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Okay, I'm in the water. First S2 impressions...

BJNicholls

Salt Lake City, US
10095 posts

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BJNicholls Gold Member Awarded for his contributions to the community and the Resources Charter Member
Sat 23-Nov-02 01:02 AM

I took delivery of my S2 today. I found mine for $2200, US warranty from a New York dealer selling via ebay (using buy it now). They had excellent feedback and my transaction was handled very well. The camera came with all the right stuff for the US market package, including the AC adapter and the high end RAW conversion software.

Here's the dealer's website: http://www.alkit.com/home.htm

Their ebay ID is buoso_donati

Okay, so now I have the S2. What's it like? The camera feels cheaper than my N80 because it has no rubberized surfaces. The body surfaces are textured plastic. The grip shape is comfortable and my nose is well above the color LCD, slightly to the left of the upper LCD.

Most of the camera is very familiar to me. The N80 controls are essentially identical. The viewfinder is very small as I expected. I don't like how the viewfinder readout is in the same position as in the N80 while the display is simply masked down to a smaller area. It's easy not to see the data readout if you adjust your eyepoint to the smaller display area. One of those Frankenkamera aspects from Fuji adapting a film body to digital.

I bravely inserted batteries, put on a lens, and inserted my new 1Gig Microdrive (purchased separately from googlegear.com for $238). I looked at the manual just long enough to find which display had the card format option. Format completed, the camera was ready to shoot.

Finally, freedom from digital camera lag! The S2 shoots when I want it to, the AF works just like my N80's AF (as it should). My Coolpix 990 should be jealous, but it's still thinking about it.

I had a modest studio setup for a product shot I had done this week. I used the Coolpix as a "Polaroid" to check the lighting and shot the product on slide film with my F100 because the CP 990's resolution and lens quality wouldn't come close to a usable digital image.

The S2 was right at home with the setup, my SB-28 and SB-22s speedlights used with Photoflex mini softboxes. I slipped the TTL connector into the S2's hotshoe and fired off some exposures. I didn't fully test TTL with multiple speedlights since this shot was done best with manual exposure (a skinny white catheter against a dark grey background - don't ask).

I figured out how to crank up the resolution to the 12Mpix interpolated mode and started shooting. I enabled the short display after shooting and the captures were looking good. I removed the Microdrive, got it to work in my Dazzle 6 in 1 cardreader, and found that the images were more than a stop darker than the camera LCD suggested. I'll have to play around and find the display brightness settings, but from what I've read it's still too bright even turned all the way down.

The camera kept up with me as I bracketed and shot. I did have to wait a while for the big files to write before I could power down the camera. The microdrive is more delicate and fussy than a CF card, but I'm glad to have the drive space when shooting at 35MB per shot.

Image review on these big files is a joke. It takes the camera about 50 seconds to load one image at jpeg high res into preview. The computer is a faster way to sort through these files. I'll have to play with file types and see what makes the most sense. Say what you want about the convenience of digital, but I can plop a slide page with 20 high res images onto a light table and pick my shots with far more ease and convenience. A thin portable lighbox and loupe is a lot cheaper than carrying a laptop for the same purpose.

On the plus side, the images came in looking very good, very usable for the brochure I'm designing. Compared to shooting film, I saved an hour dropping off and picking up film and perhaps half an hour making a clean high res scan. Will the time savings, film and developing costs pay for the camera? I'll have to do some calculations, but it won't earn it's keep any time soon. Photography isn't a major part of my work.

Meanwhile, I need to see if some of my NiMH cells are bad. The freshly charged ones I put in the S2 pooped out after half a dozen shots. I popped in the Alkalines that came in the camera kit and they're going strong after many more shots. I know some of my NiMH cells have been overheated by errors with my chargers, so I'm concerned that they're damaged and will need to be replaced. Lots of battery management is part of the fun of using digital cameras, alas.

Well, it's time to learn the camera and see what it will really do. So far it's a big step up, but I still want that full frame 14 megapixel unobtainium camera...



BJ

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