In terms of design and style the Fuji Finepix S9600 is as close as you will get to a digital SLR without buying one. It dwarfs almost every other compact digital camera on the market. This means that there is a much larger lens unit on the Finepix S9600 than on other digital cameras. The idea behind this is quite simple. A larger lens is easier to engineer and should therefore lead to better quality photos then you generally capture with a consumer digital camera.
128 x 93 x 129mm
xD-Picture Card and CompactFlash
Image Quality - See Sample Images Below
There are plenty of plus points when it comes to picture quality with the Finepix S9600 and not too many negatives.
Outdoors the camera has few problems. Looking at the first scenic shot I like the colours. They are vivid and retain a natural look. This makes the photos look like a fair reflection of the scene on the day the photo was taken.
The large lens manages to focus sharply. The brickwork on the building in the middle of the first photo is sharp and the levels of sharpness are maintained as you move out towards the edges of the shot.
It is in the second outdoor shot where the camera really comes into its own. This is the shot where many digital camera struggle to focus, but the Finepix S9600 is a long way above average and outperforms just about every other camera I have tested. This coupled with the fact the camera has a wide angle lens suggests that this camera is well worth considering if you have an interest in landscape photography.
With the zoom fully extended sharpness is also good. Taking the three shots into account this camera probably offers greater adaptability when it comes to focusing then more or less any other compact digital camera.
One negative point is that there is a small amount of purple fringing showing when the zoom lens is fully extended. This is where a small purple line is added to the edges of light coloured object where they are caught by the sun.
My earlier observations relating to colour are supported by my colour test. This confirms that the colours have plenty of depth and are well balanced.
The outdoor portrait shot could be a touch brighter. Aside from the brightness issue skin tones look natural and focusing is sharp once again. The Finepix S9600 also handles the contrast offered by the light coloured shirt very well.
Moving into lower light situations shows that the Finepix S9600 can cope even when conditions are not ideal. In both of my shots the camera is able to maintain sharpness and the photos are bright as well. No red eye reduction shows. With some distance between the lens and flash unit red eye reduction should be kept under control most of the time.
The macro shot is o.k. without being anything exceptional. If I was serious about macro photography this would not be the camera I would go for, but if you are looking to take the occasional close up shot then the Finepix S9600 should be good enough.
Pushing up ISO levels does lead to a reduction is picture quality. This is quite normal and Fuji cameras tend to cope better with higher ISO than most brands do. Pushed up to the maximum of ISO 1600 the deterioration is much more pronounced.
This is a very large digital camera. As far as I'm aware this is the largest digital camera outside of SLR cameras. In fact it is comparable in size to a camera like the Canon EOS 400D. The lens is really where the camera differs to standard compacts as it is large and heavy. The Finepix S9600 is available in black.
Shutter Lag Times
Single Shot With Flash
Five Shots With Flash
Ease of Use
As you would expect there are a lot of controls and features to get used to with a camera like the Finepix S9600. I would say that Fuji have made a fairly good job of making the camera as easy to use as possible.
Points I Like
Indoor lowlight photos - overall picture quality
Where it Could Improve
Some purple fringing when the zoom is fully or nearly fully extended
I feel pretty positive about the Fuji Finepix S9600. It will not appeal to everyone owing to its large size. If someone is looking for a camera that closely resembles a digital SLR in terms of look and feel, but is unable to afford one then this is about as close as you are likely to get. Picture quality is also good and I think the camera offers good value for money.
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