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Because the zoom lens isn’t powered, start-up time is an impressive 0.8 seconds. The hybrid AF system is also extremely fast, producing a shutter lag of around 0.01 seconds in good light. The S9500 has an excellent AF illuminator with a range of around 20 feet, allowing the camera to focus in complete darkness, although it does take around half a second.
The main shooting control is the mode dial on the top plate, offering the usual combination of full auto, program AE, aperture and shutter priority and manual exposure, as well as portrait, landscape, night scene and movie modes. Not so usual are the anti-blur mode, which biases the exposure system toward higher shutter speeds and ISO, and the natural light setting which is used for low light photography without the flash.
The S9500 has a very good movie mode, shooting at a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels at 30 frames a second. Unlike some cameras, the zoom lens can be used in movie mode, and is of course silent. Clips are recorded directly to the memory cards, which since the camera has slots for both xD Picture and CompactFlash cards, means potential shooting times of over an hour at maximum quality.
Most of the other main options are activated by separate external buttons, including exposure compensation, continuous shooting mode, flash mode and the exceptionally good 1cm macro mode. The main power switch is a rotating collar around the shutter button. The shutter button itself has – wonder of wonders – a threaded socket for a cable release. Most digital cameras only offer the option of an expensive electronic remote control, so a proper cable release is a rare delight. Just to complete the package it also has an X-sync socket for connecting a studio flash system.