Fujifilm FinePix S9000 / S9500 Review
Fujifilm sells the S9000 as an alternative to a digital SLR, and with that in mind it's no surprise to see that - from a styling point of view - it looks very much like one; much more so than any of its predecessors. It's also roughly the same size as most of today's consumer DSLR models (see below), though it is a little lighter, especially when you include lens(es) to cover the same range. The all-plastic body feels a bit 'cheap' for want of a better word, but does seem very sturdy. the lens construction (which includes some metal parts) is much better, and has a lovely, smooth zoom action. As you can see from above (and further down the page), Fuji's engineers weren't afraid to cover the S9000 in buttons and switches, which can make it seem a little daunting when you first pick it up, though it does mean a lot of the most-commonly accessed shooting functions get dedicated external controls (though not, frustratingly, white balance or ISO, both of which are still menu-based). Overall, compared to other 'super zoom' bridge cameras the S9000 is hard to fault from an ergonomics point of view - and it's certainly comes the closest yet to recreating that elusive 'SLR-like' handling experience.
Side by side
The S9000 is not, by any stretch of the imagination, compact. It is, to all intents and purposes the same size as a digital SLR, though obviously the small sensor means that the lens, though quite heavy, is smaller than the equivalent lenses for an interchangeable lens camera. Below is a side by side shot of three of the biggest non SLR cameras on the market today next to the Canon EOS Rebel XT (EOS 350); from left: Fuji S9000, Panasonic FZ30, Canon Rebel XT, Samsung PRO 815 (which at the best part of a kilogram is by far the heaviest camera here).
In your hand
Size has its advantages, and the S9000 has superb handling, something many cameras sacrifice in the name of miniaturization. It may feel a little plasticky, but it certainly isn't lightweight - around 750g fully loaded - and it is very well balanced. The large, deep grip fits the hand well.