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July 12, 2006 – Today, Fuji Photo Film, Inc. launched the company’s first camera with face detection technology, the advanced, SLR-styled FinePix S6000*fd*. The Fujifilm S6000*fd* is priced at $499.95 and will be available in September.
The new hot item on Fuji’s plate is their face detection hardware. The 6-megapixel S6000*fd*, fitted with 10.7x optical zoom, can automatically detect, focus, and properly expose faces regardless of the background.
"The main purpose of this is obviously to help consumers to take better pictures," said Fuji representative Andrew LaGuardia in an interview with DigitalCameraInfo.com. When users "want our subject to be in focus and to be properly exposed…that’s what this technology is going to do," LaGuardia noted.
With the S6000*fd*’s shutter depressed halfway, a large-scale integrated (LSI) chip identifies a human face and automatically adjusts focus and exposure on that face. Once enabled, the face detection system can prioritize faces in .05 seconds, according to Fuji’s press release today. The detection system can locate the primary face in a crowd of up to ten people based on distance, according to the release. The camera detects the closest face in range and highlights it in a green rectangle. The secondary faces are outlined in white boxes.
The Fuji S6000*fd* will detect a face "regardless of composition," LaGuardia said. Focus and exposure works even on faces that are off-center in the image. According to LaGuardia, if the user photographs a person standing on the right side of the Washington Monument, the Fujifilm FinePix S6000*fd* would focus on the human face, with the white box outline following the moving person.
The drawback is that Fuji’s face detection technology cannot account for side profiles. Both eyes and the nose must be visible for the auto focus and exposure to activate. The face detection system changes exposure with ISO settings and shutter speeds, compensating for underexposed backlit subjects, as well as overexposure.
"The camera is finding your face for you before you are depressing the shutter," LaGuardia said.
Unlike Nikon’s software-based face-priority auto focus technology created a year earlier, Fuji’s face detection technology is hardware-based. Nikon created their face-priority auto focus technology in February 2005, an "industry first," stated the Nikon press release. Combined with their D-lighting, Nikon’s face-priority technology creates similar automatic focus and exposure for portraiture. The major divergence in the two companies’ face-priority systems is the software-hardware battle.
Coupled with the new face detection technology, the new S6000*fd* still maintains Fuji’s more popular features. "The whole system in itself is going to result in superior pictures than just one element," LaGuardia said.
The S6000*fd* comes with Fuji’s i-flash technology, found in Fuji’s F30 and F20, to create an even, natural-looking flash. With its dual shot mode, the S6000*fd* takes a flash photo and a non-flash photo in succession. The camera has a 28-300mm Fujinon 10.7x optical zoom lens, a top ISO sensitivity of 3200, and dual media slots.
Like the preceding models in the S-series, the S6000*fd* has a Super CCD sensor. The S6000*fd* is also the 6th generation of Fuji’s Real Photo Technology for noise reduction. For forty dollars more than the S5200, the S6000*fd* comes equipped with a higher megapixel count, a bigger 2.5-inch 235,000 pixel LCD screen, and face detection technology.
Another model in the SLR-shaped portion of Fuji’s FinePix line, the S9000, is two hundred dollars more than the new camera. For $799.99, the S9000 comes with a higher count of 9 megapixels, RAW file capabilities, and a smaller, but tilting, 1.8-inch LCD. Neither the S5200, nor the S9000 include Fuji’s face detection system.
No plans have been made for Fuji’s facial detection on non-human faces, such as animals for nature photography, according to LaGuardia. "Maybe down the line, but right now they’re just focusing on people," he said.