This historical country chapel perched on a hilltop caught
the last rays of the sun captured by the FinePix 4900
at its widest zoom setting. When transferred to Photoshop
the darkly shaded areas of the image had a strong blue
caste, but once neutralized, the warm glow of the sun
on the side of the chapel contrasted dramatically with
the blue of the sky.
Photos © 2000, David B. Brooks, All Rights Reserved
It wasn't that long
ago I reported on a fun camera from Fujifilm, the shirt-pocket sized
FinePix 4700. The follow up for the photo enthusiast, the new FinePix
4900, brings the same serious digital picture qualities with added features
and capabilities. Although it looks and feels serious and is still lightweight
and compact, this 4900 will require a jacket pocket. For under $1000,
Fujifilm has included industry leading resolution and image size with
a feature set that will make almost every serious interest in photography
a digital possibility. This feature set includes a new barrel body design
with an ergonomic handgrip that supports a wide ranging 6x Super EBC
Fujinon aspheric zoom lens. The focal length range compares to 35-210mm
on a 35mm camera. To assure accurate picture framing and precise camera
control, Fujifilm put in a miniature LCD through the lens eye-level
viewfinder in addition to a full 2" playback monitor.
This SLR-like handling is
backed up by a comprehensive set of camera controls, including five
exposure modes. In addition to setting the main control knob to Auto,
aperture or shutter priority, program and of course manual, a ring just
under the knob allows selection of aperture and shutter speed, exposure
compensation, and more. All controls read out in sharp digital numbers
and letters in the miniature eye-level finder. Alternately, you can
click on a button next to the eyepiece and the image the lens is focused
on, as well as all of the operation information, is transferred to the
2" LCD playback screen.
Besides offering powerful point-and-shoot performance, the FinePix 4900
can be used very seriously with 13 aperture steps selectable between
f/2.8 and f/11 (wide angle), along with manual shutter speed selections
from 3 to 1/2000 sec. Effective film speeds can be selected from a wide
range of ISO equivalents of 125, 200, 400, and 800. Almost any photographic
challenge can be met outdoors or in with a built-in pop-up flash that
has a range up to 13'. Almost any kind of adjustable output flash, from
handheld, hot shoe, and even multi-head studio electronic flash synched
through the camera's hot shoe (with the camera set on manual mode) can
also be used.
A normal sunlit view in full sun is captured by the FinePix
4900 with rich color and sharp image detail from a few feet
The Fujifilm FinePix 4900 employs
a 2.4 million octagonal sensor CCD that captures image data at 36-bit
depth, resulting in a 4.3 megapixel file. These images are stored in one
of three selectable JPEG compression ratio files on a SmartMedia card.
A 16MB SmartMedia card is supplied and may be supplemented with cards
up to 64MB capacity. This allows for either 32 Fine quality files or as
many as 180 Basic quality images.
Using The Fujifilm FinePix
My approach to the FinePix 4900 Zoom was to use it in as many ways as
a photo enthusiast likely would. But before I set out on this forage for
images to illustrate the camera's potential, I set up in my living room
with a handheld and a multi-head electronic flash. I wanted to check whether
or not the camera would work with a photographer's typical lighting equipment.
I'm sure you don't want to see my messy bachelor's living room, so let
me just say that with both systems the camera synched and made an accurate
flash illuminated exposure. With handheld units the synch is via the hot
shoe. So, you must have a flash that has its own independent or manual
method of output adjustment, then set the camera aperture to the matching
flash setting at an appropriate shutter speed. With the studio electronic
flash you'll need either a hot shoe flash trigger (infrared or radio)
or a hot shoe to PC cord adapter to trigger the studio flash generator.
In this obviously strong contrast backlit scene of a train
trestle and ocean pier, the FinePix exposure was automatically
centered covering the full brightness range and providing
detail even in the darkest tones in the scene.
Once I was assured the camera
would function with independent flash in addition to the built-in unit,
I set out on a picture taking adventure. Although I didn't cover a whole
lot of territory, I did find a wide range of subjects and photographed
them at different times of day and in distinctly varied lighting conditions.
After each day's outing I returned with one or more SmartMedia cards full
of high quality JPEG image files. I downloaded immediately and cleared
the cards after checking the image values in Photoshop before storing
the image files in a non-compressed TIFF file format.
Impressions And Evaluations
Like many digital cameras, the FinePix 4900 image files, when transferred
directly to an image editor, have the resolution set at the VGA screen
setting of 72dpi. I use Image Size in Photoshop to reset the resolution
to 240dpi (that's ideal for reproduction with an ink jet printer). With
"interpolation" turned off, the resulting image dimensions become 7.5x10".
Con-sidering I was pushing the limits with lighting and subject choices,
most of the files demanded some color correction editing, not because
the camera did anything wrong, but because the subject needed some help.
In some cases, if the sun was low and if there was a lot of overhead sky,
I'd eliminate the blue in the shadows. In other cases I'd use the Curves
adjustment to lighten and open up more detail in the shadows. In just
about every instance the camera's autoexposure control functioned accurately,
as did the autofocus, providing sharply focused, technically ideal image
The FinePix 4900 6x lens at full telephoto is sufficiently
long to compress distance, yet still maintain focus and
fine image detail, as well as reproducing the most brilliant
though subtle natural color from distant scenes.
When it came to the actual
picture taking experience, I very much appreciated the eye-level miniature
LCD TTL display of the image for framing my pictures. Compared to the
optical viewfinder most enthusiast digital cameras have, it provides far
superior and more accurate picture framing. And, it really is quite essential
with the focal length range the 6x zoom lens the 4900 affords. However,
this unusual viewfinder does take a bit of getting used to because the
image quality is not very great, and it jumps along in steps if you pan
the camera. Because I wear glasses, I believe I was disadvantaged, as
some light gets in behind my glasses and degrades the viewfinder image.
If I were to purchase the camera I'd first find a way to install a diopter
correction eyepiece lens to allow using the camera without my glasses.
With those few caveats expressed,
the Fujifilm FinePix 4900 Zoom does provide very fine quality. Excellent
7.5x10" prints can be made from its image files. In every respect I found
it to be a winner. For under $1000, including Adobe PhotoDeluxe 4.0, it's
an exceptional value.
For more information, call
Fuji Photo Film USA Inc. at (800) 800-3854, or visit their web site at:
Sensor Type: 1/1.7", 36-bit Super CCD, 2.4 million octagonal sensors
Resolution: 4.3 million pixels
Lens: 6x Super EBC Fujinon aspheric zoom lens, f/2.8-f/11 (wide
angle), f/4.5-f/10.8 (telephoto), (35mm focal length equivalent: 35-210mm),
with Macro mode
Focus: Automatic and manual from 11.8" to infinity
Sensitivity (ISO): 125, 200, 400, 800
Shutter Speed: 1/4 to 1/2000 sec (automatic modes), 3 to 1/2000
sec (manual mode)
Storage Media: SmartMedia cards (3.3v - 2 to 64MB capacity)
Number Of Images Stored On 16MB SmartMedia Card: Fine=8, Normal=16,
File Format: JPEG with 1:5, 1:11, and 1:27 ratios
White Balance: Automatic plus six manual modes
Flash (Built-In): 13' range
Exposure Modes: Program AE, EV control, Aperture priority, Shutter
Exposure Meter: Auto 64 point TTL (multi-center-weighted or spot)
LCD Monitor: 2" low-temperature polysilicon TFT
Interfaces: USB, PC card, Floppy disk adapter, USB card reader
Video/Audio Output: Yes
Power Source: NP-80 lithium ion rechargeable battery, 5v AC power
Weight: 14.1 oz without battery
Estimated Street Price: $999