The reason the S5 Pro has such professional-level build quality is simply that it was once a camera aimed at the professional market. Note that it’s supplied body-only, but being based on Nikon’s D200 it will take any Nikon or Nikkor F-mount lens.
The reason it’s so inexpensive now is because the technology inside it is showing its age. With just 6.1 megapixels on offer (although output is 12.3 megapixels because of a curious interpolation scheme Fujifilm applies to its SuperCCD sensor), it’s a long way behind cutting edge. What it does offer is several features that high-end cameras have offered for years but are rarely found on consumer-level bodies.
It’s the only model this month to offer a 1/8000th second minimum shutter speed, for instance, which can be a godsend in bright light when you need a short depth of field. You also get five stops of exposure-compensation adjustment. A top-mounted secondary LCD panel is a boon, as are its dual command dials – one lies under thumb and one under index finger when you’re holding the hand grip. The 11 autofocus points are a big plus, too.
Beyond that, though, what were until recently professional-level digital features are now more mainstream. A maximum sensitivity setting of ISO 3200 is no longer special – newer professional bodies stretch as high as ISO 25,600.
Maximum burst rate is an average 3fps, with a JPEG buffer of just eight frames when most new models can shoot in JPEG until the memory card is full. The good news is the image quality. The CCD can’t resolve as much detail as modern offerings, but the dynamic range is fabulous and the S5 Pro’s images capture the nuance of light very well. It won’t suit landscape photographers, but it could be just the ticket for portraits.
So the Fujifilm doesn’t offer cutting-edge technology, and you need to factor a lens into the price. For most people, the newer technology of other models will be more attractive. But if you’re the pragmatic sort who wants as rugged and dependable a camera as you can get for below $1500, the S5 Pro is still very much a camera worth considering.
If you need professional-class ruggedness on a budget, this is a real option.
• Fujifilm: www.digidirect.com.au
• Price: 1263 • Camera type: DSLR • Megapixels: 6.1 (12.3 output) • Sensor size: 23.0 x 15.5mm • Max resolution: 4256 x 2848 • LCD size: 2.5" • Live view: Yes • ISO range: 100 - 3200 • RAW mode: Yes • Max burst speed: 3 • Memory slot: Compact flash (CF) • PictBridge: Yes • Battery type: Li-ion • Rechargeable battery: Yes • Dimensions (WDH mm): 145 x 70 x 110 • Weight: 920g • Manufacturer: Fuji • Supplier: Fuji