Fujifilm's advanced Z900 EXR model boasts a large touchscreen display and a back-illuminated sensor. The What Digital Camera Fuji Z900 EXR takes a closer look at whether image quality is up to scratch...
Fujifilm FinePix Z900 EXR review – Features
Picking up from where last year’s Z800 EXR model left off, Fujifilm’s new Z900 EXR maintains the same ideas as its predecessor while improving key areas of its specification.
This includes the sensor, which is now a 1/2in-sized 16MP back-illuminated CMOS chip with an image-stabilising shift function, based on the same EXR technology as before. This allows it to switch between High Resolution, Wide Dynamic Range and High Sensitivity/Low Noise options, depending on which best suits the scene being captured (as judged by the camera).
The model also carries on the same 5x optical zoom as its predecessor, although in place of the former 35-175mm range it now travels between 28-140mm. A new EXR Auto mode also features, which automatically selects one of 27 scene modes to fit the subject, while Full HD video capture is also on hand, recording at 30fps and with stereo sound.
Other notable features include a Motion Panorama option, a 12fps burst mode, and a range of Face Detection-oriented technologies, such as timers which are programmed to fire the shutter once a number of faces have entered the frame. The model also runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and accepts SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards in addition to its 63MB of internal memory.
Fujifilm FinePix Z900 EXR review – Design
Fujifilm’s Z-range has long been marketed as the stylish part of the company’s compact stable, and the Z900 maintains a design similar to the two models it follows. At 151g with a battery and card it’s not the lightest of its kind, but at just over 18mm thick it’s still slim enough to be slipped into the average pocket.
The camera’s front is dominated by a sliding lens cover which turns the camera off and on, although the position of the lens in the camera’s top-right hand corner is a little inconvenient, as the natural way you would hold such a camera makes it easy for a finger to be caught in the top of the frame.
A zoom collar sits around the shutter release on the top plate, and is joined by a one-touch movie record button, while USB and HDMI ports are found on the camera’s side, each covered by a small plastic door. The rear, meanwhile, is almost entirely occupied by the 3.5in touchscreen, its only other feature being the ‘Home’ button to its side.
Performance and Image Quality
Fujifilm FinePix Z900 EXR review – Performance
Almost all of the Z900 EXR’s controls are accessed through its touchscreen, where buttons are large enough to be pressed comfortably and respond well to the touch. This extends to the Touch EXR Auto shooting option which swiftly focuses on and captures the subject of the user’s choosing.
The menu system also makes excellent use of colour and graphics to illustrate the camera’s functionality, while the controls helpfully rotate when the camera is alternated between landscape and portrait positions. Overall, there’s little to fault with both the camera’s graphic user interface and the operation of its touchscreen controls.
Despite a slightly tardy start-up time, the camera does an excellent job to quickly bring subjects into focus, and continuously focuses as the camera is moved or as the zoom is operated. There’s no shutter lag once the shutter release button has been depressed, and the camera is ready almost immediately for another image to be taken.
The screen suffers from some visibility issues in bright sunlight, although this problem is common to all such compacts. With a 460k-dot resolution, though, it does a great job to show scene details clearly in more balanced conditions, and makes light work of checking focus post capture.
Fujifilm FinePix Z900 EXR review – Image Quality
Image quality from the Z900 is a mixed bag. At the camera’s default settings images lack a little vibrancy and contrast, with slightly flat colours and washed out results, although adjustments to these parameters can be made in-camera. During the test the camera’s metering system performed well, even when faced with difficult conditions, although it did have a tendency to overexpose when not faced with a balanced combination of highlights, midtones and shadows. Thankfully the camera’s Auto White Balance system is a little more reliable.
Slight distortion is noticeable at the wideangle setting of the camera’s optic, although the camera’s processing engine straightens the majority of this out. Similarly, some chromatic aberrations are visible throughout images too, although not to the point where it’s a problem.
In terms of details, close-up viewing shows images to be affected by image noise reduction and other processing artefacts, leaving a texture where there should be fine details. This is the case even on lower sensitivities, which is a shame, but if you’re not looking at images at their full size you’re unlikely to notice. High-ISO results, however, are noticeably better than those from similar compacts, with night-time images shot at ISO 800 and above retaining excellent detain and less noise than expected. Presumably, this is the result of the combined benefits of Fujifilm’s EXR technology and a back-illuminated sensor structure.
Value and Verdict
Fujifilm FinePix Z900 EXR review – Value
The Fujifilm Z900’s asking price of just over £200 is similar to that of rival compacts, such as Panasonic’s FX77. Although image quality between the two is similar, the Panasonic just has the edge when the lighting is good, while the Fujifilm Z900 is the better option for low-light shooting. In many other respects the two do well to match each other, so if you’re interested in one you should probably add the other to your shortlist too.
Fujifilm FinePix Z900 EXR review – Verdict
Thanks to its large, responsive touchscreen and the way in which the
camera is operated the Z900 is an enjoyable model to use. True, its
images aren’t quite up to scratch on their default settings, but
high-sensitivity images turn out better than expected, making it a
useful and stylish option for a night out.