The Fujifilm FinePix S9500 Zoom is one of the best EVF models at mimicking budget dSLR features, but it doesn't match the image quality
- DSLR-like handling
- Solid performance
- Long zoom range
- Dual external-flash connections
- Chromatic aberration
- Noise-reduction artifacts at high ISOs
Photo enthusiasts who don't expect the best image quality at high ISO settings, are happy with a four-frame burst mode and like the S9500's zoom range will find in this camera a good combination of performance, features and dSLR-like operation. The Fujifilm FinePix S9500 also stacks up very well against other EVF superzoom cameras. But if you must have all the qualities digital SLRs are known for, you're better off with the real thing.
The control layout of the 128 by 93 by 129mm, 645g Fujifilm FinePix S9500 is its most SLR-like aspect, which means it bristles with controls for a broad range of options. But not all the most frequently used settings are among them. For example, many cameras have dedicated buttons for white balance, ISO, self-timer and resolution -- on the S9500, setting those options requires a trip to the menu system. Dividing the adjustments between the Menu and Function buttons shortens the journey, but if you want to take just a few photos in raw format, be prepared for a minimum of 12 key presses.
The Fujifilm FinePix S9500 lays out other controls more conveniently. The top surface includes a mode dial with the enthusiast-favoured MASP (Manual, Aperture/Shutter Priority, Programmed) options plus Motion Picture, Auto and five scene modes, including Anti-Blur, Natural Light, Portrait, Landscape and Night. Dedicated keys for exposure compensation, flash and burst mode dot the top panel and work in conjunction with an onscreen menu and a command dial just behind the button array. A shutter release with a concentric on/off/review/recording dial sits on the comfortable handgrip. The hump where the pentaprism would reside on a dSLR hosts a pop-up electronic flash and a hotshoe for an external speed light. A second flash connector resides on the front of the S9500 in the form of a standard PC (short for shutter pioneers Prontor-Compur, not 'personal computer') terminal. Also up front are an external autofocus sensor and a brilliant green autofocus-assist lamp.
On the left side sit the USB, A/V and DC-power ports, a dial for switching between single AF, continuous AF and manual focus (with a one-touch autofocus override button), and a key to activate Macro and Super Macro modes. An Info button displays a histogram and status information about current settings, including white balance, contrast and flash compensation. A Disp button on the back of the camera cycles through additional status information, such as shutter speed, f/stop, ISO and so on, a rule-of-thirds grid, and other data. Those who want to keep tabs on the CompactFlash or xD-Picture memory card in use, the zoom setting and other minutiae will love the info. We found the text display cluttered and switched it off most of the time.
The 118,000-pixel, 46mm (1.8-inch) double-hinged LCD flips out from the back panel for waist-level or overhead viewing, but we preferred the dioptre-correctable eye-level EVF, with its smoother-looking 235,000-pixel resolution. Both LCDs show virtually 100 per cent of the picture area. To the right of the Function and Disp buttons sits a four-way cursor pad with embedded Menu/OK button. Pressing it up and down activates and cancels the 2x digital-zoom feature. Another dial chooses 256-segment evaluative, centre-weighted, or spot metering. Other features include an exposure-lock button, a selector to switch between the EVF and the LCD, and a handy focus-check button that enlarges the centre portion of the image to make it easier to focus.
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