Jewish World Review May 7, 2004 / 16 Iyar 5764


Fuji's S20PRO is for you — maybe

By Mark Kellner

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | It's small, but not too small, and compact without being powerless. The $999 (fixed lens included) Fuji Film FinePix S20 Pro is a stunning example of a good camera. It's just not for everyone.


I've grown partial to Fuji Film's digital cameras in the past year; the S2 Pro that I tested on a trip to Eastern Europe delivered some wonderful pictures. A photographer I highly respect tells me he likes the colors delivered by that model's predecessor, the S1 Pro, better than some other digitals.


Depending on your perspective, the S20 Pro, introduced earlier this year, is and isn't a "pro" camera: You can get a 6-megapixel photo from it, but you can't swap lenses. You will get more than a fair amount of performance from the camera (especially if you have a FireWire connection on your computer), but there are limitations.


In other words, it's a close call. Someone who relies on a camera to earn their living - if you take photos for publication, or shoot weddings - will find this a good auxiliary unit. Families will enjoy it for super-high-quality vacation snaps and shots of good times. In business, it would seriously augment the work of a claims adjuster or landscape architect or others for whom visual images are important.


The camera includes a 6-times optical zoom lens, and card slots for both an xD "Picture Card" - about postage stamp size - and an IBM/Hitachi Microdrive, a miniature hard disk drive. A compact flash (CF) memory card is not officially supported, although one Internet reviewer (www.steves-digicams.com) claims some CF cards will work in the device.

Donate to JWR


The camera boasts "near-film" quality for its new Super CCD "super dynamic range" sensor technology, which the firm says records 6.03 million pixels. The built-in lens is said to equal a 35-210 mm zoom lens, and in using it I found a fair range of wide-angle and telephoto options. It weighs a little less than 18 ounces, and is very comfortable to hold.


So what's not to like? The fixed lens might be a problem for some people; I also would like to have the CF-card as a more constant option; Microdrives are great, but there can be lag time between shots. The camera also lets you record short video clips. Perhaps avoiding the video recording would've allowed a bit more on the still side, such as a histogram display of the light coming into the camera, which is important to serious photographers who then can adjust settings to their best advantage.


The xD-Picture Card format is interesting but at the moment limited to a 512 MB maximum size: that means a maximum of 160 6-megapixel images in JPEG format, or 32 in the truly professional "RAW" format. In turn, you'd want to carry a lot of these expensive cards (list $230 each) if you're on the road.


As noted, I'm tossed about this camera. Overall, it reflects the super-high quality of Fuji Film's digital products, and for many, it will work just fine. Personally, I'm awaiting the chance to play with the soon-coming S3 Pro. It's price tag will surpass the S20 Pro's $999, but so, I expect, will its flexibility.

Find this column useful? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

Last week's small revolution
More small wonders bring delight, challenge
Livin' large, livin' cordless
Small wonders: Gadgets good and bad
The right tool for the right job
Office 2004 for Mac is coming
Good Computer Info? It's In Print
'Office' suite good for price
The Delightful Deja Vu of the iPod Mini
Another check creation option
Blocking pop-up ads
Apple's super-cool iBOOK G4
MSN, the AOL alternative?
It's Konfabu-lous (and other Mac joys)
The world on my wrist, courtesy MSN
Treo 600 is great business tool
How to make good computer choices this year
The year behind, the one ahead
Last minute gifts, and other thoughts
Something special in the air, again
Veterans Admin plans computer revolution
More holiday gifts
Holiday Shopping Ideas (One of a Series)
Now, Mr. Gates Joins War on Spam
Stopping "Phishers" From Scamming You
Staying safe online
Franklin Covey Brings Order to Outlook
Upgrades: Should you do it?
Time to dump Ma Bell?
Palm T3 widens users' options
Electronic reading
Lessons from a hurricane
Can the PC and phone really merge?
The case of the curious keyboard
The season ahead
New keyboard adds flair to motion tablet
Upgrade path smoothes a bit
Dreamweaver, make me a web
Experiments in upgrading
A tale of two headsets
A declaration of Mac-dependence
Fuji's Fine FinePix S602Zoom
In search of good Mac apps
Little gadgets make computing easier
Adobe Acrobat 6.0 scores
Toshiba's Twisting Tablet PC
HP printer a steady worker
iTunes store, Mailblocks are cool online services
Palm's objects of D-Zire
Gateway's Tablet a winner
Outlook 2003 beta: A promising program
Tungsten's handy "Dubya"
Lexmark's winning all-in-one
Wireless ways
Long distance tech support does trick
Tablet Planner software a hit
Up and down the road with Joyride
Clarion's "AutoPC" is no "Joyride"
Apple's Keynote is PowerPoint for less
Moving adventures
Traveling companions
HP's Compaq Tablet PC a winner
The war on spam continues
Browser for Mac users has good start
New Adobe software organizes photos
Techno-war
The year the PC grew up
PC meets philately: one hit, one miss
Digital Nikon camera a winner, at a price
Honey, they shrunk the COMDEX
Last-minute ideas
Microsoft's Tablet PC has promise, problems
Upgrade with a plan
Palm's New Tungsten PDA Shows Its Mettle
Nobody asked me, but ...
Love, in Quicktime
T-Mobile's sidekick a good partner
Put on a (happy, unwrinkled, tanned, whatever) face
Apple software upgrade very useful
I came, I saw, iPod
How's that? A tech critic reflects, briefly
Satellite radio gets favorable reception
HP's desktop printing marve
Mac satisfaction --- and some really good software
Off to college ... with eMachines
Have PC, must travel
After Shot manages your digital camera images
X200: Mobile worker's fantasy
Beware: Consumers face a fee for printing own checks

© 2004 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com