So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Fujifilm FinePix A900
- Sharp pictures, good colour, 9-megapixel sensor
- Sluggish at times, no burst mode, lacklustre feature set
FujiFilm's FinePix A900 won't suit experienced photographers, but if all you're after is a basic point and shoot model without the bells and whistles it may satisfy your needs.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
It's rare to see a camera coming with a 9-megapixel sensor. Most companies tend to jump from 7 or 8 megapixels straight up to 10, so FujiFilm's A900 is a bit of an anomaly. With an attractive price tag, this camera is definitely towards the entry-level side of things offering competitive image quality but little in the way of features. We also found the performance a little sluggish which will irritate some users.
Image quality is fairly standard for a basic unit. The A900's pictures will be more than adequate for small prints and plastering all over the Web, but anyone looking to make enlargements will be better served by another model.
Pictures are generally sharp although there was a little blurring evident along with some corner softening. Purple fringing wasn't too severe, with only some minor outlines visible in high contrast areas. However, we did notice a fair bit of detail loss in dark areas, meaning you should try to shoot in well-lit conditions where possible.
Colour response was good with excellent white balance adjustment and accurate hues. As we expected, the primary colours were slightly oversaturated, but this is typical of a consumer camera and doesn't impact negatively on the pictures. That said, at times it did tend to over-expose highlights while the contrast between light and dark areas didn't shift as smoothly as we'd like.
Image noise wasn't a problem at ISO 100 or 200, but it did begin to rear its head at ISO 400 and onwards. The grain started fairly fine but gradually grew larger as we increased the sensitivity.
In our speed tests the A900 was a little disappointing. It clocked in at 0.1 seconds shutter lag which was a touch on the slow side, but the 2.8 seconds startup time and 2.4 seconds shot to shot time were both more disappointing. We also encountered random periods of lag where the camera appeared to be loading and refused to respond.
It is at this point we typically test the burst mode, but discovered something strange; there isn't one. This is one of the only cameras we've looked at that doesn't have a burst mode, and it set the trend for the rest of the feature list. While the basics are there, things like ISO, white balance and exposure, there are no focus or metering options, no way to tweak colour or sharpness and only a very basic crop of scene modes such as portrait and landscape. There is no face detect or image stabilisation; things that have become staple on most cameras these days.
One quirk that deserves a mention is the menu layout. Generally cameras have both their manual and automatic modes on the function wheel, allowing an easy transition between the two. Instead, FujiFilm has squirreled the manual mode away in one of the scene options, which is an extremely fiddly place to put it and to be honest it doesn't really make sense.
The A900 won't win any design awards, but it sits comfortably in the hand. The matte silver plastic body is standard for a camera at this price point and it is relatively sturdy if not particularly attractive. The controls are slightly bizarre, with the scroll wheel sitting vertically above the directional pad, which may take some getting used to.
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