Tuesday, July 03, 2007

S5 Pro Shooting Settings: A Primer

Many of us S5 Pro owners have used other Fujifilm cameras like the S1 Pro or S2 Pro. Still others have come to the S5 Pro after being dissatisfied with the work required with other cameras to produce images that seem to come much more easily with Fujifilm SLRs.

However, the S5 Pro is really unlike other Fujifilm SLRs, including the S3 Pro. To assist other users with how to set up and use the S5 Pro, I have prepared this small summary. It's not meant to be all-inclusive or comprehensive by any means, but hopefully it will help people decide how best to set their cameras.

Shooting settings on the S5 Pro are accessible by pushing the "Menu/OK" button on the back of the camera.

**Film Settings:
STD = standard camera performance without film simulations
F1 = negative film setting, more DR
F1a = negative film with more saturation
F1b = negative film, designed for skin tones
F1c = negative film setting, with more sharpness

F2 = Fujichrome. This gives a more slide-film like "snap" and saturated color to images. Some have likened it to being akin to a digital Velvia. I wouldn't recommend this for skintones, but your tastes may vary.

Note: when shooting RAW at 400% dynamic range, Hyper-Utilities will give you options that track with the above settings, but with different names. F1 = pro negative, F1a = F3a, F1b = F3b, etc.

**Dynamic Range Settings:

Auto DR is where the camera chooses the dynamic range. However, this is at the expense of camera speed. The camera will work as though you set the dynamic range at 400%, even if the camera ultimately only decides to output a jpeg at 100% DR.

400% Dynamic range or W2 DR gives you the most dynamic range, but at a price--the camera will be slower (i.e. your frames per second drops from 3 fps to 1.5 fps). Another issue: using 400% when you don't need it will give you duller looking images. Thus, users should either select the DR setting they want or use auto DR, rather than always leaving the camera on 400% DR.

Other settings for DR are 100% (standard), 130%, 170%, 230% (W1), and 300%.


In practice, again, users should avoid just leaving the camera on 400% DR. Auto DR is an excellent choice, but it slows the camera down. 100% works well in many situations, particularly when lighting can be controlled or does not have an excessive range. Thus, indoors, flash shooting indoors, on cloudy days or in a studio setting, 100% is the way to go.

**Color

This setting affects "color density" which I think most of us would call color saturation. Most S5 Pro users want usable jpegs, and setting the camera here is critical.

ORG--the manual doesn't recommend this for out of camera jpegs for viewing/printing, but I disagree. This setting avoids getting overly saturated images.

MEDIUM LOW--more saturated than ORG.

STD--the supposed standard setting, but in actual practice tends to produce skintones that can be too red / too saturated for some tastes.

MEDIUM HIGH and HIGH give even more saturation; I would suggest that these make more sense for landscape shooting or for specific effects.

Generally, ORG or Medium-Low are good for skin tones, I think.

**Tone

This setting is for contrast. Unlike the old S2 Pro, using ORG here is not a good choice, resulting in duller looking images. The manual doesn't recommend ORG either, unless you plan on post-processing.

I like Medium-Soft and STD tone best; the other settings Medium-Hard and Hard are too strong for my tastes.

This is a big switch IMHO from the S2 and S3 Pro where ORG tone was the preferred setting for most people!

**Sharpness

Use OFF if you plan on post-processing, but for out of camera jpegs, STD is plenty. Hard is best for high-contrast images like text. Medium-soft can help with portraits, so you don't see every pore, hair, and skin imperfection.

**Color Space

Your choices here are sRGB and Adobe RGB. If you know what you're doing, Adobe RGB is good. But if you aren't sure, stick with sRGB. sRGB is pretty much standard on many devices, including printers and you'll still get good looking images choosing sRGB. Using Adobe RGB when you haven't set your system and printer up for it is a recipe for mismatched color.

**ISO

ISO 100 is the lowest setting, and the least sensitive setting. Higher ISOs are more sensitive, but you run the risk of more noise in your images as you get closer to 3200, the maximum setting. See Noise Reduction about how to reduce noise.

**White Balance

Auto White-the camera sets the white balance in the image. Users report that they should "fine tune" the white balance in auto to get best results. See WB Fine Tune. The other settings include incandescent, 5 fluorescent settings, fine weather (sunshine/daylight), flash, shade, a specific color temperature in degress Kelvin, and up to 5 custom preset white balances.

**WB Fine Tune

You can adjust the color bias of your White Balance. I like a -1, -1 adjustment here, which helps to control overly red/magenta skintones. Your mileage may vary, obviously.

**Quality

RAW = data off the sensor. Remember also that you have an option here of 100% DR or 400% DR

RAW+jpeg = as the name implies, you get a jpeg file too, in addition to a RAW file.

Jpeg fine and jpeg normal. Fine = least compression highest quality, but normal gives you more images on your memory card.

With RAW, you *must* convert and post process the RAW file, in Finepix Studio or Hyper Utilities or some other utility like Photoshop CS3. And to get film options in Hyper Utilities, you have to shoot at 400% DR in RAW.

**Recording Pixels

This determines the size of your image in pixels, how large you can print without artifacts, and how big your files will be. L = 12 megapixels, M = 6 megapixels, S = 3.5 megapixels. The more megapixels, the bigger your can print, but your file sizes will be bigger. Generally, 6 megapixels is plenty, but if you plan on cropping or making huge enlargements, go for 12 megapixels.

Don't confuse megapixels with megabytes. In other words, don't expect a 6 megabyte size file from a 6 megapixel setting. It's normal to get around a 3 to 4 megabyte jpeg file at 6 megapixels.

**Noise Reduction

Two simple settings here: ORG and STD. ORG is a low-level of noise reduction and STD is a higher level. Generally ORG is pretty good for most situations, but at higher ISOs you may want STD noise reduction. Some people find the noise reduction to be too intrusive (smoothing/loss of detail/pattern noise/grain), and if this is the case for you, try ORG instead.

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