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Review of the Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro
Old 04-06-2003, 10:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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This is a non-technical review of the camera. I had the opportunity to give it a whirl this weekend.

First, I can't see paying around $1500 for a piece of plastic. I mean it is light in weight but I can imagine what it'll happen to it if it dropped. I do like the position of the controls but the markings do not make it intuitive as to what the controls do. I had to check the manual several times.

Second, why does the damn thing require two sets of different batteries? 4 AAs and 2 3V Lithiums. I took about 600 pics with this camera trhis weekend and it ran through 2 sets of lithiums and 4 sets of Duracell AAs! The more you preview on the little LCD, tyhe more you drain the batteries. Studio flash seems to drain the batteries too. And I could figure out how to prolong the 'time out' feature on the camera. After about 10s of non-use the thing shut down, Very annoying when you're showing the model a preview and it constantly shuts down. It's also a pain to wait for the camera to ready itself to trigger the studio flash. There were a few 'black' shots!

I like the position of the AE lock button and the selection of three metering modes - centre, multi and centre weighted. Colour saturation was OK, maybe a bit 'bland' but with PhotoShop, I guess that's moot if you what you're doing - I don't! It's got a neat autobraketing feature. I used my Nikon 28-70 f2.8 AF-S and it moved pretty smoothly. You have to keep the lens on f22 the whole time, but can control the aperture via the controls on the S2. It has two dials to make it easy to change f-stops or shutter speeds. Almost too easy and I had to watch the settings on manual to make sure I didn't accidently change the settings.

The FinePix Viewer software is easy to use. Copying pics to a folder is easy. I guess I'd have to change my workflow pattern as the software is designed to to do a download once a day. Folders are automatically created on a date-stamp basis, so if you have more than one download, you have to change your previous folder name.

Overall, I think it's an OK camera, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. I'll check out the Nikon D1-X in a couple of weeks and see if that's any better. I doubt it, as digital camera technology is no where near its zenith, and is just getting better. I think, unless I get WOWed by a digital camera, I'll wait a couple of years when 20 MP camera backs will be made for my Nikon F4/F5 at less than $1000.

Or maybe that Imacon back for my Hassey will be less than $2000. I can still dream right?
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Re: Review of the Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro
Old 04-07-2003, 12:11 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'd like to comment on a couple of your comments if that's ok.

First, the camera costs around $2,400 not $1,500. So it's a VERY expensive piece of plastic.

Why does it use 2 types of batteries? Becuase at it's most basic design it's a Nikon N80 with a digital back. The CR-123's power the N80 part, just like they would on an N80 and the AAs power the digital part. It's not pretty, but it works.

I get consistantly get 1800 shots on my CR-123s. But I do not use the built in flash, nor do I have any silent wave lenses. That seems in line with what is reported on DPReview. Were you using the built in flash a lot?

Ah, after re-reading your post, I see you were using an AF-S lens. Yes, that will draw more power, however it seems to me your battery life was still short.

On my first set of Alkaline batteries, they pooped out after 1,500 pictures. I honestly don't pay attention at the battery life of my AAs, as I use rechargable. I know I've taking over 600 with the set that's in the camera now. That's with a view on the LCD for me to check the exposure and a review for the model. I think I use the LCD about as much as the other photographers I shoot with who have digital cameras.

Yes, the review shuts off too quickly and is annoying.

The S2 wasn't my first digital camera and I was already familiar with the operation of the Nikon N80. So I guess my expectations were more in line with what the camera offers, a pro-sumer level 6mp DSLR with outstanding straight out of the camera images.

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Re: Review of the Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro
Old 04-07-2003, 09:33 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Art

Was this a rental camera? I consistently get far greater life from my batteries.

This is an N80 -- the D100, Kodak 14N and Fuji S2 are all based off that same platform. Remember -- there's a metal frame under that plastic. Nikon made that mistake a few years ago and vowed never to do it again.

Some of what you describe is the standard operation of Nikon AF cameras in general. And digital is an entirely new workflow. It sounds like you plugged the camera directly into the computer to download it. That may have had an effect on battery life. My rule is NEVER plug the camera directly into the computer -- it's a camera, not a disk drive. Use a card reader to download the images.

The Nikon D1X is an awesome camera -- but it's built on the F5, another awesonme camera.

Keep working at it!

Bob
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Re: Review of the Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro
Old 04-07-2003, 11:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Last night, after posting my message and on my way home from work, I was thinking about your post and my reply. There are a couple of things I wanted to change and wanted to ask a question.

I can't edit my original post, so I have to make another. I hope this doesn't seem like I'm trying to be annoying.

The time to power off, which is 15 seconds, is set on the "N80 part" of the camera. It's custom feature #12. You can set it to none, 15 seconds, 2 min, 5 minutes.

You don't have to use the CR-123A batteries. The camera will work fine with them removed. However, you can't use the built-in flash and you can only use AA NiMH rechargeables, alkalines won't cut it. The AA will drain faster however.

You should remove the CR-123As whenever you connect the AC adapter and you should use the AC adapter whenever you download to the computer. Otherwise you will rapidly discharge the batteries.

You also mentioned that "studio flash seems to drain the batteries too" and "it's also a pain to wait for the camera to ready itself to trigger the studio flash".

Ummm, how were you triggering your studio flash?
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Your posted observations not a review
Old 04-07-2003, 03:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Being a proud owner of the Fuji S2 I can say you posted observations not a review. Your basis for not recommending this camera don't really seem to make much sense to me. I honestly don't think you would like ANY digital camera on the market today based on what you wrote in your post. You want a 20mb digital back for under $1000 - won't happen for a few years yet...) What exactly do you think will happen with a 20mb digital back that the current crop of professional level digital cameras cannot give you? A properly exposed image on any of these cameras should be able to print a 11x14 image without any problem. So having more megapixels isn't going to necessarily give you a better image.

As to your black shots - are you using a radio slave by any chance? Black shots, when I saw them on mine and other digitals using the same equipment were due to the radio slave not syncing properly during the shoot. I changed to my quantum freewires and everything went fine (on both cameras from different manufactors [Canon and Fuji]).

Here are a couple of images I shot with the Fuji S2. Both are mostly straight out of the camera with only sharpening and resizing done.





 
 
Yes, it was a rental camera.
Old 04-07-2003, 05:43 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I only had one day to learn the thing so most of my observations have a HUGE learning curve attributed to it. I did plug the camera directly to the computer, but, I used the DC cord.

You are right about workflow patterns. That would have to be my biggest paradygn shift. It really is neat to be able instantly see the pics versus, say, using my Polaroid back and waiting a minute.

Like I mentioned, I truly believe these cameras will only get better. The technology will exponentiate and I know we'll be seeing technology that will mimic or even exceed the range of film in the near future.

I can't wait!
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Sorry, I didn\'t mean for you to lose sleep!
Old 04-07-2003, 05:52 PM   #7 (permalink)
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1. The power off thing. Thanks, but since I had the camera only for a couple of days, I guess I skipped that part in the manual! Wish I read it though, it was really annoying. And then combined with the batteries dying...argh!

2. I didn't use the built in flash. The studio light were hooked up via a synch cord. I had a little doodad (is that the right technical term?) that mounted on the hotshoe. After about, oh, 590 pics out of 600, I noticed the built in synch plug on the side - argh! Why'd they lend the little doodad?

3. It seems that without the CR-123s, the AA batteries died a lot faster. And these were freash. I mean all 4 of them died after 50 pics!

4. Maybe I had the settings wrong - beats me, but the camera would not trigger the studio lights until the red light at the back flashed and the thing beeped at me. Several times I had to turn the camera on and off to reset the damn thing.

It is a neat little camera. Now that I know its $2400, I definitely wouldn't buy it. BUT, that's me. AND, I only had a couple of days to play with it, so it is by far NOT an exhaustive review.
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Whoa! Let me put the flame suit on first!
Old 04-07-2003, 06:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You are right that I probably wouldn't buy ANY digital camera on the market today, but it is not because "I think digital sucks" or anything like that. Nor is it because I want 20 megapixels - well actually I do, BUT I do want to see more range really.

My wish list would be to see one thats, oh say, 20 MP, ISO range from 64 to 3200, and can fit as a camera back so that I can shoot film too. I know these guys are working on it. It'll take time. And just to have my cake and eat it too, let's keep the price under $2000!

Now, as for my black shots, I had the camera hooked up via synch cord attached to a little doodad (don't know what the damn thing is called) that fits on the hotshoe. Why didn't I just use the hotsynch on the side of the camera you ask? Beats the hell out of me! I didn't notice it until the last 10 shots of the day were taken. D'oh! Didn't matter those batteries died and I packed it in.

Now I don't at all dispute that the camera can take some very decent pictures. Hey, I've got some pretty good ones too! Here's one from the S2.


I don't at all mean to imply that the S2 is a dud, it is a good camera. Seems like my rental was a dud though - battery life cannot possibly be that short. I just can't recommend it based on my two days of use and I wouldn't buy it myself. I would tell people to try it out. There's no harm in that.
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Re: Sorry, I didn\'t mean for you to lose sleep!
Old 04-07-2003, 09:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
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2) I use a little doodad on my hotshoe also, but my doodad has a voltage regulator in it to make sure I don't toast anything due to high voltage. The manual says I shouldn't have to do that, but I toasted one camera and I'm not going to do it again.

3) Without the CR-123As the AA's will go dead a lot faster. That's why the manual says to ONLY use NiMH batteries without the CR-123As. Doesn't suprise me if you were using alkalines.

You also have to remove the CR-123s when you plug the AC adapter in. They will die quickly if you don't.

4) The red light on the back means that the camera is writing to the memory card. You can shoot while it's doing that. Hmm. My camera doesn't beep at me. I can shoot around 2 frames per second, assuming my flash will keep up - which it won't, for 7 frames before having to wait for the buffer to flush. I wonder if you had it set to confirm each shot or something.

Oh well, it was a learning experience.

Every camera, digital or film, has quirks that you have to get used to before you can become comfortable with the camera.

I was put off by the price at first too. I know everybody's finances are different, but I was spending a lot of money on film and not making anything, which was ok. I figured that if I continue to shoot the way I did before, I'd pay for the camera in savings from film and processing in about 6 months, which it did. So the high upfront cost isn't so bad. But that's me.

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Here\'s an excellent review on DPReview.com
Old 04-08-2003, 11:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I wish I read this first. It would have saved me some learning curve time and made my experience better, I think. Great review. Those of you thinking of getting any digital cameras should read the reviews on DPReview first before even trying the camera you want. Lots of great information.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujis2pro/
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