The Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro UVIR takes the original design and makes a few tweaks that allow the camera to capture light at wavelengths beyond what is visible to the human eye. By removing the cut filter from the design and replacing it with a new glass protective filter, the camera can now capture light at ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths - something of great use in law enforcement, military, medical research and other scientific fields, and more (and doubtless of interest to some enthusiasts as well!). As well as replacing the cut filter, Fuji has also made changes to the camera's menu system to make it more accomodating to UV / IR use, for example with the Live Preview option now being placed on the first menu screen for quick access. It should be noted however that Fujifilm's materials do caution that the removal of the UV / IR filtering could cause issues for autofocusing, auto exposure metering, and low ISO sensitivities. The company is recommending use of manual focus, exposure compensation, and ISO sensitivities above 200 (even though lower sensitivities are still available).
Still, these slight limitations are doubtless infinitely preferable to the existing situation. IR and UV photography with SLR cameras has until now basically required either third-party modification of a DSLR (hence voiding the warranty), or use of film instead. The latter left photographers with no way to preview their results, and exposures that could potentially take minutes to hours - perhaps just to find that they'd chosen a less-than-optimal filter and would have to repeat the process from scratch. For Fujifilm, the benefit of the S3 Pro UVIR is equally clear - it allows the company to extract more life from a camera design it first launched in February 2004, and given the market niche, the camera can even command somewhat of a premium. While street pricing on the S3 Pro is currently in the region of US$1250, list pricing on the S3 Pro UVIR is set at $1800.
The Fuji S3 Pro UVIR will go on sale from September. Most other features are similar to the original S3 Pro model, which features a SuperCCD SR II image sensor that delivers an image resolution of 6.17 megapixels (effective) with an extended dynamic range, coupled with a Nikon F mount. Following below are product specifications, example images (courtesy of Brooks Photographic Imaging), a backgrounder document, and the official press release.
|Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro UVIR|
|Camera Type||Pro SLR|
|Model Number||S3 Pro UVIR|
|Dimensions||5.8 x 5.3 x 3.1"|
147.8 x 135.3 x 78.5mm
|Planned Availability||Sep 2006|
|Sensor Type||1.09 FujiFilm SuperCCD SR II|
6.45 megapixels (total)
6.17 megapixels (effective)
|Focal Length Multiplier||1.53|
|Image Dimensions||4256 x 2848 (12.1 megapixels, interpolated)3024 x 2016 (6.1 megapixels)2304 x 1536 (3.5 megapixels)1440 x 960 (1.4 megapixels)|
|Image Preview / Review|
|Viewfinder||Yes, SLR type, eye-level pentaprism|
|LCD||2.0", 235,000 pixels|
100% field of view
|Lens Type||Interchangeable Lens|
Varies with lens, thread size unknown
|Lens Mount||Nikon F mount|
|Aperture Range||Varies with lens|
|Focusing System||5-point TTL Phase Detection with AF assist lamp|
Manual Focus possible (0) steps
|ISO Sensitivity||100, 160, 200, 400, 800, 1600|
|Shutter Speed||30 - 1/4000 second|
|Exposure Modes||Aperture, Shutter, Manual|
|Metering Modes||3D-10 Matrix, Center-Weighted, Spot |
|Exposure Compensation||+/- 3.0EV in 1/2EV increments|
|White Balance||Image Sensor - Auto, Custom 1, Custom 2, Sunny, Shade, Fluorescent 1, 2, 3, Incandescent, Manual|
|Internal Flash||Guide Number: 12|
|Self Timer||Yes, 2/5/10/20 seconds|
|Movie Format||None without audio|
Max. frame-rate: 0 frames per second
|Recording Medium||CompactFlash Type 1, CompactFlash Type 2, SmartMedia, xD Picture Card, Microdrive|
|File System||FAT16, complies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)|
|File Format||CCD-RAW, CCD-RAW (14-bit), JPEG (Exif v2.21)|
|Video||Yes, NTSC / PAL switchable|
|Computer||USB 2.0 High Speed, FireWire|
|Battery Type||NiMH rechargeable|
|Battery Form Factor||4 x AA|
|Software||USB driver, FinePixViewer, ImageMixer VCD2 for FinePix, RAW File Converter LE|
|Battery / Charger||4 x AA NiMH rechargeable battery and charger|
|Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliant||Yes|
|Tripod Mount||Yes, Metal|
|Remote Control||Yes, Wired|
|Operating System Compatibility||Windows, MacOS|
|Notes ||Closely related to the existing FinePix S3 Pro, but with the IR and UV cut filters removed and menus rearranged to make the camera more suitable for specialised UV and IR photography (as used in police work, etc.) |
Manual focus is recommended for IR photography, Fujifilm spec sheets note that both autofocus and autoexposure may not perform well, and that while ISO below 200 is possible, it isn't recommended.
|Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro UVIR Examples |
Software (Normal and UV side by side)
|Examples © Brooks Photographic Imaging |
Seeing The Unseen: How The New FinePix S3 Pro UVIR D-SLR From Fujifilm Will Help Law Enforcers, Medical Researchers, Art Historians, And Scientists Reveal The Truth That Lies Beyond The Visible Spectrum
A Technology Backgrounder
Valhalla, NY, August 9th, 2006 – With the recent announcement of the FinePix S3 Pro UVIR, Fujifilm has unveiled the world’s first production D-SLR camera capable of taking photographs in the ultraviolet and infrared light spectrums. But what does this mean and how does a digital camera that can take pictures at either end of the light spectrum help to empower photographers in technical fields such as law-enforcement, medical research, art history, science and fine art photography?
Ultraviolet & Infrared Light
The human eye is a remarkable imaging device to be sure, but it can’t see everything. Its sensitivity range is limited to wavelengths that normally start at 400 nanometers (violet) at the short end of the visible spectrum and extend to 700 nanometers (deep red) at the long end. This is also the realm of standard digital and film photography where, with certain exceptions, what you see is what you get. But there are times when ordinary visible-light pictures do not reveal everything a criminal investigator, scientist, or medical researcher needs to see. This is where ultraviolet and infrared imaging comes into play.
Scientists define wavelengths shorter than 400 nanometers as ultraviolet (UV), and wavelengths longer than 700 nanometers as infrared (IR). Technically, neither UV nor IR is “light” because humans can’t see it. However, photographs taken at UV and IR wavelengths can capture and reveal information that is otherwise undetectable by the human eye – literally “colors” we can’t see but that cameras, sensitive to IR and UV wavelengths, are able to record and make visible. It is the visual equivalent of the dog whistle we humans cannot hear.
This uncanny ability to reveal the unseen is why technical professionals in fields ranging from law enforcement, to military surveillance, to medical research, to art history, to biology have long used UV and IR photography to discover crucial observational facts that would ordinarily elude the keenest human eye.
Difficulties with UV and IR Photography
Until recently, both UV and IR photography were film based and entailed the use of heavy filtration and long exposure times. In the case of infrared, special, difficult-to-handle films were required along with heavy filtration that extended exposure times and often made focusing difficult.
Digital UV and IR photography had its own set of problems. Since the CCD and CMOS imager sensors of digital cameras incorporate strong UV and IR filters to achieve good color accuracy with standard visible-light subjects, a normal D-SLR is not very sensitive in the UV and IR ranges and is therefore inconvenient to use in these applications. That’s why many technical specialists, who needed UV and IR imaging in their work, modified their existing D-SLRs by removing the UV and IR filters, an expensive procedure undertaken by small private companies. Even if properly done, this bit of modification work voided the camera’s warranty.
The solution: An advanced UV and IR D-SLR
In response to the genuine need expressed by many top professionals in the law enforcement and scientific communities, Fujifilm developed the FinePix S3 Pro UVIR, the world’s first and only factory-made D-SLR designed specifically for UV and IR photography. It has many of the same features that made the standard FinePix S3 Pro a stand-out -- like the Super CCD SR II sensor for expanded dynamic range and a Live View CCD that allows for real-time subject focus for up to 30 seconds -- with some modifications.
The IR and UV filters were removed from the standard model and, after exhaustive field and lab testing, replaced with a specially formulated glass protective filter. The FinePix S3 Pro’s menu system was also reconfigured to be more user friendly for UV and IR shooters – for example, the Live Preview shooting now mode comes up on the very first screen.
A Better Mousetrap?
Just how important are these advances? Mike Brooks, a well-known consultant to law enforcement agencies who checked out a late prototype of the FinePix S3 Pro UVIR put it this way. “Capturing and displaying the alterations in a forged document, or the information hidden in an obliterated one using IR photography is now easier by leaps and bounds. With IR films, the amount of light required often meant exposure times measured in hours; with the FinePix S3 Pro UVIR typical exposure times range from 1/250 at f/16 to 1/4 sec at f/16. And with mirror lock-up and Live Preview, you can focus easily via the LCD even when you mount dark IR or UV filters over the lens to capture critical details. With more precise focusing plus the instant feedback of digital, you now have the ability to take sharper pictures in less time. Even more important, you can judge which filter is most effective in specificapplications in real time, which can literally save you weeks.”
Brooks continued, “The enhanced image quality is another great advantage of this camera – it has the ability to capture mid-tones, which is crucial with the contrasty subjects we commonly shoot and it provides a wider exposure latitude than other D-SLRs. The software also makes it much easier to display comparison images, a key element in law enforcement. Having a factory-made UV and IR camera of this caliber available at a competitive price is nothing less than a great step forward in forensic photography.”
How and Where UV and IR Photography works
While UV and IR photography are not really like the “X-ray vision” of comic books that lets you see through solid objects, both UV and IR can be used to reveal sub-surface details that are invisible to the naked eye. In a recent example provided by Brooks, police used differences in reflectance made visible only with IR photography to positively identify a charred body in a gangland murder. It revealed the victim’s prison tattoo, which was invisible under ordinary light.
In a similar manner, both UV and IR photography can corroborate the presence of gunpowder, show altered signatures and the difference between similar-looking inks on a document, or make bone fragments stand out in a plowed field. Medical researchers and police investigators use IR and UV photography to find injuries below the skin. They can even determine whether an assailant wearing a specific ring punched someone, or if a set of two-week-old, no-longer-visible bite marks were made by an alleged perpetrator’s teeth.
Infrared photography is also a great tool for nighttime surveillance with “invisible” IR flash or under IR-rich sources such as common street lamps – the same basic principle used in night-vision glasses. And since different plants reflect light in different shades of color or gray under IR, it can be used to detect illegal plants such as marijuana or opium poppies growing in a farm field.
While the primary markets for Fujifilm’s innovative FinePix S3 Pro UVIR are undoubtedly the law enforcement and technical-scientific communities, there are also legions of fine arts, portrait, and wedding photographers who will be attracted to this unique camera. Following in the footsteps of such legendary greats as Minor White and Ansel Adams who brought IR imaging into the art world with their stunning American landscapes, they have long used IR as a way of creating unique and beautiful images that set them apart from others in their fields. Many of today’s top portrait and wedding photographers have made IR photography an essential part of the services they offer to their clients.
Now, at last, they have a camera worthy of their highest aspirations.
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 medical systems, and today is the leader in digital minilab systems. The company was ranked number 18 for U.S. patents granted during 2005, employs more than 75,000 people worldwide and in the year ending March 31, 2006, had global revenues of $22.8 billion.
In the United States, Fujifilm is a leader in delivering high quality, easy-to-use imaging and information solutions in the following categories: Digital Imaging Systems, Film and Imaging Systems, Recording/Storage Media, Motion Picture Film, Graphic Arts and Printing Systems and Medical Imaging and Diagnostics Systems. Fujifilm is an environmentally friendly, humane enterprise and an exemplary corporate citizen.
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