It's amazing just how much is expected of a basic camera today. Fujifilm’s loaded FinePix S9100, successor to the S9500, does its best to raise expectations even more with an array of impressive features.
Novices will have an easy time with the S9100. There are the typical automatic presets for nighttime, portrait, landscape and natural lighting. A picture stabilization mode also is available for fast-moving subjects, freezing them in action through a computerized combination of ISO and shutter speed. The pictures are crisp, though a little noisy as the ISO increases.
The LCD screen size has been bumped up to a two-inch display and, while still small compared to other monitors of its class, it’s incredibly sharp and bright. The LCD provides a great picture preview, and it’s anchored to a swivel for a tilting view, helpful for those low-to-the-ground or up-in-the-air shots that usually require uncomfortable body contortion.
For those of us used to focusing through a viewfinder, Fujifilm has included an EVF (electronic viewfinder). Mostly helpful for those occasions when you just can’t get the LCD out of the sun, the EVF is essentially a low-resolution internal video display cast directly from the sensor. Just as with the LCD screen, vital information, such as a histogram of the potential shot, can be overlaid.
A variety of manual features will please the more advanced shooter. A particular favorite of mine is the one-touch autofocus button, located on the side of the camera. While shooting in manual focus mode, it’s just a touch of the button to pull focus from long range to close, and then it’s a quick fine-tune from there with the focus ring included at the base of the lens.
There’s a 10.7x optical zoom lens, 28-300mm, with an optional wide conversion lens that adds 0.8x magnification. ISO sensitivity begins at ISO 80 and extends all the way to 1600.
The sensitivity at this rate provides for some really low-light shooting, but there’s an obvious increase in noise, even at not very high ISO levels.
The S9100’s 9-megapixel, fifth-generation Super CCD HR (high-resolution) sensor can capture a variety of JPEG sizes and also in uncompressed RAW format. Shooting in this format allows for great maneuverability in postproduction. The files are much larger and the camera’s processing time is longer, but the noticeable improvement in dimension and image quality is worth it. The camera has slots for both CompactFlash/Microdrive and xD Picture cards, addressing the extra need for storage. You can even load both types at the same time if you feel you need the backup.
I had fun playing with the camera, too. The S9100 shoots in standard mode, black-and-white or a chrome mode for high-contrast and high-saturation pictures, useful for bright pictures of subjects like flowers or sunsets. And the movie mode can record at 640 x 480 pixels at 30 fps. Recordable audio is available as a voice memo, attachable to any of your pictures.
The included flash is good for close shots, and you can add an additional flash when you need more light. Six white-balance presets can be previewed on your scene in the monitor. There’s onboard cropping and rotation, and you can print directly from the S9100.
The Fujifilm FinePix S9100 is well designed, with everything a camera at this price range should have and more, though I’d class it as a high-end consumer choice rather than a low-end prosumer model, due mainly to lower image quality at higher ISO settings. Estimated Street Price: $599.
Contact: Fujifilm, (800) 800-FUJI, www.fujifilm.com.
Specs Of Note
Sensor Size: 9-megapixel Super CCD HR
Zoom: 10.7x optical; 2x digital
Lens: 28-300mm (35mm equivalent)
LCD: 2-inch tiltable
File Format: RAW, JPEG, AVI (Movie)
Shutter Speed: 4 to 1/4000 sec., plus Bulb
Shooting Speed: 1.5 fps up to 4 frames
Size: 5x3.7x5.1 inches
Weight: 22.9 ounces
1 Swivel LCD screen for shooting outside of eye level
2 RAW file capture in addition to JPEG
3 28-300mm optical lenswith a 10.7x zoom
4 A variety of automatic and manual shooting modes for a variety