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Fuji Fujifilm S5
High ISO Performance

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Fuji S5

Fujifilm S5 Pro

I got this one here ($1,899 and free shipping). I'd have gotten it here or here, too. It helps me publish this site when you get yours from those links, too.

More Nikon Camera and Lens tests.

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April 2007

see also Fuji S5 High ISO Color and Fuji S5 High ISO Definition.

The Fuji S5 is the first camera I'd grab for shooting available light portraits.

The Fuji S5 has the same basic noise as my other cameras. Its advantage is how it processes the noise and how it preserves excellent color at high ISOs.

The Fuji S5 appears to have less noise on flat areas because its noise reduction (NR or smearing) is turned up further than my other cameras. This also smears extremely fine details more on the S5, not important for portraits made in dim light.

The S5 saves you from having to add more NR later in your computer.

This is much easier to see on a big (30") monitor. These little clips are limiting.

My D200 tends to have more pockmarking and mottling in the sky at ISO 3200, while the Fuji is much smoother. My D200 had a hot pixel at ISO 3,200, while the Fuji had none visible.

In exchange, the Fuji also gets the softest at ISO 3,200. The Canon 5D smokes them all: my Canon 5D is cleaner and sharper at ISO 3,200, the full-frame advantage.

Most impressive is that the Fuji S5 doesn't change its color rendition at ISO 3,200. The D200 colors get crappier at 3,200 while the Fuji S5 stay the same as it is at ISO 100. This is the real reason to chose the S5 over the D200 at high ISOs.

I haven't played with NR in post to see if I can get other cameras to match or exceed the Fuji's internal NR. More important to me is that the colors stay true at ISO 3,200 in the Fuji, and that my 5D is still king if I care.

If my Canon 5D and the Fuji S5 is the clear winner, my Nikon D40 is the clear loser. It's much noisier and grittier at ISO 3,200. The D40 is the only camera in this batch I'd avoid shooting at ISO 3,200. Not only is it very noisy, hard edges are often chewed up from the noise reduction.

I tried this at high and low light levels and got the same results. I show the daylight examples because they show the effects better. My contrived low-light examples made the differences too obvious.

Here are crops from images at 100%. Each camera was shot set to 6MP (3k x 2k) resolution. The complete images looked like this:

guide image

Complete Guide image

ISO 200 (cropped from 100% 6MP images)


ISO 400 (cropped from 100% 6MP images)


ISO 800 (cropped from 100% 6MP images)



ISO 1,600 (cropped from 100% 6MP images)


ISO 3,200 (cropped from 100% 6MP images)


Fuji S5: -0.7 stops Exposure Compensation, native resolution (Medium: 3,024 x 2,016), Normal JPG, AUTO Dynamic Range, HIGH Color Saturation.

Nikon D200: Medium (2,896 x 1,944) resolution, Normal Optimal Quality JPG, + Saturation, Color Mode III.

Nikon D40: -0.7 stops Exposure Compensation, native resolution (Large: 3,008 x 2,000), Normal JPG, + Saturation, Color Mode IIIa.

Canon 5D: -0.7 stops Exposure Compensation, Medium resolution (3,168 x 2,112), Normal (smaller) JPG, +3 Saturation.


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