Fujifilm FinePix S9500
- SLR look, 9 megapixels, good focus pull, good performance.
- No white balance bracketing, no focus bracketing, low speed continuous shooting,
If you don't want to fool with interchangeable lenses (or you prefer framing shots with an LCD panel), and you don't need the gee-whiz features found on other advanced models, the S9500 is a good compromise
Price$ 1,099.00 (AUD)
The Fujifilm FinePix S9500 has some of the best attributes of a single-lens reflex model in an all-in-one body, but it's still a large, bulky camera that doesn't cost much less than a true SLR. It has a fixed 28mm-to-300mm lens--quite long for a fixed-lens digital camera, yet the lens is pretty compact. The zoom is manually operated; you just twist the barrel, as you do on an SLR. The S9500 can focus on objects as close as 0.4 inch, and a button on the back of the camera pops up a small window on the LCD that helps when you're focusing manually. Pressing a button on the side of the lens will make the camera autofocus to get you close; release it, and you can then focus the rest of the way by using a ring on the lens.
The S9500 has 9-megapixel resolution--the highest we've seen on a fixed-lens camera, and higher than most digital SLRs. It has a 1.8-inch, swing-up LCD panel on the back (and unlike with an SLR, which requires you to use an optical viewfinder, you can use this LCD to frame your picture). The body feels well machined and very sturdy, as you might expect of an SLR, and it takes both XD-Picture Card and CompactFlash media.
But while the S9500 looks like an SLR, it omits some of the controls you'd find on one, or even on many of the advanced cameras ranked on our chart. It does have the usual complement of aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and full manual control, and it has some advanced controls like exposure bracketing and the ability to adjust the flash output. You can also store two custom white-balance settings. However, missing are features like white-balance bracketing and focus bracketing, and continuous shooting tops out at 1.5 frames per second (about half what a low-end SLR will do). And of course, you can't swap out the lens. The camera's price ($699 when we tested it) is only $100 less than the cost of Olympus's EVolt E-300 SLR.
That isn't to say the S9500 is totally lacking. In image quality it rated second in our current batch, beaten only by the Olympus C-7070 Wide Zoom; both cameras earned a rating of Superior. It also received consistently high marks in all of our subcategories: color, distortion, exposure, sharpness, and overall quality. We shot JPEG images, but you can also capture RAW files. However, you cannot review or delete just-taken shots in shooting mode; you must switch to playback mode. Among digital cameras, that's so 1999.
Fujifilm does not include rechargeable batteries or a charger with the S9500. Using a set of four AA disposable alkaline batteries, the camera lasted a little over an hour in our tests, good for only 282 shots; as a result it tied for last among our current batch of cameras.
Upshot: The S9500 looks like an SLR, and in some respects it performs like one. If you don't want to fool with interchangeable lenses (or you prefer framing shots with an LCD panel), and you don't need the gee-whiz features found on other advanced models, the S9500 is a good compromise. But it's hard to ignore the fact that you can get an SLR for only a little more.
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