In terms of handling and performance, the S5 is also virtually identical to the D200. Like most DSLRs it starts up almost instantly. The S5 uses the same 11-point AF system as the D200, which is generally regarded as one of the best around. It’s exceptionally quick and very accurate, and operates well in low light and even total darkness thanks to a bright AF assist lamp. Shooting speed in continuous high-speed mode isn’t quite as fast as the D200, but is can still manage three frames a second with an 18-shot buffer. It’s worth noting however that using the extended dynamic range function (see below) will slow it down to about 1.5 frames a second.
There’s no denying that the S5 is a big heavy camera, but it is comfortable to hold and the controls are as intuitive as professional DSLR controls ever get. The shutter release action is wonderfully smooth, with virtually no vibration, but even so there is the option of a mirror lock-up function to totally eliminate any vibration from the reflex action. The camera’s weight gives it an inherent stability which will also reduce the effects of camera shake at lower shutter speeds.
It’s worth noting that like the D200, the S5 Pro lacks either image stabilisation or a self-cleaning sensor, both features which are available on lower-priced cameras including the Sony A100 and Pentax K10D. In fact my review sample did have some visible dust on the sensor, so this is clearly something that will need to be carefully watched.
While the body may be 95 percent Nikon, the sensor and image processing are 100 percent Fujifilm. The S5 Pro is equipped with the latest Super CCD SR Pro sensor, purpose built for this camera. It is an APS-C format sensor measuring 23.0mmx 15.5mm, slightly smaller than the DX sensor in the D200. Fuji’s SR sensors are different from conventional CCDs in several important respects. First, the main photocells are arranged not in a chequerboard pattern, but in a diagonal grid. Second, the main photocells are larger than the cells in conventional sensors. Third and most importantly, they have two photocells at each site, the larger ‘S’ cell tuned to capture the main image information, as well as the smaller ‘R’ cell tuned to capture brighter highlights. The theory is that this gives SR sensors greater dynamic range than conventional CCDs, so they can capture a wider range of shadow and highlight detail.