The Fuji Finepix S9500 is an advanced digital camera. It has many features that you would expect to find on a Digital SLR camera. With nine megapixels and a 10.7x optical zoom lens the Finepix S9500 is a very powerful digital camera.
It is a large camera and this coupled with its features means that it is a camera for the enthusiast rather than someone who is looking for a camera that is easy to use and wants to take snap shots. To get the most out of the camera you will need to either know a fair amount about photography already or be prepared to spend time getting to know the features of the camera and how and when to use them.
128.0 x 93 x 129.0mm
xD / CompactFlash
It has been very interesting for me to review and test the Finepix S9500. It is certainly more advanced than the cameras I normally review and it has been intriguing to compare my sample images with those taken with more basic point and shoot digital cameras.
Not surprisingly there are areas where the camera outperforms its more simplistic rivals. There are areas though where the every day consumer models were able to outperform the Finepix S9500.
To start off I am going to look at where the Finepix S9500 scores over other cameras I have tested. The area where it really is ahead is indoors in lowlight photography. The two tests I ran here were a straightforward portrait shot and a shot of some beer bottles taken in almost complete darkness. The portrait shot is the best or certainly one of the best I have managed to produce. The level of detail the camera manages to bring out in the shot is excellent. Focusing is better than I am used to seeing and the lighting is good too. There is more to it than those points as the shot has a more natural feel to it than I am used to seeing.
The shot of the beer bottles works very well too. The Finepix S9500 has no problem focusing in the extreme conditions and again the level of detail should be commended with the lighting also very good.
Moving outdoors differences are less noticeable. Perhaps this is not surprising as most digital cameras can produce a decent shoot outside in good lighting conditions. Therefore it is that bit harder for the Finepix S9500 to really stand out from the rest. In terms of focusing the camera does o.k., but the shots are no sharper than I am used to seeing with a number of point and shoot cameras. In fact some of the better point and shoot models produce sharper images. I also feel that focusing does slip away when you move out towards the edge of a photo. This is especially noticeable when the zoom lens is fully extended.
In terms of detail the camera appears to do a lot better with dark areas then it does with light ones. Looking at my first outdoor test shot the detail on the bricks and tiles on the roof is very good, but the boats themselves are a little disappointing.
One area where this camera is along way ahead from other models with long zoom lenses is that I did not notice any purple fringing. This is where a purple line is added to the edge of light coloured objects. This is an extremely common problem in super zoom models and it is very pleasing to be able to see no sign of it here.
Taking a look at the outdoor portrait the Finepix S9500 handles this well without really being very exciting. I used the cloudy white balance setting to take this picture on an overcast day. This helps to add extra warmth to the shot.
The colours also have a natural feel to them. The test for colour produced a typical result with no one colour dominating. The colours are not especially vivid.
One shot that is very sharp indeed is the macro shot. I tried both the ordinary macro setting and the super macro setting. I found the super macro setting to be by far the best and it is that test shot that you will be able to see in the sample images section. Ironically there is a suggestion of purple fringing in this shot, but otherwise it is a very good attempt.
Finishing on a bright note the shot taken at ISO 400 comes out well. High ISO settings are often used to help the camera take a photo in poor light. This camera compares very well to other models. Once you push the setting up to the maximum ISO 1600 picture quality is reduced dramatically.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
I was able to take a single photo in 0.31 seconds and five photos in 9.92 seconds. These are both average times.
You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.
The 10.7x optical zoom lens has a focal length equivalent to 28 - 300mm in 35mm format. This makes the Finepix S9500 one of the few digital cameras to offer an ultra wide angle lens. Zooming is controlled by a zoom ring on the lens. This is the only digital camera I have tested with this feature and personally I find it comes in really handy. There is also a 2x digital zoom feature.
For focusing you can choose between automatic focusing, continuous AF and manual. When using auto focus you can choose between centre, multi point and area focusing. Just like the zoom manual focusing is controlled through a ring on the lens. In my eyes this is another useful feature.
Close up photography is catered for by two macro modes. These are standard macro where the camera can focus from 10cms away from the subject and digital macro where the camera can get in as close as 1cm.
For composing images there is a viewfinder or a 1.8" LCD screen. The screen can be tilted so that you can move it away from the glare of sunlight or simply for you to use it at a more convenient angle. The screen is made up of around 118,000 pixels. The LCD screen also displays useful information such as low battery warning, room left on the memory card and a histogram.
The built in flash unit has a maximum range of 5.6m. This falls to 3m when the zoom lens is in use. The flash modes available are Auto, Red-eye Reduction, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro., Red-eye Reduction + Slow Synchro. You can also increase or decrease the power of the flash to suit the situation you find yourself in at the time. There is also a hot shoe allowing you to add an external flash light.
To add something different to your photos you can shoot in black and white or chrome. In addition you can adjust the levels of sharpness, saturation and contrast. There is also a self timer mechanism that allows you to appear in the photo. This can be set to a delay of either two or ten seconds. A different feature to normal is multiple exposure. This allows you to overlay images to create ghostly effects.
You can take full control over your images by using fully manual exposure, aperture priority or shutter priority. Shutter speeds can be set in the range 30 seconds - 1/4000 seconds. There is also a bulb setting available. The full range of shutter speeds is only available in fully manual mode. The aperture of the lens ranges from f2.8 to f11.
As well as the fully manual mode there are a small number of predefined scene modes. These are Anti Blur, Natural Light, Night, Portrait and Landscape. All you need to do is select the most appropriate scene and the camera will use what it believes to be the optimum settings of the photo.
Among the more advanced features are high speed shooting, best framing, white balance (Automatic scene recognition/Preset (Fine, Shade, Fluorescent (Daylight), Fluorescent (Warm White), Fluorescent (Cool White), Incandescent/Custom white balance (2 types))), three types of metering (Multi, Spot, Average), sensitivity (ISO 80 / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600), and exposure compensation (-2 EV to +2 EV in 1/3 EV-step increments (P, S, A)). Images can be stored in RAW format as well as Jpeg.
After you have taken a photo you can trim or crop the image as well as adding a short voice memo to a photo.
Printing 6x4" photos is made easier by the inclusion of a 3:2 aspect ratio. There are a number of different resolutions you can shoot at if you do not want to utilize the full nine megapixels.
Movies with a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 pixels can be captured. The top frame per second speed is thirty. Movies can be recorded up to the capacity of the memory card. Zoom can be used during the recording and sound is recorded as well.
Fuji supplies all the necessary cables and software to connect the Finepix S9500 to a computer, television set and a PictBridge compatible printer.
Ease of Use
There is obviously a lot to get to know before you can feel fully at home with the Finepix S9500. With the range of features a camera like this has you will need to spend plenty of time with your camera to make the most of it. Fuji does a pretty good job in making the camera as easy to use as possible. There are far more buttons on the back, top and sides of the camera than you are normally likely to find. Although you need to understand what the various buttons do this does place many key controls at your fingertips.
The menu system is fairly straightforward although I did find it a bit cramped.
You can pick up a Fuji Finepix S9500 for around £330. This compares to around £350 for a Nikon Coolpix D50, £430 for a Nikon Coolpix 8800 and £320 for a Canon Powershot S3 IS.
It is not easy to find other similar digital cameras to compare the Finepix S9500 against. Out of the cameras listed above its nearest rival is the Nikon Coolpix 8800. This is a a digital camera with a similar set of features. The Canon Powershot S3 IS is a super zoom digital camera. They are similar in terms of price, but the fact that the Finepix S9500 is able to produce photos without purple fringing gives it a useful advantage in my view. The Nikon D50 is there so you can compare the price of an entry level Digital SLR.
Fuji have based the Finepix S9500 on a typical SLR design. Not surprisingly when compared to other consumer level digital cameras this one is very heavy weighing in at 645g. It feels good in the hand and I get the idea it is fairly robust. It has dimensions of 128 x 93 x 129mm.
Another plus point is the quality of the control dials on the camera. They have a very pleasing, sturdy feel to them.
Batteries and Memory Cards
Four AA batteries are used to power the camera. I would suggest considering using a set of rechargeable batteries to cut down on running costs.
Either xD cards, CompactFlash or MicroDrives can be used to store images. Fuji supplies a 16mb xD card with the Finepix S9500. I was only able to take seven photos before the memory card became full. Therefore picking up a high capacity card to go with the camera is more or less a necessity.
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Points I like:
Design and build quality
Zoom and focus rings
Where it is not so hot:
Outdoor images could be a shade sharper
If you do not want the expense of a Digital SLR camera then the Fuji Finepix S9500 could be the answer you are looking for. It has a great set of features and takes good photos. I was especially impressed with its work indoors is less than perfect light. This is certainly a camera for someone who is serious about photography rather than someone with a passing interest.
Fuji Finepix S9500 Front View
Fuji Finepix S9500 Back View
Fuji Finepix S9500 Side View Fuji Finepix S9500 Top View
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