Lately, I’ve been messing around with a new camera I was given (thanks Susie!) that has some interesting features, despite being a few years older than my other cameras. Behold! The Fujifilm Finepix S2 Pro! It’s a beastly thing (though not as gargantuan as my D90 with the MD-80), but it’s still got that Nikon look since it was modeled after one of the later Nikon SLRs. And lucky me, it’s got a Nikon F mount so I can share all of my lens with it.

What’s more, since it is older and a more prosumer camera than my newer D3100, it can use ALL my lenses, not just the ones with the autofocus motors built in. Anyway, on to the test…

For this important task, I chose one of my favorite subjects, Domo, who is always very cooperative. I set up the shots with a tripod and my 35mm f/1.8 lens and went in for the closeup. I tried to keep all the settings the same, with the Nikons set on Auto White Balance and neutral color (meaning no color processing is performed). All shots were in RAW format (the Nikons in NEF, the Fuji in RAF). All of the shots were straight from the camera with no post-processing (other than conversion to DNG for the files from the D3100). Photoshop was able to read the D90 NEF and S2 RAF just fine.

Camera comparison without flash

The first set of comparison photos were without flash. The D90 comes out looking the best, with the most detail and sharpest image (you can pick out the individual fibers in and around Domo’s mouth). Despite having an extra 2 megapixels at it’s disposal, the D3100 comes away with the silver, having better detail than the S2, but not nearly as much as the D90. That brings us to the S2… While the color (which is wholly different than the Nikons) may look a bit closer to life, the picture ended up dark and rather muddy. Clarity, however, was rather impressive for a 6-megapixel camera.

Despite putting up a good fight, the S2 fell a bit short of the silver on the first test, though it certainly gave the D3100 a run for it’s money!

Camera comparison with flash

On to the second test! I set this up the same way, but used the SB-800 flash (which the S2 can use, as well!). I assumed the results would be similar, but I was blown away with the S2’s performance! It seemed all it needed was better light to really shine. Gone was the darkness and the muddy picture. Instead, what I ended up with was an easy second place for the S2. The clarity was certainly better than the D3100, and the color was probably the best of the three and the most true-to-life. The D90 still gets the gold for overall clarity and sharpness, but I certainly underestimated the S2. The D3100, on the other hand, was a bit of a letdown with the flash. While it still retained most of the detail I expected from it, the image came out rather dark, almost as if it wasn’t metering properly with the SB-800.

So there you have it! The S2 has found a place in my arsenal, though I’m not entirely sure how I’ll juggle three cameras when it comes down to game time.

And yes, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, this was a seriously flawed test from the get go. As you can see, the f-stops on each camera don’t match. Why? Program Auto. I should have standardized it by having the cameras all set to exactly the same shutter speed and aperture, but I wasn’t thinking straight. In the end, this ended up being a horribly unreliable test due entirely to my lack of planning. Had I used better lighting for the non-flash tests and remembered to set everything on Manual instead of Program Auto, I may have gather more accurate comparison data and come to a more satisfying conclusion. Oh well, better luck next time!