capsule review

Fujifilm FinePix E900 camera

Digital camera resolution keeps going up, and the Fujifilm FinePix E900 exemplifies this trend as the first point-and-shoot camera I’ve seen with a 9-megapixel sensor. It’s no slouch in the features department either, offering a long 4X optical zoom and Fujifilm’s new Real Image Processor chip.

This camera produces very attractive images, with vivid yet accurate colors and exposures in a variety of lighting situations; the camera coped with daylight and studio setups equally well. Images were quite sharp, as well. There was also little evidence of noise at lower ISO settings, although some noise appeared when I bumped the ISO to the maximum of 800.

The E900’s case feels sturdy, and should stand up to knocks and bumps. The only possible concern is the pop-up flash on top: a small button positioned nearby opens it, and it could easily get caught on something and damaged if it accidentally opens inside a pocket or bag.

The LCD screen on the back of the camera was also a little disappointing. At just 2 inches and 115,000 pixels, it is much smaller than screens on many other cameras, and its lower resolution makes checking image focus difficult. It seems odd that such a high resolution point-and-shoot camera would have one of the smallest and least usable LCD screens. However, the E900 also has an optical viewfinder, which can replace the LCD for shooting and help save battery life.

Not that battery life is a problem: powered by two AA nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries, the E900 lasted an impressive 326 shots, enough for a trip of several days. And you can swap out the included rechargeable batteries for a pair of disposable AAs—useful if you run out of power away from the charger.

Using this camera is a snap. The rounded bump on the front provides a comfortable handgrip, and the shutter and zoom controls fall right under the index finger and thumb. You can access most of the controls through the on-screen menu by using the four-way control dial, which has a button for opening the menu and selecting options in the middle. A button at the bottom left of the back panel provides quick access to commonly used settings such as image size and quality, ISO, and color.

The camera also has a good selection of manual controls, including a full Manual mode and aperture- and shutter- priority. There is no manual white balance, though; you must use either the presets or the automatic setting. Unfortunately, some of the controls are not easy to use. The manual focus is a particular pain: you have to press two buttons at once to change the focus point, and the small LCD screen makes it hard to determine when the camera is properly focused.

The E900 was pretty responsive, exhibiting a shutter lag of around half a second and taking about three seconds to start up. That’s acceptable, but not great—you could miss some shots if you aren’t quick. These are minor complaints, though, and the camera works well in the automatic modes. You get only a few shooting modes (Natural Light, Portrait, Sports, and Night), but they should be enough to cover most situations.

performance

Image Quality Very Good
Battery Life Very Good

Scale = Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed, Unacceptable

How we tested: The image-quality rating of the camera is based on a panel of judges’ opinions in five categories: exposure, color, sharpness, distortion, and overall. Battery life testers follow a precise script, including shots with and without flash, until the battery dies.—Tested in conjunction with the PC World Test Center

Specifications

Resolution 9 megapixels
Zoom/Focal Length (35mm equivalent) 4x optical (32-128mm)
Battery Type Rechargeable AA
Media Slots xD Picture Card (1)
Size (wxhxd) 4.0 x 2.5 x 1.4 inches
Weight 9.2 oz.

Macworld’s buying advice

Overall, the Fujifilm FinePix E900 is a good choice for people who want the simplicity of a point-and-shoot and the ability to take control when required. Its high-quality images and ease of use add to its value.

[ Richard Baguley is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in PC World, Wired, and JIWire.com. He also maintains a Camcorder blog.]

FinePix E900
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