The FujiFilm ‘E’ series of cameras offer the user a classic, straight-forward experience. This is especially true of the FujiFilm E-900 – the designers took what worked from the past models (a sort of digital rangefinder) and gave it a proper boost. And a boost it was! The E-900 saw both cosmetic and performance upgrades that justified its price tag. In 2005 the camera was quite impressive, and to me, still remains so in 2020. In some respects, even more so than 15 years ago. Buying a second one at Charity Shop must mean something, right?
I have such a fondness for this camera. It just works.
I could hear the distant crashing of the water down below. Mist hung like a cloak below. It felt good to finally stretch my legs after so many hours behind the wheel. I never mind a good set of stairs. They always lead to beautiful places. Each step brought me closer to the waterfall I had visited a few years before. The sound of the water, the moist air, and the sensation of anticipation never dull. I was now just a few steps from the viewing platform, eagerly dodging returning visitors, making their way back of the long set of stairs. Finally, at long last, I had arrived. Without nary a thought, I took out my tripod, then my camera, framed my composition–and just watched the falls–mesmerized. Soon I came to my senses, then proceeded to set my exposure parameters.
I never mind a good set of stairs. They always lead to beautiful places.
As I began to expose my first image, I could sense those around me begin to stare. It was the oddest feeling. I wanted to say: “yeah, not everyone uses their phones for pictures.” I held my tongue. I may simply be a bit paranoid.
I feel a bit old and bitter about this sometimes.
Sightseeing has changed significantly over the past few years in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP). Perhaps it was just the day I visited, but nobody came with a dedicated camera. Everyone had their phones out. They took a couple of pictures, the obligatory video sweep, a selfie and proceeded to walk back up the stairs. No one spent any length of time just observing the beauty in front of them. It sort of reminds me of a waterfall scavenger hunt. Find the falls, take a picture, and head to the next one. Why walk over a mile to just take a few pics and leave?
Back in my day, we used dedicated cameras.
A Long Time Coming…
A fellow 35mmc reader suggested I do write-up on the FujiFilm E-900 as a follow-up to the FujiFilm E-510 review I wrote a year or so ago. I had plans to write something right away, but decided to hold off. The timing was not right. Instead, I put the camera away until a later date.
Later on, I brought the FujiFilm E-900 with me to the UP, as I felt compelled to offer a well-rounded view of the camera to those that may be interested in what the FujiFilm E-900 has to offer. The timing was just right. I knew I would get strange glances. An older digital camera in 2020 is becoming a rare sight. I wanted to do the camera justice. Time and patience being the vehicle to do so.
About the Camera
Nine megapixel cameras used to be cutting edge. Who would ever need that many pixels anyway? Well, pretty much everyone I suppose, just take a quick look at the smartphone industry. In 2020, 9MP is considered low resolution. But in any case, I love what the FujiFilm E-900 can produce.
Previous versions of this model were silver and chrome (E-500, 510 and E-550). The FujiFilm E-900 camera is black (a welcome change), and looks like a bar of soap, much like its predecessors. Another welcome change is the grips rubber treatment…the old models have some strange rubbery-plastic stuff…not really grippy at all. The command dial, shutter button and power on/off button are surrounded by a chrome-plastic housing. Not so welcome on a camera that looks bad arse otherwise. I wish the chrome was black too.
The FujiFilm E-900 accepts XD cards. I have no qualms with them. RAW writing is slow though. But this is a minor quibble; I am never in a hurry out in the woods.
Screen resolution is quite acceptable for the year, and has a nice refresh rate.The camera also offers the user a viewfinder. I find it helpful on occasion. It is too bad it was not more representative of the full frame. Often times my thumb gets in the way. Overall, the screen offers a reliable representation of what will be seen on a larger screen.
The FujiFilm E-900 is quite responsive too. The lens is ready to shoot in seconds, and the buttons can keep up with quick adjustments without any lag time. This is something I have learned to appreciate over the years. Speaking of buttons, there exist just enough. Unfortunately, accessing RAW capture is buried within the menu system. At least RAW is offered (and is workable in LiteRoom). Custom white balance is offered too!
The FujiFilm E-900 screams quality, until the user takes a look underneath. The plastic tripod mount underside. Aww shucks. I swear, plastic tripod mounts are the devil. Other than that blunder, I am quite fond of the cameras design and implementation.
The FujiFilm E-900 stands alone well as a stock system, but what I love more than anything about this camera is the adapter tube that can be affixed with a quick twist to the right. So many options are available! 52mm filters of all sorts can be mounted up front to achieve myriad impressive results.
Not to mention that step-up rings allow the use of other popular filter sizes. I have found great success with polarizers, ND filters and haze filters. I have also used an old-school SEARS +4 magnifying filter to achieve great close ups.
I thought it best to divide the gallery into three sections: Macro, Landscape and Street. Reason being, the FujiFilm E-900 does well in each regard.
I find that the FujiFilm E-900 is quite capable in MACRO, provided the adapter tube is utilized, with the attached ‘SEARS +4’ attachment. These images were collected around the garden at home with a tripod and self timer. On its own, the macro mode is a bit lackluster. It was better implemented in the E-510.
This is is where I find this FujiFilm E-900 the most adept. The lens is by no means the widest, but it does not detract from its overall appeal as a lightweight hiking/backpacking companion. With the adapter, the use of ND and Polarizer filters is rewarding.
I confess – I struggle with street photography. However, in the right hands, the FujiFilm E-900 is certainly up to the task. The shutter is quick and responsive. Higher ISO images are not bad for a smaller sensor too – the beauty of the Super CCD.
Thoughts and Such
In a previous post, I had mentioned that I wish I could shoot film all the time. I still maintain that sentiment. Though in 2020, I have begun to feel that shooting old digital cameras (not phones) offers a sort of middle-ground between film and smartphone cameras. In many ways, the FujiFilm E-900 fills a niche in my photographic ambitions. Not quite modern, not quite vintage. Somewhere in between.
I often dream about what would make the FujiFilm E-900 perfect. In my world, I would have had the designers ditch the zoom for a 28mm prime lens. The lens would except 52mm filters (without needing an adapter). Next, a metal tripod mount would be located directly under the lens. Weather sealing would be amazing, and only add to the versatility of this camera.
In fact, I have often covered the seams of the FujiFilm E-900 in black electric tape to take out in rainy conditions with much success. Perhaps pixel mapping? The flip-out screen and threaded shutter release button of the FujiFilm S-9000 too. And finally, the ugly chrome accents would be traded for black. Together, this camera would be beyond perfect for hiking and backpacking. I wish I could go back in time and talk to the designers… really. The camera would have probably created a cult following.
The FujiFilm E-900 is a paradox. It is both an improvement over past models, but also disappoints in certain respects. I must say though, the color rendition is sublime. I am quite fond of FujiFilm color.
In the end, what matters is how a camera inspires you. I am inspired every time I pick the FujiFilm E-900 up. What more can one ask for? The camera is just plain fun. It takes some getting used to, but it is well worth the wait.
My suggestion? Get one if you can.