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Timing & Performance

Generally speaking the S9000 is very fast and responsive in use, certainly compared to most of its 'super zoom' competitors. This is helped in part by the manual zoom ring, and by the high speed focus mode (which brings some penalties of its own, most notably a reduction in the working focus range). The only major bottleneck is the card write speed (combined with a small buffer), which severely limits the S9000's continuous shooting abilities, and makes using RAW mode painfully slow. Interestingly our tests showed that - strangely - the S9000 writes to xD-Picture card considerably faster than CompactFlash. Cynics might think this was a deliberate attempt by Fujifilm to push their media of choice... even if it isn't, there's no excuse for such a poorly implemented support for what should be the faster (and certainly cheaper) CompactFlash storage.

Timing Notes

All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3488 x 2616 'Fine' JPEG image (approx. 1,910 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 512MB XD-Picture card and a 4.0 GB Sandisk Ultra II CompactFlash card. Interestingly it doesn't seem to matter which type of CF card you use (we also tested with an old MicroDrive, and got the same results).

Action Details
Time, secs
Power: Off to Record   0.9
Power: Off to Play Image displayed CompactFlash 4.3
Power: Off to Play Image displayed xD-Picture Card 2.5
Power: Record to Off All activity ceased 0.4
Power: Play to Off When buffer is empty 0.2
Record Review Image displayed ~0.2
Mode: Record to Play CompactFlash 3.3
Mode: Record to Play xD-Picture Card 2.1
Mode: Play to Record   ~0.4
Play: Magnify To full magnification (5.5x) 6.0
Play: Image to Image To display each saved image CompactFlash ~2.5
Play: Image to Image To display each saved image xD-Picture Card ~1.4
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails CompactFlash ~1.3
Play: Thumbnail view 3 x 3 thumbnails xD-Picture Card ~0.3

Action Details
Time, seconds
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Wide angle, Multi-AF ~0.7
Wide angle, Center-AF ~0.4
Wide angle, Center-AF, High Speed mode ~0.25
Half-press Lag (0->S1) Telephoto, Multi-AF ~0.6
Telephoto, Center-AF ~0.4
Telephoto, Center-AF, High Speed mode ~0.35
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) LCD live view ~0.07
Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2) Viewfinder ~0.07
Full-press Lag (0->S2) LCD live view, wide angle, High Speed mode ~0.5
Off to Shot Taken LCD live view 1.7
Shot to Shot Flash off *1 1.15
Shot to Shot Flash on (red eye reduction off) *1 2.8
Shot to Shot Flash on (red eye reduction on) *1 3.4
*1 Using CompactFlash. Using xD these times are very slightly faster (around 5%)

Continuous mode

The tables below show the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take another shot. Media used for these tests was a 512MB XD-Picture card and a 4.0 GB Sandisk Ultra II CompactFlash card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.

The S9000 has three 'drive' modes; Top 4 Frames, Final 4 Frames and Long Time Continuous Shooting Mode. In Final 4 Frames mode the camera takes shots in rapid succession as long as you keep your finger held down on the shutter (for up to 40 shots), saving the last four when you release your finger. Top 4 simply takes four fast shots when you press and hold the shutter.

Continuous drive mode (Top 4/Final 4 modes)

The S9000 manages a respectable 1.6 or 1.7 frames per second in Top 4 and Final 4 modes, but only allows you to take four frames in a burst. At this point the entire buffer is emptied, leading to a wait of between 7.0 and 15 seconds before another burst can be taken (time depends on storage medium and file size). In continuous mode the S9000 does not show a preview image on-screen, but does show a brief review image for each frame captured.

Image Type
Avg. frames
per sec
Frames in a burst *1
Time to store
after last frame
*2
9M JEPG Fine 1.6 fps 4 ~15.0 sec (CF)
~9.8 sec (xD)
9M JEPG Normal 1.7 fps 4 ~11.0 sec (CF)
~9.0 sec (xD)
5M JPEG 1.7 fps 4 ~8.5 sec (CF)
~7.0 sec (xD)
3M JPEG 1.7 fps 4 ~7.0 sec (CF or xD)
2M JPEG 1.7 fps 4 ~7.0 sec (CF or xD)

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release) until the buffer is full.
*2 Once you've taken three shots the screen displays 'Storing' whilst the buffer is emptied, during which time you cannot take another shot. This figure is the average time you have to wait.

Continuous drive mode (Long time continuous shooting mode)

The S9000's third 'burst' mode manages considerably better long sequence shooting, but at the expense of frame rate, which drops to an average of 1 frame per second (again, it's slightly better with xD than CompactFlash) - hardly enough to keep up with the action of a sports event or a distant flying eagle, but at least it can keep going for up to 40 shots, irrespective of image size/quality.

Image Type
Avg. frames
per sec
(CompactFlash)
Avg. frames
per sec
(xD-Picture Card)
Frames in a burst *1
9M JPEG Fine 0.5 fps *2 0.7 fps 40
9M JPEG Standard 0.8 fps 1.1 fps 40
5M JPEG 0.9 fps 1.1 fps 40
3M JPEG 0.8 fps 1.1 fps 40
2M JPEG 0.8 fps 1.1 fps 40

*1 In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release) until the buffer is full.
*2 Starts at 1.1 fps for about 7 frames, then drops to 0.4 fps for remainder of burst

Not a blazing burst mode performance, and certainly not a match for a real DSLR, or even most of its competitors. Note that you cannot shoot continuously in raw mode, and - for reasons best know to Fuji's engineers - you can only use the Long time continuous shooting mode in Auto and subject modes (i.e. not in P, A, S or M modes). Why?

File Write / Display and Sizes

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when activity indicator went out. This means the timings also include the camera's processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 512MB XD-Picture card and a 4.0 GB Sandisk Ultra II CompactFlash card.

Image Type
Time to store
(secs)

Time to display
(secs)

File size *1
(approx.)
Images on a *2
512MB Card
9M RAW ~11.9 (CF)
~7.8 (xD)
~0.4 (CF) *3
~0.2 (xD) *3
18,710 KB 27
9M JEPG Fine ~4.1 (CF)
~3.1 (xD)
~2.5 (CF)
~1.4 (xD)
4,570 KB 113
9M JEPG Normal ~2.9 (CF)
~2.2 (xD)
~1.5 (CF)
~1.0 (xD)
2,220 KB 227
5M JPEG ~2.2 (CF)
~2.1 (xD)
~0.8 (CF)
~0.5 (xD)
1,220 KB 409
3M JPEG ~2.2 (CF)
~2.1 (xD)
~0.4 (CF)
~0.3 (xD)
780 KB 651

*1 All file sizes are an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (detail and noise).
*2 Camera estimation.
*3 You cannot magnify raw images beyond 2.5x, presumably this is the JPEG preview

When saving RAW files the S9000 shows it's write speed to be around 1560 Kb/s at best with CompactFlash (well below the 10 MB/s the card is capable of). xD is slightly better, managing about 2.3 MB/s. For JPEG files the extra processing involved slows things down a little - it appears to take around a second and a half, meaning even very small files take a fair amount of time to save. That said, unless you're a continuous shooting nut, you'll never find the S9000 incapable of taking a shot, as the buffering system seems - within it's limitations - very efficient.

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