Editors Choice 2004: Digital SLRs

Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro

Editors-Choice-2004-Digital-SLRs

Editors-Choice-2004-Digital-SLRs

Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro

Digital SLR users habitually check the little exposure histogram on their camera's LCD screen while they're shooting. Why? Because high-tech D-SLRs typically have a dynamic range comparable to old-fashioned color slide film-meaning over-exposure can easily blow out a subject's highlights. Fuji's new FinePix S3 Pro may lessen the need for such obsessive behavior because its Super CCD SR sensor promises four times more dynamic range (about two f-stops) than usual. That's closer to color negative film, a more forgiving medium. The S3 Pro's sensor works by placing a pair of photodiodes (light-sensing cells) at each pixel location-a large one to capture midtones and shadows and a small one to capture highlights. There are six million of each type, for an effective pixel count of 12 million. An argument can be made that each pair is really one pixel, but the camera's resolution is still visibly better than with a typical six-megapixel model. With a body based on Nikon's N80, the new Fuji improves in various ways on its predecessor, the S2 Pro. These include a new vertical shutter release; a larger LCD monitor with twice the pixels, for sharper display; CF and SD card slots, the latter replacing the S2's SmartMedia slot; power from four AA-size Ni-MH rechargeables instead of two separate battery types; and a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port in addition to FireWire. Will the FinePix S3 Pro change our digital shooting habits? We'll let you know.