So you like the idea of getting a digital SLR camera, but don't really want to be fussed with all those lenses? Fujifilm's answer is the S9600, a prosumer model that promises all the benefits of a compact while giving you an SLR-like experience. So is it any good? We get snapping to find out.
So what do you get for your money? 9 megapixels, a 10.7x (28-300mm) lens and a 2-inch LCD display that can flip out for shooting at awkward angles, basically.
At first glance and to the uninitiated the camera will come across as a fully fledged DSLR, it's only when you go to remove that lens, or turn on the rear display you'll realise that it's not.
Design-wise and the black casing is comfortable to hold in your hand and like a traditional SLR model zoom is controlled via the lens ring rather than a T and W button.
When it comes to taking pictures start-up time is very quick (0.8 seconds). The same can be said of the camera's focusing abilities, and the only complaint we have with the lens is its not so wide 28mm starting point. The pay-off of course is that you have a 300mm option at the other end - plenty enough to get you into the action (see images), but if you're planning on shooting friends at parties or little Emily or Johnny as they grow up this might not be the best option.
Viewing images is done via either that 2-inch display on the back or the electronic viewfinder. While it gives you the choice we found the EVF very bright and slightly off-putting compared to an optical viewfinder, but it did mean that you could view all the information available to you either way.
Settings-wise and there is plenty here for the prosumer to get to grips with. ISO settings can be set between 80 and a sensible 1600.
Storage options come in the form of Fujifilm's xD card or the more professional CompactFlash.
As for pictures, the results were good if not a little flat on colour with them not being as strong as we would have perhaps liked. The zoom however was very good.
We have to say that we are a bit confused by the FujiFilm 9600 and where it now sits in the world of digital cameras. While like its predecessor, the 9500, there is a niche for cameras like this, the DSLR market has changed so much since the creation of these bridge models that the 9600 finds itself caught out. It's not small enough as the likes of the G series from Canon to slip into your pocket, nor is it fully functional enough as even entry-level DSLR's like the Nikon D40, the Canon 400D, the Sony Alpha or the Olympus E-400.
With the DSLR market becoming so accessible, we would suggest anyone looking to get serious about photography to opt for one of the above. If it's live view that you want then Olympus now offer that with its DSLRs, and while the 28-300 lens does give you an impressive zoom you can easily achieve this with additional lenses.
A good camera at a good price, but one that is struggling to find a place in the world.