Mar 16, 2005

Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro Review

DPReview have posted their much anticipated review of the Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro. This has got to be the nicest digital SLR out there right now. I'd love to have one of these.

The S3 Pro is unique among digital SLRs in that it has a sensor designed specifically to capture more dynamic range. The SuperCCD SR II has two photodiodes at each photosite, the 'S-pixel' captures normal dynamic range, the 'R-pixel' is smaller, has a lower sensitivity and hence can capture additional highlight detail.
Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro

There's plenty to like about the S3 Pro, there's a new body design which is comfortable, includes a portrait grip and feels robust. There's the image quality, resolution which for a six megapixel is really fairly impressive (if you can ignore some of SuperCCD artifacts), a color response with real 'pop', low noise (although softer images at high ISO's) and slightly better dynamic range than other D-SLR's.

The S3 Pro's unique selling feature, its extended dynamic range, really does exist and does work. We measured up to 10 stops of dynamic range in the camera's "Wide 2" mode, however it's seldom that this would be obvious in everyday shots. The reason for this is that in wide dynamic range mode you get the gain only in the highlights, it would have made sense to instead have the option of a completely different tone curve and expose for shadows to spread the additional dynamic range across the tonal scale rather than just in highlights (we often don't mind clipped highlights as long as the roll-off is smooth).

We really liked the S2 Pro, so much so that we gave it a Highly Recommended, at the time it was a great camera compared to the competition. We're now two and a half years on from that point in time and the digital SLR market has moved on. Prices have plummeted, features and image quality improved, the market's expectations of what this level of D-SLR should be capable of has shifted noticeably, at its price the S3 Pro is going to struggle to compete.
Click to read the rest of this article...