Video cable
• Shoulder strap
• Lens hood
• Lens Cap & Holder
• Software for FinePix CD-ROM

Other features

• RAW shooting option
• PictBridge & Exif print compatible
• Built-in microphone and speaker
• 58mm filter thread
• Mechanical (threaded) cable-release socket
• Voice memo

Weight (inc batts) 745 g (26.3 oz)
Dimensions 128 x 93 x 129 mm (5 x 3.7 x 5.1 in)

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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This article is Copyright 2005 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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