This is the first in my series of vintage digital camera reviews. I owned the Fujifilm Finepix S2 Pro for about two years, purchasing it used in 2009 for $125.00. I sold it after purchasing my next used camera, a Canon Rebel XS. Recently, I’ve decided to again purchase three vintage S2 Pro DSLR bodies. Why? The Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro is my favorite camera of all time. For sheer image quality, it remains very competitive even by today’s standards.
Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro Camera Review
The Fujifilm Finepix S2 Pro was a 6-megapixel DSLR made by a company well known for its film products. Of these, Fuji Velvia color film was revered by professional landscape photographers. It had over-the-top saturation, color, and contrast that turned landscape photos into sumptuous eye-candy. By comparison, most digital cameras of the time offered more accurate, and by comparison, more boring color rendition.
FujiFilm Finepix S2 Pro: It’s All About That Color!
The Fujifilm Finepix S2 Pro rendered colors that in many ways mimicked their legendary Velvia color film. That’s what made it so appealing. Most DSLR camera images required a bit of post-processing to make them ‘pop’. That usually included boosting saturation and enhancing contrast. By default, the default jpeg images coming out of the Finepix S2 were already tweaked in camera to have that colorful “Velvia” look. No adjustments were needed. Plus, the FinePix S2 was one of the first cameras engineered for enhanced dynamic range. It did a better job than most cameras of its day in retaining highlight detail. Finally, the S2 Pro has natural skin tone rendition that made it stand out among its competitors.
Although the Fuji Finepix S2 used a converted Nikon camera body as its foundation (it also uses the Nikon F lens mount), the look of the images was Fuji’s own. Fuji is a master of color rendition because of its heritage as a film manufacturer and it really shows in this camera. Plus, the Fuji designed 6-megapixel CCD sensor out-resolved all other similar DSLR cameras of its time. This was a camera built with the soul of an artist, not the mind of a technician. It became a cult classic among photographers who yearned for the look of Velvia film in their digital images. It was also loved by wedding photographers for its excellent rendition of skin tones.
The Finepix S2 did have its flaws. The 6-megapixel CCD sensor had a poor reputation for reliability in early production runs. That problem was ironed out in later production. Chances are that if you find a working model of the Finepix S2 Pro, it is most likely a later production run model or has had the sensor replaced. The problematic cameras died pretty early. Also, it requires two different types of batteries: 4 AA batteries and 2 CR123a Lithium batteries. It is a battery hog. Use rechargeable batteries to keep costs down.
Update: My New (Used) Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro
I recently purchased another vintage Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro (Sept. 2017) after lingering regrets over selling my first one a couple of years ago. In fact, I purchased three because they were priced well under $100 each. Why? Even now, there are few cameras I have seen that can match the lovely out-of-camera color rendition of the FinePix S2 Pro. Also, a new photo-editing software I tested, Affinity Photo, does an excellent job of rendering the famed Fuji colors from my raw camera files.
I purchased my used FinePix S2 Pro on eBay with an excellent Tamron 28-75mm XR Di F:2.8 lens for only $65.00 and second Finepix S2 body in working condition for only $45.00. What a deal! Most of the photos added to posts in the past year on this website have been shot with the FinePix S2. I’m in frugal photography paradise!
Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro Photos
Here are a few photos I shot recently with my vintage FinePix S2 Pro. It may be ‘old as the hills’ for a digital camera but the color rendition straight out of the camera is wonderful. The photos below were shot in raw mode and processed with Capture One Pro 6. Other than some minimal Highlight Recovery the colors are unchanged from the default raw files. These photos above and below were shot at the Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Should You Buy a Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro?
I would not recommend it as your first or main camera for professional work because of its age. It is noisy (grain in photos) above ISO 400, and lacks modern features such as video recording. Also, due to age and wear it may have reliability issues.
It makes a great secondary camera (or main camera with a backup), especially if you already own Nikon lenses (it uses the Nikon F lens mount). If you find a fully working model, you will be pleasantly surprised at how good its images look. Its image quality at base ISO is competitive with some of the best cameras currently available. For that reason alone, the FinePix S2 Pro is worth searching out.
You can easily find a used FinePix S2 body in good condition on eBay for under $100. If you shoot raw files, match it with Affinity Photo for excellent raw photo conversions. Affinity Photo, in my opinion, produces much better skin tones and ‘Velvia’ color than either Capture One or Lightroom by default when converting images from raw. I use it solely for that purpose while doing final editing in Adobe Photoshop.
The Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro is a true digital photography classic!