Body & Design

There's not a lot to add to what we said about the Nikon D200 (it's the same camera, after all). Construction is simply superb, and is much the same as the D2X, with the same high quality magnesium alloy body, soft rubber coating around grip areas and rubber seals around compartment doors. You can only really appreciate how well put together it is by handling it. It really feels like a solid brick with no creaks or hints of flex. Around the back the S5 Pro has the same oversized controls as the Nikon D2X which make it easier to use normally but especially when wearing gloves.

There are a few minor external differences where Fuji has made its mark - albeit in a small way - on the Nikon body; the signature red 'swash' has gone from the top of the grip and some of the buttons that run down the left side of the LCD have had their functions changed to add a Face Detection button (for playback mode). The S5 Pro has a totally new user interface and menu system (more of which later), and a different approach to custom functions, so there are now two menu buttons (menu and setup). Finally the icons on the buttons have changed to white, which is actually an improvement if you're working in low visibility.

Environmental seals

Basing the S5 Pro on the D200 means that Fujifilm finally gets a truly 'pro quality' body designed for use in demanding situations. There are numerous rubber gasket seals around body seams, controls and compartment doors. Nikon doesn't claim the camera to be waterproof but it's certainly more 'weather proof' than the average digital SLR. Remember that the camera is only as weather proof as its weakest link, this includes the lens mount and only a few of the more recent Nikkor lenses have rubber seals around the mount ring.

Side by side

Here you can see the S5 Pro beside the Canon EOS 5D. Both cameras have similar proportions and similar levels of build quality (although we'd give the edge to the S5 Pro). The S5 Pro weighs 920 g (2.0 lb) with its battery but without a lens. The EOS 5D weighs just 110 g less in the same form.

In your hand

When we reviewed the D200 we waxed lyrical about how good the D200 feels in your hand, praising the purposeful and extremely robust feel and superb ergonomics. Having previously used every FinePix SLR both in the studio and in the field I can tell you that the S5 Pro knocks all its predecessors into a hat in handling and construction terms. The soft rubber of the chunky hand grip and excellent rear 'thumb hook' design make it feel as though it was designed around the form of the human hand - designed to be used, not looked at. The control layout is excellent, with large buttons and clear labeling. Arguments about the relative merits of Canon versus Nikon will rage forever but we still feel that the latter has the edge when it comes to external control layout.

Design changes compared to the S3 Pro

Two years is a long time in the digital camera world, but the key thing here is that Fujifilm finally managed to get a decent twenty-first century body out of Nikon (even if they had to wait a year for Nikon to sell enough D200s). The S5 Pro is a better looking, better built and better featured camera. Of course the built-in vertical grip on the S3 Pro is nice if you're on a budget, but if you're on a budget you won't be looking at this camera anyway, will you?

LCD Monitor

The S5 Pro has a larger screen than the S3 Pro (2.5-inch as opposed to 2.0 inch), though it's a slightly lower resolution and so in a side-by-side comparison doesn't look as crisp or clear. That said, this is still an excellent screen and the extra size is more than welcome. Being a 'ground up' fully integrated digital camera means the second 'control panel' LCD has finally been consigned to the great parts bin in the sky and all settings are controlled either using the menus on the color screen or external controls and the top panel.

Fuji has also replaced the lovely Nikon user interface / menu system with a not quite so lovely one of its own (though it's a lot friendlier than the old split screen system used on the S1 to S3).

The screen doesn't have an anti-reflective coating and so can suffer from reflection in bright conditions. The camera is supplied with a clip-on screen protector which has a clear center which has no detrimental effect on image brightness and will help to protect the screen.

Top Control Panel

The S5 Pro has one control panel on the top. This large display dominates the entire right top side of the camera and provides a full range of information covering photographic and digital settings. The panel has a green back light that can be illuminated by flicking the power switch to the lamp position, it's spring loaded and returns to 'ON'. Unlike the D200 you can't customize the behavior of the illumination (it stays on until any button is pressed or the power save kicks in). Note that even when the camera is 'Off' this panel displays the number of frames remaining on the card or -E- if no card. There are some very minor differences compared to the D200 (basically a few icons for functions not supported have been removed - the custom function memory banks and 'basic' file quality setting, 'shade' white balance, interval timer and clock battery icons).

A breakdown of information displayed on the LCD panel can be found on the diagrams below.

*1 • Shutter-speed
• Exposure compensation value
• Flash compensation value
• ISO sensitivity
• Color temperature
• White balance preset number
• Number of shots in bracketing sequence
• Focal length (non-CPU lens)
*2 • Aperture (f-number)
• Aperture (number of stops)
• Bracketing increment
• Maximum aperture (non-CPU lens)
• PC connection indicator
*3 • Number of frames remaining
• Number of shots remaining before buffer fills
• PC mode indicator
• Preset white balance recording indicator
*4 • Electronic analog exposure display
• Exposure compensation
• Bracketing progress indicator
• PC mode indicator

Diagram reproduced with permission from the Fujifilm S5 Pro user manual.