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Old Mar 15, 2007, 3:37 PM   #11
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Yes, I've tried all possible setting in all possible modes. As I said, there's very little difference between each setting. It looks great on the LCD, but the photos look much the same.

But like you said... I've only had the camera a few hours. And I've not tested it in the clubs yet where there are very fast moving and bright coloured lights bouncing off the subject.

I'll hold judgement until tomorrow but I think that figuring out exactly how this custom white balance setting works is going to make all the difference between keeping and returning the camera.
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Old Mar 16, 2007, 5:08 AM   #12
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Well... I have to say that in terms of photo quality and low-light performance, I am very impressed!

This camera performs very well in the low-light environment and produces crisp clean shots with no noise and no blurring of background lights etc.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this is produces better photos than any camera I've used during the last 3 years (and I've used many).

My mission for today is to master this colour balance issue.

All confidence has been restored and I'm very pleased.

And for anybody who is thinking of getting this camera, please do not listen to the negative press which complains about poor low-light performance. It's all nonsense!
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Old Mar 16, 2007, 10:03 AM   #13
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I'm glad to hear your reaction. If you remember, I told you not to panic at first. A lot of people do. I did. I think the reason for the negative press is that Fuji initially tried to market this camera as an alternative to a digital SLR, and they sort of implied that the quality was comparable. Then, some overzealous people who purchased cameras like the F30 thought they more or less had the world by the tail as far as low light photography is concerned. And in reading some of the other forums they make comments like, "the 9100 is a disaster as far as low light photography is concerned." They speak authoritatively even though they have never used a 9000 or a 9100. And they are even more brutal when they tell others about the 9000, which is the camera that I have. And all I can say is that they are wrong.

I wish I knew what to tell you about white balance. The kind of photography I do has not made white balance an issue. I really don't think the "white sheet of paper" method is going to be practical in your situation. I'm just wondering if when you start using flash that won't solve the problem. Oh, just another thought, have you tried the natural light mode?

Some people seem to take it personally if someone else doesn't like a particular model that they consider to be the best possible choice. If someone else doesn't like it, they seem to feel that this implies that they made a bad purchase. And they take it upon themselves to heavily defend the camera and belittle others for making the negative comments about the camera. Everyone's needs are different. And I think that is something we should all remember. My son-in-law has a Nikon D70. And he cannot understand why I would settle for something like the Fuji S9000. His camera is very nice. And he takes some very nice pictures with it. I borrowed it and took a few pictures. It is unquestionably much more responsive than my 9000. The quality is very good. But for the kind of photography I do I cannot see that the pictures are any better than what I get with my own camera. And the pictures still have my look to them. That makes it obvious to me that I need to work more on composition and technique instead of worrying about having a better camera.
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Old Mar 16, 2007, 7:48 PM   #14
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My new 9100 arrived late yesterday. I have been scrambling trying to learn how it operates for a goodly portion of the last twenty-four hours.

JP has accurately portrayed the learning experience and the facts surrounding the 9100. My experience so far have paralleled what he has had to say. It is going to take some time for me to learn enough about this camera to feel really comfortable with it.

I think the fact that it looks a lot like, an even handles a lot like a digital SLR, causes us to feel it should produce like a digital SLR. It would be really nice if a camera with all of the features of a digital SLR plus a lens that covers the 28 to 300 mm field of view, and only costs $400, would also be as responsive and have the same low noise level at ISO settings above 200 that a digital SLR has. Unfortunately the old adage still applies, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch!"

Having said that, I feel that the real limitations in this case, (for me) are with the photographer not the equipment. It's going to take several weeks, if not months for me to become acclimated to fully utilize equipment that is this sophisticated. Having been out of photography for sometime, and the best digital camera I have owned up until now has been a Canon G3, does complicate things. The Canon is a very good camera. But one that does not have the capabilities of the 9100. So I have my work cut out for me.

it seems to me that the 9100 has a very good automatic white balance feature. I feel it is much superior to my G. 3. As far as using the custom white balance setting, I believe you need to take the camera into the environmentor you will be working and measure the reflected light off of a white piece of paper. In fact this measurement should be taken off of a photographic gray card and recorded into the camera. I believe this will give you the kind of response you're looking for from the 9100 on the custom white balance setting. Trying to measure light anywhere else will defeat your purpose. You want the actual light experience in the clubs.
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Old Mar 19, 2007, 9:37 PM   #15
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Eagle was right on the money with the white balance tip there. Look at the golden brown tones in my avatar there.

Spot on there mate

So... A few days into testing, and how do I rate it?

Well, I'd say that this camera is definitely a nice all-rounder with obvious strengths and weaknesses.

It performed well in the nightclubs and although much better than reviews had lead me to believe it would be, it was still not quite as easy to use in rapid succession as the P880.
One or two auto-focus problems and had to erase a handful of shots due to blurring. BUT... The images which worked were clearly sharper than the best of the P880 images in the same environments.
The white balance was an issue as explained above, but I've since found a solution to this problem (thanks to Eagle) and so I'm expecting to phase that problem out this coming weekend.
I really don't care for the auto focus assist beam. I'd much rather have the simple yet effective red lamp system of the P880 than this patterned green lamp which often terminates before the camera has locked the focus.
Ideally, it needs to shine just a few seconds more in the club environment where many brightly coloured and fast moving lights are bouncing off the subjects.
Start up times are fantastic but the flash charging delay can be a nightmare when you're looking to take rapid fire photos.
For me, the zoom ring was confusing too since I've become used to the P880's anti-clockwise to zoom, whilst this one is clockwise to zoom. Irritating but not an issue.

Ultimately, the ease of use is still there although sacrifised slightly for sharper, higher definition images.
The S9600 is still very easy to use and produces outstanding quality shots in all the pre-programmed modes.
I'm especially looking forward to learning how to get maximum quality from all the manual modes.
It's easy enough to navigate through the menus, although you do have to memorize each function from the manual since there is no on-screen text info, and the menu itself is very dull.

The battery life is fantastic. I have to admit that at first the thought of AA's did really put me off the camera. But now I'm completely converted. I got around 300 shots from a set of 2700's which hadn't even been given a full charge!
I've now ordered additional sets of 3200s.

I like the CompactFlash option up to 8GB having been used to a maximum of 2GB on my previous SD card. Additional memory cards are no major hassle but I'd much rather have a single 8GB CompactFlash card than 4x 2GB SD/XD cards.

Even now, having not put my camera down for five days, I've not even touched it's real capability with many more manual mode combos to test in various conditions... But for me that's 75% of the fun of using this type of camera.

I've not even looked at the macro, and indeed super macro features yet, and outdoor photography has been minimal.

I'll be taking the camera for a trip into town with me this week for further outdoor testing. And I'll revisit my little review here to update as required.

Samples of all my images can be viewed on http://www.panoramicpixel.co.uk

Negative Points:
  • User menu is dull[/*]
  • LCD viewing quality is poor and noisy in relatively low-light conditions[/*]
  • Custom modes not very user-friendly[/*]
  • Flash charging delay[/*]
  • Poor auto focus when using zoom[/*]
  • Weak auto focus assist beam[/*]
  • Very noisy auto focus tracking[/*]
Positive Points:
  • Position adjustable LCD[/*]
  • Clear, sharp digital viewfinder[/*]
  • Crisp high definition images up to 9 mega pixels[/*]
  • Excellent natural light photography[/*]
  • Bright flash[/*]
  • Minimal noise at higher ISO levels up to 1600[/*]
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Old Mar 20, 2007, 1:00 AM   #16
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Machine: I would have to agree with most of what you have had to say about the learning curve with the S9100/9600. I am experiencing my share of frustrations also. And you are right, as many others have complained, that this camera does have difficulty in low-light focus at the extreme end of the zoom range. Like you, I do not care for the green focus assistant lamp which I do not believe is that much help most of the time. And, except in rarer situations, I just turn it off.

But one thing we have to keep in mind is that this is a camera not for the timid, or folks who just want a simple point and shoot experience. It is the most sophisticated camera I have ever owned. It is going to take me quite some time to really get comfortable with all the various aspects this camera has to offer. I have already devoted a bunch of hours checking it out.

I am quite impressed with its photo quality. Especially for camera that has such a small image sensor.When you think of all the features that this camera has and what it's capable of doing, and the price paid, there are not too many more things that Fuji could put in this camera.

Three things I would like to see in the next generation of S9100 (9200?) camera is real optical anti shake technology, better autofocus in low light at the long the end of the lens, and the better the sixth or even the 7th generation electronics that are bound to occur. This will make a truly great camera I feel.

Good luck, and lets keep trying!
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Old Mar 20, 2007, 9:50 AM   #17
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I wonder if it might be worth experimenting with manual focus. I realize the LCD or the EVF, either one, can present some challenges. But the camera has a lot of depth of field because of the smaller sensor. And manual focus might work very well for you.
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Old Mar 20, 2007, 10:54 AM   #18
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Yes this is definitely something to try, although do I really have time to focus every shot? I'll take a look at it non-the-less.

Since we're discussing focus, do you guys know much about the bulbs in these auto-focus beams? Are they interchangable at all?
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Old Mar 20, 2007, 11:29 AM   #19
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I don't believe they are interchangeable. What I was thinking about manual focus is that you could probably take the time to focus the camera at the distance you normally shoot at, and then forget it. A few people have complained that the camera keeps too much of the picture in focus, making it difficult to have photographs with blurry backgrounds. I think this "problem" that is the result of the camera having a smaller sensor, could work to your benefit. You might not have to spend any time at all worrying about the focus.
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Old Mar 20, 2007, 11:35 AM   #20
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Yeah I get you there. I'll have a crack at it and report back.
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