Review Fujifilm's FinePix S9500 Zoom is a nine megapixel all-in-one 'bridge' camera with a long 10.7x optical zoom lens and SLR-like styling. With its design and features, Fujifilm is clearly targeting buyers of budget digital SLRs, quoting LCD-based composition, a tilting monitor, movie mode and no concerns over dust getting on the sensor as key advantages. It's also comfortably cheaper than most budget digital SLRs...
Of course, if you can't remove the lens you'll want some decent glass up-front, and the S9500 certainly delivers the goods in terms of focal range at least. Where most compacts and all-in-ones start at a modest wide angle equivalent to around 35mm, the S9500 boasts a considerably more useful 28mm. It then optically zooms right into a powerful telephoto equivalent to 300mm and even offers a ridiculously close Super Macro mode of just 1cm. Try doing all of that with the bundled 3x zoom you get with a digital SLR.
Combine this with the tilting screen, movie mode and respectably high sensitivity of 1600 ISO for an all-in-one, and you've got quite a compelling package. Of course, in their favour, digital SLRs should deliver lower noise levels, superior manual focusing and the ability to swap lenses should you want to. Can the S9500 really compete with a budget digital SLR, or will it end up appealing to a different market?
We've used Fujifilm Europe's product naming convention in this review. The S9500 is known as the S9000 in the US, but it's exactly the same camera as reviewed here.
Measuring 12.8 x 9.3 x 1.3cm, the S9500 is virtually the same size as the Canon EOS-350D/Digital Rebel XT equipped with its 18-55mm kit lens - although the S9500 has a much longer zoom range. Unlike most SLRs, which have their lens mounts roughly in the middle of the body, the S9500 has it's lens barrel shifted to one side. This leaves plenty of room for a decent sized grip and your fingers to hold onto it without them being pinched by the lens barrel. Overall, build quality is to a very high standard, although not quite up to the feel of Panasonic's FZ30.