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Fujifilm FinePix S9600
When it comes to superzoom cameras, the competition is pretty crazy out there. A standard consumer camera can get away by skimping out on a couple of features here and there and still be considered good for what it does, but superzoom cameras go through a microscope before any amateur photographer shells out his money for it. With the high standards in superzooms set by Canon, Panasonic and Sony, there's a lot that a superzoom camera will have to offer to make its mark in this highly competitive territory. How well does Fujifilm's SLR-like S9600 superzoom fare in its category? That's precisely what we're about to find out.
At first look anyone will mistake the S9600 for an SLR camera, mostly because of it's manual zoom/manual focus lens and also it's overall bulky big. When I say bulky, I'm talking about 128 x 93 x 129 mm in dimensions and 750 grams in weight, which includes the weight of the four AA batteries it consumes at a time.
The screen is pretty average-sized at 2 inches, but it pops out using a dual joint mechanism that makes it easier to shoot at different angles. Though I'd definitely prefer this to having a stationary screen on the camera body, I think a tilt n' swivel mechanism would have given the user a lot more freedom to experiment with different (and tough) camera angles. The tilt n' swivel system also works great for self portraits.
Zooming is completely controlled like in an SLR, by rotating to the right till you get the required zoom level. The S9600 offer 10x optical zoom, which isn't much when compared to the 12x standard that most other cameras in the category follow, but isn't really bad either.
Its 9 megapixel resolution should satisfy any megapixel junkie out there, and also give you enough freedom to shoot any scene the way you like and crop it later to perfection without losing out on the image size.
Manual focusing takes place using a thin ring right behind the (comparatively) larger zoom ring. Though manual focus is a feature I always appreciate, the digital display always makes zooming a little imprecise for me. Thankfully, you can zoom in to the part you're trying to focus on with just a button press, which makes things a bit easier. Still, once you get a hang of this, focusing manually on a D-SLR would look like a walk in the park.
Of course, there's also autofocus, but it really doesn't serve much purpose. For some reason, the camera refused to get the right focus on anything beyond the lowest zoom level. No matter how little, or how much I zoomed, under most lighting conditions, the results would just come out of focus.
If that wasn't bad enough, optical image stabilization is sorely missed here. Normally I would consider my hands quite jitter-free, but with the kind of blurs I received from this camera, it may seem that I suffer from some kind of a neuro-muscular disease. Optical or mechanical image stabilization is a must in superzooms and skimping on that is a very bad decision.
That aside, many of the results that I got from the Fujifilm FinePix S9600 were quite gorgeous. The colors came out perfectly toned, without too much saturation or any kind of color substitution.
The shots I did manage to get without any blur, showed an excellent amount of detail and the right amount of sharpness on the focussed points.
S9600's overall performance was pretty good with fast startup times and short shot-to-shot intervals. The battery consumption is quite a bit, with four AA Duracell batteries dying out at around 70 shots.
The Fujifilm S9600 is a great way to go for superzoom cameras. Focus and zooming comes a lot more naturally using the ring rather than toggling switches. It's a great camera to learn the essentials of manual control, but the overall camera seems like a beta model with its un-ignorable flaws. Better autofocus and optical image stabilization would make a world of a difference in this superzoom.
I'm definitely looking forward to the next superzoom model Fujifilm comes out with. Considering that this one may cost you around Rs. 24,500, there are better superzoom options you can look at from Canon, Panasonic and Sony.
Fujifilm FinePix S9600
|Dimensions||128 x 93 x 129 mm|
|Effective Pixels||9 Megapixel|
|ISO Sensitivity||Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600|
|Shutter Speed||30-1/4000 sec|
|Aperture||F2.8 - F4.9|
|Scene Modes||Landscape, Anti shake, Night scene, Natural light, Portrait mode|
6 positions plus manual
|Flash||Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Off|
|Self Timer||2 - 10 secs|
|Video Resolution||640x480 @ 30fps|
|Street Price||Rs. 19,000/-|