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Fujifilm S5 Pro review




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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.

Cameron K. Fong

January 19, 2009, 7:20 pm

Great review, at its original price the S5 Pro would not have been all that great value, but it is a niche camera at best. I own one and it forms the perfect complement to my D300, both capable of decent 1600 ISO and acceptable 3200 ISO. The colour and dynamic range on this camera is sensational, it is my camera of choice when I shoot portraiture. However, the menu system is clunkier than that of my D300 but usable, I find the batteries the biggest pain though (look like a EN-EL3e, charges on the EN-EL3e charger but not interchangeable!!)

Mark Websper

October 20, 2009, 12:48 am

Amazed that you manage to come to the ill conclusion that the D200 is better than the S5. How wrong could you be. Having owned both for 2 years the S5 is head and shoulders above the D200 and as for image detail suffering that is also complete tosh. In Raw the S5 is as good, and in some cases better, than most 10MP DSLR's. You most definitely cannot compare the S5 with the D40x or the Sony A100. When you say "Sony’s Dynamic Range Optimiser produces about the same performance" that has got to be the more ridiculous remark I ever heard.

The S5 can be used for all types of photography from landscape to portrait wedding commercial ....... However it is designed, and is the preferred choice, of a huge amount of wedding and portrait photographers the world over.

I am sorry but this review is inherently floored in so many areas.


July 20, 2010, 4:44 am

Good review. I have a question that you may not be able to ask but you don't know unless you ask right? Anyhow how come Fujifilm don't have lots of DSLR's like Nikon or Sony or Pentax etc...?

james hamilton bird

October 29, 2015, 6:17 pm

As a professional Wildlife photographer I came across the S5 Pro in 2010 I bought one new for £410 and after 52 years of film I began to like the instant results, to see more after all a picture is worth a thousand words go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/b... My advise is to get one before they gone and at a low price I have 3 bodies all with Camera Armor Your welcome to leave comments on the flickr.com site

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