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Fuji’s FinePix S-1 digital camera has its quirks, but they pay off. hardware review hed: Getting the picture dek: Fuji’s FinePix S-1 digital camera has its quirks, but they pay off.

Fuji Photo Film’s FinePix S1 Pro camera is an interchangeable-lens, single-lens reflex (SLR) camera that uses Fuji’s Super CCD technology. The Super CCD chip gathers more information than a CCD does with the same sensor count, delivering increased signal-to-noise ratio, greater sensitivity, and wider dynamic range. For a time, Fuji advertised it as a six-megapixel camera, but it really has just four million sensors that record images at three resolutions (3,040-by-2,016, 2,304-by-1,536, and 1,440-by-960), three file formats (TIFF-RBG, TIFF-YC, and JPEG), and three JPEG compression modes (fine, normal, and basic).

In real-world tests, the FinePix S1 Pro produces stunning image quality. Which means the camera produces large picture-file sizes (18MB uncompressed). This necessitates high-capacity storage devices such as the IBM Microdrive, which fits its Type II CompactFlash slot. Like the Olympus E-10, the camera also accepts SmartMedia cards, and you can use menus on the two-inch LCD screen to switch back and forth between media.

A second slim LCD and series of buttons provides day-to-day adjustments such as white balance, ISO speed, and image quality. There are eight modes for white balance and adjustable ISO equivalents of 320, 400, 800, and 1600. The FinePix S1 Pro offers four shooting modes, five exposure modes, and five variable program modes. Its capabilities include shutter speeds from 30 seconds to 1/2,000 of a second, and continuous shooting of approximately 1.5 frames per second up to five frames.

Based on the Nikon N60 film camera, the FinePix S1 Pro’s Nikon F lens mount makes it compatible with most, but not all, Nikon-compatible lenses. It won’t focus the latest Nikon “Silent Wave” lenses including the 17-35mm zoom and 400 f/2.8 lenses I tried. Though the FinePix S1 Pro lacks the rugged construction of a Nikon F5 or D-1, it works well in a wide range of professional photographic tasks. While not suitable to the daily beatings photojournalists tend to give their cameras, anyone else who needs an interchangeable-lens digital SLR will find that it more than meets their needs.

Working with electronic flash proved interesting. Nikon’s SB-24, SB-26, SB-28, and SB-28Bx flash units would not fully function in TTL (through-the-lens) mode, and they refused to recognize the lens’s focal length. When used as the main light source, the built-in flash created overexposed images, yet as a source of fill indoors or out, it did fine.

The USB-compatible FinePix S1 Pro bundles camera-shooting software, USB and video cables, a 16MB SmartMedia storage card, four AA alkaline batteries for the image-handling system, and two Lithium batteries for controlling the camera system. This battery-intensive camera also requires two button cells for the amber LCD that controls many of the camera’s digital controls. FujiFilm is currently bundling a 1GB Microdrive at no extra charge.

All of the problems I encountered appear related to the N60 donor body, which Nikon has replaced with the N65. Yet in side-by-side tests, image quality from the FinePix S1 Pro is superior to Nikon’s more expensive D-1. As long as you can live with its idiosyncrasies, the FinePix S1 Pro makes a fine addition to a photographer’s Nikon system.

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