Fujifilm FinePix E900
At a Glance
Fujifilm FinePix E900 Compact Camera
Delivers high image quality and many controls. However, the price is high and image editing software is limited.
Digital camera resolution keeps going up, and the FinePix E900 ($410 as of 2/6/06) continues this trend as the first point-and-shoot camera we'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.
The images that this combination produces are very attractive. In our tests we saw vivid yet accurate colors and very accurate exposures under a variety of lighting situations; the camera coped with daylight and studio setups equally well. Most impressive, among our current testing group the E900 earned the highest score for image sharpness by a significant margin. There was also little evidence of noise at lower ISO settings, although some noise appeared when the ISO was bumped to the maximum of 800. (Other Fujifilm cameras have offered an ISO setting of 1600, but not this one.)
The E900's case feels robust, and should stand up to knocks and bumps. The only possible concern is the pop-up flash on top: A small button 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 2 inches and 115,000 pixels, it is much smaller than those on many other cameras, and its lower resolution makes checking image focus a bit difficult. It seems rather odd that the highest-resolution point-and-shoot camera we've encountered would have one of the smallest and least usable LCD screens we've seen. 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 for this camera: Powered by two AA NiMH rechargeable batteries, the E900 lasted an impressive 326 shots in our tests, easily enough for a trip of several days. And you can swap out the included rechargeable batteries in favor of a pair of disposable AAs, which is useful if you run out of power away from the charger.
The camera is very easy to use. The rounded bump on the front provides a comfortable hand grip, 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. At the bottom left of the back panel is a button (marked with an F) that provides quick access to commonly used settings such as image size and quality, ISO settings, and color settings.
Also featured is 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 determining when the camera is properly focused difficult.
In our evaluations, the E900 was pretty responsive, exhibiting a shutter lag of around half a second and taking about 3 seconds to start up. That's acceptable, but not great--you could miss some shots if you aren't quick on the shutter.
But these complaints are fairly minor, and the camera works well in the automatic modes. You get few shooting modes (natural light, portrait, sports and night), but they should be enough to cover most situations. All in all, the E900 is a nice camera for the user who wants the simplicity of a point-and-shoot model in addition to the ability to take control when required.