Fujifilm E900 Review

 
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Fujifilm FinePix E900 Exposure


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Overall slightly dark color, though still pretty good saturation. Hue accuracy is definitely in the ballpark, just with slight color shifts from white balance.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located towards the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center.

Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life. The FinePix E900 definitely pushes the bright reds and blues, like many digital cameras. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc. In this case, the E900 typically does well, with pleasing skin tones under a variety of lighting conditions.

The other important part of color rendition is hue accuracy. Hue is "what color" the color is. Overall, the FinePix E900 fared well, though the slight magenta cast that accompanied the Manual white balance setting pushed blues toward violet, while the warmer cast of the Auto setting definitely resulted in more reddish blues. Still, despite slightly dark overall color, the E900 produced pleasing results.

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Good color with the Manual white balance setting, slightly higher than average exposure compensation required though.

Auto White Balance +1.3 EV Incandescent WB +1.0 EV
 
Manual White Balance +1.3 EV  

The FinePix E900's Manual white balance setting handled this challenge well, though overall color is just a bit yellow. Still, results are much more accurate than the warm color balances of the Auto and Incandescent settings. The FinePix E900 required a +1.3 EV exposure compensation boost to get a good exposure, slightly more than average for this shot. (However, the Incandescent white balance setting only needed a +1.0 EV boost, and could easily have gone with less than that.) Overall color looks very good, though the blue flowers very dark and purplish. (Purple is very common for this shot, though not quite this dark.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulb, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the US.

Outdoors, daylight
Good overall color balance, though a hint warm. High contrast though, with very strong highlights.

Auto White Balance, +0.3 EV Auto White Balance, Auto Exposure

Outdoors, the FinePix E900 almost got the exposure right, though contrast was quite high, with very strong highlights and shadows. The midtone range was typically a bit limited. Overall color was generally pretty good, with a slight warm cast from the Auto white balance, but still nearly accurate results.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
High resolution, 1,600 lines of strong detail.

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,600 lines per picture height, with extinction well past 2,000. You could argue that detail remains strong at the 1,700 and 1,800 points, though the lines do get a little fuzzy there. (The camera also produced slight color artifacts at lower line frequencies, visible in the full-sized res target shots.) Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

Strong detail to 1,600 lines horizontal Strong detail to 1,600 lines vertical

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Fairly sharp images overall, with some blurring of detail from noise suppression.

Good definition of high-contrast elements. Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur detail in areas of subtle contrast, as in the darker parts of Marti's hair here.

The E900's images are reasonably sharp, without strong over-sharpening or edge enhancement on the camera's part. (Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.) The roof line shot above is high contrast exposure-wise, but there doesn't appear to be any strong edge enhancement by the camera.

Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears. The crop at far right shows this, with the darker areas of Marti's hair showing only limited detail, with a muddied appearance.

ISO & Noise Performance
Lower noise but stronger blurring at the lower sensitivity settings, vs. higher noise but less blurring at the higher settings. Still, better results at 800 ISO than average.

ISO 80 ISO 100 ISO 200
ISO 400 ISO 800

The FinePix E900 produced very low noise at its lower ISO settings, though overall detail was a bit blurry. As the ISO setting increases, so does the noise level, though the camera seems to sharpen up a little at the 200 and 400 settings. At ISO 800, noise is higher, though not as bad as it could be.

Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with good overall detail, though high contrast and limited shadow detail. Good low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images under average city street lighting and even darker conditions.

Normal +0.3EV +0.7EV

Sunlight:
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

The FinePix E900 had a little trouble with the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above, producing very high contrast with washed-out highlights and deep shadows. The shadows held onto a fair amount of detail, but the highlights are really quite blown out. (In "real life" though, be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.)

Low light:
The FinePix E900 performed well here, capturing bright images at the lowest light levels we test at, at ISOs 200 and above. At the lower ISO settings, images were only bright to 1/4 foot-candle (ISO 80) and 1/8 foot-candle (ISO 100), which is still pretty good. Color balance looked good with the Auto white balance setting. The camera's autofocus system almost kept up with the sensor's low-light capabilities, focusing well to just above the 1/8 foot-candle light level (about 1/8 as bright as average city street lighting at night). There is no AF assist option, so keep that in mind when shooting in very dark situations. Do keep in mind though, that the camera's long shutter times absolutely demand the use of a tripod or other camera support to get sharp photos. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)

  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
ISO
80
Click to see E900LL0803.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.8
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5 sec
f2.8
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13 sec
f2.8
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15 sec
f2.8
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15 sec
f2.8
ISO
100
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2 sec
f2.8
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4 sec
f2.8
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10 sec
f2.8
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15 sec
f2.8
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15 sec
f2.8
ISO
200
Click to see E900LL2003.JPG
1 sec
f2.8
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2 sec
f2.8
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5 sec
f2.8
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10 sec
f2.8
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15 sec
f2.8
ISO
400
Click to see E900LL4003.JPG
1/2 sec
f2.8
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1 sec
f2.8
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2.5 sec
f2.8
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5 sec
f2.8
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8 sec
f2.8
ISO
800
Click to see E900LL8003.JPG
1/4 sec
f2.8
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1/2 sec
f2.8
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1.3 sec
f2.8
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2.5 sec
f2.8
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4 sec
f2.8

Flash

Coverage and Range
Good coverage and overall performance at close range, with less exposure compensation required than usual, though not strong enough for the camera's telephoto range. A slight orange cast under incandescent lighting, but still good color.

32mm equivalent 128mm equivalent
Normal Flash +0.7 EV Slow-Sync Mode +0.7 EV

Flash coverage was only slightly uneven at wide angle, but quite dim at telephoto. On the Indoor test, the FinePix E900's flash underexposed our subject at its default setting just a little, requiring a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get reasonably bright results (less than average). There's a slight orange-pink color cast due to the background lighting, but overall color is still pretty good. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced actually resulted in dimmer results at +0.7 EV, though coverage is a little more even here. The orange-pink color cast is stronger though.

Even at eight feet, our closest test range, the flash did not quite illuminate the DaveBox target adequately. At the other end of the range, the 14-foot shot is quite dark.

8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft 12 ft 13 ft 14 ft
Click to see E900FL08.JPG
1/125 sec
f5.4
ISO 100
Click to see E900FL09.JPG
1/125 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
Click to see E900FL10.JPG
1/125 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
Click to see E900FL11.JPG
1/125 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
Click to see E900FL12.JPG
1/125 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
Click to see E900FL13.JPG
1/125 sec
f5.6
ISO 100
Click to see E900FL14.JPG
1/125 sec
f5.6
ISO 100

Output Quality

Print Quality
Great print quality, great color, usable 13x19 inch prints. ISO 800 images are soft at 13x19, but usable, very good at 8x10, great at 5x7, excellent at 4x6.

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon i9900 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5000 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)

With the Fujifilm FinePix E900, we found that it had enough resolution to make very good 13x19 inch prints at the lowest ISO. As you enter higher ISO numbers, color noise levels are held in check very well, out to an impressive ISO 800. Due to heavy noise suppression, fine details take on a watercolor look at 13x19, and even at 11x14 and 8x10 when you look very closely, but held out at arms length or on a tabletop or wall, all people will see is a great picture. An impressive performance.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Fujifilm FinePix E900 Photo Gallery.

Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!

Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Fujifilm FinePix E900 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

Fujifilm E900

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