Fujifilm FinePix S9500 Zoom review

Price when reviewed

As the S9500 isn’t an SLR, some may feel it shouldn’t be in this test. However, the price puts it in direct competition with models like the Nikon D50, and Fujifilm is clearly aiming it at the same audience.

Fujifilm FinePix S9500 Zoom review

With a sensor resolution of 3,488 x 2,616 and a versatile lens, which, in 35mm terms, equates to 28-300mm, the S9500 beats everything else on test. The non-removable lens means dust will never get on the sensor, and you can still use filters.

The S9500 also lets you frame shots with the (admittedly small) 1.8in LCD. It flips out, allowing you to frame from high or low angles – a tricky prospect with an SLR. A quick look at the specifications shows that not much is given away to others: you can shoot in RAW mode, there’s ISO selection from 80-1,600 and full manual control.

Weighing in at 766g, the S9500 is light enough and comfortable to hold and use. It’s well built, and most buttons you’d want are present, with other functions easily reachable via menus. Menus are relatively intuitive, although the setup options are buried too deep for our liking.

Power comes from four AA batteries, which is a blessing and a curse. Alkaline replacements are always available, but don’t last long because of the LCD and EVF (electronic viewfinder) constantly draining them. No rechargeables are included.

Image quality is respectable, but it doesn’t match the others here. The small sensor is partly to blame: while you can select up to ISO 1,600, noise is still more noticeable than with other cameras at equivalent settings. Resolution isn’t as good as the 9-megapixel rating would suggest either, although this is partly the fault of the optics: images have soft focus.

This was true with our indoor shot too; looking close up, detail is much fuzzier than the 6-megapixel Nikon. We were fairly impressed with the auto white balance, though, and flash performance was also fine. Outdoors, the Fuji produces good exposures with natural colours. Macro performance will beat all others, as it can focus down to just 17mm.

Another bonus is the ability to shoot unlimited-length VGA video clips. But if you want to be creative with stills, the minimum aperture of f/11 is too big. We don’t like the focus-by-wire approach, and prefer an optical viewfinder too. Add the relatively slow operation when shooting and reviewing images and we can’t recommend the Fujifilm.

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