Fujifilm S5 Pro review
Image Quality And Value For Money
Exposure and White Balance
In terms of white balance and exposure accuracy there’s little to complain about, although when left to its own devices the automatic WB tends to err on the slightly cold side of things in overcast conditions. The 3D Colour Matrix Metering deals consistently with most scenes, although Fuji seems to have kept Nikon’s metering algorithms because it appears to be calibrated to underexpose ever so slightly – maybe by 1/3 of a stop. This is not a bad thing though, as it helps prevent highlights from blowing out.
However, when you crank up the D-range from ‘standard’ (100%) to 400% things get more interesting. At this point the highlights in the image rarely meet the end of the histogram – even with high-contrast scenes – showing that every single pixel contains image-forming information. A quick levels tweak in Photoshop and you have a full tonal range in each and every image, with no ‘lost’ detail.
It’s not all positive though, and Fuji’s claim that 6.17 million 'S' pixels plus 6.17 million 'R' pixels equals 12.34 million effective pixels is perhaps – how shall I put this – a little optimistic. I’m not suggesting that Fuji is wrong, but the final interpolated images – in terms of detail and clarity of the picture – are no better than most ten-million-pixel DSLRs, with a slight overall softness and ‘mushy’ detail areas.
Yet when it comes to the perennial question of noise there’s a marked improvement, and starting with the worst-case scenario – ISO 3200 – it’s clear to see that Fuji’s new two-stage noise-reduction processing works. At the maximum ISO setting there’s very little chroma (colour) noise, leaving slight luminosity texture that only appears in A3 prints – at an A4 print size it’s negligible.
As this suggests, reducing the ISO setting makes for very pleasing image enlargements, with fine A3 prints achievable at ISO 800 and anything below that better still.
Value For Money
If the S5 Pro was priced around £1000 it would undoubtedly appeal as a D200 alternative, but at the time of writing there’s around a £250 difference. This largely comes down to one thing – the Super CCD SR Pro sensor. If you really want (or need) the extended dynamic range then that’s the price you'l have to pay.