Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro Review

Conventional sensors have a limited dynamic range. This means that high-contrast scenes may have solid black shadows, blown highlights, or both, depending on the exposure compromises you and the camera make.

This happens because the individual pixels, or photosites, on the sensors can only cope with a certain brightness range. At one end of the range, they don’t capture enough photons to register any kind of signal; while at they other they capture so many that they’re saturated.

What you need is a sensor with different-sized photosites: larger ones for everyday photography; and some smaller, lower-sensitivity sites for hanging on to detail in highlights. Fujifilm’s SR sensor is the only one to tackle this issue.

Its combination of large S-type pixels and smaller sized R-type pixels offers a dynamic range up to 400 per cent wider than that of conventional sensors.

Fujifilm Finepix S5 Pro (Specs)

  • 6MP – APS-C CCD Sensor
  • ISO 100 – 3200
  • 2.5″ Fixed Type Screen
  • Optical (pentaprism) viewfinder
  • continuous shooting
  • No Video Mode
  • 920g. 147 x 113 x 74 mm

The FinePix S5 Pro uses this SR sensor, as did its predecessor, the S3 Professional, and the design has also been tried out in a couple of Fujifilm compacts.

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Check Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro Price

Fujifilm Finepix S5 Pro Digital SLR Camera with...
  • 12.34 megapixels - Closes gap with professional film quality...
  • Improved natural skin tones

The Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro is scheduled to ship in the first quarter of 2007, and the most obvious change for users of the company’s past DSLR models is going to be the body. Fuji’s S1 Pro was based on a Nikon N60 consumer film SLR, while the followup S2 Pro and S3 Professional models were Nikon N80-based. The S5 Pro takes a significant step forwards with a body that (although the company isn’t officially stating derivations) is clearly predicated on Nikon’s D200 digital SLR – and that brings with it a lot of benefits. Inside its all-metal body, the Fuji S5 Pro will now include 11-point AF, i-TTL flash metering, a 2.5″ LCD display, Lithium-Ion battery, a shutter with a rated lifetime of 100,000 cycles offering speeds from 30 to 1/8000 second, a slightly higher viewfinder magnification, 1/250 second flash sync, and lens aperture control of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 stop – all improvements over the predecessor camera.

The Fuji FinePix S5 Pro retains the same resolution of SuperCCD SR sensor used in 2004’s FinePix S3 Pro, which has a total of 12.34 million effective photodiodes in a dual-element structure aimed at extending dynamic range (as described in our coverage of the development of the SuperCCD SR sensor announced back in 2003). Each couplet of ‘S’ and ‘R’ photodiodes share a single microlens, and hence are unable to separately contribute to resolution in an image, so the S5 Pro has a 6.17 effective megapixel resolution. We’re told the SuperCCD SR Pro sensor isn’t identical to that in the previous camera however, and that there have been tweaks made both to processing techniques and to take advantage of new manufacturing capabilities, plus a newly optimized low pass filter. The result should be improved dark noise reduction, and reduced moire.

The FinePix S5 Pro is also the initial Fujifilm DSLR to use a development of the Real Photo Technology which has been pretty much universally lauded in the business’s consumer cameras. Dubbed “Real Photo Processor Pro”, it should yield enhanced saturation and tonality, and courtesy of two cycles of noise decrease the S5 Pro right now offers ISO sensitivity to 3200 (with sound levels reduced across the board at all sensitivities). The S5 Professional also offers three fresh variations of the original film simulation mode (now five total) tailored to regional preferences for tonality in different markets. Unusually, the S5 Pro has the ability to password lock (in three levels) custom settings to prevent a photographer changing certain settings accidentally, or for pool cameras which are requeired to have certain settings similar across all camera bodies in the swimming pool.

The live preview mode in the S3 Pro returns for the FinePix S5 Pro, but the length has been doubled to 60 seconds in colour 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 digital camera, with a burst depth of 24 RAW or 52 JPEG images in standard dynamic range, and 11 Natural / 40 JPEG in wide dynamic range mode. Given that the S3 Pro was 2.5fps for 12 RAW in standard, 3 RAW / 6 JPEG in wide mode, this is a pretty major improvement!

Alongside the S5 Pro, Fujifilm will offer two accessories for connection to a wireless or wired LAN, with assistance 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 Professional can be connected using Nikon’s 10-pin serial connector to regular serial barcode readers to scan bar codes before shooting a picture, and store the barcode data in the EXIF header of the image.

The S5 Pro has one other really unusual feature (again building on technology first seen in the company’s consumer digicams) – post-capture face detection that can automatically zoom in on a captured image to review up to ten faces in an image sequentially for the pose, focus, exposure, etc. (Note that this is post-exposure only – the S5 Pro doesn’t have any pre-capture face detection functionality like focusing, flash setting, etc. like you’d find in consumer cameras).

Verdict

Almost certainly the last Fujifilm digital SLR, the S5 Pro is, like all its predecessors, built around a Nikon body (in this case the D200). The big selling point is the unique 12MP ‘SR’ sensor, which uses dual photosites to capture far wider dynamic range. The S5 Pro still rules the roost in this area, which is why it remains popular with wedding and portrait photographers. The Nikon body is excellent (if now a little dated), the dynamic range and colour rendition still impress, and the only real downside is the relatively low resolution and lack of pixel-level sharpness.

Check Fujifilm Finepix S5 Pro Price
Fujifilm Finepix S5 Pro Digital SLR Camera with...
  • 12.34 megapixels - Closes gap with professional film quality...
  • Improved natural skin tones

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