Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro
Trade out Fuji's branding and the face-detection button on the camera's back, and this camera would look exactly like Nikon's D200. Of course, that's a very good thing since the D200 has a really nice body design. Its well-formed grip is covered in textured rubber, while the back side of the grip has a contoured ridge that gives your thumb a solid yet natural-feeling place to rest. At the same time, the ridge provides ample leverage when trying to maneuver the camera, which can come in handy when using larger, pro-level lenses.
If you're not used to Nikon's controls, you may find yourself looking for a shooting mode dial but you won't find one. Instead, hold down the mode button while turning the rear thumbwheel to change shooting modes. Most standard shooting settings, such as white balance, ISO, metering, and AF modes--and more--can be controlled by the buttons, dials, and wheels on the camera body. That means once you learn the camera's layout, you won't need to delve into the menus much while shooting. However, you should expect to use two hands while changing settings, since you often have to hold down one button with your left hand while turning the thumbwheel with your right.
Another advantage of Fuji using Nikon's body is that the S5 Pro employs the Nikon F-Mount lens mount and can use some Nikon accessories. According to Fuji, the camera is compatible with most Nikon CPU lenses (except for IX_Nikkor lenses and a few other exceptions listed in the manual) as well as Nikon's SB-800 and SB-600 i-TTL flash units. It can also trigger those units, as well as the SB-R200, when set to its wireless commander mode; the S5 includes a remote terminal as well as a sync terminal. You can't use a Nikon D200 battery in the S5 Pro, however, since Nikon's batteries include a special computer chip to prevent the use of third-party batteries. Nikon's MB-D200 vertical-grip/extra battery pack works with the S5 Pro, but Fuji won't guarantee that it'll work properly if you opt for the AA battery holder in the grip; you're better off sticking with the proprietary batteries if you go for the grip.
In addition to an abundant amount of custom options, such as a variable center-weighting for the metering system and ample user-assignable buttons, the S5 Pro includes a handful of film-simulation modes. The modes attempt to mimic various types of film and thus vary the contrast and tonal range of your images. As we did with the S3 Pro, we liked the F1 setting for portraits. While there is a live LCD preview mode, you have to delve into the menus to activate it, requiring three button presses for each live-view frame shot. Since it lasts for only 30 seconds at a time, this function is best suited for the occasional studio situation.
One of the stranger features of the S5 Pro is its bar code reader compatibility. When turned on, you can connect a bar code reader to the camera and it will store bar code information in an image's EXIF data. (I'm not sure why you'd want to do that, but you can.) A similar but more practical feature is the camera's ability to automatically store GPS information as EXIF data. To use either of these features, you need to buy Nikon's MC-35 GPS adapter cord and attach it to the S5 Pro's remote terminal, then activate the feature in the camera's menu system.
Fuji's Super CCD SR Pro imaging sensor dedicates two photodetectors to each captured pixel. In the S5 Pro, there are 6.17 million of what Fuji calls "S-pixels," which are larger than their corresponding R-pixels and have a higher sensitivity to light. There are also 6.17 million R-pixels, which have a lower sensitivity to light and are better suited to record highlights. Data from both types of pixel is combined during image processing to extend the dynamic range--the range of brightness values in your scene, from the brightest highlight to the darkest shadow, that you can capture with discernable detail in your image. Most of the benefit of Fuji's sensor can be seen in increased highlight detail. To the untrained eye, the difference will be subtle, but if you've been annoyed by blown highlights in the past, this may help you. As with the live preview, studio shooters will likely appreciate this more than most sports shooters would. There are five levels of dynamic range expansion available in the S5 Pro. If you turn expansion off, the camera turns off the R-pixels and uses only the S-pixels to capture images.
Some retailers like to tout the S5 Pro as a 12-megapixel camera, but you shouldn't expect the equivalent resolution of a standard 12-megapixel imaging sensor. Fuji claims that the honeycomb-shaped photodetector layout captures more information than a typical checkerboard-pattern 6-megapixel sensor would. In our images this seemed true, but it seems to fall nearer to 6 megapixels than to 12.
Previous Fujifilm dSLRs have been painfully slow to use, but the S5 Pro shows marked improvements over its predecessors. The S5 Pro takes 0.5 second to start up and capture its first JPEG. Subsequent JPEGs take 0.82 second between shots with the flash turned off and 0.86 second with the built-in flash turned on. When capturing raw images, the S5 also took 0.84 second between shots. Shutter lag measured a decent 0.4 second in our high-contrast test, which mimics bright shooting conditions, but slowed to a disappointing 1.2 seconds in our test that replicates dim shooting conditions. When capturing JPEGs in continuous-shooting mode, we were able to capture an average of 1.9 frames per second, regardless of image size. That's nowhere near the 4.1fps you can get from the D200 or the 3.2fps you can get from the Pentax K10D.
Image quality was impressive, but the S5 Pro's resolving power just can't match the Nikon D200. Colors are generally accurate, and the automatic white balance does a respectable job of neutralizing colors in most normal lighting situations. Studio shooters should note that, as one would expect, our unusually warm tungsten hot lights confounded the S5 Pro's auto white balance. We don't hold that against it, however, since this is the case with many cameras. However, if you have tungsten lights that are near the 3,200K color-temperature range as ours are, you'll need to use the tungsten or manual settings, both of which did an effective job of neutralizing colors with those unusual lights.
The S5 Pro does an outstanding job of keeping noise under control. Our test images were nearly noise-free all the way out to ISO 400. Even at ISO 800, we saw only the tiniest traces of noise on our monitors when viewed at 100 percent; it didn't show up in prints at all. Noise crept up a little at ISO 1,600 but was still very well tamed and didn't adversely affect prints. At ISO 3,200 noise grew some, but it never took on the annoying, larger, off-color blob-like look that some cameras exhibit; instead it remained as tiny speckles. At this highest setting, images do lose some shadow detail. Fuji's noise-reduction processing robs a minor amount of fine detail, but overall, the noise profile looks more like what we'd expect at ISO 800 or ISO 1,600 in other cameras. Noise, or more accurately the lack thereof, was one of the most impressive and surprising things about the S5 Pro.
Ultimately, the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro feels more like a studio camera than anything else. Its unique sensor gives the camera an edge with its extended dynamic range but also translates into bloated, pseudo-12-megapixel files that can fill up your memory card quicker than 8- or 10-megapixel files would. This becomes especially noticeable when shooting in raw, or even worse, raw-plus-JPEG mode. Also, if you're not shooting in a studio, the Nikon's blazingly fast AF system will most likely be more useful to you than this camera's dynamic range or fancy features. While this Fuji definitely is a nice camera, I'd have to opt for the D200 or Canon's EOS 5D, considering their higher effective resolutions and that my personal shooting habits tend as much toward the outdoors as to the studio. Of course, the D200's lower price also helps.
|Time to first shot||Raw shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim light)||Shutter lag (typical)|