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Fuji FinePix S20 Pro

Fuji's latest electronic SLR offers a high dynamic range Super CCD (6.7 million photosensors in a 3.4 megapixel array) that interpolates to 6.0 megapixels, plus an external flash sync connection!

(Next): Executive Overview>>

Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: 04/27/2004

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6.7 million photosensors in a 3.4 megapixel array, Super CCD SR produces 2,832 x 2,128-pixel images. (Interpolated to 6.0 megapixels.)
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6x Fujinon optical zoom lens equivalent to 35-210mm lens on a 35mm camera.
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Powerful flash effective to 27.9 feet (8.5 meters).
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Accepts xD-Picture Cards, CF Type I or II, Hitachi Microdrive
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Super high-resolution electronic optical viewfinder, with 235,000 pixels.


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Manufacturer Overview
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The Fuji FinePix S20 Pro is the latest in a long line of digital cameras from Fujifilm, and the most recent of their offerings aimed at the serious photography enthusiast. The S20 Pro's lineage reaches back to the original and very popular FinePix 6900, which sold far beyond Fuji's expectations in late 2001.

After a bit of a gap following the sellout of the 6900, Fuji came back with a new offering for the enthusiast crowd, the FinePix S602 Zoom. The S602 Zoom built upon many of the popular features of the 6900 (like the 6x optical zoom lens), but offered improved color fidelity and reduced image noise as well as enhanced shooting speed. The camera added support for both SmartMedia and CompactFlash memory cards (including IBM Microdrives), and offered significantly improved white balance when dealing with the incandescent lighting so common in the US. The S602 also sported some genuinely unusual features, including an amazing (at the time) 640 x 480, 30 frames/second motion capture mode, special high-ISO modes (to ISO 1600) that cleverly traded resolution for lower image noise, and a couple of exceptionally handy motor-drive modes.

Because of the S602 Zoom's high popularity among the enthusiast ranks, Fuji upped the ante and released the FinePix S7000. Offering many of the same great capabilities of the S602 model, the S7000 boasted the highest resolution of any consumer level digicam that we'd seen up until that time, with its 6.3 megapixel Super CCD HR that interpolated to a final file size of 12.3 megapixels. The camera also featured an extensive flash range, and a higher resolution electronic optical viewfinder. With the same great exposure features, autofocus options, and performance as the S602, was a hit once again.

Alongside the S7000, Fuji offered another interesting camera, inside whose small but stylish chassis hid an altogether different type of image sensor that promised to make significant steps forward in an area that many digital cameras have struggled . The FinePix F700's Super CCD SR sensor with 6.7 million photosensors packed into a 3.4 megapixel array delivered on its promise with noticeable improvements in both tonal range and exposure latitude - but the choice of a point and shoot body likely kept the camera out of the hands of the advanced users who'd have been most interested in the SR sensor's possibilities.

Responding to calls from pro and advanced amateur photographers who wanted to see the SR sensor in a camera body they'd be more comfortable with, Fuji has now released the FinePix S20 Pro. Offering most of the same capabilities as the S7000 model, the S20 Pro features the same Super CCD SR sensor that I initially praised in the FinePix F700. The camera also features a PC sync connector for use with off-camera flash strobes like you'd find in a studio, along with a number of other changes (mostly related to the change of image sensor). The S20 Pro packs an impressive list of features, but much of its acceptance in the market will likely hinge on how potential users respond to its unique sensor configuration, and its unique set of strengths and limitations. - Read on for all the details!


High Points

  • 6.7 million photosensors (6.2 million effective pixels) in a 3.4 megapixel array Super CCD SR, interpolates to produce images as large as 2,832 x 2,128 pixels.
  • 0.44-inch electronic optical viewfinder with dioptric adjustment, plus 1.8-inch color LCD monitor.
  • 6x Super-EBC Fujinon 35-210mm zoom lens, with f/2.8-3.1 maximum aperture.
  • Macro shooting includes normal macro and "Super-Macro" option that focuses down to one centimeter.
  • Adjustable ISO setting with 160, 200, 400, 800, and 1600 equivalents.
  • Up to 2.2x digital telephoto.
  • Auto and manual focus options, with adjustable AF area.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/10,000 to 30 seconds, with a Bulb setting.
  • Built-in, pop-up flash with six operating modes.
  • External flash hot shoe and PC sync connection.
  • Shutter button features a mechanical cable release socket for decreased vibration on long exposures.
  • Nine user-selectable white balance settings, including a manual adjustment.
  • Movie with sound and Voice recording modes.
  • Super CCD-based "Pixel-Mixing Technology" allows 30 frame/second movie recording at full VGA (640x480 resolution)!
  • Program AE, Auto, Scene Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual exposure modes.
  • Three Continuous Shooting modes, plus Auto Exposure Bracketing and a Multi-Exposure mode.
  • Two image quality recording modes in JPEG format, and an uncompressed RAW option.
  • Dual media slots support xD-Picture Cards (16MB card included) or CompactFlash Type II, including Microdrive memory cards.
  • Video cable included.
  • Power via four AA-type batteries or optional AC adapter (four AA alkaline batteries included).
  • USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394 FireWire cables and interface software for connecting to a computer, including remote control functionality over the IEEE 1394 FireWire cable.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) and PictBridge compatibility.


Differences from the FinePix S7000
For those of you who've read my earlier review of the FinePix S7000, much of this one will look familiar. The basic functions are the same, so much of the descriptive text here is just a copy/paste from the earlier version. There are some changes in the user interface though, so you may want to read the sections of this review dealing with controls and menus again, even if you're already familiar with the S7000. And of course all the test photos, analysis, and conclusions are new, as are the freshly-measured power and timing parameters.

The table below presents a quick summary of features that I found to be new or enhanced in the S20 Pro. This may save some of you from having to slog through the whole review to find what's new:

Feature FinePix S7000 FinePix S20 Pro
Image Sensor SuperCCD HR SuperCCD SR
Total Photosensors 6.63 million 6.7 million
Total Pixels 6.63 megapixels 3.35 megapixels
Effective Pixels 6.3 megapixels 3.1 megapixels
Interpolated Image Size 4,048 x 3,040 pixels (12.3 megapixels) 2,832 x 2,128 pixels (6.03 megapixels)
Other Image Sizes 2,848 x 2,136 pixels
2,016 x 1,512 pixels
1,600 x 1,200 pixels
1,280 x 960 pixels
2,048 x 1,536 pixels
1,600 x 1,200 pixels
1,280 x 960 pixels
ISO Sensitivity (standard) Auto (min. ISO 160), ISO 200, ISO 400 Auto (min. ISO 160), ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800
ISO Sensitivity (reduced resolution) ISO 800 at three megapixels or less ISO 1600 at one megapixel only
Digital Zoom 3.2X (1,280 x 960 pixels), 2.53X (1,600 x 1,200 pixels), 2.0X (2,016 x 1,512 pixels), 1.4X (2,848 x 2,136 pixels) 2.2X (1,280 x 960 pixels), 1.8X (1600 x 1200 pixels), 1.4X (2,048 x 1,536 pixels)
Shutter Speeds (Auto / Scene modes) 1/2,000 to 1/4 second 1/1,000 to 1/4 second
Shutter Speeds (Manual mode) 1/10,000 to 15 seconds, Bulb (up to 15 seconds) 1/10,000 to 30 seconds, Bulb (up to 30 seconds)
USB Connectivity USB 2.0 compliant USB 2.0 compliant
IEEE 1394 FireWire Connectivity No Yes
PC Sync Connector No Yes
Exposure Mode Dial Styling All black plastic Black plastic with silver trim around top edge
Remote Control No Yes, over IEEE 1394 FireWire connection
Long Period Continuous Shooting Mode One frame per second up to 40 frames, limited to three megapixels or less Two frames per second up to 40 frames, limited to one megapixel
Top-x Continuous Shooting Mode Top-5 (up to five frames at up to five frames per second) Top-10 (up to 10 frames at up to five frames per second)
Final-x Continuous Shooting Mode Final-5 (last five of up to 25 frames up to five frames per second) Final-10 (last 10 of up to 40 frames at up to five frames per second)
Live (Record Mode) Histogram Yes, Single AF mode only No
Weight (with batteries and xD-Picture card) 600 grams / 21.2 ounces 612 grams / 21.6 ounces
Max. aperture selectable in Aperture Priority mode with full optical zoom Incorrectly showed f/2.8 as available; actually f/3.1 Shows the correct setting of f/3.1, automatically switches to f/3, f/2.9 or f/2.8 depending on lens zoom as you zoom out
Battery Life Very good Even better, improved significantly in most modes


 

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