Fujifilm FinePix Z900EXR Overview
The Fujifilm FinePix Z900EXR is based around a newly developed, 16.0 effective megapixel, 1/2-inch backside illuminated EXR CMOS image sensor, in place of the previous Z800 model's 12 megapixel Super CCD EXR chip. Sharp-eyed readers will notice the absence of the Super CCD designation on the new sensor, and Fujifilm's marketing materials suggest that the octagonal pixels synonymous with Super CCD chips have been dropped in favor of square pixels, while retaining the 45-degree rotated pixel array and rearranged color filter array from past EXR sensors. The sensor's rotated layout improves resolution on the horizontal and vertical axes, and its color filter array improves green channel resolution (to which the human eye is most sensitive), albeit at the expense of red and blue channel resolution. It also offers more effective pixel binning (for improved sensitivity at reduced resolution), plus the ability to read out half the pixels during exposure (for increased dynamic range). As with previous EXR chips, the Fuji Z900 can automatically select the best mode of operation -- favoring the best resolution, dynamic range, or signal/noise ratio -- via its EXR Auto mode. One important difference from the Z800's sensor, though, is that the new sensor appears to forgo the unusual on-chip phase detection autofocus points of its predecessor; the Z900 EXR instead opts for a contrast detection autofocus system that the company claims can achieve a focus lock in as little as 0.16 seconds, a negligible difference from the manufacturer-supplied spec of 0.158 seconds for the Z800's phase detect AF system.
Maximum image resolution is 4,608 x 3,456 pixels in the camera's native 4:3 aspect ratio, and a 16:9 aspect ratio mode is also available. The Z900's sensor is coupled to a new, wider Fujinon-branded 5x optical zoom lens that offers actual focal lengths ranging from 5.0 to 25.0mm, equivalent to 28 to 140mm on a 35mm camera - a useful wide angle to a moderate telephoto. The Fuji Z900EXR has a two-step aperture, offering either F3.9 or F6.2 at wide angle, and either F4.9 or F8.0 at telephoto. Minimum focusing distance is ordinarily 2.0 feet at wide angle or 3.3 feet at telephoto, but drops to just 3.5 inches in Macro mode at wide angle, or 7.9 inches at telephoto. There's no true optical viewfinder on this model, with all interaction taking place on a 3.5-inch touchpanel wide-screen LCD display with 460,000 dot resolution, and this display provides 100% frame coverage. The touch panel now supports multi-touch operations, and the on-screen GUI now includes flash animations and functions at increased resolution.
The FinePix Z900EXR offers ISO-equivalent sensitivity ranging from 100 to 3,200, but can raise the maximum to 6,400 equivalent at a reduced resolution. Exposures are determined using 256-zone multiple metering, and shooting modes include Program plus a variety of scene modes that allow a modicum of control over the look of images. In addition, the Z900 can automatically recognize 27 different scene types, up from just six in the previous camera.
Shutter speeds range from 1/1,000 to 4 seconds. Burst shooting is possible at up to three frames per second at full resolution, almost double the Z800's speed, albeit with burst depth almost halved to just three shots. The FinePix Z900EXR includes true mechanical (CCD shift-type) image stabilization to combat blur from camera shake, although there's no mention whether the design still includes the Z800's gyroscope. In that camera, the gyro allowed for correction of bigger, slower movements, as well as correction during movie capture, so hopefully the system has been retained.
Seven white balance modes are available, including automatic or six presets; manual white balance is not possible on this camera. The Fuji Z900EXR's built-in seven-mode flash has a much narrower standard range of 1.0 to 9.8 feet at wide angle, or 3.3 to 6.9 feet at telephoto, although in Macro mode it throttles down much better and can function within a range of 3.9 inches to 2.6 feet. A two- or ten-second self timer is available to allow the photographer to get into the photo, or to reduce blur when shooting on a tripod. There's also Couple, Group and Pet timer functions based on the camera's face detection capability. Other unusual features include a Facebook / YouTube uploader function that works with the bundled FinePix Studio software, a face recognition function capable of identifying up to eight specific individuals, and a motion panorama function (also called sweep panorama by some manufacturers), which captures 180, 240, or 360-degree panoramas by pressing the shutter button while panning across the subject.
As well as JPEG-format still images, the Fuji Z900EXR can capture H.264 compressed MOV video with stereo audio. Movie resolutions include high-definition 1080p (1,920 x 1,080 pixels / Full HD), 720p (1,280 x 720 pixels), and VGA (640 x 480 pixels), all with a rate of 30 frames per second. The Fuji FinePix Z900EXR stores its data in 63MB of built-in memory, or on Secure Digital cards, including SDHC types, as well as the latest generation SDXC cards (including UHS-I high speed transfer). Connectivity includes USB 2.0 High Speed data, and high-definition HDMI video output. Power comes from a proprietary NP-45A lithium-ion battery,with battery life rated at 220 frames on a charge.
The Fuji FinePix Z900EXR ships in matte black, red, and blue body colors, from May 2011, priced at around $280 -- some $50 more than the camera which it replaces.