Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro SLR Review

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Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro




Steve's Conclusion

The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro is the evolutionary upgrade from the FinePix S3 Pro. You'll recognize the S5's body if you're acquainted with it's "body double" the Nikon D200. Although the two cameras look similar, the S5 Pro is a different animal under the hood. Fuji has updated the S5's image sensor, and added image processing functions that offer increased dynamic range and simulation of Fuji film characteristics. The S5 Pro is a very tempting camera to wedding and portrait photographers. Besides the lightweight magnesium alloy body, the S5 includes an 11-point AF, a 2.5" LCD display, a shutter with a rated lifetime of 100,000 cycles offering speeds from 30 to 1/8000 second, 1/250 second flash sync, and lens aperture control of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 stop - all improvements over the previous S3 model.

The S5 Pro's Nikon heritage is good news if you own a lot of Nikon glass, and it also assures compatibility with many Nikon speedlights. Fuji has switched from the S3's use of AA batteries to the rechargeable Li-ion NP-150 battery pack. The fully-charged battery was still half full after I shot over 200 images with mixed flash and available light. The S5's body is well designed and the controls and switches are well-placed for both comfort and ease-of use.The grip is large, rubberized and comfortable to hold.

With more than 70 years of photographic experience, Fujifilm recognizes the importance of resolution, sensitivity and dynamic range as factors that determine overall image quality. The first Generation Super CCD introduced by Fujifilm in 2000, aimed for a balance of enhanced performance factors. The second Generation Super CCD, introduced in 2001, offered further enhanced resolution, while the third Generation Super CCD successfully boasted sensitivity. Now, the fourth Generation Super CCD HR in the S5 Pro offers enhanced resolution and delivers an expanded dynamic range.

The Super CCD SR incorporates both large, high-sensitivity S-pixels and smaller R-pixels for expanded dynamic range. By combining information from both of these sensor elements, the Super CCD SR is able to deliver an expanded dynamic range along with high sensitivity. Now, you may ask yourself based on the description of the CCD (twelve million paired photodiodes - 6.17 million 'S' photodiodes with 6.17 million smaller 'R' photodiodes) is this really a 12 megapixel camera? Good question. Although the file sizes are larger than 6 megapixel, the greatest achievement in this technology is the expanded dynamic range evident in the images. Also worth noting is Fujifilm's Real Photo Technology. By adding high sensitivity/low- noise performance the S5 Pro has improved performance at high ISO.

The live preview mode in the S5 Pro has been doubled to 60 seconds in color or black & white. There's also newly added RAW+JPEG support, and the camera's buffer has more than doubled from 128MB to 288MB. This latter means that continuous shooting improves to 3 frames per second in the new camera, with a burst depth of 24 RAW or 52 JPEG images in standard dynamic range, and 11 RAW / 40 JPEG in wide dynamic range mode. The new sophisticated Real Photo processor captures image data at ultra-high speed. Camera and flash were available almost instantly after being switched on - recovery was just as fast.

For greater creative control over the FinePix S5 Pro's dynamic range, photographers can now choose from six preset ranges between 100% and 400%. And for improved reproduction of natural skin tones, new variations of the original film simulation mode (F1) have been added (five modes in total). Three distinct settings for the 'negative film' preset give portrait photographers increased control. If the S5's Film Simulation or Wide Dynamic Range modes meet your needs, you'll find there's less need to post-process your images before printing. If you're running a high-volume portrait operation, this could both increase the quality of your product and improve your productivity, a double benefit that could by itself justify the purchase of an S5.

Yet another feature than will be interesting to portrait photographers is Fuji's unique Face Detection Technology. Pressing the Face Detection button causes the camera to detect up to ten faces nearly instantly AFTER each image is captured. After shooting and during playback, a photographer can easily and quickly zoom in and confirm facial detail such as closed eyes, focus and exposure on the color LCD monitor.

There are two accessories to connect the S5 directly to a wireless (or wired) LAN, with support for Windows Vista's MPP and MPP over IP protocols (RAW files should also be supported by Vista natively). On top of this, the S5 Pro can be connected using Nikon's 10-pin serial connector to standard serial barcode readers to scan bar codes before shooting a picture, and store the barcode data in the EXIF header of the image.

Bundled with the S5 Pro is Fujifilm's FinePixViewer . The software provides a simple interface to download, save, and organize photographs on a PC or Macintosh captured with the FinePix digital camera. Version 5.3 for is provided on the "Software for FinePix" CD that comes with the S5 Pro FinePix Viewer. The optional HyperUtility is Fujifilm's advanced RAW conversion and file management software which supports a range of RAW conversion file sizes with additional file management utilities and also enables MAC or PC tethered shooting mode via USB.

The bottom line - If you're a portrait photographer I bet you'll love the increased dynamic range and film simulation of the S5 Pro provided by the fourth generation Super CCD. Likewise Fuji's Face Detection Technology is a real time saver in the studio. The S5's body is lightweight, the controls are well-placed, and the grip is very comfortable to hold. The ability to record JPEG and RAW files simultaneously allows you to review smaller-sized images, yet retain the ability to work with the RAW files later. The RP Processor Pro reduces dark noise to deliver a cleaner image, and permit light sensitivity up to ISO 3200. And if you already own Nikon lenses and speedlights, compatibility with the S5 Pro is assured. Or, buy a new compact and lightweight digitally designed lens and you'll have one of the lightest kits on the market. Please have a look at our sample photos, where examples of the S5 Pro's advanced modes have been provided.






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