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Testing / Performance
**NOTE: These scores are the first to be garnered using our new equations; overall scores are not directly comparable to cameras' that have been reviewed before it. **
DigitalCameraInfo.com tests color by photographing a standard GretagMacbeth color chart made up of 24 color patches and analyzing the image with Imatest Software, the premiere testing software for camera performance. Imatest compares the color the camera rendered with the ideal value. In the first chart, the outer squares show the color the camera recorded, and the inner square shows ideal color, and the rectangle shows the ideal corrected for luminance. To maintain consistent results, we use the same procedure for every camera, shooting the chart in our lab, using a standardized tungsten lighting setup.
The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro did well in our color tests, rendering colors with only slight errors in hue and undersaturation. It had a mean color error of 6.54, which is a good score. The image saturation was excellent – at 98.64 percent it's within 1.5 percent of perfect. The S5’s images are undersaturated, which is a benefit for users who manipulate images – it's much easier to maintain detail while boosting saturation than while reducing it.
Imatest's second chart shows the same information in a more compelling way. The chart's background is a color gamut. The center of the image shows no hue at all – it's where black, white and shades of gray are plotted. The colors get progressively more vivid moving out from the center, and they are arranged around the center in a color wheel. The ideal colors are plotted on the chart with squares. The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro's colors are plotted with circles, and the length of the lines between the square and the circle shows how much the S5 deviates from ideal color. If the circle is further from the middle than the square, the color is oversaturated, and if the circle is rotated around the center, relative to the square, then the hue is off. The S5’s chart shows a couple of reds are oversaturated, and some of the blues and greens are off in hue.
White Balance ***(5.56)*
*The automatic white balance setting performs almost as well as the preset modes across the board. It may be worth the convenience of not having to constantly switch settings when walking into different lighting. The only exception is the tungsten preset, which performs far better than the auto setting under such lighting.
*The Fujifilm FinePix S5’s white balance accuracy is mediocre across the board. The auto and preset white balance settings are oddly similar except in the tungsten light preset, which produces far more accurate color.
Still Life Sequences
From the fevered dreams of our Editor-in-Chief, we present our still-life scene, as a means of comparing full-resolution images from the range of cameras we have tested over the years. As you ponder the image, you may think, as many others have, "Well, Dr. Freud would have a thing or two to say about that!"
*Click on any of the thumbnails below to view the full resolution images. *
Imatest Software evaluates camera resolution by analyzing a shot of a standard ISO chart. We shoot the chart in our lab, under our trusty tungsten lights. We mount the camera on a heavy tripod to guard against vibration and shoot at a variety of apertures and focal lengths. We set the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro to ISO 100, f/ 8.0, and shot at a 55mm focal length. The S5 resolved 1915 line widths per picture height horizontally, with 6.0 percent undersharpening, and 1768 lw/ph vertical, with 11.7 percent undersharpening. Line widths per picture height is a unit of measure that can be standardized across all digital cameras because it is independent of the physical dimensions of the sensor. The advantage is that our results for full-frame, APS, Four-Thirds and compact cameras are all directly comparable.
The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro is a 6-megapixel camera, and its lw/ph results are excellent for a camera of that resolution. Undersharpening is not as much of a problem as oversharpening, which can produce visible artifacts in images. Undersharpening actually gives the photographer some leeway to sharpen the image after retouching or color correction.
Noise – Manual ISO*(11.62)*
When referring to an image, noise is an engineering term that refers to stray variations in a picture. A hiss or buzz on a cell phone connection is noise too – stray signals that get in the way of understanding the message the user wants to send. Image noise shows up as a speckling of colors that isn’t part of what the subject actually looks like. Again, we use the GretagMacbeth chart and Imatest in our testing. Noise increases with ISO because digital cameras increase ISO by amplifying the sensor signal, and more or less inevitably, they amplify noise as well.
The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro did an excellent job on the test – the noise level never went over 2 percent, though it increased slowly with ISO.
Noise – Auto ISO*(0.0)*
The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro does not have a fully auto ISO setting, so this test could not be carried out.
The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro kept noise in check during long exposures. We tested the S5 Pro with the camera in standard mode, which applies some noise reduction for long exposures. The S5 has an ORG (original) mode, which does not apply noise reduction. It's designed for astrophotography and its main function is to maintain sharpness. Low light shots with exposures longer than 1 second showed a mild decrease in saturation. The charts below, at the various light levels, were all captured at ISO 1600.
We also test each camera's ability to capture images at ISO 400, with the shutter held open for longer exposures. Below is a graph of the Fujifilm's S5 Pro's noise levels at various extended shutter speeds.
Our dynamic range test measures the ability to render detail in images of subjects with a wide range of light and dark tones. We turn again to Imatest software, this time shooting a Stouffer film test target lit from behind. The target shows more than 14 EV of dynamic range, which is well beyond the capability of any camera we've tested.
We shot the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro at three D-Range settings: STD (D-Range is off), W1 (D-Range at its middle setting of 230 percent) and W2 D-Range at its maximum of 400 percent). At each setting, we shot from ISO 100 to 3200 in full EV steps. At each D-Range setting, the score declines as ISO rises, with a significant drop at ISO 3200. STD mode yielded competitive results, and W1 and W2 scored significantly better. Our final score is based on W2 from ISO 100 to 1600 because it appears that 3200 is an extended setting, rather than the standard range of the camera.
Startup to First Shot*(9.6)*
The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro came to life and got off a shot in 0.4 seconds, which is not fast for a DSLR. The best take about half that long. It's not likely that the distinction will make a practical difference, though.
In Low burst mode, the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro shot 16 JPEGs in 8 seconds, at 0.5 seconds per shot. It took the S5 another 19 seconds to record the images entirely, so the whole process took 27 seconds. D-Range was turned off for this test. The S5 is able to shoot while it's clearing its buffer, so the user could get off more shots shortly after the camera bogged down on the first eight. In High burst mode, the S5 shot 22 frames in 7.5 seconds, at 0.3 seconds per frame. The S5 finished writing the images 18 seconds after the last image was taken. Again, D-Range was off for this test. Shooting with D-Range on, and particularly while recording RAW files slows the S5 down enormously.
Our tests showed that the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro got its shots off very quickly. We measured less than 0.1 seconds of delay between the moment the shutter was pressed and the actual shot.
*We calculated an average processing time of .8 seconds per images with the Fujifilm S5 Pro. The camera took 18 seconds to process 22 consecutive JPEG files using a 2 GB SanDisk Extreme III CompactFlash memory card.
We can't tell the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro viewfinder from the Nikon D200 viewfinder. Both magnify the view by about 0.94x (that means they shrink it slightly) and show about 95 percent of the final image. It would be better if the viewfinder showed the entire frame, like the Nikon D2X and D2Hs. What's more, it's useful to have a camera that gets it exactly right. Our shots showed a well-centered view – the S5's viewfinder shows the middle 95 percent of the image on the model we tested.
The S5's viewfinder magnification of 0.94x is excellent. That's closer to life size than many competing cameras, which makes it easier to see detail. Eye relief is very good. Our glasses wearers had no trouble seeing the corners of the frame or the data display underneath it.
The normal 11 autofocus points or 7 wide points show up on the screen, along with an optional composition grid and low-battery and empty memory-card slot warnings..
Shooting data appears below the frame – exposure, mode, white balance, compensations, flash mode, flash ready, frame counters, battery status, meter pattern, ISO, and auto ISO.. As long as the list is, it's really only exhaustive for the Nikon D200. It doesn't show dynamic range expansion--the S5's key feature--or Fujifilm's pet "film emulation" mode.
The D200 has a great interface, and Fujifilm was wise not to muck with it. Unfortunately, the apparent use of stock Nikon displays means that the S5 doesn't display vital data that users should be able to easily check in the viewfinder or on the monochrome LCD.
The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro's 2.5-inch, 235,000-pixel LCD has a narrow angle of view, and unremarkable color. It appears to be identical to the D200's. That's disappointing because the FinePix S2 and S3 displays were a step up from their Nikon competition.
It’s great news that the S5 uses the D200’s flash system. The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro offers the same pop-up flash as the D200, which is fine for a little fill-flash, but its real attraction is that it also acts as a commander unit for current Nikon wireless flashes. We tested the S5 with a Nikon SB800, and the two communicated like old friends. The S5 has all the same options as the D200, running groups of flashes in a variety of exposure modes, and offering four channels.
The S5 syncs up to 1/250 of a second, and it allows exposure compensation from 1 stop above to 3 stops below the meter reading, because really, no one wants to overexpose flash. It allows rear-curtain sync, redeye reduction and long-exposure sync. The pop-up flash's power can be set manually, and it can pop off (weak) multiple flashes.
Fujifilm is hitching a ride on Nikon's coattails, as far as lenses go. It doesn't bundle the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro with any particular optic, but it takes current Nikon glass and retains the D200's ability to shoot with old Nikon lenses – even manual focus lenses without electronic links to the camera – the user can set the focal length and maximum aperture for old manual-focus, non-electronic lenses. We put an old 135mm f/2.0 on the S5, dialed in the data, and shot in manual and aperture priority modes without trouble.
Design / Layout
Model Design / Appearance*(9.0)*
The Fujifillm FinePix S5 Pro looks just like a Nikon D200. The only thing missing on the S5 is the little red triangle on the grip, just under the shutter release. The S5 and D200 look bigger and more solid than entry-level DSLRs, and with an external battery pack/vertical grip, they look just as macho as a Nikon D2X or D2Hs. Without the grips, they're still chunky-looking, though much easier to carry for a few hours than the big machines. The S5's fit and finish are very good. Combined with its size and lack of decoration, the S5's craftsmanship gives the camera an impressive, professional look.
**Size / Portability ***(7.25)*
The S5 is 5.8 x 2.9 x 4.4 inches, which is on the large end for mid-range DSLRs. It looks small next to the top-of-the-line Nikon and Canon offerings, but it's still big. The size appears to have more to do with durability than capabilities – there are cameras that incorporate dust reduction and image stabilization in smaller but more delicate packages. The seals to prevent dust and dirt creeping in are impressive and support the idea that the S5 is built to last.
Our greatest enthusiasm for the Nikon D200 was for its handling, and the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro duplicates that camera's shape. It has the same complement of buttons and dials and allows the same easy access to the basic functions of pro-level DSLRs. Its various options are easy to find, and users we have seen with the cameras seem just as comfortable as we are, regardless of their hand’s size and upper body strength.
Still, it's odd that the S5's big feature – dynamic range adjustment – adjusts via a menu, and the user can't see how it's set while shooting. The same goes for the film emulation mode. We're not sold on it as a feature at all, but Fujifilm sells it pretty hard. Why can't the user see it and even control it, without digging in a menu? The only plausible reason we can find is an economic one – Fujifilm couldn't affordably deviate that far from the D200 layout.
Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size*(9.25)*
The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro's dials and buttons fall under the user's fingers comfortably. The front and rear dials are a very quick and intuitive interface for setting exposure, as well as more obscure parameters. The ISO, Quality and White Balance buttons on top of the left dial are quick and easy to use. The bracket button at the upper left is unusually convenient. These are all Nikon D200 features that Fujifilm has wisely preserved.
Fujifilm went its own way with the buttons to the left of the LCD, however. The bottom button calls up the S5's unique playback-only face recognition system. A boon to people who shoot groups of people, the system zooms in on faces in an image, so the shooter can check for closed eyes and unflattering expressions. Wedding photographers will love it. If Fujifilm can add "obscene gesture recognition" to their next update, they'll sew up the market for photographers who shoot groups of high school students.
Fujifilm split the menus between the Menu/OK and the INFO/Setup buttons. In general, the Menu button calls up image options, while the Setup button handles interface and shooting options. Another way to look at the split is that Fujifilm's unique technologies are under the Menu button, and Nikon's hot stuff is under Setup.
Like the Nikon D200 menus, the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro's are longer than Mr. Snuffleupagus's trunk. They're painfully long, mainly because the cameras can be customized so many ways, some of which are a little obscure. Users will choke on either menu implementation, but the S5 suffers in comparison to the D200 on this score.
Fujifilm's text and gradient backgrounds are less readable and uglier than Nikon comparatively sedate system. Both use tabbed interfaces, but Nikon's tabs are labeled with recognizable icons, while Fujifilm unaccountably chose to simply number its tabs. The numbering system is no help in finding particular options. We didn't notice any Nikon feature that Fujifilm left off, though some are named a little differently.
We'll start with the features brought up with the Menu button:
The Setup menus are longer:
The Playback menu is absolutely puny in comparison:
**Ease of Use ***(5.5)*
The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro maintains the Nikon D200's primary interfaces – its buttons, dials, LCDs and viewfinder. All these features are laid out intuitively, and Fujifilm's tweaks make sense, given the S5's distinctive features. For regular shooting, the S5 will be easy and comfortable for DSLR shooters of any stripe. The menus are a disaster, though. Important features are buried in a collection of lists that aren’t labeled well. The S5 does however, include a help menu with brief explanations of various modes and settings.
The FinePix S5 Pro has a program mode, for full exposure automation. Though the ISO is set manually, there is an option to allow the S5 to shift it as conditions demand. Autofocus, white balance, and the dynamic range setting can also be automated.
The FinePix S5 does not have a movie mode. Its sensor heats up too much to be practical for movies, and its processing engine seems too slow to digest the data stream into a movie.
**Drive / Burst Mode ***(4.5)*
Speed is not the FinePix S5's strong suit. The Nikon D200 has High and Low burst modes and so does the S5. The two modes make sense for the D200; its High mode is 5 frames per second, so there is some sense in having a Low mode. However, the fastest the S5 went was the 3 frames per second that Fujifilm promises for the High mode. Low mode can be set to either 2 or 1 frame per second. The wrinkle in these scores is that they are all measured with D-Range (dynamic range) set to 100 percent, which means it's turned off. With D-Range on at any of its settings, the S5 did not get to 2 frames per second. D-Range strains the processor, so the camera slows down.
The burst dial also can set the S5 to self-timer mode, which can delay the shot by 2 to 20 seconds, and to Mirror Up mode, which flips up the mirror when the shutter release is pressed once, and makes the exposure when it is pressed again. It automatically takes a shot after 30 seconds if the user hasn’t pressed the shutter.
**Playback Mode ***(8.5)*
The FinePix S5's playback mode is simple, but it has thoughtful design features including a 9-up thumbnail view that shows the selected image a bit larger than the others, as well as histograms for red, green and blue channels. The user can cycle through shooting data as well. The S5 can magnify images a maximum of just under 6x, which is not enough to check focus as well as we'd like.
The interesting and useful feature that sets the S5's Playback mode apart is face detection. Press the face detection button in Playback, and the camera fills the LCD with a face, if there are any in the image. Press it again, and it moves on to another face. It's a great feature for users who take group shots and environmental portraits.
The S5's direct-print options are meager, but its slide show is a bit more fun. Face detection is available in slide shows, with a Ken Burns-effect pan from face to face on images as the show plays. The slide show also offers fade transitions.
The S5 can crop images in Playback, saving the trimmed image as a new file.
Custom Image Presets*(0.0)*
Custom image presets group sets of exposure and image parameters for optimal results shooting common genres of images, such as portraits, landscapes or action shots. The FinePix S5 Pro does not have such presets, probably on the assumption that it will appeal to users who wouldn't use them.
Manual Control Options
The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro is a camera designed for the manual shooter, with easy control over the exposure, white balance, ISO, focus and other shooting parameters.
The FinePix S5 Pro has the Nikon D200's autofocus technology, which is excellent for the $2,000 and under DSLR category. The system has 11 sensor sites. There are three vertical columns of three sites each, and one additional site on each end of the group. Nikon's D2X has the same sort of arrangement, but its sites are spread further apart, and the central nine are all cross-type sensors. Only the middle sensor on the S5 and D200 is a cross-type. Cross-type sensors are sensitive to both horizontal and vertical detail, which makes them more effective.
Still, we noted that the S5 focuses confidently in dim room light and handles low contrast scenes better than the average. Its performance is no different from the D200 in any palpable sense. Both can be set to consolidate the 11 sites into 7 larger sites, which is supposed to make it easier to get a site to overlap the subject without recomposing the shot. In practice, the larger sites can make it harder to figure out what part of the subject the camera is focusing on.
*Manual Focus (9.0)
*The FinePix S5 has a bright, high-contrast viewfinder, and the relatively high 0.94x magnification improves the view. It's a relatively easy camera to focus. The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro also has a live preview system, with a significant magnification option. The live preview is only active for 30 seconds at a time, and it shuts down to cool off the sensor for awhile if it's used too many times in short succession. Still, it's a useful option when the S5 is on a tripod. It isn't as useful as the live previews on Olympus, Panasonic and Leica Four-Thirds DSLRs, or on the new Canon DSLR, all of which will work for much longer periods.
The Fujifilm FinePix S5's exposure modes are program, aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and full manual. The exposure readout shows both aperture and shutter speed, and a linear scale that indicates how far the aperture and shutter speed settings are from the metered reading. In manual mode, the user zeros a cursor between the under- and over-exposure segments of the line.
The S5 offers a generous 5 EV of exposure compensation above and below the metered reading. Compensation can be set in 1/3-EV increments. Both the AE/AF button and the shutter release can be set to freeze exposure readings, and the S5 can link or unlink flash and ambient compensation.
The FinePix S5's matrix, center-weighted and spot metering patterns are identical to the Nikon D200's, including the option of setting the size of the weighted area of the center-weighted pattern. Matrix metering evaluates many separate spots across the frame to compute an exposure. Matrix is supposed to be able to detect backlighting and other situations that center-weighted metering can't handle. Like the D200 the S5’s matrix isn't awe-inspiring. It seemed to detect dark subjects on a bright background or small, bright subjects on very dark backgrounds, but it still split the difference. Though it shoots backlit subjects with more exposure than center-weighted does, which is the right direction to go, it compromises too much, ending up close, but not exactly right. We expect most S5 users to mistrust their matrix mode, and either ride the exposure compensation button, or to stick with spot metering. Because it's the same system as the D200, the S5's center-weighted pattern offers the option of setting the weighted area to a diameter from 6 to 13 mm. The S5's spot mode measures a very small area of the frame, taken at active autofocus site, just as the D200 does.
The S5 can be set to bias exposure in 1/6-EV steps for each metering pattern, up to a full EV up or down. That's independent of exposure compensation settings, and it doesn't show up on the light meter scale.
Fujifilm DSLR shooters have a reputation for shooting JPEG rather than RAW. The S2 and the S3 produce very flattering JPEGs, but the user doesn't have a bunch of leeway to correct color after the fact, the way a RAW shooter does. JPEGs have to get the color right in the camera.
That may be why Fujifilm put nine presets in its white balance system, plus auto White Balance, Kelvin settings, five custom settings, a 2-axis fine tune setup for Auto and the nine presets, and separate 2-axis tuning for each custom setting. The nine presets are Daylight, Tungsten, Flash, Shade, and five flavors of fluorescent. We didn't have much luck with the fluorescent settings, though. The custom setting works well, and it's a convenience to be able to save five of them. Being able to fine-tune them on axises for red-cyan and blue-yellow could be fantastic, in situations where the shooter could verify that all that fine-tuning is accurate. The sad thing about all the fine-tune controls is that photographers rely on their LCD's color rendition to set them, and camera displays are definitely not up to that job.
The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro's Kelvin color range runs from 2,500 to 10,000, which ought to embrace everything from tallow lamps to mercury vapor.
Fujifilm includes an ISO 3200 setting on the S5, something missing from its predecessors. It also offers 1/3-EV increments for setting ISO, a feature that the S2 and S3 lacked, probably because of limitations in the platform supplied by Nikon. 3200 is definitely the ragged edge for the S5, but it looks better than the highest extended settings on competing Nikons.
The FinePix S5 can be set for exposures from 30 seconds to 1/8000 in 1/3-EV steps, with flash sync up to 1/250, plus B for longer exposures. The range is plenty for typical types of photography. There is no need for a camera to have exposures longer than 30 seconds. At a minute, timing an exposure within a second is better than 98 percent accurate, which probably outstrips the camera shutter at high speeds or the aperture setting. More to the point, there's no way it would make a difference in the image.
The FinePix S5 controls the aperture of autofocus lenses electronically, and provides all the aperture-based control and data that current Nikon DSLRs do. The S5 can handle legacy lenses back to the AI series, which are controlled manually. The D200 body mechanically closes down the aperture on those lenses, and can shoot them in manual or aperture-priority mode, if the user manually inputs the lens data. It's great that Nikon still supports lenses made during the disco era. Of course, Fujifilm doesn't have much choice about it, but some Nikon owners will find the S5 more attractive because of this capability.
**Picture Quality / Size Options ***(9.0)*
The S5 saves files in three pixel dimensions: 4,256 x 2,848; 3,024 x 2016 and 2,304 x 1,536. 3,024 x 2,016 is the sensor's native resolution, and RAW files are recorded at that size. Fujifilm's Hyperutility software will save them at the higher resolution. JPEGs can be saved in Fine or Normal compression, and any of the resolutions. The RAW files with extended dynamic range are over 30 megabytes.
Fujifilm justifies the highest pixel dimension by noting that its sensors' photosites are arranged honeycomb-fashion, which theoretically yields a bit more data than the standard checkerboard.
Picture Effects Mode*(9.25)*
The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro has two settings that fall into this category: its D-Range dynamic range expansion, and its film emulation mode. Both change the appearance of the image by electronic means, rather than with optics or mechanics.
Film emulation is the less interesting of the two. The film modes vary saturation and contrast, and Fujifilm says they act like film with different curves – they handle the transitions in portrait highlights differently. The differences are subtle enough to be of questionable use.
The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro has individual settings for saturation, tone and sharpening, all of which are locked out in the film emulation mode. The saturation control offers a black-and-white mode.
D-Range is Fujifilm's now-proven dynamic range expansion strategy. The SR CCD has two photosites for each pixel. The S site is comparable to the sites on the chip in the S2, and the R site is much smaller, and much less sensitive to light. When the S site gets blown out, the R site still has measurable data, and the camera can use the R site data to fill in the blown highlights of the S data. The FinePix S3 had the same system, but the S5 allows the user to set the range in 1/3-EV increments, and reaches 2 full EV, a half-stop more than the S3. Fujifilm went after the wedding market with the S3, and succeeded in creating a following. According to the company, the 1/3-EV increments and the increase to 2 EV are responses to feedback from loyal S3 shooters in the wedding and portrait industry.
The increase in range comes at enormous costs, though. First, speed: the S5 can't manage 3 frames per second with D-Range on, even though the optical and mechanical systems of the D200 can manage 5 fps. The burst length is equally affected – the S5 chokes after three or four RAW images. The second price paid is related – file size. Though the S5's native resolution is only 6 megapixels, its D-Range RAW file is over 30 megabytes. Clearly, the slow performance is a result of the amount of data the S5 has to push around.
Connectivity / Extras
*The FinePix S5 is compatible with the latest upgrade of Fujifilm's HS-V3 Hyperutility software, which allows downloads, RAW conversion, organization and shooting control in a tethered mode. The interface is clumsy, and the software is slow, but the results are very good. The camera comes with FinePix Viewer, a simpler program for downloading and sorting images.
Jacks, Ports, Plugs*(8.75)*
The FinePix S5's USB port connects to printers or computers. The AV port outputs analog video. The S5 also has a jack for external power. The Nikon-compatible dedicated hot shoe, is compatible with Nikon SB600 and SB800 flashes. Nikon remote controls connect via a 10-pin socket that also accepts GPS units and bar code readers. The bar code system is integrated into third-party workflow and asset management systems.
Direct Print Options*(8.0)*
The FinePix S5 prints to Pictbridge-compatible printers and creates DPOF print orders. The camera will crop images to 8x10 inches or 5x7 inches for printing, specify the number of prints to be made, and can overprint the capture date. The direct print options are limited, which is typical of pro and prosumer cameras.
*Because the chassis of the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro is apparently identical to the Nikon D200, the two cameras' batteries are the same size and shape. Unfortunately, they are not compatible – only Fujifilm batteries can power the S5. The camera won't start up with a Nikon battery inside. Fujifilm makes its batteries the same dull gray as Nikon batteries, so anyone using the cameras side-by-side will have to be careful to keep the batteries straight.
The S5 uses a lithium-ion battery, the most popular technology for cameras these days. They hold a lot of power, recharge conveniently, and are lighter than other types of cells.
Like the D200, the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro accepts only Compact Flash cards. Compact Flash is the most common memory format for DSLRs. The cards are relatively cheap, durable, fast and widely-available. The S5 doesn't accept xD Media, a format that Fujifilm helped develop and which it uses in its compact cameras. A 1 GB card will hold about 35 RAW files from the S5, so users will have to stock up on memory.
Feature Lock -- The FinePix S5 can be set to prevent users from changing key settings, and the lockdown can be password-protected. The system would be useful for wedding shooters who don't want to shoot half their formal shots at ISO 1000, but it's robust enough for a production environment, with tight calibration from shoot to shoot or camera to camera.
Maintenance Mode – The S5 records the number of shots it has taken, the number of shots taken with the battery since it was charged, the number of times the battery has been charged, and other data that may help users schedule maintenance or plan to replace batteries.
Cleaning mode – The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro doesn't have a dust reduction system, but it is set up to so users can manually clean the sensor.
Live Preview – Though Fujifilm has been left in the dust by Four-Thirds manufacturers, and now the Canon 1D Mark III, its live preview mode may be useful to some users, even though it's only active for 30 seconds at a time.
**Nikon D200 – Read this review. Half the good stuff we say about the S5 is because it's built on the D200. At a street price around $1,600, the D200 has more speed, more pixels and costs $400 less than the S5. Plus, the D200's menus are merely long and convoluted – they're not a visual assault on the user like the S5’s.
Canon EOS 5D – The 5D has the second-best dynamic range scores we've tested, behind the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro. It costs about $550 more at street prices, but it delivers twice the pixels, a full-frame sensor, 3 frames per second, and an image processing system that doesn't choke on itself while writing five images. On the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro's behalf, $550 could buy a very nice lens. The S5's external design is faster and more intuitive, and its seals are superior. The Nikon flash system is better, and the S5 acts as a wireless commander. The Canon 5D requires a flash on the hotshoe to control other flashes wirelessly.
Canon EOS 30D – The Canon EOS 30D is an 8-megapixel 5-frames-per-second DSLR with excellent color, excellent noise performance, and very good dynamic range for about $1,100 these days. Opinions will vary on whether the distinction between the Canon's 8 megapixels and the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro's 6 megapixels amounts to much, but the Canon has a $900 advantage, which is significant. The 30D's burst rate and number of shots is also a major advantage over the S5. The 30D is mechanically inferior to the Nikon D200 and by extension, the FinePix S5. The 30D is pretty stale in the Canon line – whatever replaces it will probably still cost less than the S5, and have some new advantages.
At $2,000, the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro is kind of lonely. Hundreds more than the Nikon D200 and Canon 30D, hundreds less than the Canon 5D, it could look like a bargain, or it could look overpriced.
Here's why it might look overpriced: A slow, heavy, 6MP DSLR without dust control or integral image stabilization shouldn't cost $2,000 with the Pentax K100D, the Canon Rebel Xti or even the Nikon D40 on the market. Taking a Nikon D200, cutting its resolution by 40 percent, and its speed by about 70 percent, should not prompt a $600 price increase.
Here's why it's a bargain: Its color quality is great. Its image noise is excellent and stays under control throughout the ISO range. It controls noise in long exposures very well, too. Its dynamic range is extraordinary. Though it has a low pixel count, its resolution scores are good, and it undersharpens its JPEGs, which decreases the possibility of artifacts.
In short, it delivers $2,000 worth of image quality.
Who It's For
Point and Shooters – The S5 is too complicated, too expensive, and not automated enough for this group.
Budget Consumers – It's not cheap, and it's not versatile. This group should keep looking.
Gadget Freaks – The S5 provides enough settings and menu entries for the geekiest geeks. And the software will remind them of the interfaces of Linux GNU-licensed software in beta.
Manual Control Freaks – Compelling image quality with a unique range of control parameters... The S5 is a good fit here.
Pro's/Serious Amateurs – These types need to pretend they're shooting with a film-era Hasselblad, or better yet, a Speed-Graphic. Then, the slow pace won't get to them. The image quality should appeal to wedding and portrait shooters, but they're going to have to get used to taking two shots with the S5 when a Nikon or Canon can get off five or six.
**The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro’s image quality makes it a viable choice for pros and other quality-conscious photographers. Dynamic range, noise and color are all excellent. The S5's mechanicals – a Nikon D200 body, with Nikon autofocus, metering and flash – are also big assets. The drawbacks of the S2 and S3 bodies are gone.
The remaining drawback is speed. The shooting rate is glacial, and the camera churns away recording data for minutes at a time when it's shooting RAW files.
How important is that drawback? It's big. For wedding photographers, it probably means shooting with two bodies – the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro for image quality, and maybe a Nikon D200 or a Canon 30D for the shots that won't wait for a 30 MB file to write.
**Click on the thumbnails below to view the full resolution images.
Specs / Ratings
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