Friday, October 5, 2007

Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro Review

The successor to Fuji's FinePix S3 Pro made its first, fleeting appearence at Photokina in September 2006, though it didn't start shipping until the spring of 2007 - keeping in line with Fuji's approx two-year gap between SLR models. The S5 Pro may have the same sensor (well, almost - more about that later) as the S3 Pro, but as a camera it is a quantum leap forward over the models that preceded it, being based on the highly-regarded Nikon D200 (all the previous models were based on consumer level Nikon film cameras).

Being essentially a D200 with a Super CCD sensor and Fuji processor means the S5 Pro enjoys all the benefits of Nikon's superb 'semi pro' body; weather-sealed body with a magnesium alloy chassis, latest generation focus, flash and metering systems, better shutter, better viewfinder and expansive lens compatibility. It is also the first Fuji SLR to be a truly 'integrated' digital camera; previous models were based on film cameras (supplied by Nikon) which forced Fuji to use a clunky 'camera of two halves' design, complicating control (and in the early models meaning the 'digital' and 'camera' parts had separate batteries). Finally there are some changes under the hood, including a tweaked sensor, new processor and a host of minor (and a few major) feature upgrades.

The S3 Pro - despite a hefty price tag - carved out a niche for itself amongst wedding and portrait photographers willing to sacrifice speed and durability in order to take advantage of the extra dynamic range offered by the SR sensor. On paper the S5 Pro (which has a smaller $400 price premium over the Nikon D200) seems to address most of the issues we - and many potential purchasers - had with the S3 Pro, so let's find out if it delivers...

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