NEW S4 Pro - Inside Information

Started Oct 11, 2005 | Discussions thread
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Jumbuck Contributing Member • Posts: 625
NEW S4 Pro - Inside Information

I've just posted the following in regards to a question I was asked over at Nikonians. Here is my reply for everyone's info...

Yes I do have a contact that is currently under permanent NDA with Fuji and all I know has been posted already so I can't add anything further I'm afraid.

The problem facing me personally is whether to post anything at all. I was hoping by posting the above first post that I'd get a little confirmation of what I've learnt before posting any details. Its a catch 22. However, I took the approach of letting all know what I know but have made it 100% clear of what the situation is.

The facts are that there is most certainly an S4 Pro in the final stages of development. This unit will be built around a Fuji adaptation of the Nikon F6 body. The AA battery configuration is being carried over. The comment from him about the battery decision is that this is set in concrete with Fuji because they have apparently had massive positive feedback on it with the S3.

The most tantalizing info, about the sensor, is info that he just won't part with. However, there are currently five internal "test" units each with a different sensor for extensive in the field testing.

He takes delivery of test units via armoured security courier. I was astounded at the "James Bond" type of stuff that goes on and he just laughed saying this is how it is. However, he did mention that it was unusual that two of his test units were sent to him from Nikon and not Fuji. He is a key player in providing last stage development feedback to Fuji and has been for over twenty years, yes, over twenty years. In fact, he claims to be partly responsible for the sudden about face Fuji made with regards the final sensor decision for the S3. Something that he further claims held up official release of the S3 for some months past the due release date.

On the S3 Pro he said they could have gone for any of four different final "honeycomb" versions of the same sensor. Apparently one was 9MP but their inability to satisfactorily develop acceptable RAW compression algorithms together with less than satisfactory noise from the 9MP version dictated a last minute change to a slightly smaller MP size. He was quick to remind me that all this took place over two years ago, "light years behind the stuff Fuji are developing and testing now".

He only had these latest S4 "test" units for 72 hours each and they are always collected via the same means. On pushing him for more info on the S4 he only repeatedly said "this is the one".

I have no reason to doubt him, he has a personal collection consisting of almost every Fuji camera produced over the last thirty or so years (most of them called "Fujica"). And he enjoys a number of trips to Fuji in Japan each year all paid for.

When asking him about the D200 his comment was that it won't be the only pro DSLR about to be announced by Nikon. This was the first I had heard there is more than one about to be announced. Apparently Fuji and Nikon have forged much closer ties over these last eighteen months. Trying to get him to clarify things he made the comment that when the two new Nikons and the S4 Pro are released for me to expect to see "quite a few Canons turning up on ebay". I'm sure he gets great enjoyment at my frustration.

The only other thing he mentions is that the "full frame" size sensors are "fads" - a commercial decision brought about by limited technical means by canon (and sony too) to compete with advanced DX size technology from Fuji. Full frame gives Canon what they need at the moment to stay ahead, its a simple formula, produce what you can to stay ahead. But the very limitations that currently give full frame any advantage over DX (or similar cropped sizes) have all but been eliminated as far as sensor sensitivity and performance issues go. According to him Fuji are already working on DX sized sensors with nearly three times the pixel density to that of the current canon full frame. He tells me "full frame" will be extinct by second quarter of 2008.

He ads that when the new S4 arrives, it will be very much a question of glass quality. The camera will be a generation and a half ahead of the current quality of available top pro lenses. In three years if you upgrade to the latest pro lenses out then it will be like you've got a new camera.

On the issue of lenses he did add that sensor technology will begin to plateau out soon pointing to the fact that optically there is only so far you can go in glass development. Glass will become the number one issue for pro DSLR owners. He suggests this is already becoming the case with the D2x now but adds this is where Nikon in particular will exceed. And the Fuji S4 Pro will be there to take advantage of every new DX Nikon lens developed.

I have not spoken to him for over three weeks. The next time I speak to him it won't be out of place for me to ask for any "updates". Mind you, he'll only tell me what he knows is permitted to be revealed so I don't know whether this will be of much use to anyone.

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