The Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro is decked out with several features that indicate Fujifilm's admirable attention to image-quality issues other than simple pixel count. First among these, of course, is the extended dynamic range (DR) that the camera's Super CCD SR II delivers (more on this in the Image Quality section). The Wide DR mode is actually a parameter that you can turn on or off, and it can be used with either of the camera's two file-format choices, JPEG or raw. If used with raw images, it doubles your file size to a whopping 25MB per image. (Trust us, your CompactFlash cards and your hard drive will fill up frighteningly fast.)
Despite the word in its name, the Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro's overall performance is decidedly entry- to midlevel. Start-up time is 0.9 second, and we got the same figure for shot-to-shot time shooting both JPEG and raw. Shutter delay, using autofocus with a Nikon AF-S lens, is 0.4 second with a bright target and falls to 0.6 second with a darker, lower-contrast target.
The Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro's black, polycarbonate-plastic body is a bit bigger than most entry-level dSLR cameras', but not by much. At about 29 ounces without a lens, its weight is also middle-of-the-road for a dSLR. Both the grip and the camera back are contoured to give you a firm grasp, and the S3 Pro is very secure and comfortable to hold. It feels about as robust as midlevel dSLRs from other manufacturers.
Like the before it, the new Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro is built on the Nikon N80 film SLR chassisone of the most enjoyable cameras to hold. Because the N80 is a plastic-bodied camera, however, it's not as rugged as other pro cameras, such as the , which has a harder magnesium-alloy body. It's just one of the ways in which the S3 Pro seems to exhibit an identity problem: Is it an expensive consumer digital SLR or a cheaper alternative to the high-priced pro D-SLRs? That's a question that you may have to answer for yourself, depending on your needs.