Review: Fuji FinePix 6900 Zoom
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Sunday, July 15, 2001
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
6900 ($999) is their new top-of-the-line consumer digital camera.
It's the successor to their FinePix 4900 (see our review),
adding the new 3.3 Megapixel SuperCCD that is also found on the
FinePix 6800 Zoom (see our review).
This new SuperCCD chip uses a different arrangement of the sensors
to produce larger images (6 million pixels, in this case), with
fewer pixels. Of course, to do that, the camera does some guesswork
(interpolation) to get all those pixels.
other notable features on the 6900 are the 6X optical zoom lens
and large array of manual controls. Read on to find out more about
this new camera.
in the Box?
FinePix 6900 has a very good bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
3.3 Mpixel Fuji FinePix 6900 Zoom camera
rechargeable Li-ion battery
Adapter / battery charger
cap w/strap and holder
featuring FinePix viewer software and drivers
includes everything you need to get started taking pictures. The
16MB SmartMedia card is on the small side for a camera that produces
such large files, so you'll want to invest in a larger card. The
6900 supports cards as large as 128MB.
thing that I'm not a big fan of is proprietary batteries, and unfortunately,
the 6900 uses one. The NP-80 Li-ion battery has been seen before,
in cameras from many manufacturers. My big issues with it are short
battery life and price. Fuji says the NP-80 will last for about
an hour, or 100-120 shots. You'll probably want to get another battery,
and you can grab Kodak's equivalent (KLIC-3000) for under $50 here.
to nicer stuff now: Fuji includes a lens cap and strap to protect
that big lens. You can also hook the lens cap onto the shoulder
strap if you wish.
far as accessories go, you can pick up Fuji's Wide Conversion Lens
(WL-FX9) and Tele Conversion Lens (TL-FX9), and you can also use
the adapter ring to use 55mm filters. Do note that with those conversion
lenses, you cannot use the built-in flash.
FinePixViewer software is just average, and useful only for transferring,
rotating, and resizing images. You'll want a more powerful photo
editing suite if you need more than those features.
manuals for Fuji cameras have always been better than average, and
that's still the case here.
FinePix 6900 is essentially the same as the 4900, with the big change
being the new black paint job. Even with its large lens, the 6900
is easy to hold, with a large grip for your right hand, and plenty
of room for your left. The body is mostly metal, and it feels very
solid. It also seemed surprisingly light to me.
dimensions of the FinePix 6900 are 4.3 x 3.1 x 3.7 inches (W x H
x D), and it weighs 410 grams empty. Let's begin our tour of the
6900 now, starting with the front of the camera.
big attraction on the front of the camera is the 6X optical zoom
lens (F2.8). The focal range is 7.8 - 46.8 mm, which is equivalent
to 35 - 210 mm. Though you can't see it in this shot, there is a
manual focus ring around the lens. This isn't a true mechanical
focus ring -- rather, it's a "fly by wire" electronic
system. I'll have more about the manual focus feature a bit later
in the review.
the lens, you can see the pop-up flash. The effective range of the
flash is 0.3 - 3.6 m at full wide-angle, and 0.9 - 3.2 m at full
telephoto. As you'll see in a second, you can also use an external
flash with the FinePix 6900.
the back of the FinePix 6900, which is the same as on the 4900.
The 2" LCD is bit larger than those found on most digicams,
and is bright and fluid. You can adjust the brightness if you'd
like, by holding down Shift and Display.
through the EVF or LCD and you'll see this when taking photos
the LCD is the EVF - electronic viewfinder. Rather than a traditional
optical viewfinder, it's more like looking at a small LCD. The pluses
of the EVF is that you get to see menus and information in the viewfinder
instead of just the LCD. The downsides are the poor resolution and
brightness, and additional power drain (but it's still better than
using the LCD). I'd take an optical viewfinder over an EVF any day...
but that's just me. Thanks to the rubber cover over the EVF, nose
smudges on the LCD won't be a problem.
to the right of the EVF is the "EVF/LCD" button, which
is used to switch between the two.
Check in action. See the macro test below to see what I'm taking
a picture of.
right of that are the Focus Check and AE Lock buttons. The Focus
Check feature is unique to the FinePix 4900 and 6900, and it allows
you to zoom into an area of the frame, so you can make sure it's
in focus. This comes in most useful in manual focus mode, but can
be used any time.
DISP (Display) button is used to change the amount of information
shown on the LCD, in both record and playback mode. The buttons
below that are for invoking and navigating the menu system. You
can also use the four-way switch for controlling the zoom.
on the other side of the LCD is the Shift button. Pressing the shift
button lets you quickly adjust the LCD brightness and resolution/quality
the top of the 6900. Towards the left, you can see the hot shoe
for an external flash. Fuji says that you can use any flash unit
that meets the following conditions:
aperture can be set
flash synchronization can be used
sensitivity can be set
the right are a number of other controls (left to right, top to
(2 or 10 seconds)
shooting (up to 5 shots, with intervals as short as 0.2 sec)
Wheel, with dial underneath. The dial is used to change settings
in manual mode like shutter speed and aperture
Mode Wheel has the following options:
manual mode - you pick both aperture and shutter speed
priority mode - you choose aperture between F2.8 and F11, camera
chooses appropriate shutter speed
priority mode - you choose shutter speed between 3 sec and 1/1000
sec, camera chooses appropriate aperture value
mode - can adjust all settings except shutter speed and aperture
auto mode - you can only adjust flash and exposure compensation
position - camera picks the best settings for the following scenes:
portrait, landscape, sports, night scene, black and white
on one side of the camera are more buttons, as well as the I/O ports.
the far left, you can see the second way to control the zoom lens.
Above that is the switch that puts the camera into manual focus
mode. In this mode, the LCD/EVF will display little arrows hinting
at which way to turn the focus ring. You can also use the Focus
Check feature (described earlier) to make sure the shot is in focus.
three buttons to the right include:
compensation (-2.0EV to +2.0EV in 1/3EV increments)
White Balance (this is the only camera I've tested that can store
two custom white balance sets)
(shows information about photo in playback mode)
the right of those buttons, under a plastic cover, are the I/O ports
support is not available on the FinePix 6900.
the other side, you'll find the SmartMedia slot. This is one of
those non spring-loaded "grab it yourself" slots. The
included 16MB SmartMedia card is also shown.
last stop on our tour is the bottom of the camera. You can see the
compartment for the battery, as well as a metal tripod mount.
the Fuji FinePix 6900 Zoom
camera takes four seconds to extend the lens and "warm up"
before you can start taking pictures. When you depress the shutter
release button halfway, it takes about a second to lock focus in
most situations. Fully pressing the button results in a photo after
a noticeable but minimal delay. Shot-to-shot speed is excellent
- you'll wait about two seconds even with the 6 Megapixel "HI"
quality images. As I mentioned earlier, you can take 5 shots in
a row in continuous shooting mode, even in 6MP mode. The zoom mechanism
is also quite fast, and accurate.
are many choices available for resolution and quality on the 6900,
as this table hopefully explains:
photos on 16MB card (included)
photos on 64MB card (for reference)
(2832 x 2128)
(2048 x 1536)
(1280 x 960)
(640 x 480)
you can see, the "HI" quality mode is the uncompressed
TIFF-RGB mode. You can also tell that you can't actually fit one
on the included SmartMedia card.
many options on the 6900 are found on buttons, the menu system is
fairly small. Here's a description of what you'll find in the menu
(on/off) - this lets you take several exposures and put them into
(1/3, 2/3, 1EV increments) - takes 3 shots in a row with different
exposure compensation values
strength (-0.6EV to +0.6EV in 1/3EV increments)
balance (Auto, custom (x2), sunlight, shade, fluorescent (x3),
AKA metering (average, spot, multi)
(100, 200, 400)
that's it all the menu choices! So let's talk about photo quality
camera did a fine job of our macro test, especially in the color
department. No white balance changes were needed to get the correct
color of this little statue, which is a rarity for me. You can get
as close as 10 cm in macro mode on the FinePix 6900.
6900 also did a good job with our night shot test, which is a bit
different than the usual one. This one is taken from a ledge at
Pac Bell Park (in SF, obviously), which is why you can see that
blurry portion in the lower-left corner. As you can see, there's
no unusual noise here - check the sky and you'll see no "unnatural
stars". You can even see the exercise equipment in the building
across the street pretty well. Since you have full control over
the shutter speed, you can do low-light shooting easily -- but just
remember to bring a tripod.
was quite happy with the photo quality on the FinePix 6900. The
colors really stood out -- the grass on the field and the red (phony)
brick walls at PAC Bell Park were reproduced perfectly. There is
some noise visible on the 6M shots (due to that interpolation thing
again), but if you resize the photos to a smaller size (for webpages)
or print them, you won't notice. A print of a 6 Mpixel image is
exceptional, even at 8 x 10 inches. But don't take my word for it
-- check out the photo gallery and see
FinePix 6900's movie mode can record lengthy movies, but it has
some annoyances as well. Movies can be up to 160 seconds long (though
note that the included 16MB SmartMedia card can only hold 94 sec),
and they're recorded at 320 x 240, 10 frames per second.
bad news is that no sound is recorded, and you cannot use the optical
zoom while filming. In fact, the zoom is locked at full wide-angle.
a sample movie for you:
to play movie (AVI format, M-JPEG codec, 1.2MB)
FinePix's playback mode is quite nice, with a ton of features. The
basic features found on every camera are here: slideshows, DPOF
Print Marking, protection, thumbnail mode, and "zoom and scroll".
zoom and scroll feature allows you to get closer to your image,
and then scroll around it. Both zooming and scrolling are a bit
on the slow side, for my taste. Also, if you are zoomed in, you
can "trim" your image, taking the selected area and putting
it into a separate image.
6900 can move through 6MP images in about two seconds. You can get
more information about a photo by pressing (get this) the Info button
on the side of the camera. This extra information also includes
Does it Compare?
Fuji FinePix 6900 Zoom is a high resolution, "pro-styled"
camera with a lot of features, yet it's easy to use. If you want
basic point-and-shoot action, you can just pop it in Auto mode and
forget the rest. If you're leaning towards the professional end
of things, you can use manual controls or even an external flash.
The photo quality was excellent, with vivid color reproduction and
high res files. The only downsides in my eyes are the use of a low-capacity
proprietary battery, a lackluster movie mode, and the electronic
viewfinder. If you're examining 3 and 4 Megapixel cameras, be sure
to include this FinePix in your search.
good photo quality
shoe for external flash
Focus Check feature
6X zoom lens
I didn't care for:
Viewfinder (I'm not a fan of them in general)
sound in movie mode; lens locked at wide-angle
aren't very many high res "big zoom" cameras out there.
Here are just a few: Casio
QV-2900UX (8X, low res), Minolta
DiMAGE 5 (7X), Nikon
Coolpix 995 (4X), Olympus C-700UZ,
MVC-CD1000 (low res, CD-based, 10X). For more cameras, check
out our Reviews & Info system.
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the FinePix 6900 and its competitors before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a second opinion?
sure to read Steve's
Digicams review of the FinePix 6900 Zoom.
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited time, please do not e-mail me asking for personal