White Balance

The S3 Pro's automatic white balance performance could be summarized as 'quite average', despite re-taking our outdoor test shot a few times we got the same results, a slight cool blue cast (this makes the chart 'look whiter than white' but isn't neutral). In incandescent light the results are noticeably pink. You would definitely do better using the camera's pre-programmed white balance presets or manual preset.

Outdoor - Auto WB
Red: -2.6%, Blue: 3.7%

Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: -0.1%, Blue: -4.2%
Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 6.8%, Blue: -9.8%

Long Exposure noise reduction / Night shots

The S3 Pro features an automatic 'dark frame subtraction' noise reduction system which comes into effect for shutter speeds of 1/8 sec or slower. This works by taking a second shot just after the main exposure (in darkness, with the shutter closed) and using the noise pattern from that to clean the main exposure.

We found that while the S3 Pro's noise reduction system was fairly effective there will still a few 'hot pixel' speckles getting through to the final image and that their placement was consistent from shot to shot (within the same shooting session). We were however quite impressed with with the performance at higher sensitivities (up to ISO 400) for night exposures.

ISO 100, 30 sec, F4.8, 6 MP
ISO 200, 15 sec, F4.8, 6 MP
ISO 400, 8 sec, F4.8, 6 MP
ISO 800, 4 sec, F4.8, 6 MP


The S3 Pro has a built-in pop-up flash for quick snapshots and a fully SB compatible hot-shoe which supports D-TTL with compatible Nikon SB flash units as well as D-3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash with type D or G lenses. The result using the internal flash was mixed, the best result was with the Nikon SB-600 direct, that said color rendition was very good with no obvious color casts. Clearly professional photographers will be connecting the S3 Pro to studio strobe units which is facilitated via the PC Sync terminal on the front of the camera.

Built-in flash, Program (1/60 sec, F2.8) Nikon SB-600, direct, Program (1/60 sec, F4)
Nikon SB-600, bounced, Program (1/60 sec, F4)  
Built-in flash, Program (1/60 sec, F2.8) Nikon SB-600, direct, Program (1/60 sec, F4)

Overall Image Quality / Specifics

Color reproduction was as ever vivid and bright, very 'pleasing' to the eye (especially skin tones) although some may find it a little too saturated, you can get over this by selecting the 'Org' color setting. Overall however the S3 Pro produces very nice, sharp and detailed images which have 'punch' straight out of the camera.

SuperCCD artifacts

One thing we noted on the S2 Pro was the visibility of moire in 45 degree detail ('hair moire'), this does appear to have improved on the S3 Pro but can still be seen in some images. We also noted the SuperCCD equivalent of 'bridge pixel artifacting', where the interpolation algorithm thinks it has detected a 45 degree straight line and 'bridges' a pixel, this can lead to a noticeable pattern of 45 degree lines which weren't in the original scene. Note that most of these artifacts are invisible at the 6 mp image size. Examples of these artifacts can be seen in the studio test shot below (taken in 12 mp mode).

Thumbnail (12 mp image) Moire pattern on slanted lines
Moire pattern / bridge pixels Moire pattern / dotted line artifact (bayer)
45 degree patterning (bridge pixels) 45 degree patterning (bridge pixels)

Twelve or Six megapixels?

Just like the S2 Pro the S3 Pro has six million effective photosites ('input pixels'), because of Fujifilm's SuperCCD honeycomb layout these are first interpolated up to a twelve megapixel image. If the camera is in twelve megapixel output mode this is then sharpened and saved, if in a lower resolution mode the image is downsampled, sharpened and saved. A simplified in-camera workflow can be seen below for 12 mp and 6 mp images:

  • 6 mp RAW honeycomb -> 12 mp square -> sharpen -> save
  • 6 mp RAW honeycomb -> 12 mp square -> 6 mp downsample -> sharpen -> save

The S3 Pro's twelve megapixel images do appear to offer slightly more detailed than six megapixel images, most of this is down to the quality of the camera's downsampling algorithm (and at what point sharpening is applied). The rule of thumb (in my opinion) is that while 12 mp images may exhibit slightly more detail the gain isn't significant or worthwhile shooting in 12 mp mode all the time (it's often very hard to distinguish the difference between a 6 mp and 12 mp).

Place your mouse over the label below the image to see the difference between 12 mp from the camera, 6 mp from the camera and resizing each.

12 mp comparison 6 mp comparison
12 mp from camera 6 mp from * camera -> 12mp 6 mp from camera 12 mp from * camera -> 6 mp

* Resized in Adobe Photoshop CS (Bicubic), results would be better with more
advanced interpolation algorithms.