FujiFilm Finepix Z900EXR in Review and Specifications | PC SupporterSource – Computer Shopper | December 2011
It turned the issue of megapixel one up-man-ship on its head by becoming either a 12 megapixel camera (for those who are impressed by big numbers of pixels) or a 6 megapixel camera (for those who don’t like excessively noisy photos), depending on the selected mode. The camera achieved this feat at sensor level, and not simply by downsizing the 12 megapixel shots. It also helped that the sensor measured 1/1.6in across, giving a much larger surface area than the 1/2.3in sensors used in most compacts – this too helped to keep noise levels down and picture quality up.
Since then, FujiFilm has watered down the benefits of EXR, first by shrinking the sensors to 1/2in and then by raising the megapixel count. The sensor in the Z900EXR has 16 or 8 megapixels, depending on its mode. That’s a disappointing development, but taken on its own terms, an 8 megapixel sensor in a low cost camera is exactly what we’ve been pining for.
Its other specifications belie the low price, with 1080p video recording, an HDMI output, a 5x zoom lens, a classy ultra compact aluminum shell and a 3-1/2in touchscreen.
We have mixed feelings about touchscreen cameras, and the Z900EXR encapsulates them perfectly. it’s put to good use in the track focus mode – after touching the screen, the camera tracked our chosen subject extremely responsively. The onscreen buttons are sensibly laid out in grid formation rather than as scrolling menus, and they rotate automatically when you hold the camera in portrait orientation. However, the menus didn’t always keep up with us, the camera sometimes beeped to confirm that we’d pressed it but failed to act on our request.
We started by testing the Z900EXR in 16 megapixel mode, but this didn’t last long. The lens struggled to resolve that level of detail, and photos were predictably noisy. Switching to eight megapixels showed a distinct improvement, with much less noise and, as a result, greater detail retention in low light. The 8 megapixel mode also unlocked another benefit of EXR technology, which is that it can underexpose the brightest parts of images to avoid clipped highlights. It raised performance, too, improving shot-to-shot times from 2.4 seconds to two seconds, and doubling the longevity of the 3fps burst mode to six shots.
However, EXR technology seemed to bring fewer benefits when shooting in bright conditions. There was still some noise, giving a slightly scruffy, vague appearance to fine details. Neither the sensor nor the lens could match those of the superb Canon lxus 115 HS. The Canon also nudged ahead in low light, as its f/2.8 lens gathers more light than the FujiFilm’s f/3.9 maximum aperture. Both cameras shoot 1080p video, but the FufiFilm has the advantage here with its ability to zoom and autofocus while recording.
Ultimately, the Canon’s superiority in bright conditions is the most significant difference between the two cameras, both technically and in terms of practical use. The Z900EXR is still an impressive compact, though, and comes a close second.
By - Ben Pitt