We don’t usually consider reviewing products that have been available for this long – the Finepix S2 Pro was launched last year – but professional quality digital cameras have a longer life than consumer models and this one is likely to be around for a long time yet before it’s eventually replaced in Fujifilm’s line-up. It has proved popular with professional photographers, so we thought we’d take a look and see what the fuss is about.
If you’re used to professional digital cameras, then the design of the Finepix S2 Pro won’t hold many surprises, but if you’re used to consumer cameras then you’ll be impressed by the build quality. This is a chunky camera that gives the impression (although we didn’t test it) that it would survive a knock or two. There’s the familiar hand-grip design (as an aside, one wonders how left-handed people cope with the standardised right-handed camera design) with a four-way thumb selector on the rear panel along with a few extra buttons and the 1.8-inch LCD screen below a backlit LCD status panel. On top is the shutter release, wheels for aperture and exposure settings and the main mode selector.
The usual settings are all available. You can change the resolution up to a maximum of 4,256 x 2,848 pixels – that’s 12.1 million from the camera’s 6.17 million ‘effective’ pixels – and change the file storage quality too. Various levels of JPEG are the default, but TIFF and raw mode (where the CCD output is dumped straight to file without even going through the camera’s image processing electronics) are also present.
Four shooting modes are available; single frame, continuous (approximately two frames per second), preview and multiple exposure. There are also four exposure modes; multi-programmed AE, shutter-priority AE, aperture-priority AE and manual. And, conveniently, there are also four focusing modes; Dynamic AF, Dynamic AF with closest-subject-priority, Single Area AF and Focus Tracking. White balance can be adjusted as can the colour saturation level.
Most of the functions can be locked once you’ve set them, to prevent accidental changes to the picture quality. The two that aren’t lockable are the aperture and exposure wheels, presumably so that you can change them to suit varying lighting and depth conditions while you work. It’s possible that these could be adjusted accidentally while you’re shooting, but it’s not too likely.
We’ve deliberately left the jargon out of this review, because what matters is the photographic result, not the technical means by which it’s achieved. But it is worth mentioning Fujifilm’s “Super CCD sensor” which is claimed to produce very realistic colours. It does. There are no tricks involved – the colours aren’t made more vibrant than life – but the results are excellent, with fine detail clearly shown, good optical density and outstanding colour balance.
Even on the medium resolution settings the camera produced publishable results, so the top resolution raw mode is really only likely to be necessary for absolute perfectionists and those printing posters. This mode produces 36MB images, but the camera has a large enough buffer that you can still shoot quickly and leave the camera to write the data afterwards. That data is written to either SmartMedia or IBM Microdrive cards. The latter seems more practical, as the 1GB drives are readily available. Camera connectivity is via IEEE1394 FireWire and USB interfaces, although a card reader will suffice.
It’s important to bear in mind that you only get the camera body when you buy – lenses have to be bought separately. The Finepix S2 Pro is compatible with all AF-D type, AF-G type and AF-S type Nikkor lenses, so you’ve got plenty from which to choose. Ultimately, the only thing we didn’t like about this camera is its built-in flash, which produced harsh, high contrast photos whatever the setting. Professionals are very unlikely to use it anyway.
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