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This year saw the arrival of the eagerly-anticipate replacement of Fugifilm's highly-regarded S3 Pro. With a vast amount of improvement, the new camera has impressive stats.
Fugifilm are no strangers to the Digital SLR market. the company worked alongside Nikon marketing some of the earliest pro-spec Digital SLRs under their brand names. Subsequently, Fugi's S-series marked a slight departure for the company. Using adapted Nikon camera bodies complete with nikon F lens mounts and proprietary sensors, the S-series has been the choice of discerning enthusiants and pros since its inception back in 2000 due to the remarkable colour rendition delivered by the Fugifilm chip.
In addition, Fugi developed an APS-C size sensor with an extended dynamic range for the S5 Pro's predecessor, the FinePix S3 Pro. Depending on the scene, output may be combined from two different size photodiodes located at each photosite.
Whilst the S5 Pro adopts a new sensor, Fugifilm has resisted the temptation to increase pixel density by adopting the same structure and pixel count as the S3 Pro. With a new top sensitivity of ISO 3200 the S5 Pro also inherits the film simulation modes of previous models and, for the first time with an S-series camera, a weather sealed body designed for digital capture.
While the Fugi S5 Pro is aimed, unashamedly, at the higher end of the market, there is still a lot for enthusiast to like!
If the body of the S5 Pro looks familiar, it's because the camera componants are based on those of the Nikon semi-pro D200. Anyone who is familiar with the D200 will be instantly at home with the new Fugi.
The features are outstanding, almost unbelievable. if you are reviewing an image of sombody on the 2.5 inch monitor, just one touch of a dedicated button provides an instantaneous close-up of their face. The system works flawlessly.
Sure enough it is ideal for confirming focus of the main subject, and no less so when checking depth of field in a group. It's an extremely handy and welcome advance!
Using a sealed magnesium alloy shell and a shuter mechanism it certainly look and feels extremely well-built. A group of buttons to the left of the pentaprism provide dedicated short-cuts to quality sensitivity and white-balance. It's a neat approach and pay real dividends when under pressure. The control over white-balance is extensive. In addition to the usual Auto and manual options the S5 Pro has five individual presets for fluorescent lighting and colour temperature ranging from an impressive 2500-1000k in 3/400 steps.
A feature shared by the D200 is ane Exposure Delay mode to reduce camera shake and the Fine Tune Exposure option for personal adjustment of the manera's metering system.
Also useful is the superb Auto ISO feature where the user can preset a minimum shutter speed and at the same time limit the sensitivity to keep the noise levels down. However, it will only reach ISO 1600.
The only real concession in build is a built in pop-up flash, but even this has been handy on several occasions for me. The S5 pro is, thankfully, compatible with D200 accessories (which has saved me a few pennies!)
With 95 per cent coverage and a high 0.94x magnification, one look through the large bright view finder immediately distinguishes this camera from any of the entry-level offerings from rivals. Beneath the screen is a full information read out. The only settings I think are missing are white-balance and quality.
Like th S3 Pro, the S5 pro retains the excellent 11-point AF system complete with the option of user selectable groups or individual points for precise control.
A removable plastic screen is provided to protect from any damage as standard.
One feature that I personally think is outstanding is the live colour preview on the monitor, which makes things easier when photographing particular shots. Focus has to be switched over to manual control, and you have just 30 seconds to couble check focus and composition. it will evem allow the central protion to be enlarged, which is essential for critical focus with high magnification. however, I feel like this is a missed opportunity to be able to capture the image without switching back to manual control, it sometimes proves to be a waste of such a fantastic feature!
I feel that the S5Pro is suitable for any action photography although the choice of lens will make a difference. Set to High-Speed continuous capture, te S5 pro managed to top just 3fps, firing off up to 29 best quality JPEGS.
With no increase on pixel count over the S3 Pro some may argue that Fugifilm are resting on their laurels.
However the impressive high sensitivity performance is more likely to be of greater importance. Overall colour rendition is quite superb and the extended dynamic range option really does work!
On the downside, there are no anti-dust features and file sizes are huge because tere is no compressed file option. One other concern is the price, although there are few SLRs at any price that will deliver more pleasing results. It was a huge investment for me when I perchased my S5 Pro and I certainly won't be splashing out again any time soon!
With it's great body, the DSLR market continues to move forward, but ultimately, there may not be enough users to justify S5 Pro as it deserves.
APS-C size (23.0 x 15.5mm)
format Digital SLR (field of view multiplied by 1.5 times)
Nikon F mount - compatible with AFS, AFI, AFD and G-Type Nikkor lenses
12.34 million photodiodes
(S-Pixel: 6.17 million + R-pixel: 6.17 million)
23.0 x 15.5mm RGB Super CCD SR Pro
11-Point AF with focus area selection
2.5 inch TFT, 230k Pixels
ISO 100 to 3200
30 secs to 1/8000sec, flash sync up to 1/250 sec
147 x 113 x 74mm
830g (excluding battery and lens)