Check out an examination of picture quality and capabilities of the Fujifilm FinePix F900EXR, an advanced 20x compact megazoom camera.
From a photo quality standpoint, the F900EXR can produce some of the best photos you'll get from a camera in this class. The overall quality -- especially at higher ISOs -- doesn't compare with cameras with larger sensors like dSLRs, but for a small-sensor compact megazoom, it's quite good. These are 100 percent crops from our test scene to give you an idea of what you'll get at full size onscreen using the F900EXR's highest resolution, 16 megapixels. They're on the soft side with visible artifacts right down to its lowest ISO setting, so they're not great for enlarging and heavily cropping.
On the other hand, at about 50 percent, you can get up to ISO 800 and get very nice photos. And if you take advantage of all the camera can do, you can actually get good results above that sensitivity. It takes more than setting it to Auto to get them, though. You may have to adjust settings, shoot in raw, or experiment with its EXR modes to get the best results. If that's not something you're willing to do, this probably isn't a good choice. Its EXR Auto mode is very good as auto-shooting modes go, but even tweaking that mode's settings can get you better shots.
Color performance is very good: bright, vivid, and pretty close to accurate. However, at higher ISOs colors look gradually duller. If you need to shoot at higher sensitivities, you should capture raw or both JPEG and raw, if possible.
Fujifilm's high-ISO JPEG processing is pretty good at handling noise up to ISO 800. That said, shooting in raw or raw+JPEG gives you a chance to adjust it to your liking. This photo was taken at ISO 800; the top is the JPEG, the bottom is the raw image lightly processed with Adobe Camera Raw. Viewed larger you can see the differences in how the noise and noise reduction appear. Regardless, you can always use it for tweaking color and white balance, correcting lens distortion, or to recover highlight and shadow details that might otherwise be lost with a JPEG.
How many times have you been outside, shooting in the bright sun and ended up with a photo that looks like the top one here, where you've lost a ton of detail to a blown-out highlight. The F900EXR's D-Range Priority mode (bottom) solves this problem without a multishot burst or unnatural HDR results.
The F900EXR has a few options for taking low-light photos. You can, of course, pick a high ISO in one of the PASM modes (top), but that doesn't get you the best results. There's also the High Sensitivity & Low Noise Priority EXR mode (middle), which gets you less noise. And, tucked into the Advanced mode, is a Pro Low-Light setting (bottom) that captures a quick burst of shots and combines them into one with low noise and better detail. That last one works the best with the only caveat being that your subject has to be still. View larger.
The F900EXR packs a 20x, f3.5-5.3, 25-500mm lens. It's maximum aperture at the wide end (top) is slightly smaller than competing models, while its maximum aperture at the telephoto end (bottom) is faster than most.
There is no shortage of shooting modes on the F900EXR including two Auto modes (with or without scene recognition) right up to semimanual and manual controls. In manual mode, available shutter speeds start at 8 seconds and go down to 1/2,000 second (though they're dependent on the ISO used); selectable apertures include f3.5, f7.1, and f10 at wide end, and f5.3, f11, and f16 at the telephoto end.
Under the Advanced mode, you'll find a set of eight filter effects. You get a live view of the effect before you shoot, so you know just what the finished shot will look like. From top left to bottom right: Dynamic, Soft, Partial Color Blue (red, green, yellow, purple, and orange are also available), Toy, Miniature, Pop, Hi-Key, and Low-Key. View larger.
The following seven slides are included to give you an idea of the camera's image quality. I've included a link below each image to view them at full resolution. Be warned: these are large files and take time to download.