Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro | Digital Camera Review | Adjustments
The Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro has a heap of settings. Not only well-known functions like light metering, auto focus, sensitivity, white balance and quality, but also the dynamic range. This makes the FinePix S3 Pro unique. Also different types of films can be simulated. Fujifilm has a lot of experience with films and it clearly shows. But let’s start with the photographic functions. The camera features various settings for the auto focus. Single AF enables the user to choose the focal point himself. Dynamic AF lets the camera do it, and the camera will keep following the movement (focus tracking). But also in Dynamic AF a specific focal point can be selected. The camera will focus on the selected segment, but will move over to another segment when the subject is out of the focus field. This is the most useful setting. The auto focus speed relies very much on the lens in use. AF-S lenses are advisable. The FinePix S2 Pro still had some focus problems where as on the FinePix S3 Pro they seem to be solved.
Light metering gives you a few options: matrix metering (metering happens on different fields, centre weighted metering or spot metering. And that gives you all you need. Matrix metering is very convenient in standard circumstances. A bit annoying is that you never know exactly what the camera is doing. For more control you choose the centre weighted metering. And the optimum control is offered through spot metering, the metered field depends on the focus field, if you like. Extremely useful. When I was testing the S3 Pro, I mainly used the matrix metering which in general delivers excellent results. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test the flash, because there was no DX flash available.
Custom Functions mode gives the photographer the opportunity to completely adjust the camera according to his own wishes and preferences. There are numerous functions, so reading the manual thoroughly might be a good idea.
The Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro offers photographing in JPEG as well as RAW format, of course I’d say, but both formats at the same time is not possible. On the one hand it’s a pity, a small JPEG format can come in handy for archiving. Or to send a journalistic picture to your newspaper. But the Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro produces large RAW files. In normal dynamic range, a RAW file might be some 12MB of size, and in large dynamic range even double! It requires a lot of storage space on your memory card! Storing the photos takes a while. Too much time in fact, even if you’re not into fast photography. You also have to wait until storing the picture is completed before being able to see it on the monitor. This is annoying and after a while it even started to irritate me. It wouldn’t harm the FinePix S3 Pro to have more computer power and a larger internal memory. The standard delivered converter cannot change anything, and unfortunately Fujifilm doesn’t deliver a proper converter. The optional Hyper Utility HS-V2 software can do it, it serves also as (studio) shooting software. The new version HS-V2 version for the FinePix S3 Pro underwent a large number of improvements, compared with the previous versions, and is worthwhile being studied.
Another option is the extended dynamic range, with optimum use of the two different kinds of pixels, the S and R pixel. A normal dynamic range will be sufficient under common circumstances but there are many situations in which shadow parts of an image don’t show any detail anymore, the same happens to the bright white segments of a photo. The extended range has 3 modes: 230%, 400% and auto. In auto mode the camera will automatically choose the correct dynamic range depending on the contrast. The other two are fixed settings, 400% benefits from two stops. Question is, is it worthwhile? And the answer is yes. A comparison image made from the same street shows the differences clearly. Standard range delivers about the same result as the FinePix S2 Pro. At 400% you’ll find rich detail in bright white parts that would be completely white in standard range. Measuring afterwards does prove that the difference is 2 stops. It is more than an advertising stunt. Still I have to warn for exaggerated expectations. The extended range is not a miracle maker, you have to know what you are doing. But still that’s why you’re the photographer!
Beside sRGB photos can also be stored in AdobeRGB. Which is the best setting if you plan to edit the photos afterwards or send them to the retailer for prints. It shows more nuances than the sRGB. However, the various film simulations can only be used at sRGB. Although the differences are very small, I prefer AdobeRGB to adjust the photos in Photoshop myself. When using JPEG it is advisable to choose the standard settings for contrast, colour and sharpness. In order to get a good colour rendition, white balance should be set correctly. The FinePix S3 Pro has many pre-settings and if desired, you can add your own. Automatic white balance is fine, during our tests it delivered excellent results.
An important setting is the sensitivity. The FinePix S3 Pro offers a range of ISO 100 to 1600. Settings are available at one full stop, but the camera also features ISO 160. That is probably the nominal mode, with ISO 100 as a possible enhancement. Fujifilm is in control of the noise, compared to the FinePix S2 Pro, there is less colour noise. The ISO 800 can be used without problems and also ISO 1600 delivers superior results.