Review: Fuji FinePix 4900 Zoom
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Monday, December 4, 2000
Last Updated: Monday, December 4, 2000
month, I reviewed
the first of the new generation of "big guns", the Olympus
C-2100 Ultra Zoom ($999). That camera featured a 10X optical zoom and
2.1 Megapixel CCD. The Fuji
FinePix 4900 Zoom ($999) that I'll review here takes a little
off the zoom (6X), but adds a higher resolution SuperCCD, which
produces images with 4.3 million pixels (2400 x 1800). In the end,
however, I found these cameras to be more alike than different.
SuperCCD is different than the traditional CCD used in almost every
other camera. It's unique design allows it to produce high resolution
images from a fairly small CCD sensor (in this case, 2.4 Mpixel).
Because interpolation is involved in this process, some noise is
viewable in most images. However, when printed, it's nearly nonexistent.
You can read more about the technology in our FinePix
in the Box?
FinePix 4900 Zoom box contains everything you need to start shooting.
2.4 Mpixel Fuji FinePix 4900 Zoom camera
rechargeable Li-ion battery
adapter / battery charger
including Adobe PhotoDeluxe, ActiveShare, and drivers
for camera and software
big "hurrah" to Fuji for covering all the bases here.
with NP-80 battery
includes the familiar NP-80 Lithium-ion battery with the camera.
The good news is that it's rechargeable (and the AC adapter is in
the box). The bad news is that a spare NP-80 will cost you over
$60. If you thought proprietary memory formats were the worst problem
with cameras, it looks like batteries are catching up. I found battery
life to be about average with this camera. I was able to do a full
day of photo taking during my recent trip to Florida with one battery.
Fuji claims that you'll get 100-120 shots per charge, depending
on LCD usage.
of my favorite things to pick on in camera reviews is the lack of
lens caps and straps to keep them attached to the camera. Luckily,
I don't need to complain about either, as Fuji includes both of
these, as you can see above. The lens cap is sturdy and doesn't
pop off accidentally.
FinePix 4900's lens is threaded, and Fuji sells a few accessory
lenses, such as the wide angle lens you see above. The WL-FX9 wide
conversion lens includes a step up ring, and the 0.79X lens. No
word on pricing at this point.
was definitely going for the SLR design when they created the FinePix
4900 Zoom. It kind of looks like the camera of the future, with
a metallic silver body and controls. The fit and finish on the 4900
is very good. I especially like the mode wheel, which is very "notchy"
and solid-feeling. There's a large grip for your right hand, but
its tough to find room for your left hand which isn't on top of
the controls on the side of the camera. I found myself accidentally
cameras dimensions are 4.3 x 3.1 x 3.7 inches, and it weighs in
at 14.5 ounces empty. By comparison, the Olympus C-2100s dimensions
are 4.44 x 3.06 x 5.56 inches, and it weighs 19 ounces (1.2 lbs)
lens of the camera is probably the main draw of the 4900. It's a
Super EBC Fujinon lens with a 6X zoom ratio (7.8mm - 46.8mm, which
is equivalent to 35mm - 210mm on a 35mm camera). The lens does come
out of the barrel, which is different from the C-2100 which kept
the lens inside its "snout" at all times. The zoom on
the FinePix is noisier than the C-2100, and it's a bit slower moving
the optical viewfinder isn't usually lit up like that. But like
with the Olympus C-2100, this viewfinder isn't really optical at
all. It's actually a Electronic Viewfinder -- where you look at
a LCD of the frame instead of the actual frame. While some people
enjoy having the on-screen information that an EVF can supply, I
much prefer a real optical viewfinder. On a bright day in Florida,
I couldn't see the image in the EVF -- so I had to use the regular
LCD instead, which was actually easier to see. Unlike Olympus and
Sony's EVFs, the FinePix lacks diopter correction for those of us
thing I noticed is that some EVFs are better than others. I wasn't
terribly impressed with either the C-2100 or FinePix 4900's EVFs,
but I just figured that was the best that could be done at this
point. Then I got the Sony Mavica MVC-CD1000, and I saw that someone
can make a really nice EVF -- Sony's is light years better than
the competition. I'm hoping that these things will either go away,
or they'll have to improve quite a bit to win me over.
main 1.8" LCD is nice -- smooth and bright. The rubber cover
around the EVF prevents your nose (well, mine at least) from smudging
the main LCD.
buttons immediately around the LCD are for controlling various menu
options. The DISP button toggles the text and framing guidelines
on or off on the LCD.
addition to its duties as a menu navigator, the four-way switch
also doubles as a zoom control (up and down).
to the right of the EVF is a button which switches between the main
LCD and the EVF.
Focus Check button in action
right of that is the Focus Check button, which enlarges the center
of the frame you're composing, so you can check on the focus. The
button to the right of that is the AE-Lock, which locks the exposure
settings until you turn it off. This feature is handy for panoramic
shots where you don't want the background or sky changing from frame
looking at the top of the camera. The FinePix 4900 has a hot shoe
for external flashes, which the C-2100 lacked (though it did have
a flash sync port).
buttons to the right of that are for self-timer and continuous shooting
(top), as well as power and record/playback (bottom). To the right
of that is the shutter release (top), macro and flash controls (middle),
and mode wheel (bottom).
mode wheel has a number of options, including:
I already mentioned, I like the feel of the mode wheel -- it's also
probably the only metal mode wheel on any digital camera. Below
it is another metal dial for changing settings like shutter speed
Priority mode lets you choose speeds ranging from 3 sec to 1/1000
sec. In aperture priority mode you can choose a number of settings
between f2.8 and f11.
Position mode is similar to S-Program mode on the C-2100. Here,
you can choose from a few different situations, and the camera picks
the most appropriate settings. The choices here are strangely similar
to those on the C-2100:
thought about modes like this is that if you're going to do it,
go all the way. See the Nikon Coolpix 880 or most Casio cameras
for a really full-featured Scene mode (with choices like fireworks,
food, and sunsets).
shutter release button has a bit too much "play" for my
taste -- there's lots of dead space before you get halfway, and
then it takes just a little more of a push to go all the way down.
when you thought we were done, a bunch of extra buttons showed up
on the side of the camera. On the far left, there's a switch for
auto/manual focus. If you put it in manual focus, you get to use
the focus ring you can see on the left. This is not a mechanical
focus ring -- it's essentially a big dial. The camera shows little
arrows on the LCD or EVF to tell you which way you need to twist
the ring in order to get proper focus.
below the MF/AF toggle is the other zoom control on the 4900. This
is the one that I kept bumping accidentally with my left hand.
button in record mode
and to the right of the zoom control is the Info button. In record
and playback mode, it shows something similar to the above, which
tells you more info about the photo you're about to take / have
the info button are buttons for exposure compensation and manual
white balance. For exposure compensation, you can move between -2.0EV
and +2.0EV, in 1/3EV increments.
big advantage the 4900 holds over the C-2100 is support for manual
white balance. When I take the photos of the camera you see above,
I'm forced to use manual white balance, since most cameras just
don't get it right. So this is a pretty important feature, for me
at least. You just put a white piece of paper in front of the camera
and hit the the magic button, and that's the new white balance setting.
a close-up look at all the buttons, plus a peek under the plastic
door which hides the I/O ports. Here, we've got ports for USB, video
out, and DC in. The FinePix 4900 doesn't support serial connections.
the other side, you'll find the SmartMedia slot under a plastic
door. The slot isn't spring loaded, so you just yank the card right
the bottom of the camera. You can see the battery compartment to
the left of the photo, and a metal tripod mount right in the middle.
A metal tripod mount is much less likely the be stripped than the
plastic mount on other cameras, including the C-2100UZ.
the Fuji FinePix 4900 Zoom
going to discuss the Record and Playback modes in this section.
FinePix 4900 gives you a number of choices for record mode, ranging
from "let the camera do everything" Auto mode, to "let
me set a few things" Program mode, all the way to "lemme
at it" Manual mode.
camera fires up in about four seconds -- about twice as long as
the C-2100, but then again, it has a lens to extend. There's some
lag while the camera autofocuses on a subject - a little less than
a second. When you depress the shutter release fully, the photo
is taken pretty quickly. As others have said, the FinePix 4900 takes
photos so quickly that you're not sure if it took it or not. You
can go to the Setup option on the mode wheel to turn on a "Preview"
mode which will let you confirm or delete each photo. The recycle
time on the FinePix 4700 and 4900 is probably the fastest of any
consumer digital camera out there.
I mentioned, one of the advantages of the EVF is that you can see
a bunch of information that you just can't get on an optical viewfinder.
What you see in the above picture is what you'd see in the EVF.
a camera with so many features, the FinePix 4900 has a surprisingly
simple menu system, which is accessible in P/S/A/M modes. You can
change the following settings:
bracketing (1EV, 2/3EV, 1/3EV, off)
strength (-0.6EV to +0.6EV in 0.3EV increments)
balance (auto, manual, sunlight, cloudy, fluorescent [3 choices],
(multi, spot, average)
(125, 200, 400, 800)
number of other options are available in Setup mode:
size/quality (see below)
power save (on/off)
chart below describes the various size and quality modes available
on the FinePix 4900:
photos on 16MB card
you can see, the FinePix 4900 does have an uncompressed TIFF mode.
The nice thing about it on this camera is that it does all the processing
in the background, so you can keep on using the camera instead of
waiting for it to write. When viewing the TIFF in playback mode,
it'll take around 15 seconds for the image to show up on the LCD.
had one weird problem with my FinePix 4900, and it's probably just
my unit since I haven't heard any other complaints. If the camera
went to sleep to save power, sometimes after it's awaken, it would
be unresponsive. The LCD would work and all that, but none of the
buttons did anything. The only way to bring it back to life is to
remove the battery. Again, I'm thinking it might just be my camera
since nobody else has mentioned this.
had some trouble getting good saturation in our macro test shot.
Tinkering with manual white balance and auto bracketing still left
me with the washed-out photo you see above. But that's why they
created Photoshop. A quick run through Auto Levels added that missing
saturation in a second.
FinePix 4900 takes exceptional night shots, as you can see from
the above photo. I was very pleased with how my night shots from
Walt Disney World turned out -- especially with a tripod!
FinePix also has a movie mode available, though it lacks sound recording.
You can record up to 160 seconds at a time, at 320 x 240 @ 10 frames/sec.
You can use the zoom lens during filming as well, as you'll see
in my example below.
Watch the end of Fantasmic! (7.3MB AVI
Sorry it's hard to see, the smoke doesn't help!
I was pleased with the photos that the 4900 produced. They did have
a tendency to be overexposed, but that can be remedied with auto
bracketing or just taking the exposure compensation down a notch.
Judge the photo quality for yourself in the gallery!
Fuji FinePix 4900 has a good playback mode -- about the same as
the Olympus C-2100. You've got the basics covered with feature like
slideshows (with choice of transitions), protection, DPOF print
marking, thumbnail mode, and "zoom and scroll".
zoom and scroll mode is a bit clumsy. You use the zoom controls
to slowly move closer into your photo, and if you want to scroll
to the side, you've got to hit the shift button to switch to panning
mode. Both of these are choppy and slow. Casio and Canon still have
the best implementation of this feature.
nice feature on the 4900 is the ability to resize your photos. Using
the menus, you can downsize your photos to the next size down. By
default, the original sized photo is not deleted automatically.
interesting feature is the Fast Forward mode, which lets you quickly
scroll through thumbnails to get to the photo you want. If you'd
like, the traditional 9 thumbnails at once is available by pressing
the DISP button twice.
the Info button gives you some details about the photo you've taken,
such as resolution, quality, and exposure settings.
between photos is pretty snappy - it takes a little over one second
to go from one to the next. However, if one of those thumbnails
is a TIFF file, it will take about 15 seconds for that one to display.
Does it Compare?
Fuji FinePix 4900 Zoom is a full-featured, capable camera that can
be enjoyed by beginners and pros alike. The 6X optical zoom really
comes in handy sometimes (see the tiger picture in the gallery for
a good example) -- it really overpowers the standard 3X zoom of
most cameras. The camera is also one of the fastest out there, with
minimal processing times. The build quality is very good, and the
camera includes an attractive bundle.
does it compare to the Olympus C-2100 Ultra Zoom, which is the same
price? That's a tough one. The Olympus clearly out guns the FinePix
with it's 10X optically stabilized zoom lens. It has most of the
same features as the FinePix such as manual controls and TIFF mode.
It does have movies with sound, which the FinePix does not offer.
The FinePix, however, offers superior resolution, faster processing,
manual white balance, and a hot shoe. So you'll want to decide what
features are important to you, and use this review to help you decide
-- because I'm not going to do it for you. Oh, and be sure to head
out to a local camera store and try them both out to see what fits
manual controls (inc. white balance)
fast processing speeds
6X optical zoom
shoe for external flash
I didn't care for:
sound in movie mode
mode a bit limited
totally sold on Electronic Viewfinders
and scroll feature in playback mode could be better
already know that the Olympus C-2100 Ultra Zoom is the main competition,
but also check out the Sony Mavica MVC-CD1000