Fujifilm's FinePix S9500 is designed to resemble a budget digital SLR in style
and operation. Measuring 128x93x129mm, it's virtually the same size as the Canon
EOS-350D / Digital Rebel XT equipped with its 18-55mm kit lens - although of course
the S9500 has a much longer zoom range, details of which are on the next page.
It's pictured below next to its 12x-zoom rival the Panasonic DMC-FZ30.
Unlike most SLRs which have their lens mounts roughly in the middle of the
body though, the S9500 has it's lens barrel shifted to one side. This leaves
plenty of room for a decent sized grip and your fingers to hold onto it without
them being pinched by the lens barrel. Overall build quality is to a very high
standard, although not quite up to the feel of Panasonic's FZ30.
S9500 is packed with buttons and controls, with most located on the upper right
surface and to the right of the main display. The main Command dial offers Auto,
Program, Manual, Shutter and Aperture Priority modes, along with five scene
presets and a movie mode. Shutter speeds range from 1/4000 to 30 seconds.
The Command dial's joined by exposure compensation, flash and continuous shooting
buttons with a thumb-wheel to adjust their options. The shutter release button
sits inside the main power switch which selects between Record, Play and off.
Following Fujifilm's tradition on its higher-end cameras, the shutter release
button is threaded for an old-fashioned cheap cable release - a welcome touch
in an age where pricey electronic cable releases are the norm.
rear of the camera is home to many more controls including the usual four-way
joypad, the main menu button, a metering mode dial with exposure lock, and buttons
to switch between the screen and EVF along with their display options.
There's also Fujifilm's 'F' button which brings up quality, ISO and colour
tone options, although for white balance settings you'll need to enter the main
menu system. It seems odd not to have white balance included on the F menu,
or for that matter not to have dedicated buttons for both white balance and
ISO for use with the thumb-wheel. This would give the S9500 much more of the
SLR feel Fujifilm is clearly aiming for.
button to the left of the flash pops it open, upon which you can change its
settings by pressing the dedicated button and turning the thumb-wheel; there's
red-eye reduction and slow synchro options, along with modest flash compensation
settings of +/-2/3 EV via the main menu. There's also a basic hotshoe and a
The camera's powered by four AA batteries, and Fujifilm supplies a set of disposable
Alkalines to get you started. We managed to go through these in just a couple
of days testing though (albeit mostly using the 60 fps display mode, see later),
so the sooner you replace them with a set of rechargeables and a charger, the
better. Some people prefer AAs for their wide availability, but personally we'd
sooner have a rechargeable Lithium Ion pack every time. They're smaller, lighter
and generally last longer.
Finepix S9500 / S9000 zoom composition and screen
other all-in-one cameras with long zooms, the S9500 offers the choice of composing
with either a colour LCD screen or electronic viewfinder, EVF. The 0.44in 230,000
pixel EVF is large and detailed, matching that on the Panasonic FZ30. The S9500's
main screen is smaller and less detailed than its rival though, measuring a
fairly modest 1.8in with 118,000 pixels. A button to the right of the viewfinder
switches between the EVF and main screen.
The main screen is hinged at the top and bottom, allowing it to be flipped
90 degrees upwards for waist-level shooting, or tilted back by about 40 degrees.
Sadly it can't be twisted sideways, nor flipped back on itself to protect the
screen's surface. In this respect it's nowhere as flexible as the fully-flippable
screens of the Panasonic FZ30, Sony DSC-R1 or a number of Canon compacts, but
it is at least more flexible than a conventional digital SLR.
display button allows you to compose with three by three grid lines or view
a shrunken image with thumbnails of the previous three shots running down the
left side. An info button on the side of the camera fires up the live histogram
or shows further shooting information.
There's an option to switch the refresh rate of the screen from the standard
30 fps to a 'High Speed' 60 fps mode. This is far preferable in use, delivering
both a smoother image on the screen and greatly reducing the clicking sound
as the camera adjusts the exposure for different conditions. It does however
seem to eat through your batteries more quickly, again illustrating the need
to get a set of decent rechargeables ASAP.
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