There are two memory card slots in the FinePix S3 Pro: One holds CompactFlash
cards Type I and II (and Microdrives), and the other takes the less-than-ubiquitous
xD-Picture Card. Unlike Canon’s EOS-1D Mark II, you cannot simultaneously
write to both cards. Working photographers are well advised to keep a 512MB
xD card in that slot as backup for when you run out of space on the CompactFlash
card and don’t have time to slap in another card as the bride and her
Dad start walking down the aisle. Switching between the media is a simple menu
setting, but I still wished there was a custom function that let the camera
automatically switch between media when one card was full.
This image of a classic Buick Skylark convertible was captured
as a color JPEG file using the S3’s 12-megapixel mode. Lens
was a Nikon 80–200mm f/2.8 zoom set at 185mm. Exposure was
determined to be 1¼750 at f/6.7 in Program mode at ISO
Four AA batteries power the S3, and Fujifilm recommends using Ni-MH rechargeables,
but the camera’s LCD screen and built-in flash quickly chew them up. Fujifilm
says to expect 400 images on fully charged batteries, but it produced far fewer
in real-world use. In a pinch, conventional AAs will work and Energizer Lithium
AAs work better than alkalines, if you don’t use the built-in flash too
The camera has FireWire (IEEE 1394) and USB 2.0 interfaces for fast transfer
of data from camera to computer. This is especially useful for transferring
data from the xD card since many older readers do not support this format.
Some images demand black and white. The FinePix S3 Pro lets you
capture images such as this one directly in Black and White mode
that adds a nice nostalgic touch to a piece of vanishing America.
What’s It All About, Alfie?
A built-in vertical grip and shutter release makes it possible to shoot portraits
easily and comfortably. Like the S2, the S3 appears to be based on Nikon’s
N80 body but has better ergonomics than either of Nikon’s popularly priced
digital SLRs and maybe the best of any digital SLR. Fujifilm sees the FinePix
S3 Pro in the camera bags of wedding, portrait and commercial photographers,
but anyone using Nikon AF lenses will find it useful.
While a 2.5 fps (raw) speed may be adequate for capturing a bride and her Dad
strolling down the aisle, it won’t stop an 180mph American LeMans Series
race car. Performance slows when shooting in 12-megapixel mode as it does with
some lenses under low-light conditions.
Where does that leave us? Here is a nicely crafted camera capable of exceptional
images but you can’t use it as a hockey puck. If you don’t use it
to drive nails, the S3 Pro will reward you with beautiful images and
a long life.
We Rate It
Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro
Category: Autofocus Digital SLR
Ease Of Use
IR 4 U and ME
Like Fujifilm’s FinePix S20 Pro, the FinePix S3 Pro lets you make black-and-white
infrared images. Set the camera in Black and White mode and use Hoya’s
(R72) filter or Cokin’s (www.cokinusa.com)
87B in front of the lens. Exposures, even at ISO 1600, will be long, so you’re
going to need a sturdy tripod. At the small apertures needed to compensate for
IR focus vagaries, the best exposures will be from 4–6 seconds.
Specifications LENS MOUNT: Nikon F bayonet
FOCAL-LENGTH CONVERSION FACTOR: 1.5X
IMAGING ELEMENT: 12.9-megapixel 23.0x15.5mm Super CCD SR II sensor; 12.34 effective
megapixels (6.17 million S-pixels, 6.17 million R-pixels)
STORAGE: CF Type I & II, Microdrives; xD-Picture cards
FOCUSING: TTL phase-detection AF with 5 AF points; manual focusing
METERING: TTL 10-segment 3D matrix, center-weighted and spot metering
SHUTTER SPEEDS: 30 sec to 1¼4000 plus B
ISO SETTINGS: 100–1600
LCD MONITOR: 2.0-inch TFT
POWER SOURCE: Four rechargeable AA Ni-MH batteries, AC via optional AC Power
DIMENSIONS: 5.8x5.3x3.1 in.
WEIGHT: 28.7 oz.
STREET PRICE: $2499
DISTRIBUTOR: Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc., 200 Summit Lake Drive, Valhalla,
NY 10595; 800/800-FUJI; www.fujifilm.com
For more detailed specifications, or to read past reviews of other Digital SLRs,
visit the archive section of our website at: photographic.com/digitalcameras.
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