Magazine Article


Product Review: Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro Digital SLR
Less time and effort on post + rich, beautiful files

Kirk R. Tuck

David Brown, vice president, Dell, Inc., in the Dell Briefing Center. Lit with filtered flash and fluorescent lighting, shot at 1/4 second, f/2.8, ISO 100. Fuji S5 set to dynamic range 170.
Kirk R. Tuck

Sheryl Crow in concert in Florida shot with Fuji S5 and Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 lens at ISO 800 with dynamic range set to auto.
Kirk R. Tuck

Radiologist Dr. Moorehead reading scans. Main illumination from LCD screens supplemented by one Nikon SB-600 Speedlight to the rear of the room, bouncing from the ceiling. Fuji S5 was set to film look 1c, shot at 1/40 second, f/3.5, ISO 400.
Kirk R. Tuck

My advice? Buy the Fuji converter for the times when each individual image must be absolutely perfect. But do all your sorting, web gallery proofing and general image administration in a faster, more flexible program such as Lightroom or Bridge. Nikon users tend to spend most of their time dealing with NEF raw files in a variety of different programs, chosen for their speed and robustness. When the client has made final selects most Nikon users turn to Capture or NX to ultimately fine tune color, tone and other parameters. I suspect Fuji users will want to adopt the same strategy.

Moving on from dynamic range I find that my second favorite aspect of the Fuji S5 Pro is a menu that lets you set the "look" of the camera's files to match those of some favorite films. When you set this in Jpeg you are locked into a film look. When you shoot RAW and process in Fuji's raw converter you can change the settings during processing.

The menu lists four settings in additional to the default (Standard). They are: F1, F1a, F1b, F1c and F2. Here is how Fuji defines each setting: F1: Suitable for studio portrait work. Similar to professional color negatives. Suppresses flare in flash highlights. Also provides smooth tonal transitions in skin tones. F1a: Saturation is slightly increased in comparison to F1 mode. F1b: Reproduces skin tones with smooth transitions Also provides vibrant reproduction of natural colors such as blue skies and is ideal for daylight portraits. F1c: Increased sharpness in comparison with F1. Ideal for fashion photography. F2: High color saturation like Fujichrome slide film. Suitable for nature, product or architectural photography.

It's obvious that Fuji brings a lot of expertise to the creation of digital solutions from their experiences as one of the world's dominant film makers.

The final area I want to cover is that of high ISO performance. This is one area that Nikon shooters have worried about for years. Everyone seems to be fixated with the idea of shooting at ISO 1600 or 3200 for every day photo work. The Fuji S5 Pro is the first camera to use Nikon lenses that gives relatively good performance at ISO 1600. I've included some examples from a dress rehearsal shoot for a theater performance of "High School Musical". I think the Fuji does a fine job at 1600 ISO but I think all cameras do a hell of a lot better at settings between ISO 100 and 400 and that's where most of our commercial work gets shot.

To recap the positives: Great camera body. Really superior JPEG files. Outstanding RAW file performance using the manufacturer's conversion software. Dynamic range that will cut down on the need to retouch and post process. Fast enough in camera processing to handle most weddings and events. A camera that can handle wedding dresses in sunlight. An ISO 1600 that's reliable and usable. The S5 can meter and shoot with any Nikon manual focus lens equipped with AI or AIS. The ability to use most D200 accessories except for the ones you want to use the most--the batteries. The camera is stingy with battery power. Two batteries in an MB-200 grip will last you for at least 1600 exposures with lots of "chimping". And finally, the price. I think $1900 is quite reasonable for a camera with all this imaging potential.

To balance out with the negatives: It's hard to get used to 1.5 frames per second once you've shot with a Nikon D2x in the crop mode at 8 frames per second. Even the D200 at 5 frames per second seems blazingly fast. Many will want a "real" twelve megapixel sensor rather that a six megapixel sensor that uses software "voodoo" to get there. I didn't like the menus at first but now I'm used to them. The raw file size is about twice as big as I'd like.

My totally subjective conclusion: 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. I know that when I shoot a portrait with the Fuji S5 Pro, I can light a little hotter and shoot a bit closer to the right of the histogram without constantly worrying about blowing out highlights. I know that flesh tones will be delicately and accurately rendered, and I know the color will be right on the money.

Saving time and effort on post processing, combined with files that are rich and beautiful, is a successful business strategy for any portrait professional. I'm sold.



Kirk R. Tuck ( is a people photographer who works mainly for corporate clients and advertising agencies. Based in Austin, Texas, he works for clients such as Dell, IBM, Motorola, Freescale, Time Warner, Renew Data, AMD, Ziff Davis, and Tribeza magazine. He just finished his first book, A Minimalist Guide to Lighting on Location, for Amherst Media and lectures to college classes on photography and marketing.