fuji s5 proFuji S5 Pro reviews

fuji S5 pro with super ccdI read practically all the Fuji S5 Pro reviews I could find on the Internet before I bought this wonderful camera.

I had to be more than doubly, triply sure -- because I don't have a lot of money and the Fuji S5 Pro was already stretching my budget.

If you read Why I bought the Fuji S5 Pro, you will know that my original plan was to buy either the Sony A100 or the Pentax K10D.

But as I read review after review, I soon came to a point where I became bored, because all the reviews were ultimately saying the same things -- that the Fuji S5 Pro offers excellent, unbeatable image quality with great colors and a wide dynamic range, but loses out in other areas of performance.

That was when I decided it was time to buy...


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FUJIFILM S5 PRO
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But while most Fuji S5 Pro reviews reached more or less the same conclusions and made roughly the same recommendations, I would like to highlight several interesting and pertinent points.

This article, then, is not just a lazy summary of the various reviews (which you might find on some websites). Rather, I like to share with you comments and observations from certain reviewers that influenced my decision to buy this camera.


Jonathan Ryan @ Think Camera

One of the first Fuji S5 Pro reviews I read was by Jonathan Ryan at ThinkCamera.com.

Three words he wrote hit me in the head: The pictures rock.

Ryan started off talking about the dynamic range. He showed six photographs of bluebell flowers arranged in two rows. The top row consisted of three photos with normal exposure. The bottom row consisted of one very very bright, almost completely white picture, one normal picture, and one very very dark, almost completely black picture.

I had to read three times before I realised that the three normal looking photos in the top row were derived from the three pictures in the second row. Wow! When I finally understood what was going on, I was really impressed!

Ryan also presents a very convincing "first impressions" comparison of an image -- a tabletop setting with candle light -- taken with the S5 Pro versus a much more costly Nikon D2X. Click here to view.


Thom Hogan @ byThom.com

Another of the Fuji S5 Pro reviews that hit me in the head was by Thom Hogan at byThom.com. Comparing the Fuji S5 Pro with the Nikon D200, Hogan wrote:

Think of it this way: do you need a Toyota Camry (generally all-around decent wheels) or a Mazda Miata (more limited in function, but great at what it does do)? Nikon has produced one heck of a Camry (D200). Fujifilm has given us a Miata (S5 Pro). More people will buy D200s than S5 Pros, but a lot of those S5 Pro owners will be perfectly happy with what they get.

To be honest, I don't know enough about cars to appreciate what a Madza Miata is, although I have ever sat in a Toyota Camry before. But I figured the Madza Miata must be a sexy sports car (I just did a Google Image Search and saw that t is kinda cute).

Hogan writes what I feel is a very balanced and objective review, pointing rightly, for example, that the colors produced by the Fuji S5 Pro are more "pleasing" than "neutral" or accurate (he says the colors are "pretty accurate") and that some of the noise reduction comes at the expense of a slight loss in detail.

But reading the drawbacks in his Fuji S5 Pro review did not discourage me. When I read Thom's remark about the Madza Miata, my mind was already swayed. Just that I needed to read more to convince myself...

December 2007 update: Thom has just published a 650-page e-book on the Fuji S5 Pro. It seems like too much to read, but I will be ordering my copy and will tell you more about it later...


Ken Rockwell

Ken Rockwell is one reviewer who makes strong statements -- which I like even if I may not always agree with him.

I found his Fuji S5 Pro review somewhat strange. On the one hand, he does not seem very enthusiastic about this camera. On the other hand, he praises it very highly.

For example, while most reviewers rave about the dynamic range of the Fuji S5 Pro, Rockwell states that, apart from shooting into the sun, the benefits of its extended dynamic range are almost invisible otherwise.

Rockwell also presents a very graphic demonstration of how the Fuji S5 Pro copes with severely over-exposed images. A Fuji S5 Pro grossly over-exposed by 3 1/3 stops, after Photoshop adjustments, looks very decent and acceptable. In contrast, a Nikon D200 image over-exposed by 3 stops, after Photoshop adjustments, looks outright horrible.

His conclusion? If you're a really bad photographer, this extended dynamic range is helpful for recovering lost highlights, or even entire images... Is he suggesting that the Fuji S5 Pro is for "really bad photographers"?

Despite these apparently sacarstic remarks, Rockwell heaps some really high praises on the S5 Pro: Best skin tones I've ever seen... The photos just look better than anything I can get repeatedly with my Nikons or Canons.

And while he does not seem overly enthusiastic about the dynamic range, he makes a very pertinent point about wht happens when you shoot into the sun (or any other overly bright object):

Film and the S5 avoid making weird colored circles around the sun, or weird colored bands around other washed-out sections, because each color overloads gradually... To our eyes and film and the S5, colors lose saturation as they overload. They don't change hue. Red should turn pink before it goes white. Other digital cameras turn reds to yellow just before it turns white. This looks awful on overexposed foreheads.

And, he demonstrates this very graphically. Rockwell specially shoots a band of red color such that it over-exposes from left to right. With the Fuji S5 Pro, the red turns slightly yellow, then pink and white. With the Nikon D200, the red turns yellow all the way as it over exposes.

This is saying -- and showing -- a lot: that the Fuji S5 Pro produces images that are much closer to film and to how our eyes see.

To me, Rockwell's Fuji S5 Pro review is a must-read -- and a "must see".


Ryan Brenizer

Some feel that landscape photographers need the higher resolution and greater detail of a true 10 or 12 megapixels camera, rather than a Fuji S5 Pro, which offers effectively 2 x 6.17 megapixels. Read about the Super CCD

Ryan Brenizer divides his Fuji S5 Pro review into two parts, the good and the bad. Among the good, he writes:

Very few companies know color like Fuji. This camera, like the S3 and the S2 before it, tends to emphasize "pleasing" colors instead of "accurate" colors. No one used Fuji Velvia film because it was accurate (it wasn't) -- they used it because it was gorgeous.


Brenizer also discusses a not-too-obvious situation whereby the dynamic range of the S5 Pro comes in real handy -- shooting people making slide presentations. In such situations, the people would usually be in semi-darkness while the slide in the background is well-lit. Setting the exposure to capture the person visibly will result in the background slide appearling as a big mass of over-exposed white.

Plus, he presents a picture of one speaker making a presentation with the lights off. He had to shoot at ISO 3200. Yet the image appeared perfectly acceptable, without significant noise.

Before I reached the "bad" section of his Fuji S5 Pro review, I was already convinced. His list of bad points did not discourage me. I felt I could happily live with them.


Dennis Hissink @ Let's Go Digital

Many of the Fuji S5 Pro reviews (in fact, many camera reviews) are actually descriptive and non-commital, such as this one by Dennis Hissink at Let's Go Digital.

To be frank, there was not a single statement in this review that caught my attention. But for those who feel itis important to compare specifications (I don't), this review has a useful table comparing the specs of the Fuji S5 Pro with the S3 Pro, Nikon D200 and Pentax K10 D.


Simon Johnson / Phil Askey @ dpreviews

Another very detailed (20 pages long) but non-commital Fuji S5 Pro review comes from Simon Johnson and Phil Askey at dpreviews. This one has a table comparing the specs of the Fuji S5 Pro with Nikon D200 and Canon 30D.

Again, nothing much that is attention-grabbing here, apart from the usual praises for its skin tones, colors, dynamic range and jpeg files direct from the camera. Plus the usual points about this being a choice camera for wedding photographers...

But if you want plenty of details, tests, graphs, charts, sample images, etc, etc, then this review will make you very happy. Personally, I find the dpreviews too objective and matter of fact. Perhaps this is how reviews ought to be -- just state the facts without getting passionate and without appearing to be biased in any way.

But for me, these were among the Fuji S5 Pro reviews that got me bored -- and in that sense, tipped the balanced and persuaded me to finally buy the camera instead of just continuing to keep reading reviews.


12 December 2007 Latest: Kirk Tuck

I just found this review a few days ago, although it was published earlier, on 8 October. I have already bought the camera, so it did not influence my decision. Still. I find it very reassuring:

Kirk Tuck, a studio / portrait photographer based in Austin, Texas, starts off talking about the search for a "perfect camera". Eight pages later, he happily shares:

This is the camera I've wanted since I put down my Hasselblad medium-format film cameras and started trying to make digital work for my business.