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Shooting straight in the dark, the Fujifilm way

Shooting straight in the dark, the Fujifilm way

Though it's targeted at some heavyweight activities--such as criminal forensic investigation--Fujifilm's new version of its FinePix S3 Pro dSLR introduces some novel capabilities that are attractive to the creative (or nosy!) photographer in all of us. As its name implies, the FinePix S3 Pro UVIR adds the ability to shoot in the ultraviolet and infrared ends of the spectrum, making the invisible visible.

Both film and digital cameras need to filter out the extremely short UV light waves for a variety of reasons. In the case of digital, UV rays hit the sensor first, and unless filtered out, will saturate the photosites before the visible light can even hit them. The extremely long IR light waves have the opposite problem. They hit the sensor last, and during the long exposure time necessary to capture them, the photosites would become saturated by visible light.

For the S3 Pro UVIR, Fujifilm removed the UV and IR filtering, instead allowing the photographer to use lens filters for controlling which bands of the spectrum reach the sensor. However, this also requires that you use manual focus, which the S3 provides via a Live Preview LCD, as well as manual exposure modes when shooting outside the visible spectrum. The S3 Pro UVIR takes all the same Nikon-mount lenses as the standard version of the camera.

This isn't new: independent companies have been retrofitting--or, more accurately, stripping--both digital and film cameras for years. Hutech Astronomical Products, for example, offers defiltered versions of Canon's EOS 20D and Rebel XT. Still, I'm looking forward to taking the S3 Pro UVIR on a test drive through New York at night, though I'll bypass any bloodstains I happen to find. It's slated to ship next month for about $1,800.