Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro Review
Conclusion - Pros
- The new resolution leader for six megapixel D-SLR's (SuperCCD performs well)
- Good colour and tonal balance, good dynamic range
- Very low image noise even at high sensitivities (new noise reduction system)
- Superb Nikon 3D matrix metering
- More robust body (thanks to the use of the F80/N80)
- Body bigger than D100 yet still feels compact and comfortable in your hand
- Good design points, the rear panel is useful for quickly changing settings
- Good range of ISO sensitivities, would have been nice to have 1/2 EV increments
- Control over image processing (color, tone, sharpening), more steps would be nice
- Fast operation, instant power up and no delays in menus or playback
- Excellent auto focus, works well even in low light, AF assist lamp
- RAW mode option, although included Converter LE is very basic
- Full Nikon F mount lens compatible (better with D and G type lenses)
- IBM Microdrive compatible
- Grid lines in viewfinder display
- Top panel LCD illuminated
- Custom functions to control camera operation
- Firewire (IEEE 1394) connectivity
- High speed CF interface (>1.5 MB/sec)
- Built-in PC Sync terminal
- Good battery life despite the dual battery setup
- Good value for money
Conclusion - Cons
- Still some slight moiré visible on diagonal detail, more so with 12 mp images
- 1/2 EV steps for exposure selection / compensation
- Adobe RGB color space not selectable for in-camera JPEG (only for RAW)
- Two different types of battery required, slightly clumsy AA battery tray
- Camera system still in 'two halves' (photo / digital)
- No mirror lock-up / anti-vibration mode
- No histogram / highlight indicator in record Postview
- Limited continuous shooting capability (2 fps, max 8 frames)
- Poor protective LCD cover
- Plastic (non rubberized) hand grip
- Supplied RAW File Converter LE has no features
- RAW File Converter EX offers limited functionality
- Slow RAW conversion (30 secs per image on a decent desktop PC)
- Awkward ISO selection on mode dial
- No portrait grip option
- Viewfinder view is smaller than 'higher end' D-SLR's
Once more Fujifilm's D-SLR turns out to be the dark horse of the D-SLR race. The S2 Pro goes a long way to satisfying Fujifilm's claims about SuperCCD, although it's my opinion that the SuperCCD design works far better in a D-SLR (large sensor size) than a consumer camera. The S2 Pro delivers great results from the word go, you have the 6.1 mp resolution mode for the majority of shots and the larger 12 mp mode when you need a big image straight from the camera for big prints.
In the 6.1 mp mode the S2 Pro delivers crisp, clean and detailed images which look great at 100%, anything that looks good at 100% will print well. The fact that the camera always generates the 12 mp image from the honeycomb SuperCCD and then down-samples appears to be the key to image sharpness. In addition to this Fujifilm's progressive noise reduction system keeps noise low even at higher sensitivities.
Color is of course very good, although it's disappointing not to be able to get Adobe RGB color space JPEG's straight out of the camera. I was also disappointed with the bundled RAW Converter LE and thought that the additional cost RAW Converter EX wasn't worth the money (although without it you'll be hunting for third party solutions). Other annoyances include 1/2 EV steps for exposure compensation or shutter speed / aperture selection and the fact that the camera is still electrically 'two halves' requiring two different types of battery.
Positive physical assets include Firewire (IEEE 1394) connectivity and a PC Sync socket, the later of which will go down very well with studio photographers. The S2 Pro has pluses and minuses, but I'm glad to report that the major plus is its image quality, and after all that's what matters at the end of the day. Despite its slightly higher price the S2 Pro still offers great value for money.
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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