Additional information on Fuji FinePix S1 Pro
Back in year 2000 PMA show at Las Vegas, Fuji Film stunned everyone in the photo community by launching their Digital SLR, the FinePix S1 Pro which was developed basing on a Nikon F60 chassis to incorporate many of the Company own innovations within. The move also signified the partnership between Fuji and Nikon in their direct alliance for future development of the E-Series Digital Still SLR cameras has taken a new turning (sounds better than parting..). Whatever it is, as Nikon has quite successfully with their own label of D-Series Digital SLRs, so, there is no point to pursue further with the lackluster sales performance of the various E-Series models. Note: The FinePix S1 Pro was introduced at the same time as Canon's D30.
Credit: Image courtesy of Mr Sol Hadef® <firstname.lastname@example.org> URL: the Rangefinder.com, by the way, Sol also operates a popular Ebay Store. Image Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.
First of all, I think Fuji Film's approach in handling the new emerging digital medium was quite smart because as a "third party" supplier, the high end Digital SLRs market was not been proven to be potentially a high income areas (probably Fuji Film has Kodak to thank for as the "initial market tester"...). So, their decision in adopting midrange market as the main focus was indeed rightfully a smarter move. Nevertheless, since Fuji Film has long abandoned their 35mm X-series SLR development and the new digita; medium also require a solid photographic system as a backbone, so the Nikon/Fuji partnership was more of less like an evolving form rather than concluding the earlier strategic business alliance has entirely gone to the graveyard. Thus, the Company has reverted in exploring a vacuum in this market by selling a product which only halved the price than a comparing Nikon or Canon high end digital SLR, they found a solid footing to begin. But that was not all, because Fuji Film's also has developed something that was truly innovative with the CCD pixel game - a "SUPER" CCD.
The "Super CCD" as the Company called it, measures at 23.3 x 15.6mm in size, provides 3.4 million pixels imaging capability and can be further "enhanced" by delivers an ultra high resolution image file with up to 6.1 million pixels (3,040 x 2,016 pixels). No big deal ? well, when you compare the Nikon's original D1's performance of 2.74-megapixel, 23.7 x 15.6mm-size CCD (2,012 x 1,324 effective pixels) and that certainly can make your eyebrows raise huh ? The camera also packs with many extras:
• It uses a Nikon F-mount, so you can work with Nikkor lenses you already own (including AF Nikkor and AI-P Nikkor lenses)
• Takes up to five shots at 1.5 frames/sec. with remote control capability
• Shutter speeds are selectable and can be set anywhere from 30 sec. to 1/2,000 sec.
• It has four equivalent ISO sensitivity settings up to ISO 1600 maximum (adjustable ISO equivalent ratings of 320, 400, 880, and 1600) (images size: 3040 x 2016, 2304 x 1556, and 1440 x 960)
• A histogram display system that shows exposure results immediately after a shot
• A few separate controls are provided for color temperature, gradation and sharpness settings
Credit: Image extracted from Fuji Film's product brooches
• Multi-storage options with its dual slots for storing images on both SmartMedia™ and CompactFlash™ cards Type I/II, including the IBM Microdrive™
• Three imaging formats (TIFF-RGB, TIFF-YC, and JPEG)
• Three power options: 1. 4 AA type batteries: Alkaline, Ni-MH or Ni-Cd batteries can also be used. (Manganese batteries cannot be used.) or AC power adapter for image-handling system 2. 2 Lithium batteries type CR123A for controlling camera system
• USB/Video out connectivity
• Others: 3D Matrix (with D-type AF Nikkor lens) 6-segment Matrix, Center-Weighted Average Metering (in Manual or with AE Lock); 8 white balance modes, 5 variable program modes (portrait, landscape, macro, sport, and night scene) + a general purpose program mode. Exposure Controls include Auto, Programmed, Shutter Priority AE, Aperture Priority AE, and Metered Manual exposure control; Built In Flash: Guide No.15 (ISO 100) 28mm lens coverage.
What is "Super CCD" & what significant changes it can bring to Digital cameras ? Below are extracts from Fuji Film's explanation:
" ...Resolution was once widely held to be directly proportional to the number of photo diodes on a CCD. We now know that the relationship is not so simple. There are many other factors that determine the image quality including a camera’s optic system and image processing. Our answer is the Super CCD designed to improve total quality of images. The octagonal shaped photo diodes of the Super CCD give a larger pixel size than conventional CCDs, while the interwoven arrangement allows them to be more densely packed, thus it is able to increase both horizontal and vertical resolution. By using unique signal processing that performs 12-bit A/D conversion, our Super CCD offers high resolution along with other attributes that are just as crucial to image quality including high sensitivity, high S/N, a wide dynamic range, linear color gradation, accurate color reproduction, and high-speed responsiveness. By balancing all of these factors that have an impact on image quality, we have created a camera that offers super-high resolution far exceeding all that have come before...".
Conventional CCD: With conventional interline CCDs, pixel pitch in the diagonal direction is narrower than in the horizontal and vertical directions, resulting in higher diagonal resolution. Super CCD By rotating pixels 45 degrees to form an interwoven layout, the Super CCD’s pixel pitch in the horizontal and vertical directions is narrower than in the diagonal direction, achieving higher horizontal and vertical resolution.
Also: "... CCD stands for Charge Coupled Device. It is the picture sensor of a digital camera, the rough equivalent to film in an analog camera. It consists of thousands of light-sensitive diodes. These convert light entering the camera into electric voltage. The brighter it is, the higher the voltage which collects in such a photo cell. The output voltage is translated into a numerical format which the computer can understand by an AD converter (Analog to Digital Converter) which is integrated into the camera. CCD sensors are more light-sensitive than CMOS sensors. They also produce higher-quality pictures. However, they are more expensive to manufacture, and many of them use more energy.CCD stands for Charge Coupled Device. It is the picture sensor of a digital camera, the rough equivalent to film in an analog camera. It consists of thousands of light-sensitive diodes. These convert light entering the camera into electric voltage. The brighter it is, the higher the voltage which collects in such a photo cell. The output voltage is translated into a numerical format which the computer can understand by an AD converter (Analog to Digital Converter) which is integrated into the camera. CCD sensors are more light-sensitive than CMOS sensors. They also produce higher-quality pictures. However, they are more expensive to manufacture, and many of them use more energy....".Credit: information & images extracted from Fuji Film's product brochures.
So, with the FinePix S1 Pro employed the larger 3.4-megapixel, 23.3 x 15.6 mm sized image sensor and the combination of the enlarged pixel size through the use of octagonal shaped photo diodes and the larger size of the Super CCD captures a great er deal of light in coming through the lense, resulting in a more powerful image sensing capability and higher resolution image files with up to 6.13 million pixels (3,040 ´ 2,016 pixels). Further, linear tonality from highlights to shadows, balanced color reproduction, low noise even in shadows, and less degree of blur caused by camera shake. The FinePix S1 Pro also incorporates a special IC chip known as an ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit & onboard RISC-CPU), which controls a wide variety of the camera’s features including image processing, enabling the camera rapidly execute all of the features demanded by digital cameras. This ASIC along with a larger built-in buffer memory permits the FinePix S1 Pro to rapidly shoot images at 0.7 second intervals and provides continuous shooting at 1.5 frames/second (for up to five frames).
Quick Comparison: Canon D30 3.25 megapixel CMOS image sensor, with a maximum resolution of 2160 x 1440 pixels and with Focal length multiplier factor 1.6. The CCD equiped Nikon's D1: Imaging sensor: 2.7 million pixel CCD; Finished image size: 2000 x 1312 pixels and Focal length multiplier factor 1.6X.
These additional settings include four types of color density, three levels of sharpness, three levels of contrast, and multiple exposure. In addition to camera settings, the LCD also displays the date, remaining battery power, and the number of shots taken. Lastly, the LCD monitor can be used to display a histogram (indicates the image’s brightness pattern, red range, blue range and green range) for checking the captured images before you decide to store them on to media. This enables on-the-spot confirmation of exposure, from highlights to shadows, and color range, both of which are hard to evaluate only from the image on the LCD monitor. The camera also has a more popular universal USB interface for transfer of image data stored on the memory card to a PC/Mac. In addition to a DC power-input socket, this interface section also includes an Audio/Video port that can be connected with a TV on which you can check or display the images. The dual storage medium accepts compact SmartMedia™, CompactFlash™ card type I/II and including IBM Microdrive™ slot. Note: it s possible that you can have both types of media in their respective slots and select on which one you want.
At the rear section of FinePix S1 Pro there is a 2-inch low-temperature polysilicon TFT colour LCD monitor with 200,000 pixels for playback / checking the images you shot or for confirming and changing camera settings. It also provides a Multi-image Playback (4-frame and 9-frame) function. A backlit dot matrix LCD also helps you check and change camera settings quickly. Using the function button, you can set seven modes of white balance ((auto, fine, shade, incandescent light, custom and three for fluorescent light.)) with four steps of sensitivity (equivalent to ISO 320/400/880/ 1600) to fit the lighting conditions, four modes of image qualities, and three modes of pixel resolutions. And by switching the display, you can freely adjust settings to fit the state of your subject, shooting conditions, and the intended outcome.
Credit: Image courtesy of Mr. Sol Hadef® <email@example.com> URL: the Rangefinder.com, by the way, Sol also operates a popular Ebay Store. Image Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.
Auto focusing & Image Control: FinePix S1 Pro’s Auto-Servo AF is adequate enough to handle most photographic situations. it can detect whether a subject is stationary or moving, and also detects direction; it also provides lock focus or activate focus tracking, much of the AF technology are based on Nikon F60.
10 different exposure modes are provided:
[ A u t o m o d e ]: The camera performs all exposure control. [ P o r t r a i t m o d e ]: Allows for special effects in your shots with your subject sharply focused against a soft background. [ L a n d s c a p e m o d e ]: depth of field priority, takes both near and distant subject sharply and clearly. [ C l o s e - u p m o d e ]: enables close-focus ability. [ S p o r t m o d e ]: for handling motion of action by using a faster shutter speed. [ N i g h t s c e n e m o d e ] : Optimized for dark subject, for handling shots of twilight scenes and city lights etc.
3D-Matrix Metering: The camera features Nikon's equivalent of 3D-Matrix Metering to handle complex lighting by using a 6-segment sensor. With any Nikkor lense that has distance chip set ("AF-D"), the 3D 6-Segment Multi-Pattern Metering separates the image into six segments, measuring the light in each one, and then adding distance information for calculation of exposure control. FinePix S1 Pro also provides Center-weighted Metering to obtain correct exposure with good overall balance, further all can be fine-tune by exposure compensation that provides 3 EV range in 1/3 EV increments but Spot metering is not offered. * Note: 3D 6-Segments Multi-Pattern Metering is only available when using a D-type AF Nikkor lens. 6-Segment Multi-Pattern Metering is used with other types of lenses.
Along with the few metering options, 4 Exposure control modes are provided:
[ P r o g r a m m e d A u t o ]: Auto select by camera, but adjustments such as exposure compensation can be user set. [ S h u t t e r - P r i o r i t y A u t o ] - for handling action based shots, camera controls the aperture as long as a shutter speed has been set. [ A p e r t u r e - P r i o r i t y A u t o ] - user select priority on depth of field control via aperture, camera controls shutter speed. [ M a n u a l ] - allows you to freely set the shutter speed and aperture value. Further, the camera also provides multiple exposure and time exposure capabilities ( slowest shutter speed of 30 seconds).
FinePix S1 Pro has a manually operated built-in pop-up flash (Guide No. 15). The camera also includes an accessory shoe for when additional lighting is required. A-TTL external flash can also be used. Virtually, all Nikon Auto/AF speedlights can be used either in manual or AF flash (in accordance with the camera's features). (see MORE info for compatibility issue with Nikon Speedlights.
As the camera is heavily dependent on battery to change all its auto functions, 3 power options are accepted. FinePix S1 Pro can take approximately 650 shots when powered by AA alkaline batteries or the more economical AA rechargeable Ni-MH/NiCd batteries. But most of all, one decisive element for choosing the FinePix S1 Pro is, the camera lets you use almost any lens* from the extensive Nikkor lineup of lenses which actually forms the backbone of the Fuji FinePix S1-Pro and all its subsequent Digital Still SLR models.* Please note that there are some incompatible lenses.
Personal Conclusion: The Fuji FinePix S1 pro is a capable camera of delivering what you wish for in a SLR type of Digital camera body. It acts something that like a poor man's Nikon Digital SLR, although the body is not what I intended to see for choosing the heavily plastic and fragile feel of a F60 as the basis to construct the S1 Pro. Nonetheless, it is still the most affordable Digital SLR you can find during those days. As Nikon has introduced some lower end Digital SLR such as the Nikon D100 at later stage which gives equivalent of the maximum performance of the S1 Pro physically can offer, the attractiveness of the camera has relegated as supplementary model for other Nikon Digi-cam as the camera original target clients are photographers who cannot afford a high priced original Nikon Digital SLR such as the Nikon D1 which has an original suggested retail price of USD4,000-00.
Worst still, as both Nikon and competition like Canon introducing a series of low end Digi-cam and high-end potable fixed zoom Digital models (A1 Pro or the 8700 etc.) perhaps, the only attraction now remains for S1 pro is confined to its lens inter changeability* (but its next few upgrade, for an instance, Fuji FinePix S2 Pro (2002) & S3 Pro (2004) which uses the Fuji's 4th generation Super CCD, both of which have elevated to next technological height with Fuji's proprietary Super CCD technology).
* Limitations applied to certain Nikkor lenses with all its features (See the Specification section for a quick reference). Note: Fuji Film announced a way for user to clean the CCD on their own where you can download an instruction how to do it (but be warned the CCD is not under warranty and can be an expensive affair if damaged).
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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number:
http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-153.html by: my friend, Rick Oleson
http://www.zi.ku.dk/personal/lhhansen/photo/fmount.htm by: Hansen, Lars Holst
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