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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 400.

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 much.

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
Autofocus Performance
3
Metering Performance
4
Feature Set
4
Ease Of Use
4
Ergonomics
5
Value
3
3.8 Overall

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 (www.thkphoto.com) Infrared (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 Adapter AV-5VX
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

More Online
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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200 Summit Lake Drive
Valhalla, NY 10595
 
800/800-FUJI
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