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Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good value, but requires some patience to get the best results, 21 April 2014
This review is from: Fujifilm FinePix F900EXR Digital Camera - Black (16MP, 20x Optical Zoom) (Camera)
First off I've been using Fuji EXR cameras for years and after trying one of these for a few days, much of what I've learnt using these types of cameras applies here (the EXR part is important, the sensor is quite different to normal camera sensors)
I've a Fuji F70exr also (still working to this day) and a Fuji XS-1 bridge camera, both are also EXR models
The F900 is a good "8 megapixel camera" but an average 16mp one. Ignore the number, and try some settings to get the best out of the camera. Once set up you'll get consistently good images in bright and lower light levels.

I'll summarise with a pros and cons at the end of the review, and start with the settings first:

At the full 16mp resolution in anything other than really good light, image quality will quickly drop off, even in raw once the ISO levels increase the noise does, and after extensively testing the camera at 8mp and 16mp the differences are so marginal in most situations that I can say in confidence shoot the camera in 8mp (M image size setting)

First settings
I would suggest P mode, half resolution (M which is 8mp) and fine. DR should be set to DR400% (you can leave it on auto if you want but DR400 is ideal) Auto ISO to 800 or 1600, if you are using flash you might want to limit the ISO to 800 at most. You can leave the flash at auto so it only uses it when it needs to, or for daylight fill in shots you can use force flash (fires every time) I use Provia, I find Velvia too punchy for me (avoid it for people shots too)

For raw shooters you can get 8mp raw files too. The full 16mp raw might be worth a look for good light and very low ISO levels, but in most cases stick to half resolution
The jpegs will be quite good enough, and even in low light the results will be decent

EXR mode can be useful, you can leave this on auto (it picks what it thinks it best) but I would suggest setting it again to "Dynamic range". In this mode you can't shoot raw, and you get again half resolution 8mp images.
The EXR sensor works by expanding the dynamic range using the unique sensor (takes 2 exposures very quickly to improve the shadows and highlights) but you lose half the resolution. If you use the full resolution 16mp then the camera has to increase the ISO level (with worse image quality) to improve the dynamic range.

Signal to noise works in a similar way to the dynamic range mode, but I've yet to see any obvious advantage in most cases even in low light DR mode works well (S/N mode doesn't take 2 exposures though it combines the 2 sets of images taken at the same time and makes a smaller image) It's worth experiementing a bit though.
You can't shoot raw in EXR mode, just jpeg. You do have additional settings of DR800/1600%. This can improve DR a bit more, but even at half resolution it's increasing the ISO even in good light (thus images will degrade a bit)
Bottom line to get consistently good images in various lighting, either use P (or A) or simply leave the EXR mode to dynamic range. I prefer P as you have flash control (you don't in EXR mode)

If you want the full auto do nothing experience, set the dial to the camera icon (in between the EXR and Adv. mode position) Set image size to M, DR to 400% and Auto ISO to 800/1600, in this mode you can still set flash to auto or forced and you get a full point and shoot auto experience!
Fuji don't do a great job of explaining how to effectively use their cameras, and this has been a problem for some time. I hope that quick guide is of use for some users.

My quick summary of good and bad points are:

+ Good bang per buck nice lens range 20x (25-500mm 35mm equivalent)
+ Autofocus is fast in good light with decent accuracy (has phase detect on sensor) lower light levels really you need the AF assist to be on.
+ Build is good, solid enough metal body, fits the hand nicely.
+ 1/2-inch EXR CMOS II sensor is quite good (slightly bigger than most rivals) Image quality is quite capable (see points about settings above)
+ Option for raw shooting
+ Has built in wifi (I would prefer GPS but that's me)
+ Well featured, more modes than you can shake a stick at (I don't use most of them) though the sweep panoramic is ok, the pro low light can be useful (takes multiple shots and merges them together) Also some higher speed shooting modes 3/6/11/16 but with reductions to image size
+ Good 3" 920K LCD screen it's usable even in harsher light, but take note the screen contrast can be somewhat different to the final image
+ Bracketing is well catered for, exposure, dynamic range and flim simulation
+ Mostly consistent metering, exp compensation available for +/- 2 stops, most of the time it's about right though
+ Flash exposures are good, balancing the ambient with the flash output, no white out flash blasts!
+ Full manual controls PASM modes as well as other special modes (pro focus to blur the background)
+ The lens is quite sharp, across most of the range, but some softness in the extreme corners at the wide end

- No obvious advantages to shooting at full 16mp resolution
- Auto white balance does ok in most situations, but a bit "cool" in daylight (adjust this either in camera or later on)
- Not the easiest camera to get the best out of (requires some persistence and effort)
- Battery life is not great, about 220 odd in my field use, get a spare
- No viewfinder (would be useful at times)
- Shutter speed limited to 8 seconds (at most) could be a limitation if you are a keen night/tripod shooter
- Paint finish can be liable to chipping so take care (get a decent case)
- 16mp raw files are big (over 24MB) and even with a fast card slow the shoot to shoot times a lot
- Full HD video has stereo and AF available (you might hear the AF in quiet environments though) it's ok but nothing stand out v rivals

Taking into account the attractive price, appealing and useful all in one range of the lens, the potential to "grow" into the camera and experiment with some of the more advanced features, it is worth serious consideration (it's priced some way below rival models)
The only caution I have is if you don't really see yourself getting more into photography then you might find a less intimidating model would suit you better. The camera once set up (as above) isn't hard to use, and shot in half resolution capable of decent image quality.

The images are not as good as larger sensors such as the X10, XS-1 and don't even start to compare it to DSLR sized sensors. a starting point for someone who might have an interest in photography, it is a camera that can be quite fun to experiment with, a fairly modest price, and with care the images can be of quite good quality and "good enough" for many users. But do give yourself the time to learn the camera, it's more advanced and a bit more complicated than your normal point and shoot superzoom.
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