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The dividing line between digital SLRs and fixed-lens cameras has been getting pretty blurred lately, with entry level SLRs getting progressively cheaper and taking on many of the easy-to-use features of snapshot cameras, while high-end fixed-lens cameras get ever more capable and sophisticated. The new FinePix S9500 from Fujifilm is the camera that finally erases that dividing line altogether, and provides the perfect choice for those who want the best of both worlds.
This camera looks, handles and performs like an SLR, and has the picture quality to match, but with a price tag of just £403.00 it is over £100 cheaper than the lowest priced SLR on the market. With its huge 28-300mm equivalent (10.7x) zoom lens permanently attached it avoids the hassle of carrying lots of extra equipment, as well as eliminating the one big problem that digital SLR owners don’t like to talk about: dust on the sensor.
I have a digital SLR myself, and I’ve had to have the CCD professionally cleaned twice. Every time I change lenses there’s a chance that dust will get inside, and no amount of blowing with canned air will shift all of it. Having used the S9500 for a little over a week, experienced its fantastic handling and performance and seen the sort of image quality of which it is capable, I’m planning to sell my SLR and get one of these instead. The 28-300mm zoom range matches the capabilities of all the lenses I have for my SLR, and it has plenty of other features that I personally would find enormously useful.
In both size and design the S9500 resembles an SLR far more than a fixed-lens camera. It is quite large, with a comfortable sculpted handgrip, a big electronic viewfinder and a pop-up flash. The 1.8in LCD screen can hinge up 90 degrees and down 45 degrees, handy for waist-level or overhead shooting. The camera is powered by four AA batteries housed inside the handgrip, their weight giving it a nice balance despite the bulk of the lens. The body is made of plastic over a metal chassis, and although there are a few creaks if you squeeze it hard, on the whole it looks and feels solid and capable.