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Fujifilm Finepix S9900W Review
I have a friend who is on the look out for a super-zoom compact and have been studying the latest releases on their behalf. For all the headline grabbing 12800 ISO, 15X zoom & RAW shooting mode, image quality was always my concern knowing it was going to have 16MP. Why oh why do they do it, Canon’s SX220HS has a CMOS censor with 4 fewer megapixels, and, in my opinion, produces the best medium-high ISO photos of any super-zoom compact. The F550EXR has noticeable white flecks in the darker areas of the photos, even at 200ISO. Unfortunately the F550EXR is another camera that could have been better if they hadn’t have tried to overload a small censor with too many pixels.
10:14 am - Monday, May 9, 2011
I am doing a side-by-side comparison between the SX230 and F550. You can find the images in my URL. In most of the photos I would say that the F550 offers better image quality than the SX230 (which is slightly better than the SX210).
2:04 pm - Monday, May 9, 2011
EXR DR mode/low noise (that have 8MP) is what this camera was designed for… but the average ‘joe’ wouldn’t buy a 300$ with ‘only’ 8MPs
Sadly the review doesn’t quite show what the results are for this modes under several situations, not even if the noise supression and detail in image is good or not…
2:32 pm - Monday, May 9, 2011
I had one for under 2 weeks and sent it back. Not impressed at all. GPS didnt get a fix (iPhone had no problems), macro mode came out blurred (no wind) and lens flare from sunsets was terrible:
Decided to go for the Canon SX220 HS instead. Never had a problem with Canons so hope I am making the right decision.
6:12 pm - Monday, May 9, 2011
intresting images from Arne
the F550 look at 8 megapixel very good.16 megapixel i think worse.scale down to 8 megapixel make not better.
I test and scale down the Canon 12 megapixel to 8 megapixel, quality seem same in sharpen and noise for me.
But i like the fuji colors more.
the diffrent color of Canon is because Canon do boost colors by default.You need switch in mycolor menu to N (neutral) to get more natural colors.
Here the noise drop a little, because it boost no colors and contrast
6:26 pm - Monday, May 9, 2011
Another poor review of a fantastic camera. Just like the HS 20, when you use the “M” setting, yes 8mp, this camera shines. We all know that 8mp is more than enough for a P&S. The noise goes way down when you use this setting. You simply ignored all comments from the HS 20 test and posted a rubbish review of a fine camera. Shame on you.
6:59 pm - Monday, May 9, 2011
@photographer: yes, I think the image quality of the F550 and SX230 are quite comparable. This is why I consider the the image quality rating on this side as not correct (SX220=4,5 F550=3,5).
@zebarnabe: yes, all EXR cameras should always be used in the M resultion, 8mp in case of the F550. The advantage in dynamic range when the camera uses DR-400 is significant.
8:55 pm - Monday, May 9, 2011
If this camera actually produces decent photos at high ISO’s on a mode not tested in this review, then I’d like to see it corrected, and the EXR included in the test.
Fuji made an effort to provide a rare combination of resolution/image quality available selection, and this camera should be considered as such.
12:01 am - Tuesday, May 10, 2011
@eyalg- I second the motion! These cameras should be tested to the best of their ability. That does not necessarily mean at the 16mp setting.
4:17 am - Tuesday, May 10, 2011
You got a bad version of the F550EXR for this review. Mine is better, as good as my F200EXR - and with the F550EXR you get a much more versatile lens, plus a gimmick like the pano mode. If you know how to use the F550EXR, you can get nice results. But,as well as in other camera companies, the quality control is, in my opinion, almost absent. If you get a good version, enjoy, otherwise send it back.
10:27 am - Tuesday, May 10, 2011
>@photographer: yes, I think the image quality of >the F550 and SX230 are quite comparable. This is >why I consider the the image quality rating on >this side as not correct (SX220=4,5 F550=3,5).
The Problem is, that Fuji offer this camera as a 16 megabyte model.And look on the maximum resolution quality of F550, its bad.
every camera can switch to fewer resolution and you see better quality.But Fuji can due to Sensor pattern do a better combine.
But if 16 megapixel is worser as 8 megapixel, then the way to go is, do a real 8 megapixel sensor. ;-)
this give better quality in 8 megapixel.
And i think when you scale the image to 16 megapixel, you get better quality too ;-)
when you see, cameras get in Test around 1200 lines horizontal resolution.So in theory only X picture width size of 2400 Pixels is need.
Try on your Canon the M1 Mode, it have 2816*2112 Pixels
here you get better quality too, because first the picture is scale down and wrong Pixels are average more and denoise and sharpen in Camera work better.
You can do a picture with motive of your image 135 and same mode in Canon M1 Size Mode 2816*2112 and i think then you notice, that the false color pixels are less visible.
Use M1 mode is better as Large picture scale down.You can test if you photograph some text on a magazine, here you can see that M1 get better reading letter.
You can see every camera get better pictures if you use not full resolution.
If you test the low resolution modes of Fuji too, you need test that on other Camera too, to make it better comparable.
11:34 am - Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Useless review. If the reviewer don’t know that an EXR cam has to be shot in M size for binning (SN mode, better high ISO) or blending (DR better dynamic range), I wouldn’t expect the “joe” user to do so. The EXR results would be a lot better, you’d better go to Kim Letkeman blog to check the real potential of F550exr. I really only visit this site for samples, otherwise reviews seam to be lead by an automatic editor. Really terrible.
6:54 pm - Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Your review states “you can change the in-camera sharpening level”.
Would you explain exactly where this setting is in the menu?
9:11 pm - Tuesday, May 10, 2011
I was looking to buy this f550 exr a while a go but the prices here in Finland are pretty high..
9:33 pm - Tuesday, May 10, 2011
One issue I have with this review is the quality of the raw conversions. When performed in Adobe Camera Raw at default settings (except for Auto Exposure and Linear Curve), the image quality is much better than the samples show would let one believe. Fuji’s included software is lousy, but ACR does a great job, and recovers a great deal of detail lost in the in-camera jpeg engine.
6:41 am - Wednesday, May 11, 2011
attn. Mr Mark Goldstein: what do you think of the comments that the camera could or should be used in M mode, i.e. at 8mp?
Would this change our judgement?
Thanks for reacting.
1:07 pm - Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I purchased the F550 and to my astonishment, I found no way to get digital pix with a date/time stamp! I have read the manual over and over and there is no reference. Fuji does make provision for prints, esp prints from PictBridge, but not for digital images stored on a computer.
I realize that this is astonishing so If anyone knows otherwise, please let me know. I am about to return my camera and wait for the next wave…
3:30 am - Sunday, May 15, 2011
Its a good camera, I did this page:
4:20 pm - Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The camera is very good. I am a happy user of F80 and now the F550. With a RAW photo opportunity, AE Bracketing, Low-Light / High ISO capabilities are hard to find another camera, which offer creative shooting options like f550 has.
8:00 pm - Tuesday, May 17, 2011
I do not believe that any manufacturer allows for the date/time on your photos in the computer. That’s what EXIF data is for…
7:13 am - Friday, May 20, 2011
You will find that no camera maker has the date/time in computer. That’s what the EXIF data is for
7:16 am - Friday, May 20, 2011
Kym - In fact, I have never seen a camera that DOESN’T have a time/date stamp on computer digital images. The Canon sx230, for example has this feature. Unfortunately, its wide angle is 28 mm, while I need 24 mm. I’ll simply have to wait for the right camera, but it’s not the Fuji F550.
1:28 pm - Friday, May 20, 2011
To put it simply, I have this Camera, and its Wonderful.. would recommend it to anyone. =)
4:52 am - Monday, May 30, 2011
there is very important issue regarding this camera - in some cases there are problem with power - camera drains all battery over night, possible that new firmware corrects that, but I’m not sure
11:47 am - Monday, May 30, 2011
@kz: Do you have the GPS turned on? That will suck the life out of your batteries.
3:35 pm - Monday, May 30, 2011
>Do you have the GPS turned on? That will suck the >life out of your batteries.
of course I have GPS off - this is not the case
I switched to firmware 1.10 and I will see…
5:02 pm - Monday, May 30, 2011
I got F550. Was confuzed that pictures looked not as good as I expected. This page rates it at 3.5 I agree with that. I exchanged the camera. Same results on the picture quality. I use it exlusevely in EXR mode. How do I get better pictures? Really do not want to return it.
PS. focusing in video mode slow and not good. Compare to sony dsc-wx10, F550 video is not good.
6:34 pm - Thursday, June 16, 2011
I bought this Fujifilm camera for a trip to Costa Rica. I did not what to take my SLR. I loved the GPS on this camera, but there are numerous features I do not like. I found changing the ISO to something less than 400 to be cumbersome. I also think the flash is almost worthless. This camera is too complicated for the basic user, but not a good option for an advanced person in my opinion.
12:41 am - Friday, July 1, 2011
I tested the F550-EXR and it’s really a good camera,
even in low light, no flash, even in high ISO, the pictures are more
sharp and make less noise than the F200-EXR and F300-EXR,
its only defects are the absence of the option to use the flash
at its full strenght and zooming while recording a
video it’s become terribly blurred, it is not able
to focus during zooming. I think I will buy
the Sony DSC-HX9V, I red that it’s one of the best
compact camera for the videos HD. According to the
previous model HX5V I tested, the flash is working at its full strenght and the
focus works well while zooming videos.
1:11 am - Friday, July 1, 2011
I m using this camera and was on trip to china and India… it worked well with stunning photos..
Gps was fine at most places but did not find location at China and Delhi airports?..
No date on the images when seen on computer is also unbelievable?
Panorama is cool to shoot and look at .
Overall a good camera to me with sharp images.
6:09 pm - Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Unfortunately I think I got a lemon. My 550EXR is back at Fuji for the third time as we speak. It has been plagued by dirt in the lens creating spots in various parts of the image. Mostly when the lens is zoomed at the far end of the range. The GPS only locks on about 10% of the time. The other times the Icon just flashes and flashes then gives up and gives me a square box with a slash through it. When it does lock on there is only 1 bar of signal strength. So I’m hoping for a new camera or a refund for which I have asked for. I have updated the camera to firmware 1.13 but it did not help the GPS. I really like the camera but the two main features that I bought the camera for are GPS and RAW and both are problematic. The Fuji software that comes with it is just useless and Apple hasn’t added it to Camera Raw yet. However Adobe has, so you can work the RAW files in Photoshop and Adobe RAW. I’m hoping for a good turn out here.
3:28 pm - Sunday, July 10, 2011
I’ve had the F550exr for a good few months now, and tried it in many different conditions from concerts, indoor flower show, country walks, macro and holidays and it’s done a fine job in all!! (see my blog!)
Had a couple of issues to begin with, battery and GPS, but the firmware updates sorted them out.
Was looking for a backup travel cam for my HS10, but having so much fun with this little beauty, I recently left my HS10 at home while in Portugal! :-)
8:35 pm - Sunday, July 10, 2011
Sorry, here is the link to my blog, enjoy!; toptravelgear.blogspot.com/2011/07/fuji-finepix-f550-exr-very-handy-travel.html
8:37 pm - Sunday, July 10, 2011
This is the second camera I’ve come across this year claiming to have a bright screen.
This one is worse than useless in bright sunlight, merely acting as a mirror. Canon Ixus with 230,000 dots are better. Much better.
10:17 pm - Wednesday, August 3, 2011
May I repeat an issue i raised in a previous post.
For me, a photo without a date/time stamp is worthless. For this reason I returned an F550 I purchased, and got a Canon SX220 instead. I am curious as to how other people solve the problem of Fuji not providing a date/stamp featgure.
11:28 pm - Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Been browsing about here and have to say; I don’t know how you came to the conclusion its anything but superior to the F300EXR. I own both the godly F200EXR and the F300EXR(it became cheap fast and I bought it for $180usd new) and looking at all these images regardless of ISO the F550exr seems far cleaner and with superior dynamic range, embarrassingly so when you shrink it to 12mp. Its no F200EXR and I will never willingly part with that camera, but the F550EXR is a decided improvement over the F300EXR and handles that dark 15x lens far far better.
The F300exr is still good and I like mine; but is the lowpoint to the EXR brand imho.
10:59 am - Thursday, August 4, 2011
Best compact I have ever used. Amazing how far technology has advanced.
But you need to know a bit about photography to find this out. I am a dslr user, so I am able to exploit the camera and push the sensor to its full capacity (simple things like watching the shutter speed to prevent camera or subject blur needs to be observed, good steady hands are needed for low shutter speeds, balancing camera vs flash exposure in manual mode for flash photography, not worrying about aperture setting since it will give very deep depth of field at wide open anyway - an advantage of small sensor etc.) And as long as you don’t pixel peep at 100% (unless you want to produce very large prints), the image quality is actually very good.
Like others, I think reading Kim Letkeman’s blog (Nothing Special) about how to shoot with an EXR camera is mandatory if you want to see what this camera can do. The fuji manual will not help much.
- Best dynamic range for a small sensor camera (great technology)
- Sharp detailed pictures, even at high isos (up to iso 1600)(CMOS sensor works much better in high iso than CCD sensors of previous models)
- Low noise at high isos (chroma noise is absent at iso 1600 - amazing for a small sensor)(for iso 3200, you can use pro low light mode to reduce chroma noise - this mode also can work with slow moving subjects too, surprisingly - with occassional slight subject blurring)
- Amazing balancing of flash and ambient light with the flash (fuji is one of the best with this; use high iso to utilise fuji’s intelligent flash)
- Great flexibility and modes (I can shoot a scene with multiple ways)
- Love the flexibility of the wide and zoom focal ranges with such a small compact (eliminates the hassle of changing lenses in spontaneous situations)
- good sharp details obtained with digital zoom (great technology at work)
- Definitely pocketable size and lightweight (in spite of large zoom)
- Reliable white balance
- Fairly fast auto-focus in low light (but you need to use continuous focus to improve speed and learn how to focus on high contrast area first in low light before composing the shot - the deep depth of field of a small sensor helps to minimize blurring)
- Well built camera with good durability
- Screen is clear, accurate and sharp (mine is updated to latest firmware)
- And camera looks cool and discreet with a small lens (the black color makes it easy to hide during street photography)
- In-camera image stabilization works. Can give up to 3-stops advantage with very steady hands, but most reliable at 1-stop.
- You can turn flash on and off by just popping the flash up and down (convenient)
- There is RAW
* The date and time are recorded on my photos (maybe it’s the firmware update that changed this?)
- GPS is too slow for practical use
- Battery drains too quickly even with firmware update (rectified by buying spares) (compromise of small camera with so much technology cramped into it)
- Some distortion throughout focal range (but distortion is less at certain focal range like 24mm, 36mm (x1.5), 48mm (x2) in 35mm format)
- Significant flare issues but I hardly noticed it with my normal use (you have to shoot into a bright light to get it)
- Automatically set shutter speed (set by the camera) is often too slow to prevent camera and subject motion
- Certain settings, like focal range and histogram on display, are reset after playback of images
- Shutter speed mode does not allow more than dynamic range of 100%
- Flash pops up when camera is switched on (should be kept down at all times unless needed like a dslr)
- During playback of images, the pictures cannot be changed when they are zoomed in (prevents you from comparing the details between pictures accurately)
- Video is too dark in low light and exposure cannot be changed.
- Video has poor dynamic range in low light.
- Video auto focus is too slow at full HD setting (too much memory being used at HD?)
- Absence of manual focus capabilities
- General settings set by the camera are not easy for beginners to use (too easy to get motion blur)
If GPS and Low-light video are not important to you, definitely get the F550EXR. I really enjoy shooting with mine. But you need to learn a bit about photography to use it properly, but the benefits will outweigh the costs in my opinion. You will have a very portable camera that can shoot beautiful photos in a wide variety of conditions. It seems to me that Fuji is (to a degree) listening the wish lists of their users and trying to innovate and produce better cameras for the future. They have definitely improved the quality of their sensor at high iso. I hope that Fuji addresses the many of the current problems with the F550EXR with firmware updates in the near future.
11:52 am - Monday, August 8, 2011
I’ve had this camera from April this year and have produced some pretty remarkable shots from it - compared to my previous Ricoh compact.
One thing I have found problematic is when shooting in cities. The wide angle, if left at its widest settings, seems to cause all sorts of distortion, resulting in either leaning or converging verticals. Maybe its just a question of zooming in a little and loosing the wide perspective. Has anyone else experienced this issue?
I have also felt the need to carry a spare battery for it, as this usually goes before disk space is used up!
One minor thing I’ve found is that the symbols on the mode dial have started to fade through use, so I have to check the screen to see what I’ve selected.
Despite the niggles, I think its a good camera.
5:54 pm - Friday, August 12, 2011
My F550 also has some edge distortion at the wide end, most noticeable when taking pics of groups of people!
Spare batteries are always a good idea with any camera, and the painted on lettering has started to fade too, mainly round the on/off button.
I like mine, it’s a fun cam to use and takes good pics for a compact, having said that, I feel like Fuji have given up on the F550 already, instead of putting their hands up and admitting that they had some quality issues and trying to fix them to keep their customers, they’ve decided to just bring out the new F600, wonder if they will offer the 600 as a replacement for disgruntled 550 owners??
10:43 pm - Friday, August 12, 2011
Does the F600 come with date/time stamp?
I had to return the F550 because it lacked date/time stamp and for me that is a deal breaker. I wonder how other people manage without this feature.
3:34 am - Saturday, August 13, 2011
OK So my F550 EXR will be on it’s way back to Fuji for the 4th time. GPS has quite working all together. It will not lock on to a satellite no matter where I am. Takes great pictures. But GPS has to work also. From what Fuji tech tells me it should lock up in 1 to 3 minutes. I inquired about an upgrade to F600 EXR but that did not sound hopeful. Most likely if they cannot fix the camera I will get a refurb F550 EXR. Today I timed it and still no signal after 16 minutes in an area where there is open sky. Very frustrating.
3:50 am - Saturday, August 13, 2011
I just cannot stand pictures dated at bottom or any place, I want a NO text on the pictures. If I want to see the date the picture was taken I go in windows explorer and that show all the dates….
4:08 am - Saturday, August 13, 2011
I’m having trouble working out why a date/time stamp is a deal breaker, this feature is so outdated now, especially when this info can be accessed with a simple click of your mouse!
You obviously find this feature an important one, which is fine, but I feel you will struggle to find it in any new camera today, other than basic models!
Good luck in your search though :-)
2:35 pm - Saturday, August 13, 2011
All the new top-of-the-line cameras have date/time stamp: Nikon S9100 and Canon SX 220HS are just two examples. Fuji is the odd man out, and they lost me because of that. You are factually wrong that “this feature is so outdated now”. You are also wrong in saying “you will struggle to find it in any new camera today”, since I walked out of Future Shop with the Canon I mentioned, having returned the Fuji.
9:50 pm - Thursday, August 18, 2011
I agree with you. Seems like Fuji has given up on the F550EXR with the release of the F600EXR. They should learn from Sony. Sony remembers their customers. When they announced the new NEX C3, they also release firmware updates for the NEX 3+5 with features found in NEX C3.
I am not expecting any hardware changes to the GPS and lens flare problem in my F550EXR. But at least they should give us a firmware fix to the underexposure of the video in low light. It would be great to also provide a firmware for the new motion detection in EXR mode to fix the slow shutter speed problem that causes subject motion blur. Is it too much to ask for Fuji’s top of the range compact camera?
1:09 am - Friday, August 19, 2011
Yeah, I agree with you. I think Fuji has given up on the F550EXR with the announcement of the F600EXR. They should remember their current customers like Sony does. When Sony released the NEX C3, they also released a great firmware update for their older NEX 3+5 cameras that improved those cameras significantly.
I am not expecting any firmware to fix the gps or lens flare problem. But at the very least give us a firmware that fixes the video underexposure problem. And it would be good to release a firmware with the new motion detection to fix the slow shutter speeds too in the auto modes that causes subject blurring. Surely that is not too much to ask for a camera that is suppose to be top of the range compact camera.
1:18 am - Friday, August 19, 2011
Does the F600 come with a date/time stamp? Does anyone know?
1:23 am - Friday, August 19, 2011
Dod gamn, people! Do some searching and find one of the various available apps that can overlay Exif data if you want your photos blemished with the date-time.
5:35 am - Monday, September 19, 2011
Can you provide references to freeware that “can overlay Exif data”? Otherwise, your suggestion is of little value.
2:01 pm - Monday, September 19, 2011
I shot perhaps 50 photos with it this last weekend, while my brother shot several hundred. Sometimes the camera got everything right, more times than not the focus was soft or completely off. Out of about 250 photos, 6 were worth keeping, i.e. the camera caught something special and all technical aspects were nearly perfect. It’s a pretty amazing little camera but I’m not sold on it just yet. One note worthy shot was a water balloon splattering on a young man’s face and body as he was trying to receive a toss from a team mate around 10 yards away. It was in multi-frame mode and this is why that moment got captured so well. Panoramic mode works very well.
6:22 am - Thursday, September 29, 2011
I purchased this camera about 2 weeks ago. I read the comments about poor battery life so I purchased a second battery right away. I just got back from a trip. From the first battery, I got about a dozen pictures. Admittedly, I spent some of the battery power going through the camera functions and directions. The second fully charged battery allowed me to take 32 pictures in one of the mid range file size settings.
ONLY 32 PICTURES from a fully charged battery. TERRIBLE!!!!
If you plan on going on vacation and taking hundreds of pictures, I’d sugest buying a dozen batteries, which would cost you hundreds of dollars. The picture quality was good but if the camera isn’t working because the battery is dead, what good does that do you. This is terrible and unexcusable.
When the battery does die, you are not able to close the camera, leaving the lense out, open, and unprotected.
The function buttons are tine and often easu to accidently change.
I would NOT recommend this camera
6:56 pm - Thursday, December 15, 2011
Bought a F550 EXR in April 2011 from Jessops. They had to exchange the first one in three days as it kept freezing and now I’m having serious problems with the focus on HD movie mode. It has been away for repair and I’ve been told there is nothing that can be done as it’s out of the 30 days of purchase “rule”. Next step Trading Standards.
8:49 pm - Tuesday, December 27, 2011
The forced Flash is very weak or does not flash in low light when taking photos at parties in pubs
(I assume fully charged batteries are required all the time for Flash mode? otherwise don’t go to parties!!)
& the lens blocks the flash and leaves a shadow at bottom of subject (when trying get a close up)
10:08 am - Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Great camera for the price I paid (less than half RRP) with lots of power and flexibility. Being familiar with the options helps a lot to get the most from it, but it’s good enough in auto mode for regular users too IMO.
Anyway, GARBAGE review. Sorry, but there are too many things mentioned in this review which are quite clearly wrong, and must have been copy/pasted from another review of a different Fuji camera, including:
“you can adjust the in camera sharpening”
No, you can’t.
“maximum shutter speed is 30 seconds”
No, the slowest shutter speed is actually 8 seconds, only in one mode. Mostly the slowest you can set it to is 4 seconds, in manual mode the slowest setting is 2 seconds.
There are a few photos where the quality at ISO 200 looks superior to the same shot at ISO 100, something I’ve not observed with mine.
Anyway, nice detailed review, but where did the the detail come from? Don’t make this review a big part of your purchasing decision people…
6:05 am - Monday, June 4, 2012
this camara is batar than canon
4:53 pm - Monday, June 18, 2012
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