Fujifilm FinePix Pro review: Fujifilm FinePix Pro

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.7
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 6.0
  • Image quality: 9.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The widest dynamic range we've seen in a dSLR; top-notch overall out-of-camera image quality; histograms for both luminosity and individual color channels; D-TTL flash exposure control and PC terminal.

The Bad Skimpy buffer when using wide dynamic range mode; ISO setting clumsily located on main mode dial; exposure controls operate only in half-stop increments; somewhat heavy-handed noise reduction in ISO 1,600 JPEGs.

The Bottom Line This medium-resolution Fujifilm stands out for its unmatched handling of highlights and excellent overall image quality, but it's not meant for rapid-fire shooting of sports and action.

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The Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro digital SLR (dSLR) replaces the S2 Pro, which enjoyed some modest success among photographers who prized its image quality. Like its predecessor, the S3 Pro uses Nikon F-mount SLR lenses and a (debatably) 6-megapixel Fujifilm sensor. But the sensor, called a Super CCD SR II, is an all-new design that uses two photodetectors per pixel to deliver the widest dynamic range we've seen in a dSLR. The camera's performance is mediocre, but if you hate blown-out highlights and love rich colors, the S3 Pro is worth a close look.

The Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro's black, polycarbonate-plastic body is a bit bigger than most entry-level dSLR cameras', but not by much. At about 29 ounces without a lens, its weight is also middle-of-the-road for a dSLR. Both the grip and the camera back are contoured to give you a firm grasp, and the S3 Pro is very secure and comfortable to hold. It feels about as robust as midlevel dSLRs from other manufacturers.


The mode dial on the left side of the camera lets you select not only exposure modes but also ISO settings. A concentric switch provides access to both drive and timer modes.

On the right side of the camera's top, you'll find a status LCD, exposure- and flash-compensation controls, and a command dial that falls under your forefinger.

You use thumb and forefinger wheels to control shutter speeds and apertures. They're also used in conjunction with other buttons to change various additional settings, including exposure compensation, bracketing, and flash mode. Many important digital settings are controlled by a button labeled Func and four associated buttons that run along the bottom of a small secondary LCD on the camera's back. The particular feature that each of these buttons controls varies as you cycle through the choices with the Func button, and we found the icons and labels that identify the feature settings to be modestly cryptic. Other less important functions are controlled by a standard menu system on the main LCD, which you navigate with a typical four-way thumb pad.


A second command dial is placed under your thumb, which can also reach the metering and autofocus/autoexposure lock controls next to the viewfinder.

You can select autobracketing and make flash-mode adjustments with the buttons to the left of the viewfinder.

This all adds up to a system that was mildly confusing at first but was reasonably efficient once we got used to it. Menus respond quickly and operate sensibly. Our one major control complaint is the placement of the ISO setting on the camera's main exposure mode dial, which makes changing sensitivity clumsier than we'd like.


A small status LCD on the back of the camera supplements the one on top. The main LCD below it provides access to the main menu system.

To the right of the LCD are a pair of buttons and a four-way controller pad for navigating the main LCD menus.

The Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro is decked out with several features that indicate Fujifilm's admirable attention to image-quality issues other than simple pixel count. First among these, of course, is the extended dynamic range (DR) that the camera's Super CCD SR II delivers (more on this in the Image Quality section). The Wide DR mode is actually a parameter that you can turn on or off, and it can be used with either of the camera's two file-format choices, JPEG or raw. If used with raw images, it doubles your file size to a whopping 25MB per image. (Trust us, your CompactFlash cards and your hard drive will fill up frighteningly fast.)


The S3 has slots for both xD-Picture Card and CompactFlash media.

For JPEGs, you can choose either of two compression levels at four different resolutions, including a 12-megapixel setting that isn't just simple interpolation, as we'll explain in the Image Quality section. You can save your images to either CompactFlash or xD-Picture Card media.

Other image parameters include a choice of Adobe RGB or sRGB color space and selectable levels of in-camera sharpening, tone curve (contrast), and color saturation. If you're shooting in sRGB with wide DR turned on, you can also select one of three film simulation modes: standard, F1, and F2. Speaking loosely, the F1 setting is intended to look similar to the low-contrast professional negative films typically used by portrait and wedding pros, while the F2 setting resembles highly saturated, high-contrast slide film such as Velvia. The standard setting fits somewhere in between the two.

The S3 Pro also has the unique capability of displaying a live LCD image such as those on non-SLR consumer digicams. The image is black-and-white and perhaps useful for fine focusing, but it displays for only 30 seconds at a time and requires several menu clicks to activate or deactivate, so it's not useful for composing and capturing everyday pictures.

A complete set of exposure controls is available on the S3 Pro, including all four main exposure modes; both flash and ambient exposure compensation to plus or minus 3EV; autoexposure bracketing; and matrix, center-weighted, and spot metering modes. One occasional hindrance is that shutter speeds, apertures, and exposure compensation can be set only in half-stop increments, rather than in third-stop increments as with most cameras. Sensitivity can be set to ISO 100, ISO 160, ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800, or ISO 1,600.

A nice image-preview mode will display just-captured pictures in about one second, and you can view a luminosity histogram, individual histograms for each color channel, or a highlight overexposure warning, then decide to save or discard the image. The same information displays are available in playback mode for saved images.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro (Body Only)

Part Number: 43020209 Released: Dec 15, 2004
Low Price: $19.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Dec 15, 2004
  • Digital camera type SLR
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 6.2 Megapixel / 12.1 Megapixel (interpolated)
  • Optical Sensor Size 15.5 x 23.0mm