One hundred and twenty bucks for a top of the line DSLR?!?!? Well, it was top of the line over eleven years ago. Now, you can buy them for little more than a song and a dance. I got this particular one off of Craigslist for $120. Check it out…

As you can tell by the photos, it’s in fairly decent condition. Basically, the Fuji S5 Pro features a Nikon style body (the same as the old D200), with Fuji guts on the inside. It takes Nikon F-Mount lenses, and was well known for it’s amazing color reproduction. Back in the day when the Fuji S5 Pro came out, I didn’t know anything about them. I was new to photography and owned a Nikon D200. I only saw a Fuji S5 Pro in a high end electronics store where I was window shopping. Since then, over the past decade, I’ve seen them mentioned online and talked about in forums, but still I’ve never even held or used one until recently.

Why’d I buy it? It was only $120! Why not? As much as I love shooting with the latest and greatest gear, I also get a kick out of seeing what I can produce with the older and much less expensive gear. Furthermore, there were so many great cameras that were thousands of dollars back then that you can now purchase for a few hundred dollars. They were great cameras back then, and were capable of producing some amazing images. They can still give great results today.

When I bought the S5 Pro, I didn’t own any Nikon glass, so I went out and bought the newest 35mm f/1.8G lens on Amazon. That lens was about $200 new. That’s what I used to shoot the photos in this review with. The whole combo cost a tad over $300. You can’t even buy a decent point and shoot for that kind of money!

What are the pros and cons of the Fuji S5 Pro?

Pros:

  1. Rugged / professional build. Nice heft and grip. Fantastic controls and tactile response.
  2. Tons of lens options from a variety of manufacturers.
  3. First DSLR to have live view (it sucks, but it’s there).
  4. Shoots in RAW+JPEG. My iPhone still can’t do this without a special app.
  5. Pop up flash. Also, a hot shoe that you can use for other flash devices as well.
  6. Tripod mount.
  7. Amazing out of the camera JPEGs – even by today’s standards.
  8. Decent battery life. Also, tons of cheap third party battery options.
  9. Optical viewfinder – an increasing rarity nowadays.
  10. DSLR experience which is becoming passe with smartphones and mirrorless cameras.
  11. Fun to use.
  12. Manual controls and exposure options.
  13. Top LCD.
  14. Get in touch with your inner hipster and look cool – like me.
  15. I still have Compact Flash cards lying around that I can use.

Cons:

  1. Older tech / sensor which means lower megapixels and less dynamic range than current sensors.
  2. You can only buy them used, with no warranty, which means potential problems can and will arise. Also, you have to deal with third party sellers and possible scams online.
  3. Big and bulky, but I actually like the feel.
  4. Slow autofocus compared with newer cameras.
  5. The LCD image on the back of the camera is of very poor quality by today’s standards, and provides a terrible way to compose and view images, but it’s better than nothing.
  6. You might have to go out and buy CF cards and a reader if you don’t have any. There are plenty of used ones online though.

Here’s the thing, for $120 for the camera alone, what do you really expect? Can you honestly complain about the price? Let’s look at some images that I took and then you judge if it was worth the price I paid. Every photo below was uploaded to this site with no editing on my part – straight out of the camera. I gotta say, I’m pretty impressed!

What do you think of the photos? I think they look great even by today’s standards.¬†Especially when compared with smartphone photos. Personally, I’m blown away by what this camera can do! Part of me is thinking, why do I spend more than this on newer tech?

Bottom line, if you are looking for a fun and cheap camera, get one of these! If you are wanting to get into digital photography beyond using your phone or a point and shoot, then this is a great and inexpensive way to get started.

Posted by Noah Bershatsky

I was a nerd before hipsters were cool.

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