|Nov 21, 2005, 04:25 PM||#1|
Picked a new camera - FujiFilm FinePix E900
My Nikon CoolPix 990 has been dying for over a year and finally bit the dust for good last month so I have been looking for a new digital camera. I'm not super pleased with the available cameras so I decided to get a compact one that could tied me over until the new stuff that is in the labs comes to the mainstream. In the long run this camera will act as my pocket camera that I can always have with me out in the field or woods where I can't be lugging around something better.
In the mean time I've been making do with my son's point and shoot (P&S) Casio QV-2300UX. If I can get photos with that I can get photos with almost anything. It has been a real trial and test of my patience and creativity. It will make anything I get seem wonderful. An interesting lesson in purchasing...
The following cameras have been my top contenders:
Nikon S2 - lack of controls and prop. battery
Nikon S3 - lack of controls and prop. battery
Nikon S4 - horrid interface and lack of manual controls
Ricoh GR - lack of availability and high price
Fuji E900 - see below
Fuji F11 - prop battery but hot camera - not available in USA
Fuji F10 - good camera but no manual controls
Fuji F700 - good but older camera
Canon SD550 - good but bulky feeling, ugly screen, prop batt
Canon A620 - poor power usage, low ISO
Canon S80 - Odd size, prop battery, low ISO
Olympus SP-500 UZ - bigger, low movie format, low ISO
Good camera stores are not something that is locally readily available to me so I have to do all my research on the web. Unfortunately that means I can't handle the camera before buying, something I would pay extra for since there are subtle things you don't get from reviews and spec sheets. I did get to handle a few of the cameras at Circuit City in Burlington and almost bought the Canon SD550. I played with the Nikon CoolPix S4 there but was severely disappointed. The controls on the S4 felt horrible. The little joystick they introduced with that camera is very hard to use. The fact that it truly lacks manual control over essential things like shutter speed and aperture knocked it out of the race. I wish Nikon made and S5 with full manual control and a better button set.
After much dithering I went with the Fuji FinePix E900. The biggest factors were decent photo quality, small size (4" x 2.5" x 1.3"), fast (1 second) startup time and zero shutter lag (0.01 sec on spec sheet). The Casio, and even my Nikon, had serious startup time and shutter lag issues. I look forward to having photos taken when I click the shutter button and not two seconds later. Even with full manual controls including focus, white balance, etc the Nikon never was that fast by far. This resulted in many missed shots.
The 9.0 Mega pixel sensor isn't really what I'm after although that will give extra capability for cropping which gives more effective zoom range than the built in optical zoom of 4x (32-128mm 35mm equiv.). I expect to normally shoot in 3MP or 6MP ranges to save space. There is some indication that increases image quality from some early reports. The fact that the imaging chip is the newer octagonal double (suppressed HR 5th Gen.) imaging chip is a plus and something I had wanted to get. The chip uses two photo sensors (one big & one little) in each pixel position. This is supposed to give better dynamic range and sensitivity. I like the higher ISO 800 for low light shooting (range is 80-800).
The Fuji FinePix E900 has an optical viewfinder which is great for bright light situations like outdoors - rare in P&S cameras these days, and the LCD is 2.0" 115,000 pixels. It is not a moveable LCD like with the Nikon 990 and I'll miss that twist. There are some cameras with 2.5" and 3.0" LCDs as well as higher resolution on the LCD.
It does use a new and very slightly more expensive memory card format (xD Picture Card) and that is a bother. I would have liked to have been able to continue using my existing Compact-Flash cards and adapters. SD would have been nice if not CF. The upside is the xD format is faster than what I've used before so the camera can shoot continuous video, transfer photos faster, etc.
A minor annoyance is there is no lens thread. I'm not surprised given that this is a compact P&S camera but it would have been nice. My 990 had a threaded lens so I could put on a UV filter to protect the real lens and get UV filtering plus I had grey filters I used for high intensity situations like photos on snow and at sea. There is a tripod thread but it is not clear if it is metal or plastic. Metal would be preferable.
Two thing things it is missing that I had hoped for are Panorama mode (Stitch Assist) and Time Lapse Photography. The former is something my son's camera has and works remarkably well. I have done a lot of pans with my camera - I stitch them by hand in Photoshop. That is a minor lacking. More importantly is I was hoping for the time lapse as I wanted to be able to take photos in sequence over long periods. It would have been a fun feature to have and was available on a few of the cameras I looked at.
An important thing in this camera is that it is one few I have been able to find that is both small in size yet it uses AA batteries. I really do not like the idea of using special expensive battery packs. I much prefer using readily available and inexpensive AA NiMH rechargeable batteries to expensive proprietary lithium batteries. I have high capacity NiMH AA and AAA's for many other devices. I've got the chargers. Batteries eventually die after three to five years. It is cheap to get more AA and AAA's - proprietary batteries are very expensive to replace. In a pinch one can buy Alkaline batteries at the store if you get caught out with none charged on a trip. I wish the PowerBooks and iBooks could take AA and AAA packs for these same reasons.
Image quality looks very good over all aside from the chromatic aberrations (CA) I discuss below. I've seen some sample E900 photos on FujiFilm's web sites and from early users of the camera (see dpreview.com forums for some). The one bad thing is the lens elements are not quite as good as I would like. The Canon lenses look better to me in this respect. I saw some chromatic aberrations in some E900 super high contrast images (e.g., a bright white sky behind a tree or overhead power wires) which causes the infamous purple fringing along the edges of thin dark lines. But I only saw this in poorly shot images. Without trying the camera for myself it is hard to know how much of an issue this really is. I do not expect a point and shoot camera to have the absolute best optics - it's not going to be as good as my Canon A-1 SLR or a DSLR. Hopefully the E900 will make for a good in the pocket, always available transition camera.
The camera lists for $499. The best price I have found is $399 BUT they don't actually have the camera. In fact, no vendors with a price below $414 (Page Computers) seems to actually have the Fuji FinePix E900 in stock. Availability seems to be a bit tight so if you order this camera make sure the vendor has it in stock and get a firm ship date.
This is Fuji's web site: (a bit flakey, set Safari to Mozilla)
Here are some reviews and user comments:
Forum with some photos. Search on e900:
The final telling will come next week after I've used it a bit. It is scheduled to arrive Friday, the end of this week. Realize this here is a preview, not a review. I'm explaining what I just ordered today and why. Next week I can comment on actual performance.
in the woods
on a mountain
without a camera
|Nov 21, 2005, 04:55 PM||#2|
I recently bought a Fuji F10; I'd have preferred the F11 but needed to have it before the F11 arrived in stores. Still, you can make coarse adjustments to the F10 by using a half-press on the shutter and using AE compensation and I got some nice results on my recent holiday. The ISO 1600 was amazingly usable - particularly at smaller print sizes. It was great taking pictures without a flash and still having them usable.
The proprietary battery actually wasn't an issue for me this time round; the AAs were less appealing to me although I wholeheartedly agree on preferring an SD card. I charged the camera twice on a 2 week trip (first time, it was still on 2 bars of charge but I had a heavy day planned, second time I got it down to one bar) - taking around 700 pictures which I was pretty impressed by compared to my old Canon S30 which only took about 70 per charge.
Here are a few pics from the F10... the ones in the dark were taken at ISO80 without a flash but propped on a handy wall/table (the Eiffel tower was from my hotel room ). The one of the leaves was at 1600 handheld without a flash - I've included a 100% crop so you can see the relative lack of noise. The only problem is that it can be a little too aggressive in selecting the high ISOs if left on Auto but that can be useful when the camera is handed to someone who doesn't understand the need to stand still when taking pictures! I'm a very rank amateur at taking pics but even I grasp that concept!
Oops.... the cat killed the rabbit
Last edited by Applespider; Nov 21, 2005 at 05:04 PM.
|Dec 1, 2005, 09:09 PM||#4|
I got my FujiFilm FinePix E900 digital camera on Friday evening and have been playing with it since. I wrote a review of it which I'll post real soon now. In the mean time, check out the photo of my clown fish on today's bog entry, the panorama of the Upper Orange Reservoir on my blog's Sunday post and another photo from the top of Sugar Mountain on Saturday's post. Click on the little pan to see the big pan if you have the bandwidth. When I post the review I'll include some RAW and 100% images. The process of reviewing the camera allowed me to test out all the features and get to know the camera. My way of learning. To summarize, I like the camera and will keep it. It does an excellent job although it is not perfect - not that I really expected to find a perfect camera. In everything there are trade offs.
|Dec 3, 2005, 07:03 PM||#5|
I finished the review and put it up at:
Discussion and sample photos.
|Dec 9, 2005, 09:00 AM||#6|
Some people have asked for a sample RAW file. Unfortunately they are 18MB so I can't post a full one. I did put up a crop from a RAW file, resaved as max quality JPG as suggested by Chris, onto my blog at this address:
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