Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro
- Extended battery life, high image quality, innovative interface
- Heavy, limited continuous shooting mode, slow autofocus
Overall, the FinePix S2 Pro is a good camera, but slow autofocus and inadequate continuous shooting modes limit its appeal.
Price$ 5,499.00 (AUD)
The FinePix S2 Pro is a heavyweight in every sense of the word. At 900 grams for the body alone (with batteries), it is one of the heaviest cameras we've reviewed. It's also one of the biggest.
At least part of this bulk is due to the six batteries that power the camera: four AA and two disposable CR123 lithium batteries. Unsurprisingly, the S2 Pro aced our battery tests, taking 500 pictures without making much of a drain on the batteries. In fact, I only managed to run them halfway down in several days of heavy-duty testing. The only downside (apart from the weight) is that if one set of batteries runs down before the other, you're stuck: the camera doesn't work if one set dies.
Although big, the FinePix S2 Pro fits comfortably in the hand, with two control dials (one on the front and one on the back) falling under the index finger and thumb. There's also an LCD screen on the top of the camera, which shows a lot less information than most: just the shutter speed, aperture, program mode, and focus zone. Other information (such as the ISO and number of shots remaining) is shown on the second LCD on the back of the camera.
The four buttons beneath the second LCD provide an interesting way of accessing the controls. For example, when viewing images on the larger screen, icons for four options appear in the small monochrome LCD screen: showing a histogram, and deleting, locking and displaying multiple images. When taking pictures, pressing the function button next to the display shows options for changing the white balance, autofocus mode, image quality or image size. Any of these options are then selectable by pressing the button underneath it; it's somewhat easier than digging through a menu.
The S2 Pro uses a Nikon F lens mount, so the same lenses usable by the Nikon D70s can be used on this camera. We found the S2 to be much slower to focus than the Nikon D70s when using the same lens; it often failed to focus on fast-moving objects or in low light. For our testing, Fujifilm supplied a Tamron 24mm to 135mm zoom lens, but we found it disappointing, as it too focused very slowly and was noisy while doing so.
The continuous shooting mode of the S2 Pro is somewhat lacking. The camera can only shoot 2 frames a second for a maximum of 8 frames, significantly less than other SLRs such as the Nikon D70s, which can shoot 144 frames at 3 frames per second with a fast memory card. But the S2 has all of the other features that you would expect on a high-end digital SLR, including three metering modes and five autofocus zones (plus a mode for automatically focusing on the closest object). There are, however, none of the scene modes (such as sport, portrait and so on) that can be found on most other digital cameras: just the basic manual, aperture-priority, shutter priority and program modes.
The S2 is also unusual in having two media card slots; a CompactFlash and a SmartMedia slot are located on the back of the camera behind a panel. While having two slots is a nice idea, using a format other than SmartMedia would have been better. The largest SmartMedia card available is 128MB, which is enough for only around 26 images at the highest JPEG resolution. An SD slot would have been a much better choice--there are SD cards that hold up to 2GB. Also, the S2 Pro doesn't allow image files to be copied from one card to the other, or to record images to both cards at once (in case one card fails or is lost). The S2 Pro does have a FireWire port, which is a significantly faster way to transfer pictures than via its USB 1.1 port.
In a studio setup using manual settings and a custom white balance setting (which most serious studio shooters would use), the S2 Pro produced very accurate colours. However, we found that many images taken using automatic metering were slightly underexposed, and colors looked a little dark. When we increased the camera's ISO setting, we found significant noise at all ISO settings above 400; at the maximum of 1600, noticeable white spots appeared in areas of flat colour, particularly reds and blues.
We also saw some evidence of moire interference, where fine details (such as the etching on a paper bill used in our tests) produced a coloured fringing pattern. This result is probably at least partly due to the interpolation that the camera performs at the higher ISO levels. Although the camera is really a 6.2 megapixel model, it can record images at up to 4256 x 2848 pixels (equivalent to 12 megapixels). Fujifilm claims that because the individual image sensor elements are hexagonal (instead of the more usual square elements), they capture more information, which can be used to re-create the extra pixels accurately. Though our test images taken at the highest resolutions did appear to have plenty of detail, the S2 didn't have extraordinarily high levels of sharpness. Also, the S2's images taken at the highest resolutions were a little more prone to moire problems than those taken at the native resolution of 3024 x 2016 pixels.
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