FujiFilm FinePix S1 Pro Review
Conclusion - Pros
- Excellent colour
- Great resolution and detail definition (if you consider the 3 megapixel CCD)
- Good metering, good dynamic range, careful internal processing
- Good white balance, custom preset white balance
- Ability to control internal processing algorithms (colour, tone and sharpening settings)
- Fast operation (although not D1 or DCS territory it's still fast enough)
- Based on an F60 body with all the features and compatibility that brings (F-mount lenses etc.)
- Shooting priority means no matter what you're doing you can always take a shot
- Good pop-up flash, good flash white balance
- Not excessively "prosumer", still easy enough to just pick up and shoot
- Easy to quickly change digital settings (ISO, White Balance etc.) thanks to function LCD
- Great PC control software perfect for studio shooting
- Good battery performance (batteries last well)
- IBM Microdrive support
- Bright, clear, high resolution 2" LCD
- Lightweight and compact by current digital SLR standards (body just 800g)
Conclusion - Cons
- 6.1 megapixel label is confusing, should be seen as a very good 3 megapixel digtal SLR
- No RAW CCD format (difficult because of the honeycomb pattern?)
- ISO 320 and maximum shutter speed of 1/2000s limits available apertures in bright light
- Noise in images even at ISO 320 (again, crying out for a lower ISO)
- Two different types of battery to carry
- No histogram on auto rec preview (next firmware update.. please)
- No grayscale bars when adjusting LCD brightness
- Paging through TIFF's in playback mode is slow
- Hair Moiré pattern problem
- Pattern noise at high ISO's in shadow detail
- No spot metering
- As with all digital SLR's (until full size CCD's appear) the focal length multiplier will make finding a decent wide angle lens an expensive proposal
- Not compatible with certain Nikkor lenses (see this page for details)
- No autofocus capability with Nikkor AF-S lenses
Look out boys, FujiFilm are in town and they mean business.
When FujiFilm first announced their SuperCCD technology interest soon turned into skepticism as we learned that the output resolution of these CCDs was in fact being processed by a proprietary algorithm. And certainly people's opinion of the S1 Pro was affected by this and moderate to poor reviews of the 4700Z.
But I believe that's because the 4700Z was expected to be a 3 megapixel challenger, which it wasn't (or couldn't because of its 2.4 megapixel CCD). Which brings us to the S1 Pro, at a time when other manufacturers were introducing / announcing 3 megapixel digital SLR's along came FujiFilm with a blazing headline "6.13 megapixel FinePix S1 Pro", which was a bit of a half truth really.. The S1 Pro has a 3 megapixel CCD (SuperCCD or whatever), if you were to evaluate it as a 6 megapixel digital SLR then you'd probably come to a mediocre conclusion.
But look at it logically, FujiFilm aren't attempting to challenge Kodak's 6 megapixel DCSs, the S1 Pro is priced at just $3,500 (RRP US$3,995) it's after that lucrative middle ground where high-end amateurs, "prosumers" (hate that label) and a certain type of photojournalist who are looking for a decent, well built (but doesn't need to be armor plated) digital SLR with a 3 megapixel or better resolution. And guess what, the S1 Pro does that very well..
There's something else that the S1 Pro does better than the existing (more expensive) competition.. Colour, FujiFilm have definitely got their colour algorithms sorted, a company with such a long standing history in producing excellent film products is well placed to put some of that expertise to work ensuring their Digital SLR came out with rich, vivid, yet not over saturated and most importantly accurate colours Well Kudos to FujiFilm if colour is an important factor in your buying decision the S1 Pro should be winning lots of brownie points with you.. Some how I don't think Mike Chaney will writing any Qimage plugins for the S1 Pro
Going back to the resolution issue, all digital cameras are in one way or another having to invent data.. All current CCD's are based on the Bayer pattern which means an individual pixel only captures one colour (red, green or blue), the full colour of that pixel is calculated later Sure it's different than SuperCCD you can't say that pixel at 10,10 comes from just one pixel at position 10,10 on the CCD but does that mean the image is worse? Take a look at the images in the samples galleries and decide for yourself.
I shoot primarily for the web (obviously), but I also shoot friends parties, weddings, personal outings, holidays etc. I'd probably (most of the time) shoot at 3.5 megapixels (2304 x 1536), only shifting up to 6.13 if I know for sure that I need the extra pixels.. The key thing to remember is that when you make the shift down to 3.5 megapixels you're only loosing pixel generated by the cameras internal algorithms, a 6.1 megapixel image from the S1 Pro reduced down to 3.5 megapixels in Photoshop doesn't look any better than a 3.5 megapixel native image from the camera (try it, samples are available in the features section of this review).
Improvements? Sure, I'd love to see an ISO 160, that'd give more people more options with more lenses (remember, top shutter speed is 1/2000 s) it would probably also solve some of the visible noise, a fix for "moiré hair" (less visible at 3.5 megapixels), a histogram in record mode would be nice and faster review of images could improve things.. Lastly, some people will not be happy that the camera doesn't support autofocus with Nikkor AF-S lenses.
For me the S1 Pro marks an important step forward for digital photography, FujiFilm, being the first to market with an affordable Digital SLR have now opened the floodgates to such products and I'm sure a lot of readers will agree with me, "It's about time!", and what a first entrance, Nikon body means lots of lens and accessory compatibility, great metering, wonderful colour, good 3 megapixel resolution, useful features, good bundled software, Microdrive compatible at around $3,500.. (Remember US RRP is US$3,995.. although many dealers are talking around the US$3,500 mark).
I'm as keen as anyone else to see how the S1 Pro does up against Canon's EOS-D30, keep your eye on this site.
So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.
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