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After much rumour and speculation, Fujifilm announced the development of the S5 Pro digital SLR back in September last year, and finally launched in February 2007. It replaces the three-year-old S3 Pro in Fuji’s line-up, so why it’s not called the S4 Pro is anyone’s guess. Is the number 4 considered unlucky in Japan or something?
Whatever the reason, the S5 Pro is here at last. Like the S3 Pro it’s a high-end camera aimed at professional portrait and wedding photographers, and at around £980 body only it is priced to match. Compared with the body-only prices for the Nikon D200 (£814), Canon EOS 30D (£700), Pentax K10D (£630) or Sony Alpha A100 (£379) it is an expensive camera.
Unlike other current digital SLRs, in fact unlike most other digital cameras in general, in developing the S5 Pro Fujifilm has forgone the boost in megapixels that normally accompanies a model upgrade and concentrated instead on other factors to improve picture quality, such as colour rendition, dynamic range and smoother tonal gradation. This makes it a difficult camera to review, because in many ways it simply isn’t like most other digital SLRs.
There is one exception however, because the S5 Pro bears a very striking resemblance to at least one other DSLR, namely the Nikon D200, which I reviewed here in June last year. Like previous Fuji DSLRs, the S5 Pro is housed in a Nikon body and uses the popular Nikon F lens mount. Both the S2 Pro and the S3 Pro were based on the Nikon F80 film camera, and were notoriously large and heavy. Being based on the D200 the S5 Pro is smaller and lighter than the S3 (although it’s actually a little heavier than the S2), but is still no sylph. It is 147mm wide, 113mm high and 74mm deep, and weighs a hefty 830g, exactly the same dimensions and mass as its Nikon counterpart. Like the D200 it also features a robust magnesium alloy body with dust and moisture seals around the controls and hatches.
The control layout is identical to the D200, it has the same large back-lit LCD data display on the top panel, and the same two-dial input system. The previous models in Fuji’s DSLR series have been widely praised as outstanding studio cameras, so it’s no surprise that the S5 retains the flash sync terminal and 10-pin remote control connector from the D200. The large and exceptionally bright pentaprism viewfinder with its menu-selectable composition grid is also straight out of the Nikon.