Additional information on Fuji FinePix S1 Pro

 


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Two years after the original FinePix S1 Pro, Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd. Japan introduced a revamped version of the FinePix S- Series with the S2 Pro during the PMA Show in 2002. The move was essential as the market place has seen some drastic improvement over quality and image enhancement on Digital Still SLR cameras. With the marketing advantage of the the S1 Pro slowly eroding as well as the Fuji's proprietary Super CCD technologies has evolved into its 3rd.generations, most observers have already predicted the launch of a possible FinePix version II was just a matter of time. Anyway, the Company never disappointed anyone, as the eventual debuted FinePix S2 Pro truly packed many refinements over its predecessor with MORE features than anyone would anticipated.

Credit: Image retouched from a B/W photo appeared in the Instruction Manual of the Fuji FinePix S2 Pro.

However, during the PMA Show 2002 where Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd. launching the FinePix S2 Pro, Both Nikon and Canon also offered a sleek previews of their respective low budget Digicam, Canon EOS D30 (10.2000), Canon D60 (03.2002) and Nikon D100 (02.2002) Digital Still SLR cameras (let omit the rest of higher spec bodies such as Nikon D-1 (09.1999) or the EOS-1D (12.2001) etc. as those bodies have a different price category). As all the 3 models' target users are quite similar, include dedicated amateurs, business users and photo enthusiasts who may require an approachable digital SLR camera within their budget and can provide both acceptable image quality and performance they demand, the market scenarios also took a drastic turn as there were renewed alternatives now for users. Well, as the FinePix S2 Pro uses Nikkor mount, its biggest challenger was actually from the pool of Nikon users rather than from the Canon's D60.

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However, the next subsequent years, the FinePix has proven its worth as the camera has the best performing delivery in image output as the "magical" figures of 12.1 million enhanced pixels was simply too hard to resist, thus, it has enabled the model to last until its third followed up model, the FinePix S3 Pro with Fuji Film's 4th generation Super CCD technologies to appear in 2004.

Technical Highlights: the FinePix S2 Pro camera was actually designed based on a standard version of the Nikon F80 (06.2000) chassis as its backbone. But it embodies an improved large-size 3rd generation “Super CCD” with its unique octagonal-shaped photo diodes arrange in an interwoven array and LSI algorithm, is able to deliver even higher image resolution (twice the image size of its predecessor), sensitivity and a broader dynamic range with excellent S/N ratio than earlier model. The new 23mm x 15.5m CCD has an image capacity of 6.17 million effective image pixels sensor and is capable of producing 12.1 million (4,256 x 2,848) recorded pixels for picture quality.

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Other than all other features that can find in a typical Nikon F80 camera, the FinePix has been boosted with extra features, among the many, some either were fitted to suit market demands a few of them were Fuji's original technological innovations:

* Supports uncompressed data output for CCD-RAW, TIFF-RGB (or Jpeg) data which delivers before it processed by the camera's internal algorithmic settings;
* Wide range of sensitivity settings from ISO 100 to ISO 1600
(ISO 100, 160, 200, 400, 880 and 1600)
* Multi-functionality built in to meet the needs of professionals
* 5-point metering AF function
* Selectable wider shutter speed settings from 30 sec to 1/4000 sec.
* Equipped with a synchronizing terminal
* Quick, responsive operation with only 0.5 seconds between shots
* Dual slot for SmartMedia and Microdrives
* Supports 4 types of recorded pixel according to the type of shot
* You can specify independent ISO, color tone, gradation and sharpness settings.
* Histogram function for instant exposure checking after you take a shot
* 1.8-inch low-temperature polysilicon TFT color LCD monitor provides 100% frame coverage
* IEEE1394 and USB connectivity for quick and easy image file downloading
* DPOF-compatible for simple image printing
* Compatible with all AF-D type, AF-G type and AF-S type Nikkor lenses
* See Spec sheet
* Conforms to “Design for Camera File system” standard and Exif
* ver.2.2 for digital cameras. * "Design for Camera File system” standard and Exif format are formulated by the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA)

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Other secondary features:

1.A better quality body chassis than earlier FinePix S1 Pro.
2.36Mb uncompressed file; 72MB CCD-Raw file (16 bit TIFF-RGB), (when used with optional HS-S2 Hyper Utility Software
*).
3.Continuous Shooting mode captures up to 7 frames at a speed of 2 frames per second for all file formats.
4.Cross-ranged, five area Autofocus System

5. Dynamic AF, Dynamic AF with closest-subject-priority, Single Area AF and Focus Tracking
6. Dual IEEE1394 FireWire and USB interface for image transfer. It even allows you to control camera settings and shoot remotely from your PC by using the optional software. An audio/video port that allows connection to any TV for display and inspection of your images.
7. Dual media slot for SmartMedia™ and IBM Microdrive™ (You can even insert different types of media together)
8. 3D Matrix*, Centre-Weighted and Spot Metering
9. Flexible Program modes with Aperture, Shutter Priority AE & Full Manual Control
10. 18 Custom settings & Voice caption (Memo) mode:
11. 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill Flash
* See Compatibility chart with other Nikon speedlights
* “Hyper Utility Software” can process the CCD-RAW data to full 16-bit TIFF-RGB files without any loss of the original tonality.

The main highlight of the FinePix S2 Pro was again centered around the Fuji's 3rd Generation Super CCD and advanced LSI where it has leapfrogged the image capacity two folds than that of the previous FinePix S1 Pro. Based on the establishment of renowned class-leading colour reproduction, high sensitivity and low noise, the incarnation of Fujifilm's unique CCD sensor technology provides a wider range of sensitivity (from 100-1600 ISO) and, with improved Noise Reduction Technology, enabling lower levels of noise from captured images and notably cleaner images. With a host of other features and functions such as 4 shooting modes (single frame, continuous, preview and multiple exposure), 4 exposure modes (multi-programmed AE, shutter-priority AE, aperture-priority AE, Manual Exposure control; 9 levels white balance modes and various options for TTL flash, the choices are truly wide enough for any photographer to handle most photographic situations, regardless in studio or on location shootings.

The FinePix S2 Pro can record images at four resolutions (4,256 x 2,848, 3,024 x 2,016, 2,304 x 1,536 and 1,440 x 960 pixels) and in three file formats (TIFF-RGB, CCD-Raw and JPEG). Captured images can be viewed on the camera's 1.8 inch low temperature polysilicon TFT monitor with 100% frame coverage. Further, a special voice recording feature permits attachment of a 30-second voice notes to each photo. In additional to all these new capabilities, the camera also provides USB & FireWire (IEEE1394) connectivity, standard SmartMedia & IBM Microdrive™ compatibility etc. All these adding up to make the FinePix S2 Pro not just a worthy upgrade from the earlier attempt to provide users with a capable body but it is also a very compelling Digital Still SLR camera for professional applications.

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Credit: Image retouched from a B/W photo appeared in the Instruction Manual of the Fuji FinePix S2 Pro.

Fujifilm’s Super CCD represents a comprehensive approach to improved imaging performance, not only by capturing higher resolutions but also by enhancing each of the other various factors that comprise image quality. What makes this new sensor technology unique are octagonal-shaped photo diodes in an interwoven array that maximizes the size and light-gathering ability of each pixel. This configuration boosts sensitivity, improves S/N ratio and greatly increases dynamic range, producing digital images with richer, true-to-life colors and sparking clarity. The interwoven pixel arrangement also makes possible the increase of resolution in both vertical and horizontal directions, for dramatically greater overall definition.

The FinePix S2 Pro provides three AF modes and two AF area modes. You can choose from high-speed Single Servo AF (AF-S) and Continuous Servo AF (AF-C) modes, or fully mechanical Manual focus (M) mode. • Dynamic AF Mode: With the AF-C mode selected, you can choose the focus area that best suits your composition with the Dynamic AF Mode. If the subject moves out of the selected focus area, Dynamic AF instantly shifts the focus to another of the five areas making this mode ideal for action photos. In the AF-S mode, the camera automatically selects the Dynamic AF Mode with Closest Subject Priority that enables the camera to identify and focus on the closest subject. • Single Area AF Mode: This mode allows you to designate any one of the five focus areas as the primary area for focusing. It works particularly well for shooting portraits, landscapes and other stationary subjects; a secondary function is the AF-L that will activate when press for off center picture composition The camera also has a choice of 3 TTL exposure metering modes, something like a standard offering in any Nikon midrange SLRs and is also offered in the earlier S1 Pro but it is a more refined system; for an instance, in Matrix mode, it provides an enhanced 10-segments 3D Matrix Metering whenever a D or G-type Nikkor lenses is used. Other than the Matrix Meter, the camera also provides conventional Center-weighted Metering as well as Spot Metering, the latter was missing in the FinePix S1 Pro.

With the AF and Metering systems defined, the exposure control of the camera has 4 modes for controlling aperture and shutter speed.. A Multi Programmed AE mode that works in any of the FinePix S2 Pro’s metering modes, including 3D Matrix Metering and a Flexible Program that lets you shift aperture and shutter speed in tandem; the Shutter-Priority AE mode that allows selection of any shutter speed between 1/4000 and 30 seconds. The Aperture-Priority AE mode is Ideal when priority is controlling depth of field and lastly, a Manual exposure control that lets you freely set both the shutter speed and aperture on your own.

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In addition to all these, you can play around with the film speed settings (ISO); an Exposure Compensation scale that is adjustable from -2 to +2 EV in 1/3-step increments; Auto Exposure Bracketing ("AEB") feature that automatically captures three consecutive shots in 1/3, 2/3 or 1 EV increments over and under the set exposure plus an Auto Exposure Lock to hold the metered exposure value as long as required; lastly, the camera is able to perform Multiple Exposures which allows you to superimpose as many images as you like on the same frame.

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The FinePix S2 Pro includes a manually operated built-in popup flash (guide number 12). Flash features include slow-sync, Red-Eye reduction, forced flash and various other options. The camera is also equipped with an hot shoe for a clip-on flash, as well as a synchro terminal for controlling one or more external flashes. The maximum TTL sync shutter speed is 1/125 second. (Check the FLASH Chart at the Spec Sheet section on various usable Nikon AF/MF Speedlights)

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High-resolution LCD monitor: Although a more preferred way is to have the LCD Monitor to be freely moved about (especially for high point or low angle shot, say... put on the ground level to shoot macro/close-ups, but the monitor is a fixed type. The LCD screen measures 1.8-inch, and it is a low temperature poly silicon TFT LCD monitor. However, the monitor delivers 130,000 pixels with frame coverage of 100% (as is the viewfinder). The LCD monitor provides dual purposes - it is used for displaying and check images as soon as you shoot them, and a playback zoom function allows enlargement of any image for detailed inspection.

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The camera also has a convenient backlit dot matrix LCD display, enabling photographers to check or change a variety of camera settings quickly. In addition, the monitor can be used to display a histogram of any image you take.

Another two areas of improvement is: The camera includes a handy Voice Memo function that enables you to record spoken notes onto images. Recordings of approx. 30 seconds of audio for each frame can be attached to any image file in the WAV format. Next, as Digicam consumes hell a lot of power, the S2 Pro has a low power consumption circuit and is capable of taking up to approx. 420 shots* on a single set of four AA alkaline batteries. The few power options are: CR123A lithium batteries (2); AA-size batteries (4) (alkaline or nickel-metal hydride); Special AC Power Adapter AC-5VH/AC-5VHS * Under Fujfifilm’s testing conditions (1GB Microdirve, flash used half of the testing time)

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Lastly, perhaps one of the most important aspect of the FinePix S2 Pro is its Nikon F-Mount lens compatibility . The camera accepts all AF Nikkor lenses* (including AF-D, AF-G and latest AF-S type professional optics) and most manual AI and AI-S Nikkor lenses. * Please note that not all lenses may offer all functions. See compatibility table at the right. (Check the Lense Chart at the Spec Sheet section)

Conclusion: in Feb 21, 2002, Nikon Corporation announced a 6.1 Megapixel Nikon D100 Digital SLR camera that incorporates a CCD that features 6.1 million effective pixels, and producing 3,008 x 2,000-pixel images with improved image-processing algorithm + enhanced auto white balance system. Integrated features including the 3D Matrix metering system and D-TTL flash control capability. It also uses a new one-chip system LSI (Large Scale Integrated Circuit) provides faster image processing while improving camera's power consumption. Other highlights include top shutter speed of 1/4000 second, built-in speedlight with D-TTL flash control and a flash sync speed of up to 1/180 second; an on-demand grid lines and a five area autofocus with dynamic AF operation, a system-wide compatibility with more than 40 AF Nikkor Lenses, advanced speedlights, including the new SB-80DX, and other accessories; complemented with Nikon View 5 and Nikon Capture 3 software to provide Nikon's exclusive NEF (Nikon Electronic File) RAW image file format; new accessory includes an optional Multi Function Battery Pack that features voice-memo, vertical shutter release button, command and subcommand dials, AF start button and a 10-pin remote terminal.

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What significant is the Nikon D100 to the FinePix S2 Pro ? As you know the Fuji Film's S-Series models are essentially using the Nikon system as its backbone, the D-100 becomes an immediate competition. If you are a die-hard Nikon faithful and preferred a Nikon-only label, you may have to let go with what the S2 Pro can offer you, in particularly with its image enhancement of 2-fold of image output capacity with the Super CCD technology. I would not like to use the D70 to compare this camera as I think a more appropriate model to compare is the S3 Pro. Anyway, the FinePix S2 Pro has no doubt created something quite unique in its ability to serve pixel/image and/or budget conscious users, although being sandwiched among all the prevailing Digital Still SLR cameras by various original labels, many still think the FinePix series has its basis for consideration and personally, I think it is a good buy - only if it sells as used and below what a comparing Nikon D100 would ask for. Sorry .. Just from a consumer's perspective, after all, I think most have already rush to get the newer D70 or the S3 Pro.. Lastly what I hate about the feature: So many oldeer Nikkor lenses have limitation to their usage...

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Related Info: Fuji Film's FinePix S1 Pro| FinePix S2 Pro | FinePix S3 Pro
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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number:
http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-153.html by: my friend, Rick Oleson
http://www.zi.ku.dk/personal/lhhansen/photo/fmount.htm by: Hansen, Lars Holst
http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/nikonfmount/lens2.htm
http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html

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