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Fujifilm's FinePix S3 Pro digital SLR. Courtesy of Fujifilm, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Fujifilm announces S3 Pro digital SLR
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, February 5, 2004 - 15:25 EST)

Wrapping up today's announcements, Fuji Photo Film U.S.A. Inc. has today announced its new FinePix S3 Pro digital SLR.

The first FinePix SLR to feature a fourth-generation SuperCCD SR sensor (which uses couplets of so-called 'S' and 'R' photodiodes under a single microlens to improve dynamic range - see our earlier coverage of the sensor technology announcement from last year for full details), the FinePix S3 Pro refreshes the existing S2 Pro model with quite a few changes. As with the S2, the new S3 Pro seems to be based on the Nikon N80 / F80 film SLR , and although we don't yet have full specifications for the new model we can summarise what changes we're currently aware of:

  • 6.17 megapixel effective (see Editor's Note below) SuperCCD SR image sensor with 6.17 million S photodiodes, and 6.17 million R photodiodes for extended dynamic range
  • N80-based polycarbonate body now has built-in portrait grip
  • Storage compartment door is smaller, totally redesigned
  • Larger buttons than the S2 Pro, and slightly different rear-panel layout
  • Dual shutter release buttons
  • PC Sync terminal moved from side to front of camera
  • Flash sync speed improved from 1/125 to 1/180 second
  • D-TTL flash exposure metering
  • Larger, higher-resolution (almost twice as many pixels) LCD display (2.0-inch, 235,000 pixels)
  • Power from 4 AA batteries (extra CR123A Lithium batteries in the S2 Pro no longer required)
  • USB interface upgraded from USB 1.1 to USB 2.0; IEEE 1394 FireWire interface retained
  • SmartMedia slot replaced with xD-Picture Card slot; Microdrive-compatible CompactFlash Type-I/II retained

There are also a few things worth noting that are the same as the S2 Pro:

  • Nikon F lens mount
  • Sensor size of 23 x 15.5mm
  • Focal length multiplier of 1.5x
  • Dual info LCDs - design features both rear and top-mounted LCD info displays

Pricing and availability for the Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro have not been announced at this time.

Fujifilm's FinePix S3 Pro digital SLR. Courtesy of Fujifilm, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

Fujifilm's FinePix S3 Pro digital SLR. Courtesy of Fujifilm, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

Editor's note
In its press release, Fujifilm USA is describing the S3 Pro digital camera as having a resolution of "12.3 million effective pixels". Technically, this adheres to the JCIA definition of "effective pixels" (described in an earlier news item covering Foveon's announcement of the X3 Pro 10M sensor), but we strongly feel that this is a misleading usage.While it is true that the proprietary SuperCCD SR image sensor does have 12.3 million photodiodes on its surface, this does not tell the whole story. The dual-element structure of the photodiodes in the SuperCCD SR are not aimed at increasing resolution, but rather at extending dynamic range (as described in our coverage of the development of the SuperCCD SR sensor a year ago). Each couplet of 'S' and 'R' photodiodes share a single microlens, and hence are unable to separately contribute to resolution in an image. That being the case, we feel that consumers are very likely to be misled by Fujifilm's description of the S3 Pro's sensor as having 12.3 million effective pixels - its true resolution will be essentially the same as a 6.17 megapixel standard (or 'HR') SuperCCD sensor.

Fujifilm is obviously in a difficult situation, in that the average digicam buyer tends to see resolution and megapixel ratings as one of the key differentiating factors between digital cameras, when in reality both resolution and dynamic range are just small pieces of the overall puzzle that is image quality. The current system of megapixel ratings became popular when most everybody was using similar sensor technologies, but is now utterly inadequate for describing and comparing current sensor technologies (Bayer-filtered sensors, SuperCCD SR, Foveon X3, etc.).

We've applauded Fujifilm for working to increase the dynamic range of their sensors, but we cannot say the same for their description of this sensor as having 12.3 million effective pixels. We're not alone in calling attention to this fact, and with many different sensor types that are difficult to directly compare we believe the community at large would like to see manufacturers find a way to better educate the public rather than continuing to cling to megapixels as some kind of "universal goodness quotient" (a phrase often used by our Publisher, Dave Etchells, to describe the rather unrealistic way in which the public tends to latch onto a single figure such as a megapixel rating for a digital camera, horsepower rating for a car, etc. as the way to decide which product is most "desirable", ignoring the many other complex attributes of the product in question).

In the meantime though, since Fujifilm's SR technology doesn't contribute to increased resolution, we believe Fujifilm should reconsider its decision and describe the S3 Pro as a 6.17 megapixel camera, so as not to mislead potential customers. Their current usage of the 12.3 million effective pixels figure is bound to result in ill feeling towards Fujifilm, and disappointment from customers who will find that images from their S3 Pro don't show nearly the resolution as do those from competing cameras having a true 12.3 megapixels' worth of resolution. We note that Fujifilm UK made the decision in their press release to refer to the S3 Pro as having "12.3 million effective photodiodes", which is a more accurate representation of the sensor than "12.3 million effective pixels"...

Original Source Press Release:

FujiFilm Introduces Eagerly Anticipated FinePix S3 Pro Professional Digital Camera

VALHALLA, NY, February 5, 2004 - Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc., today unveiled one of its most eagerly anticipated products -- the newest addition to its critically acclaimed line of professional digital cameras -- the Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro.

Among the FinePix S3 Pro's list of enhanced features is its one-of-a-kind Super CCD SR sensor technology designed specifically for professional photography. This proprietary technology creates a wider dynamic range to produce images that approach true photographic quality. As a result, the FinePix S3 Pro will capture highlight and shadow detail often lost by digital cameras in high contrast scenes. In addition, Super CCD SR sensor technology provides a higher level of sensitivity, improved signal-to-noise ratio and more natural color reproduction.

"For more than 70 years Fujifilm has had a pulse on the pro community and we are constantly developing new solutions to meet their specific needs, " said Jennifer Davalos, Product Manager, Photo Imaging Division, Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc. "We understand that professional photographers demand and expect a finer level of detail, regardless of lighting conditions, and pro photographers will truly appreciate the FinePix S3 Pro for the overall image quality it provides."

FinePix S3 Pro Features:

  • Super CCD SR: With 12.3 million (S-pixel: 6.17 million, R-pixel: 6.17 million) effective pixels, the APS size (23x15.5mm), professional Super CCD SR sensor of the FinePix S3 Pro offers wider dynamic range plus overall improved quality for beautiful digital images, capturing more detail across a range of brightness in the same image.
  • Unique, Professional Body: The FinePix S3 Pro has a unique body designed and crafted to Fujifilm specifications. The solid, one-piece body is made from a durable polycarbonate and has a F-mount lens fitting for Nikon lens compatibility.
  • Horizontal/Vertical Shutter Release: Dual shutter release buttons facilitate both horizontal and vertical shooting.
  • Higher Resolution LCD: Newly developed two-inch, 235,000 pixel horizontal display delivers crisp, clear images and approximately 100% frame coverage.
  • Efficient Power Source: The FinePix S3 Pro is extremely efficient power-wise, running solely on four AA Ni-MH rechargeable batteries.
  • Built-in PC Sync Outlet: The PC-Sync connection allows strobes or other external flash systems to be connected to the FinePix S3 Pro. Flash sync speed is 1/180th of a second.
  • D-TTL Exposure Metering System: The FinePix S3 Pro offers Intelligent Flash with the D-TTL full-aperture exposure metering system providing outstanding results with all Nikon compatible speed lights. A first-time offering in a Fujifilm digital camera, this allows a new level of creative lighting options for FinePix S3 Pro users.
  • Dual Image Interfaces: The FinePix S3 Pro provides IEEE 1394 (FireWire) and USB 2.0 interfaces for camera control (IEEE1394 only) and high-speed image transfer.
  • Dual Media Slots: For xD-Picture Card and Microdrive storage.
Pricing and availability of the FinePix S3 Pro will be announced soon.

About Fujifilm
Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc. is a subsidiary of Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. and delivers technology solutions to meet the imaging and information needs of retailers, consumers, professionals and business customers. As a global leader in digital imaging, Fujifilm pioneered the development of digital X-ray systems, and today is the leader in digital minilab systems. The company was ranked in the top ten for U.S. patents granted during the last decade, employs 72,500 people worldwide and in the year ending March 31, 2003, had global revenues of more than $20 billion.

In the U.S., Fujifilm employs over 10,000 people. The company is a leader in delivering high quality, easy-to-use imaging and information solutions in the following categories: Digital Imaging Systems, Recording/Storage Media, Film and Imaging Systems, Motion Picture Film, Graphic Arts and Printing Systems and Medical Imaging and Diagnostics Systems. Fujifilm is committed to being an environmentally friendly, humane enterprise and an exemplary corporate citizen.

For more information on Fujifilm products, consumers can call 800-800-FUJI or access the Fujifilm USA Web site at www.fujifilm.com.

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