Flashback: The Fuji S5 Pro. Gorgeous color reproduction
Many of you may be surprised but one of my favorite digital cameras ever is a camera that I feel had the best Fuji color ever, even better than what we get with the newer X series. Yep, the now classic Fuji S5 Pro was built-in a Nikon D200 body, was slow to operate (for a DSLR) and did not have the most/highest resolution BUT it was and still is a camera capable of tremendous color reproduction. My time with the Fuji was spent back in 2007 and 2008 and during this time I also owned the Nikon D300, which had a better body, was faster, and did everything better than the Fuji, well, except for the color and Dynamic Range.
Direct from camera color taken on a gorgeous fall day in Wheatfield Indiana
Before Fuji had the X100, X-E1, Xt1 or any X camera they were using Nikon bodies and producing DSLR’s with their own unique sensor. The lens mount was Nikon so all Nikon glass would work on the Fuji S1, S2, S3 and S5. (I have owned the S2, 3 and 5). When I started doing comparisons between the S5 Pro and the Nikon D300, I preferred the S5Pro in the IQ department but loved the D300 for its speed and higher resolution. At that time I ended up sticking with the S5 Pro longer than I did the D300 but I do remember coming back to the D300 later on.
Still, as I look back at my photos on an old hard drive I noticed a few POP OUT from my screen, and then I remembered…ahhhh yes, the Fuji S5 Pro! Today you can still find S5’s for sale used and the prices range anywhere from $300 to $550 depending on condition. After looking back at some memories shot with the S5 I may one day buy one of the used ones up for an occasional burst of beautiful Fuji color. It isn’t so shabby in N&W either!
Who here has shot with or has owned the Fuji S1, S2, S3 or S5 Pro? If so, leave a comment and let me know what YOU think of the classic Fuji digital cameras!
Purchased an S5 on the 16 anniversary of its introduction. 9/25! Previously owned the S1, S2 and S3. Yes slow but the colors were always incredible. Unfortunately we will not see a CCD sensor in a consumer camera again.
and with modern Nikon lenses with impressive VR such as 18-55/55-200mm VR II, Tamron VC lenses, it’s totally possible to take perfectly clear images at 1/8 1/6 and even 1/4, while maintaining lower ISO under dark light situations.
Fuji S3Pro Iso 1600 is still totally usable today and impressively clean..and how often do we need iso 1600.
The S2 Pro was my serious foray into the digital world 10 Dec 2003. I happily used it for about 6 years mainly for nature and landscapes. SInce then I had a Sigma SD14 and a Canon 5D (still in use). I now also have a D7200 (and had a 7D beforehand). Of all my cameras the Fuji had the best tonal rolloff or transition. The sort of abrupt transition I can get with Cmos sensors didn’t seem a concern with the CCD sensor. In particular I don’t remember blown highlights being an an issue. I most regret selling the SIgma SD14 – despite it’s slow operation and limited ISO range etc. It was the only camera to capture the scene as I saw it with excellent micro detail. I am even considering buying a Sigma DP1 or DP2 camera but I see a very cheap S2 Pro currently for sale on the web. The ‘worst’ camera of the above was the 7D. Fantastic viewfinder fooled you into thinking the image quality would match. It never did and the LCD was way too contrasty and of no help in deciding whether the exposure was correct.
New to the S5 and wondered if anyone can give a clear guide as to which Nikon lenses actually suit the body.
Pete – Pick a lens really; they all work great. As to which lenses feel nice in the hand, if that’s what you’re asking, you’ll be happy to know that the inexpensive 18-55 and 55-200 lenses do a super fine job. I have all pro glass, but these kit lenses never cease to amaze. Upgrading to the 18-200 covers both lenses, and is superb. It too provides a fine match for handling balance as well, especially if using the battery grip.
I posted this link early on (http://img.gg/Cnww9NV), however the latest version of the site does not provide lens info. So, to get an idea of how these lenses perform (none with the 18-55, but the same quality as the 55-200):
Nikon AF-S DX VR 55-200mm f/4-5.6 – Most if not all of the Cat shots, HolyLand USA, Beach/sunsets, Cemetery
Nikkor AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II – Little boy, Misc indoor shots, HolyLand Cross with the sunrise, River shots
Jean Jacket was done with the Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 AF-S
Hope this helps! Enjoy!
Tethering Issues with S5Pro
Just stumbled on an interesting bit at Fuji’s website, concerning a firmware update that apparently corrects an issue with… OMGosh, well, read here for yourself:
“FinePix S5 Pro Firmware (camera control software) Update Ver.1.12”
“The firmware (Ver.1.11 to Ver.1.12) update incorporates the following issue.”
“An issue that, in some rare case, the camera may be frozen when PC controlling software (included in “Hyper Utility HS-V3”) is used, has been resolved…”
Well, what do you know! Camera “freezes” “when PC controlling software is used”. Funny how I documented in my earlier post of this very issue! Not sure I want to mess with firmware updating. Had a bad experience with that once with a router, and fried it! Since then, never attempted another firmware update on anything.
Fuji also offers a similar warning further down the web page:
1. “If firmware upgrading fails, the camera may no longer operate correctly in some cases. Carefully read the notes…”
Even though the S5 can be had for very little on EBay, I’m certainly not interested in killing mine, especially since I can use the simple work around I noted in my earlier post.
Tempting, but think I’ll pass!
For those more daring: http://www.fujifilm.com/support/digital_cameras/software/firmware/s/finepix_s5pro/index.html
Enjoy your S5Pro
Update on Tethering with S5Pro
I broke down and signed up for Photoshop CC. Problem is that not even this latest version of Lightroom offers tethering support for Fuji cameras period (in fact I was stunned to see it doesn’t offer support for Nikon D200!!) Some Canon, some Nikon, and only three Lieca models are covered. I could have sworn I saw a list somewhere in my hunting that Fuji was supported.
So the only option I personally have experience with tethering the S5 is digiCamControl. And like I said in my prior post, it’s a bit buggy. My setup does not allow me to shoot with full screen preview on any of my cameras… it works, then it doesn’t, and with the S5, it just freezes. So that option must be left off.
Also, no RAF (Fuji RAW) support. And as I noted earlier, you have to shoot several shots and when the shutter doesn’t respond after about 8 activations, switch the power off for a few seconds, and turn it back on for the next 8 pics and so on (only with the S5).
However, note that while the histogram might look correct in some instances, it appears to me that it does not match the body’s histogram with similar shots taken under same conditions (un-tethered). If only using for hobby, it’s probably fine. But pro/semi pro work might be a tad more cautious. In fact, tethering through Lightroom for RAW in general is no fuzzy wuzzy experience either. Histograms don’t match camera histograms, and picture control settings need to be set up with in Lightroom via custom camera calibration just so that renderings look pretty close to what you would see in NX2 (for Nikon). My work-around is to have NX2 open at same time, accessing the download folder from each shot in Lightroom, and simply advance to the next frame manually as each pic is taken. Now I can see renderings in NX2, and the watch the Nikon histogram as well. Wish I could do this into Lightzone with the S5Pro!! (LightZone is a VERY nice open source that recognizes Fuji RAF files, and also has a great Zone System module).
Really bummed seeing that Lightroom offers no support for Fuji! Oh well. Anyway, good luck and happy clicking as Viisshnu would say!
Long live the Fuji S5Pro!
Great series of comments………..As another big fan of the S5 I am wondering is if anyone has experience of shooting the S5 tethered? I have tried doing it with Fuji’s Studio Utility but have had a lot problems with it crashing. Does the S5 work with any other software when tethered?
What an irony! I was just asking myself the very same question this past weekend. But my S5 was tucked into a pelican behind a few things, and so I shelved the idea until I pull it out at some point. So here I am waking up around 2AM (after crashing at 8pm!) and found your post. Hmmmm… fast forward. Everyone is sleeping; laptop setup, S5 plugged in ready to go! Here are basic specs:
Laptop: Dec 2014 era machine with Win8.1/64x/4GRAM with entry level AMD, so not very powerful, but average.
Software: I don’t have a subscription yet to PS CC (Trial ended couple month’s back) but planning to probably jump on board soon. Meanwhile I’m still using good old CS2. Few days ago downloaded trial version of LightRoom 3.6 just to test tethering. Reason: I use a free version software called digiCamControl (version 184.108.40.206 – latest). I really like the feature set of this freebee, but I find it very buggy. So I am currently searching other options. LR 3.6 earliest version with support for this body.
OK, S5. First thing to do (for any camera actually) is to use a blank card, or go in and remove “shoot without card” protection if you shoot that way. I do. My default is always “No Card – No Shoot”. Now, with my older bodies (D700, D300) they will only save images to the laptop in tether. Guessing same for S5. The reason for using a blank card is that the software searches it as storage space, even though it won’t write to it! So if you have lots of images on the card, it slows down the catch rate in tether. I’m sharing this because we all know the S5 is sluggish on its own, so tethering should prove interesting. Moving on.
LR did not want to even acknowledge its presence. I gave it about 5mins or so and gave up. I have an empty card in, but I’m tired and have no patience to pull it set up for the other way. Moving onto digiCamControl. Bang! It sees the S5 and I am delighted and amazed at transfer rate. Not any slower than the other 2 bodies, in fact oddly it seems to run smoother for some reason. I am shooting JPG Fine. Hmmm. So far so good. Let’s try RAW. Hey, I can’t do this on the fly. I have to shut down, disconnect, put it into RAW and reconnect. Ok that was weird. I shoot, but no response from software. Tried twice. Ok, let’s go back to JPG. Working like a champ. So I can’t shoot RAW with this software. Dang! Moving on. What?? After about 5-8 shots, now the camera will not release shutter for a shot, and then the program freezes. Longer story short, tried this about three times, each time having to reboot computer, each time after about 5-8-10 shots. Nutz!
I should note that I also changed my settings and removed the card just to see if it might transfer any faster. Uhhh, ok I did that, but didn’t pay attention! Stupid. But I can say that in either method it seemed to move along nicely until the overall freezes.
So… preliminary results to answer the question is yes it works, but the jury is out for me as to how well it will perform / on what software. Time to put everything back. 5:30AM comes early. Peace!
Ok. Couldn’t resist. Plugged her back in and tried something… Shot about 8 pics, and then camera would not release shutter. Don’t touch ANYTHING, not even the mouse. Turn off the camera. Wait. Flip back on… take another 8/9 shots. No shutter release. Do the shutdown thing again… It works, howbeit in annoying fashion. But not bad for free software…
Guess I gotta play with this. So Google and download a copy of digiCamControl (latest version) and give it a try.
Now I wont be able to get back to sleep! Thanks Viisshnu… this is all YOUR fault! Make me dig out my S5 at 2 in the morning… get me all excited… LOL
Sorry, not Visshnu… I mean Geoff!
Cheers and happy clicking 🙂
I would love to read your blog on CCD rendering… can you provide a link? Double cheers mate.
Sure bro, here are the links 🙂
Cheers and Happy Clicking 🙂
Great review Steve. I have heard great things about the S5 Pro but never used or owned one. I am a sucker old bygone cameras and feel modern CMOS technology is a scam. Micro level details of CMOS sensors are garbage. I preferentially shoot with CCD sensor cameras..Nikon D200 and Sony a200 (yes even in 2015). Also acquired a Nikon D70s (amazing colors)recently. These old Sony, Kodak sensors have some kind of magic inside them. With digital that’s as close you can get to film. Unfortunately modern CMOS sensors lack that magic.This is coming from a pro and I have shot Canon 5D Mark II & III and Sony a7 series cameras. The micro level details are absent in these cameras. I also feel no matter how many cameras Leica makes nothing can come anywhere near the rendering of the Kodak made 18 MP CCD sensor of the M9. I have also written extensively about CCD rendering on my blog. Check it out in your free time. Cheers and thanks again for this article.
I never did get a great shot with S5 of that cross on the hill the next morning after my first post above… I got better shots with the D700 that morning. So I went out again last week, and did manage a nice pic with the Fuji. Providing a link to that, plus a batch of spectacular feline portraits and other shots from a day on the hill with that local cross, and some other stuff. The S5 is still a truly remarkable camera. They can be had for little to nothing today. Next to Steve’s pics, and Jake’s as well, hopefully something additional here which inspires you if your poking around the internet right now trying to determine if its worth your time and $$$ to pick up one of these amazing cameras! Enjoy: http://img.gg/Cnww9NV
Yesterday I went with my wife to the place where we said “yes” to each other ten years ago. Small castle with a large park. She had a nice new green wedding dress (she wanted to surprice me and yes, it worked), I had a X-E1 and as a backup old dusty and rusty S5. After 20 shots I found a terrible greenhorn mistake – full memory card in X-E1. So I took S5, used 230 WD mode with small custom settings jpgs. Castle garden, old tree, park bench, old green wooden doors… I shot, talked with my wife…
In the evening she wanted to see pictures. I opened my old CRT Sony photo monitor and… Simply wow… What a colours, what a first strong picture impact… The best skin colours I have seen for a long time, nice colour rendetion. How can I forget about S5 abilities? How? Terrible mistake…
I have Fuji’s going back to the 605N. For walking around I use the HS20EXR, which is always good and occasionally awesome, the best damned point and shoot you will find. Razor pics, 750mm zoom and full hd/stereo video in Fuji color. High-res in near darkness. It is something else. . I just bought an S5, with a Tamron 28-200 VR and am learning it. I am excited, and pleased that according to you guys I did good. Even a rank amateur like me knows that Fuji produces the best color rendition. And the pixel count bugaboo reminds me of the “total harmonic distortion” marketing ploy used by the Stereo equipment manufacturers back in the day. Like we could hear it. With 7 g-kids, I expect to give the S5 a workout.
The photo of the boy in the snow is fantastic.
Randy – You are going to love it! Word of encouragement: If you want to shoot RAW (which really slows this camera down even more (all good things come with time, right?), the original proprietary software was a product called HS-V3 Hyper Utility, and it wasn’t cheap. Amazon has about 10 copies for about $60 now. Actually, it has some downside reviews. BUT… Google this FREEWARE: LightZone Project. It is an open source program that started out as a high-end product which had very high scores among pros, and then abandoned. It is now supported worldwide, and it will open RAF files from your Fugi! Plus, if you are old school, you’ll like this: it is geared toward using the zone system. It does a really nice job with the Fuji RAF if you need to readjust exposures, etc. I prefer to get it right out of the gate, and not have to sit behind a computer… but its nice to know there is something worthwhile available if needed. Anyway, welcome to the S-5 club, and anticipate spectacular!
Oh, and I love the THD comment… I have a pair of JBL L7’s. Have them set up wrong firing inward against oak cabinets because in a tight room… friend who installs super high end grumbled at the setup until he heard them from a Lexicon, powered on Bryston… said it sounded better than $100G studio down at the store.. Couldn’t agree with you more! Interpretation: Megapixels only dictate picture print size and used for counting bricks on a monitor… My cheap Fuji S700 (7MP) takes breath taking portraits even with the onboard flash dialed back! Fuji has always ruled in the color tone zone!
Had s5 since it was released. Used it until two years ago, finally GAS got to me and bought an XE1. S5 had a strong AA filter, with in combination of higher MP and lack of AA filter, i was living a dream as i took black and whites. But then as time goes by, i just couldnt get the colour i want like s5. I even screwed up my very own wedding with the xe1…. fatal mistake that was… luckily, my brother, also photographer, was at the weddibg with ny s5, so some shots were showable to friends and families….
Now i use s5 as my sampling machine and use a7r to take the actual shot. Once on computer, i just tune the A7r colour according to s5 reference file.
(Im now mostly landscape shooter as hobby. Previously i was shooting for small magazines and posters with s5. If i were to change my career back, i will probably just buy a whole fleet of s5 lol)
If anyone is interested in seeing many photos all taken on the S5 pro.
Still using mine, married permanently to a 58mm Nokton. Perfect 87mm 1.4 for portraits. The diopter has gotten stuck, though, so I can no longer judge manual focus by eye and have to depend on the green dot and beep. Hit and miss, but when it hits, what a hit! Superb camera. I have been thinking of moving to an XT1 but then I thought, why bother. I’ll probably use this until it dies like my Olympus E1. Something about that CCD magic.
Is it 2015? Let me check my calendar… yes by golly, it seems to be!
Well, I have a T-90 sitting on the chair next to me, mounted with an 80mm/1.2/L glass; On the chair next to it is an S5pro with an AFS DX 55-200 and the cheapo 18-55 is in the bag on the floor. [I have the best Nikkor primes, and a 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 VR, and 300 f/2.8… I can honestly say the pics I get with the cheaper, lighter weight lenses are absolutely superb on the S5!]. So why do I worry about pixel count over image color and dynamics? Oh, that’s right, I don’t. Some still do though. Oh well, their loss, not mine… grin.
Continuing… A D300 is sitting in a bag that travels with me everywhere right now, I’m in a season where I want to push it to the limit (put down the D700 for a while… I want to sweat a little to help me think more about technique). The key with the D300 is light. Just keep an SB800 or SB900 handy at all times, and bounce whenever possible. Heck, a clear plastic film canister with inside cap ridges snaps right over the pop up on the D300 in a pinch. Set Picture Control to Neutral/+5 Sharpening/+2 Saturation and dial in Cloudy or Shady WB… very nice skin tones, but still NOTHING like the S5Pro!
Anyway, doing the same with the S5Pro for low light situations… always keep SB800 with it. Speed?? We only have speed because its the age we live in. Remember film days, where we took our time to get our shots right?? How about manual zooms?? Give me a break. S5Pro is no slower than it needs to be…. we just want it to move faster.
So, here’s my plan… It is supposed to be a marvelous day tomorrow here in CT… I am sneaking out early with my Fuji to catch a local Cross on a hill with the sunrise behind it… I can’t wait!!! I probably won’t sleep tonight just thinking about it!! :-}
All this to say, still using my S5Pro and loving it!
Steve – G-R-E-A-T S5 pics! From grass and leaves in the dog pic, to the skin tones on the young lad and the rich hues in the flower petals… and that B&W is mind blowing! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for posting this. It is exactly the article I was looking for in this day and age, to see what anyone is saying about this great little piece of technology. I think Ansel would have embraced it whole hardily just like he did the modern scanners before he passed on.
Interested to read this. I bought an S5 second-hand around five years ago. I only have a Nikon short zoom, and always shoot just j-pegs. I bought it mainly for the film simulation modes, and generally use the Velvia option. I miss film a lot, as processing is too expensive now. I have held on to my Minolta Dynax 7 and 24-105 zoom, as I can’t bear to part with it.
Despite being pleased with the build quality of the S5, I have never got past my best camera ever, the Canon T90 that I owned for years. I wish Canon would replicate that in digital.
I have been considering selling the S5, and getting one of the new retro all-in-one compacts, like the Olympus Stylus 1, or Fuji X30; but reading this, I might just dust off the S5 for the summer and try again with it. Never took a shot as good as the examples here though Steve!
Best wishes, Pete.
Sold it a few years ago , switched to Canon ,when I look back in my old work : regrets
So I started looking for a second hand…………
just found one … Brandnew ! never used , from some retailer old stock , 250 euro’s
It will arive tomorrow.
meanwhile the Fuji S5 work again,it was something they adjust wrong in factory in the setup menu,i must test it again
I own a Fuji S2 and as well many other Nikon camera’s,i did not use the Fuji long time because battery problems,a few days back i saw the old files and start to fall in love again about the colours,just was here a sale of new Fuji S5 bodies for a cheap price (200 euro),i ordered one on internet and received the camera the next day new in the box,the picture quality and colours were very poor and the highlights and white burned out,i compared it with my Nikon D200 what creates much better colours and dynamic range,i was really negative amazed to see this,after some minuts the shutter start to make strange sounds,and a bit later the menu dissapeared,i will bring back the camera,for me never a Fuji S5 anymore,i am glad with my S2 despite battery problems.
I still have and use an S5 pro.(I have owned a pair of S3’s and an S5 previously) in fact I had sold this one but bought it back recently as I missed its great color and skin tone capabilities…The only worries I have are the future availability of the NP 150.. battery (I live in Bangkok).. so I will be purchasing a Batt/grip soon ( AA batts)..(something I missed from using the S3).. LOL My other bodies are 2 EOS 5D (custom)’s a pair of EOS M’s and some M4/3 gear (both Olympus and Panasonic). And I also have a Nikon D40x (converted to infrared) LOL
Still use my s5 professionally for weddings and portrait work. My clients are always happy!
Iove this.. still using s2pro’s started in 2003 with them, i’ve covered weddings, portraits, events, over 100, 000 images ( shoot raw) between 2 bodies!.. I’m using nikon 50mm 1.4, 17-55mm 2.8 & 70-200mm 2.8 ( yes fast). 2 years ago I picked up an s3pro ( which I use as a studio camera – or when I need multi flash) she “bugs” a bit but woww the quality.. Maybe I should up grade to a S5?!!. but long live the s2pro! ..
I use lightroom 1.14 then print upto A3+ ( ilford galerie gold fibre silk + hahnemuhle canvas) on a Canon 9500 mark2… oldskhool!
I just shot a wedding with an S2 Pro and only a Nikon 50mm 1.8. One lens, one focal length. INCREDIBLE shots. Even though I have the S3 and S5, the S2 Pro still shines.
what lenses are the pics with?
damn you for letting our secret out. The Fuji S5 still kicks butt over just about everything and is a steal used. I sold a d7000 for one. There is YET to be a camera to really best it. A full frame S5 would be mannah but sadly they never created it. I do notice you don’t have resolution to spare and crop. But that’s ok. Just be a bit more careful and its fine. after years of fuddling with nikon digital I am happy in the fuji world. and film. and thats about it.
Just used my S5 Pro yesterday! Unmatched image quality/depth for the resolution. Currently also using a Nikon D4, Fuji x100s and a S3 Pro. Have owned and sold D70, D200, D300, D2x and various Canon DSLR’s, kept the Fujis.
Quite a rewarding experience to use the S5/S3 Pro cameras, makes you think about photography in a different way and enjoy each and every photograph.
Fuji S2, S3, and S5 owner here scrutinizing the full DPreview Nikon D750 review — but disappointed by the color of the 60 test shots included — especially the skintones. I feel I need a new camera for events, weddings, portraits and large fine art prints — but worry I’m hopelessly spoiled by the Fuji color I have taken for granted all these years. It was clear from the beginning that Fuji skin tones were superior to anything Nikon. But this still seems true. Hope I am wrong because I’m really ready for a camera using Nikkor glass that can handle faster, make larger prints, and render better low-light shadow detail.
The S5 is the only digital camera that I’ve kept, even though I rarely use it. If I want to have a wander around the streets, I take the S5 and shoot jpg. The only thing I set is the white balance, I let the camera do the rest.
So glad I held on to my S5. Now that I have better glass, here is a small set from this past weekend, OOC JPEGs, no post processing. Love the colors!
Hi there, I was researching on the Fuji S5 pro as I WAS about to put mine on ebay.. I have second thoughts now and will shoot some more images on it and see..You guys may have stopped me making a mistake…
Great article and some great replys..
Put a simple lens on he camera, and take a slightly slower measured approach. Great colours and feel are your reward. It’s also a tougher weather sealed type body
As a wedding photographer , I have used the the Fuji S5 pro since it came out. I did have 2 S5 bodies and just recently sold my most used one to fund a piece of new camera gear. My second body is practically brand new as I had bought it as a back up camera and was just sitting in the box. Have shot about 5 weddings with the newer body and I hope to shoot hundreds of more as I did with the previous. I also shoot with Nikon bodies,Have had the Nikon D70s, D2h,D2hs, D200), Still have a D2xs, D3x as well as a D700 and a newly acquired Fuji X100s which I shoot along with the Fuji S5 pro at weddings. The D2xs is “The Closest ” when it comes to matching the S5pro for skin tone colour. I too have been bitten by the “Must have newest camera upgrade bug” as you can see I upgraded to the latest Nikons as they came out, but kept on hanging on to the S5 pro. Every wedding I kept on comparing the S5 pro files which I have always shot in JPEG mode to the Nikon files which i always shoot in RAW, and am to this day ALWAYS blown away as all the posters above me have said, by the COLOUR and QUALITY of the image. Resolution may be nice to have like in the newer cameras, BUT i don’t see the QUALITY AND COLOUR i see compared to my Fuji S5pro. As a previous poster has said, once the camera manufacturers started concentrating on more mega pixels and higher iso’s they lost focus on the color rendition and quality of the image from those sensors. Im done buying new DSLRS, the only other camera i might be interested in is the Fuji XT-1 as i am finding the X100s a real delight to use .
I agree with you totally Nick. When companies started to chase megapixels and high ISOs they lost track of color fidelity and IQ. When zoomed to 1000% CMOS sensor images look very bad. Even on a7 series cameras.That old Sony/Nikon,Kodak CCDs had something special going on about them. I strongly feel CMOS sensors are a scam. I am still holding onto my Nikon D200, Sony a200 and Nikon D70s
Last year I purchased a second hand, barely used s5 Pro and ever since, I have not been able to get over the image quality. I have done huge amounts of research and keep finding that the s5 Pro is STILL miles ahead of any modern DSLR in terms of “Film Like” rendition. I will never sell my s5 Pro and until the day comes that Fuji makes that supposed ‘Organic Sensor’ I don’t see the need to buy a new camera.
There’s something about the highlights that makes it more film like than any other camera, especially noticeable when blowing out faces with direct flash. The images seem to look like party photos captured back in the 70s on kodak film.
Great article. Still shooting with my beloved S5 pro. A graduate of the film era myself, I love it’s colour reproduction, dynamic range and solid, dependable usability. While I agree overall resolution may not be high in comparison to more contemporary offerings, the difference is small in real terms and I have had great success capturing those special moments at a number of weddings and special events I have asked to capture without complaint or quibbles over resolution.
I agree whole heartedly with many of you that what you get from the S5 is superb colour rendition and detail, excellent dynamic range, good shadow or dark area detail and very few blown highlights at lower ISO settings up to 800 dropping a little more from 1200. Ideal for capturing the happy couple on bright sunny day in the church yard. Natural landscape and architectural colours are handled well too, all with pleasing tone and saturation right out of the camera.
The other plus is the plethora of new and second hand lenses that will work well with the body. While with the available resolution there may be limits to the cropping and enlarging you can get away with, with a decent long lens even an older well cared for example can give you pleasing results for small outlay. But this is also true of more up to date nikons and the like, but higher resolution may well reveal the floors of less accomplished lenses.
As for handling quirks and slowness, I still think in terms of having 24 or 36 shots available to me as with my old Practica MTL5b, BX20, Ricoh XRX and EOS 5 film cameras. You just have to be on the ball, be prepared and superb result are easily within anyone’s reach despite what may be considered by todays expectations as less than slick operation.
Upgrading? Hmmm, I fallen into the bigger, better faster trap before and been met with less than expectation and review had suggested. So I’m in no hurry, preferring instead to concentrate on the subject rather than the camera. Perhaps when medium format cameras such as the Pentax 645 or Mamiya Leaf are by some miracle within my financial reach. Or should Fuji see fit to produce a FX frame SLR with even better dynamic range than the 5, I will be at the front of the queue.
To finish, they were regarded as a niche camera and largely overlooked except by those looking for something different or for portraiture and events work. However, there is more to the camera than I anticipated as many of you have found too. Im glad I’m not alone in the appreciation of this great, much underated camera.
Would I get those lovely fujifilm colors if I instead of purchasing a S2, S3 or S5, instead bought the much cheaper S200EXR bridge camera, which came out later, but also had a Super CCD sensor, a newer one even? They go for next to nothing on ebay..
fuji s3 pro for colour
Nikon d2h for black n white
Buy these two: both are Nikon mount
That’s under $400 total
And you are set for photography jobs, weddings, concerts, corporate
My own setup was fuji s2 pro and Nikon d1h with the terrible battery life!
Love, love the boots and leaf!! But all great! And your self portrait….amazing!
I had an S3 Pro – it was my first DSLR and I loved it. I eventually swapped it for a Nikon D200 which had much better resolution but much poorer colour and dynamic range. In fact, my current D800 cannot match the S3 Pro for dynamic range. On the subject of resolution I have produced some superb A3+ prints from S3 Pro files, so I think that in the real world, 6mp is just about enough.
I also own an S5 Pro till this day. It’s as film-like as it can get compared to many DSLRs out there. I mount it to the Sigma 35mm Art lens for my travels and it stull churns out cinematic stuff. Hope the camera will last as long as possible.
Still have 2 S5’s and an S3, could never bring myself to part with them. The S5 is the only camera that I look back and miss using, had the D300 and then the D300s but both were handed to my wife as I preferred the S5, finally when we got a pair of D700’s it became the 2nd camera, had a D3, D3X and currently a D800E (along with some X-series stuff) and considering the D810 but am starting to think about returning to the S5. We recently covered a fairly large music festival and my daughter used my old S5 with a Nikon 70-200 VR1 and just shot jpg’s when it come to editing I found myself enjoying her shots more than my own, there is just something so much more pleasing from that sensor
So I shouldn’t have sold my D200 (big, heavy, clunky, lugging)…
Oh wait, different sensor!
I still use 2 s5Pro bodies for wedding and portrait work and have for many years. both work and I do take good care of them. Although slow in comparison to modern bodies, they are still useable on the day as long as you plan your shots carefully. All in all great images with wonderful colours.
I had one for a short while several years ago but never liked the Silkypix software and Lightroom didn’t do the raw files justice. Sold it and got a D700 instead which I liked much better and kept for many years. One day I will be nostalgic about the D700 but not the S5pro.
Sorry, but IMO many of the colors/hues are unreal, bordering on surreal, over the top.
We have 4 of them we use for our picture day business, you are right, they are awesome cameras and I was really bummed when they stopped selling them. Any time I can find them used I try and buy them.
you can buy refurbished ones, 0 shot in the box on e-bay for less than 600$ for the body. I intend to buy one more, I have one in brand new state that was refurbished by Fuji when I broke the top cover beside the switch on/off button. I suspect my housekeeper to left it fall down, it’s a heavy thing with the grip and 2 batteries.
I could never get over the colors of Fuji. I have followed your site for several years now and have enjoyed all your reviews. That led me to the Sony RX1. Love that camera. Now i just got the Fuji X-T1 with the Zeiss Touit Lenses 12mm and the 32mm. Just started taking snaps the last day and wow! this is a fun camera. Kind of wished I had tried Fuji before so I could have experienced the Fuji look. Can’t wait to really take some real photographs instead of just the snaps. This is a great camera and the size is just right.The next lens I will get will be the Zeiss Touit 50mm. Thanks for all the work you put into your site Steve . It is really appreciated.
am poor. Please send all unwanted zeiss touit lenses. thank you.
I used the Fuji S3 for a year. Great IQ and colours, overall a great camera. My only gripe was having to use rechargeable AA batteries; they never seemed to last long enough.This yeaar I bought a Fuji X100 because I wanted to experience that same colour and IQ
i used to own it too before upgrade to D700, and yes it was amazing camera!
I bought a cheap used S3Pro several years ago to use Nikon lenses. It’s big, awkward and clunky (needs two separate sets of batteries!) but gives wonderful results! (Wedding photographers loved its colours – but I’m rather colour-blind and don’t see the nuances which others see.)
I still occasionally take it out and give it a run: it’s still big and clunky, and nowadays has very low maximum ISO compared to modern cameras, but in good light it gives delightful pictures.
No: just checked; it’s the S2Pro!
Fuji S2 Pro was my favourtie camera for B&W
had that crunchy grunginess.
Fuji S1 -S5 did subteltly ever so well.
Almost up there with Sigma SD9, 10 for subtety and that’s saying something.
Thanks for this. I used an S3 Pro for years and only “upgraded” back to a Nikon body two years back. There is something special in that high dynamic range sensor of the S3 / S5. Some say nothing is or was better than the S2 though.
As for the resolution debate, I had billboard images produced from that S3 with a 50mm prime without complaint from the signage guys. You had to train yourself to shoot shot for shot with RAW though – three in a row would lock the buffer for what felt like eternity.
Still, I just can’t connect with the Nikon body like that old Fuji. It may be better in just about every way, but simply does not have that “spark” the Fuji has.
Agreed. I had the 5 at one time, still have and shoot the S2 pro!
Steve, what a great post. I currently use mirrorless cameras from Sony and Panasonic — but I still take out my S2 Pro for my most treasured personal and professional work. Huge, beautiful, light gathering pixels that have no peer in most cameras made today. I read on the Fujifilm site that when designing the X-Series, the Fujifilm engineers were actually trying to reach the color rendition standards set by the SPro series. Even now in 2014, it’s the only camera that’s made me not want to use a medium format camera — it’s that good. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to post process an image from this camera.
A few months ago, I did a similar piece on another great Fujifilm classic — check out the article “Fujifilm’s Forgotten Street Camera” at http://www.streetphotographyreview.com.
By the way, Steve, outstanding photographs as usual!
Thanks so much!
Great post Steve and nice to see that one of those cameras that wrote history is not forgotten. I shoot the S5 Pro beside my NEX-7. I never had any intention to buy any other new DSLR. The S5 is a slow camera, but the image quality is absolutely great, even in out of camera jpeg, at small print size, the pictures are absolutely top notch. If today Fuji would rework this type of sensor in full frame, it could make a real hit.
Hi Steve, this is a wonderful article to read! I used to shoot a fuji s3 pro, which is still my favorite digital camera for color reproduction. The old fuji superCCD certainly has some sort of color rendering magic (absent in the current x-trans CMOS sensors) in it, which makes the photos look a lot like films. In my opinion, fuji s pro series cameras produce the images which are closest to films. Even though my S3 pro has been sitting in the cabinet most of the time since I started to shoot X-pro1 for portability reasons, I will never sell my S3 pro.
I think that apart from noise in base iso and size the big digital cameras of years ago are better than the current compact cameras and highly capable with the use of modern raw converters. I love my R1 🙂
I have never used this camera but know Pros who swear by the excellent colour reproduction ! From what I have seen on various sites on the web not to mention the knowledgeable opinions expressed -it seems that they are right-it is indeed special !
Crazy how in this digital world the best does not always prevail ? Digital is constantly evolving-now towards higher and higher pixel count and ever higher ISO resolution.
This does not always mean it is the best -it may be the best for the MARKET to win customers who are not necessarily knowledgeable about all aspects of the image.
Maybe we should treasure these cameras for their inherent qualities and try to keep using them and not just “trade up ” to the greatest and the best? Or at least keep using them even if you have another newer camera.
In the future there may be great cameras selected from “the early days of digital “and who knows what cameras may be mega collector value – I for one would not bet against this camera been in that company.
I shot with both the Fuji S1pro- which was a whopping 3.1 megapixels and a base ISO of 320. Amazing workhorse!! I then graduated to the S2 pro and a whole 6 megapixel or a supposed 12mp raf file. But the skin tones and color rendition were flawless!
Amazing skin tones on the close up of Brandon with snow!
I bought an S5 pro not long after it was released and yes, it was a fantastic camera, especially regarding colour reproduction. It was my first digital camera and coming from film, I could not get used to the crop factor so after some years I sold mine. But man, when I look at the pictures I took with that camera and the Zeiss 1.4 85mm and Zeiss Makro 100mm, I am still thrilled by the beauty of those colours.
Do you think the Foveon sensor is similar as color rendering and/or dynamic range? I’m talking about the new Quattro.
P.S. Great Site!
I am stiil using my S5 Pro – (last paid work it did was in Feb this year. It was of a night-time party with great coloured spot lighting. I used 35/50mm Nikon primes. The colours were brilliant, but I was constantly balancing shutter speed against /iso. I have HAD to use D7000’s now at events and weddings for speed and low noise. Winter Weddings are the in thing in the UK and are a nightmare! Zero light indoors! What’s the fastest iso would any S5 pro user select for colour work?
I have got an X-t1 to try out, but the low light auto focus is not as good as I hoped for. WHY did fuji not support strobe flash in anything other than single shot?!
Oh, I got myself a split focus screen for manual lenses on my S5 pro, but I am not fast enough to focus them.
Steve what was your fav colour setup for the S5? (Also use M43 and V1) – Bad G.A.S.
You could get a split screen for the S5?! Hmm…. wait. Must not buy a body JUST for my Ai lenses… Must not…
I have had 2 S3’s sold one and re bought one a year or so later. I loved the colour and could live with most of its quirks in the end I had to sell it due to ill health and it being too heavy. I preferred the out put of them to Nikons up to a D90 and the Canon 5d mk1.
Great photos of Scrubby and Brandon this young.. time flies!
Indeed a camera with a very Fuji film color reproduction.
Although I like the colors here, I don’t always want them to be this strong.
And I thought I was the only one still hanging on and shooting with the S5 Pro……
Same reasons, great colors with nikon lens……
Would love to see a a7S vs S5 Pro color and dynamic range comparison…
I still use my S2 and S5 pro, awesome colors and dynamic range!-joshnz
I still use my Fuji S2 and a new S5 too,but the S2 has still the best colours and skin tones
Are these JPEGs or RAW and which lenses did you use at the time? Thx
I owned and used the Fuji S2 pro before switching to Canon and the Fuji files were and are still very very good in fact the skin tones are some of the best and IMHO better than today’s CMOS sensors. I just looked at some of those raw files again and was not disappointed. They were good then and are good now.
Great post. Always loved my Fuji S5 for the reason stated – the colors. They are still the best. Just imagine if Fuji created a modern FF DSLR with all the bells and whistles today! I bet it would be fantastic.
Ah the S5 Pro… probably the most “film like” color rendering of any digital camera pre-Sony F35.
Great color and clarity.
Still have and use my S3pro. Can’t let go of the dynamic range and color. Sluggish camera though. I am glad you actually took time to write about the camera’s strength. Kudos!
The skin colors that Fuji did (and still does with Fuji X cameras) probably produce the best skin colors out of all cameras Today (with Canon being second in my opinion, and some people believe Olympus does good skin colors, but I disagree). This is evidenced by the photo of your son in the snow. Try to get such skin color on a Sony A7 – good luck with that!
I have the Olympus E1 and the colors are way better than anything else from current OlyPanasonic sensors. I believe it’s the kodak CCD.
What? you can’t get good skin tones with the Sony A7’s you probably never used one then.
Actually I had owned A7r and now own A7. Skin colors on these are hit and miss.
what abt A7 + old fuji lens?
They are hit and miss. I have a a99, a900, and a7. The a7 has the least pleasing skin tones and color generally. The a900 has lovely, lovely color, especially for skin tones.
I love the colors from the S5, but the new MILC Fuji’s x-trans colors are a bit plastic texture wise. The colors don’t have the same depth and volume of the s5 or a900.
Having owned Nikon D5000, D7000, Canon 6D, Fuji X100, Olympus E-P2, E-P5 and now a Sony A7 and for me the A7 stands out head and shoulders. Second probably the E-P2.
For me color is very important and I keep grabbing my A7 over other cameras because I’m so happy with the color output.
Most Nikon cameras as well as my E-P5 make people look yellow. I notice that a lot of professional Nikon shooters deliver photos with yellow people. I have a feeling it has to do with the optimizations for getting great ISO performance on DXO test charts that ruin the colors.
Nikon does lean towards yellow, I have seen this as well. I do not feel Olympus does but each camera has their own unique color signature from Leica to Canon to Nikon, etc.
It’s always interesting to see the disparity between perceived good color and technically good color. I do not like Nikon’s renderings and color at all either–that yellowish hue.
The a900 leans more towards a red, where’s as the a7/a99 leans towards browner/yellower, which makes it look a little more Nikon-ish to me. While backpacking in India, my buddy had a 5d2, I shot if often, but it couldn’t see red.
I’d love to see a comparison, or have a chance to shoot the Nikon d2x, a900, s5, 5Dc and a Sigma DP15/quattro together for a week or two.
I love the colors!
Would it be possible to post-process (Lightroom presets?) pictures from my X-E2, to get the color signatures of Leica or S5?
I agree about the colors, which is why I am still using my old 5D classic. Full frame goodness and nice skin tones to boot!