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Modified Stock DSLR vs. UVIR FinePix Pro – Which One Wins at UV?

Fuji FinePix Pro UVIR by David Prutchi PhD

In 2006 Fuji started selling a UV/IR-capable version of their FinePix S3 Pro to law enforcement, scientific, medical, and fine art users. The camera had been modified in-house to replace the internal ICF/antialias filter stack by a transparent glass window. This S3 is shown here with a home-made lens and Baader-U filter.

In the film days, police forensic units were the main users of ultraviolet photography. As digital photography started to replace film, forensic units felt left behind the times. In August 2006, Fuji started marketing a UV/IR version of their FinePix S3 Pro DSLR. The camera was aimed primarily at law enforcement, scientific, medical, and fine art users.

The camera was a stock FinePix S3 Pro that had been modified in-house to replace the internal ICF/antialias filter stack by a glass window transparent all the way from 280 nm to 2,500 nm (Schott glass type WG280). The camera was pricey, sold only to select clients, and didn’t give especially good results at shorter wavelengths, but allowed serious users to start experimenting with DSLR photography in the IR and UV, which resulted in publications showing that digital photography had come of age for these specialized modalities. This information percolated to enthusiasts who started exploring the field of creative IR photography as DSLR prices dropped and cameras that could be modified started to enter the second-hand market. Today, a low-cost DSLR camera can be modified by a committed enthusiast for around $150 and beat the performance of the legendary FinePix S3 Pro UVIR.

The following picture shows how my modified Canon T1i camera performs better at near-UV photography than the legendary UVIR FinePix S3 Pro:

Canon T1i vs Fuji S3 for near UV David Prutchi PhD

A direct comparison between the legendary Fuji S3 Pro UVIR camera and a modified Canon T1i shows the latter to perform slightly better for ultraviolet photography.

 

Do you want to learn how to modify and use a stock DSLR for near-Ultraviolet photography?  Then check out my new book:

Exploring Ultraviolet Photography book by David Prutchi PhD.