Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro SLR Review

Steve's Digicams

Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro

First Look posted 01/18/2005
Full review posted 02/23/2005

Click to take a QuickTime tour of the S3 Pro

The FinePix S3 Pro features a 12.34 million effective pixels Fujifilm Super CCD SR II image sensor designed specifically for professional photography. It creates a wider dynamic range to produce images that approach true photographic quality. As a result, the S3 Pro will capture highlight and shadow detail often lost by digital cameras in high contrast scenes. In addition, Super CCD SR sensor technology provides a higher level of sensitivity, improved signal-to-noise ratio and more natural color reproduction.

The S3 Pro was developed with significant improvements in versatility and ease of use. Dual shutter release buttons are provided for both landscape and portrait compositions, and dual LCD data displays confirm shooting settings and composition at a glance, without the need to scroll through menus. In addition, the body has been sculpted and rubberised to provide a solid grip.

The S3 Pro makes full use of Fujifilm's extensive color film expertise. Rather than force photographers to shoot in RAW mode and spend time on an extensive workflow process, Fujifilm has introduced Film Simulation Modes, dynamic range presets and color space selection. Once the photographer is familiar with these settings, they will be able to produce JPEG images straight from the camera, which require no post-production. Photographers can choose between smooth, extended tonality and natural skin tones, or the dramatic impact of highly saturated color. The Film Simulation Mode is the equivalent of changing film type to suit shooting conditions, and achieves this at the touch of a button.

For the first time on any digital SLR, a pre-exposure Live Image Mode has been incorporated to enable photographers to frame and focus images without the need to use the viewfinder. Activated for up to 30 seconds prior to a normal exposure, Live Image Mode is ideal for shots using a tripod as well as effective capture of candid images.

The S3 Pro features two D-TTL compatible flash interfaces (hot shoe and synchro terminal) and dual media slots, making it compatible with xD-Picture Cards, CompactFlash and Microdrives up to 4GB in capacity.

Expandable shooting options are achievable thanks to the FinePix S3 Pro's compatibility with Nikon-fit lenses and accessories, including the latest 'DX'- designated peripherals, giving plenty of scope for further shooting control.

The S3 Pro comes bundled with Hyper Utility Software HS-V2 Ver. 3.0 which enables high-quality RAW data conversion, and incorporates an image viewer, PC control functions and expanded color processing options.

FinePix S3 Pro Features:

  • Fujifilm Super CCD SR II sensor, 12.34 million effective pixels (6.17m S-pixels + 6.17m R-pixels)
  • Compact and lightweight digital SLR camera
  • Nikon F-mount lenses (with 1.5x focal multiplier)
  • JPEG Fine/Normal or CCD-raw image formats
  • Film Simulation Modes to replicate the results of various reversal and professional portrait color negative films
  • Improved and adjustable dynamic range by changing the mixing ratio of the 'S' and 'R' pixels
  • Dual shutter release buttons (for horizontal/vertical orientation)
  • Live Image Mode for accurate image preview, focusing and framing
  • Program AE w/Shift, Shutter priority, Aperture priority and full Manual
  • Adjustable color, tone and sharpness
  • Color Space - sRGB or AdobeRGB
  • 3D Matrix, center-weighted or spot metering
  • TTL auto white balance, presets and custom set
  • Shutter speeds from 1/4,000 to 30 seconds plus Bulb
  • Continuous drive at 2.5fps up to 7 frames RAW / 12 frames JPEG
  • 2-inch color TFT LCD
  • 15 Custom settings
  • Playback with thumbnails, RGB histogram and zoom
  • ISO sensitivity from 100 to 1600
  • xD-Picture Card and CompactFlash Type II storage, Microdrive compatible
  • Selectable video output with NTSC or PAL format
  • IEEE 1394 FireWire and USB 2.0 data interface
  • Powered by four standard AA type batteries

DIWA Gold Medal Award

DIWA Award for Nikon D70

15 June, 2005: DIWA (Digital Imaging Websites Association), a world-wide organisation of collaborating digital imaging websites, today has the pleasure of announcing a DIWA Gold Award to the professional FinePix S3 Pro digital SLR.

The FinePix S3 Pro is based on a robust magnesium Nikon camera body, built to Fujifilm's specifications for conversion into a professional digital SLR camera, giving full access to a multitude of Nikon lenses and accessories. With their own expertise from design and production of the renowned Super CCD image sensors, Fujifilm has added their 2. generation 12 Megapixel Super CCD SR sensor. High resolution is combined with S and R photodiodes to achieve astonishing image quality and a wider dynamic range than conventional CCD sensors.

Kai Thon, DIWA's test manager comments: "The FinePix S3 Pro proves that Fujifilm has succeeded in combining their undisputed skills from film manufacture with their unconventional approach to image sensor technologies. DIWA finds the S3 Pro particularly well suited for studio photography, such as portraits, products and interiors, but it is also highly suited for outdoor shooting on location. Add to this the built-in vertical grip, the flexibility of RAW format shooting, Adobe RGB and two versions of sRGB color space, plus Fujifilm's remarkable Hyper-Utility HS-V2 software, and you have the perfect picture."

DIWA members praised the image quality, not only by means of an outstanding image sensor, but also the camera's 3D Matrix metering, white balance control, wide range of shutter speeds and sensitivities, plus full manual control of exposure and parameter settings. There is even simulated film effects included. Although not primarily built for action, the FinePix S3 Pro is a fast imaging tool, allowing continuous shooting of 12 Mp images at 2.5 fps, responsive functions and storing. It is also one of few to offer both USB 2.0 Hi-Speed and IEEE1394 FireWire interface for fast downloading.

The FinePix S3 Pro offers a unique on-screen manual focusing aid on the 235,000 pixels high-resolution 2" LCD screen, as well as a backlit LCD control panel in the immediate vicinity of the image screen. Support for both CompactFlash and xD-Picture Card storage media is also unusual and useful. Perfect ergonomic design has high priority on the FinePix S3 Pro, making both professionals and experienced amateurs feel comfortable and accustomed the moment they take control over the camera.

Physical Views

Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro SLR

Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro SLR

Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro SLRFujifilm FinePix S3 Pro SLR

Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro SLR

Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro SLR

Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro SLR

Compare the FinePix S3 Pro and the Nikon D70 SLRs.

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S3 Pro Specifications

Number of Effective Pixels** 12.3 million (S-pixel: 6.17 million, R-pixel: 6.17 million) pixels
CCD Sensor 23.0 � 15.5mm Super CCD SR with Primary Color Filter
Number of total pixels: 12.9 million (S-pixel: 6.45 million, R-pixel: 6.45 million) pixels
Number of Recorded Pixels 4256 � 2848 (12 million)
3024 � 2016 (6 million)
2304 � 1536 (3 million)
1440 � 960 (1 million)
File formats JPEG FINE/NORMAL (Exif Ver. 2.2), DPOF-compatible
CCD-RAW (14bit)
[Design rule for Camera File system compliant/DPOF-compatible]
Storage media Slot No.1: xD-Picture Card™ (16MB to 512MB)
Slot No.2: CF type II (Microdrive™)
(Some CompactFlash™ cards may not work properly)
Lens mount Nikon F mount (with AF coupling, AF contacts)
Usable lenses D/G type AF Nikkor lenses: All functions possible
AF Nikkor other than D/G type: All function except 3D Matrix Metering possible
Non-CPU: Usable in Manual exposure mode (exposure meter cannot be used)
Picture angle Approx. 1.5X focal length in 35mm format equivalent
Exposure metering system TTL full-aperture exposure metering system
Three metering systems selectable (limitations with lens used)
  • 3D-10 Matrix Metering: EV 0-21
  • Center-Weighted metering: EV 0-21
  • Spot Metering: EV 3-21
Exposure compensation ±3 EV range, in 1/2 steps
Auto exposure lock Detected exposure value locked by pressing AE/AF lock button
Exposure modes P: Auto-Multi Program (Flexible program possible)
S: Shutter-Priority Auto
A: Aperture-Priority Auto
M: Manual
Shooting modes Single frame shooting
Continuous shooting
  • D-range: STD mode: Max.2.5 frames/sec.
RAW: Up to max. 7 frames, JPEG: Up to max. 12 frames
  • D-range: WIDE mode: RAW, Max.1.4 frames/sec. Up to 3 frames
JPEG, Max.1 frame/sec. Up to 6 frames
Preview mode/Multiple exposure
Shutter Electronically controlled vertical-travel focal-plane shutter
Shutter speed 30 sec. to 1/4000 sec, Bulb, Max. 1/180 sec. X-contact
Advance Function Modes White Balance: Auto, Custom 1, Custom 2, Sunny, Shade, Fluorescent 1, 2, 3, Incandescent

Film Simulation: Standard, F1, F2

Dynamic Range: Auto (range 100-400%), Wide 1 (230%), Wide 2 (400%)

Color (Std/High/Org/BW), Tone (Std/Hard/Org), Sharpness (Std/Hard/Off)

Auto focus TTL phase detection
Detection range: EV -1 to EV 19
(ISO 100 equivalent at normal temperature)
Focus areas One of five focus areas can be selected
AF Area mode Single Area AF
Dynamic AF (Dynamic AF Mode with Closest Subject Priority is available)
Lens servo Single Servo AF (S), Continuous Servo AF (C), Manual focus (M) Focus Tracking automatically activated in subject's status in Single Servo AF (S) or Continuous Servo AF (C)
Sensitivity Equivalent to ISO 100/160/200/400/800/1600
Viewfinder Fixed-eyelevel pentaprism, built-in diopter adjustment (-2.0-1 to +1.0m-1) Frame coverage: Approx.93% vertical, Aprox.95% horizontal
Eye point 24mm
Focusing screen Clear Matte Screen II with focus brackets and On-demand Grid Lines able to display
Viewfinder information Focus indications, Metering system, AE lock, Shutter speed, Aperture, Exposure mode, Electronic analog exposure display/exposure compensation display, Frame counter/exposure compensation value, Ready-light, Multiple exposure, Focus area, Flash exposure compensation, Five sets of focus brackets (area) /Spot metering area, Center-Weighted metering,On-Demand Grid Lines able to display
LCD (top display) panel Shutter speed/Exposure compensation value, Aperture, Exposure compensation, Flash exposure compensation, Auto exposure bracketing, Bracketing bar graphs, flexible program, Flash sync mode, AF area mode Focus area, Battery power
LCD monitor 2.0-inch, Low-temperature polysilicon color TFT (235,000 pixels, wide-type LCD, approx. 100% frame coverage)
Built-in flash Guide No.12 (ISO 100, m)
Flash coverage: 20mm or longer lens
Modes: Front-curtain sync (normal sync), Red-eye reduction, Red-eye reduction with slow sync, Slow sync, Rear curtain sync
Accessory shoe Hot-shoe contact (Sync contact, Ready-light contact, D-TTL auto flash contact, Monitor contact, GND), Safety lock provided
Shutter Release Dual; horizontal and vertical positions
Remote Release Yes
Self-timer Electronically controlled: timer duration: 20 / 10 / 5 / 2 seconds
Playback function Single frame/ Thumbnails in 9 segments Playback zoom/ Histogram indication/ Standard chart
Video output NTSC/PAL selectable
Interfaces USB 2.0 for data storage, IEEE1394 for data storage and shooting
Power source 4 AA Ni-MH batteries (sharing power with camera body), AC power adapter
Dimensions 147.8 (W) � 135.3 (H) � 80.0 (D) mm/5.9 (W) � 5.3 (H) � 3.2 (D) in.
Weight Approx. 815g/28.7 oz. (excluding batteries and lens)
Included accessories 4 AA type Ni-MH batteries, Battery Charger for Ni-MH batteries, Shoulder Strap, Body cap, Eyepiece cap, LCD cover, Cable Holder, USB cable (with Filter), IEEE 1394 cable,Video cable CD-ROM: USB driver, FinePixViewer, ImageMixer VCD2 for FinePix, RAW FILE CONVERTER LE
Optional Accessories xD-Picture Card™: DPC-16, DPC-32, DPC-64, DPC-128, DPC-256, DPC-512
PC Card Adapter DPC-AD
CompactFlash™ Card Adapter DPC-CF
Image Memory Card Reader DPC-R1
xD-Picture Card™ USB DRIVE DPC-UD1
AC Power Adapter AC-5VX
Battery Charger with Battery BK-NH2
Rechargeable Battery 2HR-3UF (2 AA type Ni-MH)
Hyper-Utility Software HS-V2 Ver.3.0

* Specifications subject to change without notice.
** Number of effective pixels: The number of pixels on the image sensor which receive input light
through the optical lens, and which are effectively reflected in the final output data of the still image.
Note: The FinePix S3 Pro is compatible with the PictBridge standard.

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