I expect Fujifilm GFX50s product pictures and specifications are all over the internet by the time you read this so I’ve kept this post for my ‘in camera’ jpegs and to share with you my experience and thoughts of using a second generation prototype GFX camera.
GFX has set the hearts racing of so many photographers looking for a change, but is this really the camera to elevate your photography to a higher level? It’s not going to win any beauty pageants; the troubled Hasselblad X1D will be doing that but at a premium price. The Fujifilm GFX has more practical tricks up its sleeve and is unlike any other camera in so many ways. The GFX 50s defies the logic of what came before it and rewrites the large sensor rule book at the same time.
Speed of operation
GFX is a box of surprises. Some things we didn’t see coming like the really fast shooting rate of 3 frames per second for a burst of 13 frames (compressed RAW) that sets this system apart from the rest. It gets it’s performance heritage from its smaller cousin the X-T2. The MK1 GFX prototypes shown at Photokina were slow enough not to worry the competition. They masked the reality of a camera with a blistering performance. When I was testing the Mk2 prototype in early January I could shoot as fast as I would ever want to. The assumption that large sensor cameras are slow has been blown out of the water. The EVF has a super fast refresh rate too so there’s no lag. The double axis tilt screen works brilliantly and so does the touch screen function of the capacitive LCD. Used to set focus point, pinch to zoom and swipe to bring up histograms etc.
GFX feels like a mid size SLR in terms of size and weight yet packs an image quality that blows full frame SLRs into touch. The focus locks on anywhere in the frame, not just in the central portion of the image but right into the edges too. There are more focus points than you can poke a stick at and this is just what’s needed for tripod shooting. Focusing is accurate as you would expect from a mirrorless camera and can be relied upon without feeling the need to check every frame. Hand held shooting is fine too as long as you take care to use a fast enough shutter speed to avoid camera shake. At this kind of resolution I expect 1/(5*focal length) will be needed as a minimum shutter speed to achieve the maximum image quality for hand held work except when using the 120mm lens with OIS.
The tilting EVF is fabulous. It puts the camera just where I like it when shooting portraits; below eye level and above waist level. Just like the fabulous portraits of the 20th-century shot on waist level finder cameras this camera is destined to revive the optimal portrait shooting height.
It seems that once I pin my camera to a tripod other forces come into play; fine tweaking of the set, subtle direction of the sitter and bijou adjustment to the lighting. It is as if the camera on a tripod is leading the creative process, setting the pace and the way I work. I find shooting on a monopod gives me the happy blend of care, control and freedom. The Fujifilm GFX is a camera that will love my monopod.
I just had a float around the websites of medium format camera makers and articles by reviewers. It’s as if in the quest for technical perfection some folk forgot why the shot was being taken. That’s the risk with old school medium format. It is slow. When shooting at that pace, waiting for a tethered picture to be rendered etc it is hard to keep the shoot energy up. I once had a Phase One P25+ back on a Hasselblad H2. I had the combination as my principal camera for 3 years. It was hard to document spontaneity because I had to wait 1 second after every shot before I could take another. I then had to check the focus because the mirror slap often introduced blur and the focussing accuracy wasn’t that great. Although the H2P25+ was portable, the images I created with it lacked the verve and fun of my current work. The GFX is so different to use; lighter, faster, and with that mirrorless preview, one forgets that it is a big sensor camera. Swapping between X-T2 and GFX seems completely natural. The menus are the same, the film simulations are the same and the button layout is familiar too. GFX has Fuji X-T2 DNA right through it. I remember first using the X-Pro1, it was fun and it gave me a renewed energy in my photography in the days after SLR. When comparing large sensor system users I expect GFX users will have more fun at shoots too and maybe their pictures will have more oomph as a result. The feel good factor really does transfer into the final image.
Noise, what noise?
The jpegs in the viewfinder of the pre production camera I was testing seemed really noisy on playback and this got me a bit worried. However when I uploaded the images from my first shoot to Lightroom my worries soon dissipated. The image noise is negligible and at a level you would expect from a large pixel CMOS sensor. The pixel sites are twice the size of those on the X-Pro2 and X-T2 cameras. This in turn gives more dynamic range. I just love the shadow detail in the images I’ve been shooting with GFX.
Lenses are at the heart of any system
What no leaf shutter lenses? Well according to a tech source I was talking to at Photokina electronic blanking of the sensor is almost upon us and in no time leaf shutter lenses will become obsolete. Anyway, there are ND filters, or if you are happy to loose a stop or two you can use HSS. The H series lens adapter also ensures other Fuji made lenses with integral shutters are available. Albeit with manual focussing. This is a really well written article discussing Fuji GFX and leaf shutter lenses and is well worth a read.
Spectacular lenses are in Fujifilm’s heritage. From large box lenses for broadcast costing £80,000+ to the X series lenses, Fujifilm are the company that set the standard others strive to reach. When Hasselblad developed the H series camera they turned to Fujifilm to design and build their complete range of lenses. Now the GFX sets new challenges for the lens design team with a potential optical resolution the same as the X series but with an image circle of 4x the area. Luckily Fujifilm has been developing lightweight optical materials and this really shows when you pick up the GFX. The lenses are lightweight and the pictures are sublime.
I’ve used just two of the lenses but the image quality right into the corners is fabulous as you would expect.
GFX images deserve to be printed. The fine prints will be admired for their technical excellence, aesthetic beauty and hopefully for the image content too. I remember the first time I saw an Ansel Adams print. I was amazed by the subtle tones and clarity. It was only after admiring the print quality that the subject caught my attention. A solitary tree in a canyon. Not the most gripping of subjects but the print was something to behold.
GFX is a fusion of dare I say it, ‘run and gun’ ease of use and supreme image quality. I will reserve my final judgement of the image quality until I have Lightroom to process my RAW files. All the shots here were taken as jpegs in camera on a mark 2 prototype camera. Having said that, the potential image quality is wonderful.
GAS – Gear acquisition syndrome
The GFX ticks all the boxes for GAS. Once the Fuji design team get underway on further developing the GFX series there will probably be cameras coming to market every two or three years, just like the X series. There has already been speculation of a 100mp follow up camera and the good news is the lens system has been developed to resolve detail at that resolution should the 100mp camera materialise. I’m pretty sure that Fujifilm will develop the GFX system all the way. In 5 years time we might see 20+ lenses and a range of body styles just like we see in the X series. Demand will dictate development for sure but at the launch price for the body and lens of just £7598 including VAT and delivery this is set to become a leading system if not the leading system.
Will I use GFX?
Yes, but I’ll not be getting a free sample or a complimentary camera with my name on it. If I want GFX I will have to buy it. With that in mind I will choose my lenses carefully. My initial line up will be just the body with the 63mm lens. That’s it! I’ll look to hire the wide zoom and the 120mm prime for the spectacular USA adventure that I’m running in June and then I’ll add the 23mm, 45mm and 110mm to my solitary 63mm later in the year when they become available. I probably won’t be buying a grip, but the tilting mechanism for the viewfinder looks great. I want to keep the camera bag light. I’ll buy a spare battery or two though as I find each battery lasts about 4 to 5 hours of shooting at my pace. When a 32mm prime becomes available that will become my 5th lens.
Do I need a Fujifilm GFX50s?
No. The X series has been fine for me so far and if GFX wasn’t here I wouldn’t be looking elsewhere to replace my X series system. I’ll still be using my X-T2 and the newly announced X-T20 alongside the GFX. By the way the X-T20 is going to become my second camera for video productions and my main camera for travel assignments but that’s for another post.
Do I want GFX?
Yes. What’s not to love? For those spectacular figure in the landscape shots and the book projects that I have in mind the GFX is going to be perfect. As a working professional photographer, 2 to 3 years of solid use before an upgrade of the body will justify any depreciation in a camera of this surprisingly low price, while the lenses will be set to deliver a far longer return on investment. There really exciting times ahead.
Join me in June for this trip of a lifetime. No GFX required but an X-Pro2, X-T2 or X-T20 are recommended. YOLO
Sub note: Medium format is a phrase to conjure with. It’s all but obsolete in this modern age. It once referred to pictures made on roll film, but even then the image size of Medium Format varied. 6×4.5, 6×6, 6×7, 6×8, 6×9, 6×12, 6×17 and even 6×24 were all ‘medium formats’. As an aside the 6 in the name was a lie. The image size on the film roll width was actually between 55 and 56mm. The GFX sensor is not as big as any true ‘medium format’ image area but it is significantly bigger than full frame 35mm and exactly 4 times the size of APSC.
Please feel free to comment below. Will you be buying into GFX?
Disappointingly this really does look like any full frame digital camera with a slightly medium format crop. Dark because highlights clip easily, unrealistically sharp which Im sure female models will love on their faces. Most disappointing, as someone who would like that film soul is that it’s just as flat looking as an iphone photo. How can this be with such a large sensor? Shadow detail is cool (makes it a bit HDR looking) but we’re still missing that ever lovely looking highlight detail.
This GFX produces the best images of any camera I’ve owned and that list is extensive including FF Canon, Nikon, Phase One, Hasselblad, Rollei, Mamiya etc etc. You need to see some prints to understand why.
Great review.Thank you.
I come from Leica.I had the best lenses you could have for 35mm format like 50mm Apo summicron and 24mm Elmar.And even Zeiss Otus series with nikon setup.I tired medium format with Leica S but it was way too heavy for me to shoot travel,landscape,cityscapes.So i ended up with Leica M and teh great small lenses.
But i couldn’t forget the Leica S medium format raw files so i ordered GFX with 120mm and 63mm prime.
What i like to learn is could you please compare 63mm with the zoom.I know zoom has a good range but heavy and big.63mm has a stop advantage but it is prime etc.But besides these what i want to know is the optical quality.Do you think 63mm is so good as big boys from FF era?Or zoom is at least as good as 63mm so for that versatility heaviness is not a problem?
What i see from your images 63mm is a better lens optically?
I’m not a lens fan boy so I just go on results not what name is on the lens. If a lens wasn’t designed in the past four or five years it could be better. The recent advances in lens design and optical material development make older lenses far less desirable. That is why a company like Sigma can make $500 Art series lenses that are world leading in image quality beating Lietz, Zeiss, Canon, Nikkor etc. It comes down to clever use of new materials and computer tech. Fujifilm admitted that developing lenses to resolve 100mp detail right into the corners without fall off or CA has been an immense task but if anyone can pull it off they can. All the GFX lenses by Fujifilm are likely to be optically superior to anything added via an adapter plate be it an S2 lens or the Hassy optics etc. Time will tell because every adaptor imaginable is now being developed in Asia. Interesting days ahead. I no longer have a sample GFX to use so I’m waiting for my pre ordered GFX and 63mm lens to arrive. I’ll then be getting the 110mm f/2 lens so I don’t think I’ll be buying the 120 as well. I’d rather wait for a 210mm f/2.8 or something like that. I used the zoom extensively and as far as I could tell it was every bit as sharp as the 63mm prime. These lenses are designed to resolve far more detail than the camera can resolve so the system is not lens limited :)
There is NO OVF! In my eyes it is NOT really a MF camera! A OVF is a must today!
I expect the next model will be rangefinder style OVF just like the Fuji MF cameras of the past and like the X-Pro2 of the present. I never use OVF so that feature doesn’t appeal but we are all different so I expect there will be several camera styles with the GF mount. Fuji are great at doing that.
Hey Damien, great review as usual.
Just wondering if you’ll be doing a preview of the X-T20?
Can’t make up my mind if I want this to go along with my X-T2 or another of the same. I shoot mostly press weddings and PR but like the idea of the touchscreen for video.
Hi Don, I’d love to do a X-T20 review but I’ve yet to see one, let alone take pictures on one. I’ve put a request in with FujiFilm UK to test and review an X-T20 but I’ve no response yet.
Looking forward to it.
I’ve not seen an X-T20 yet. I saw a pre production unit on launch day but I’ve not seen how the touch screen works in practice.
I’m demonstrating them at the Photography Show in March so I’ll hope to get to try one before then.
Thanks again Damien,
I ended up getting a good deal on a second X-T2 so I went with that. I like having my cameras set up exactly the same, with the same buttons and dials, etc. That’s why I sold my X-T1, kept reaching for the joystick to change focus point and it wasn’t there.
Still looking forward to seeing your review of the X-T20 though. I’m sure the touchscreen addition will prove very popular with Street photographers.
I’m excited to be getting my first shooting experience with the X-T20 soon. I know what you mean about shooting with more than camera and needing the controls the same on both.
Enjoy your photography,
wow the 2nd photo has very high noise in the dress.. are you sure it was set at 200 ISO?
Hi Niagara Tim,
You are right. I was using noise reduction at -3 (minimum in camera) and I had to boost the dress part of the shot quite a bit in the lower mid tones because the LCD and EVF on the camera hadn’t been calibrated. That boost from the 8 bit jpeg shows break up of tones that could be construed as noise. Check out the stone work above the fire place to see a more representative section of the file.The shot was slightly back focussed too (my error) and no noise reduction was added when I put the jpeg through Lightroom. The camera was a prototype (not a pre production) and the firmware was working but far from refined.
Last week I got to use a pre production camera with nearly the final firmware and WOW! the files were amazing right up to 3200 ISO so don’t panic. You can see a couple of high res shots taken at 1000 ISO in my next post ;) I’ll be re processing this file again from 16 bit RAW and I’ll be sure to repost the linked files.
Niagara Tim, I’ve replaced the file with a lower compressed version that has had less mucking about. A world of difference. I can’t wait to process from RAW files :)
Damien, does the GFX employ eye/face detect?
Yes it does and apparently it works really well. Face detection is not a facility that I would use but it’s there along with nearest eye etc.
Is the flash sync speed really only 1/125?
they have a fully functional h lens adapter that allows leaf speed to 1/800 (for the Fujinon H lenses of course but i imagine the other h lenses will be compliant) , i imagine other after market adapters will come for leaf lenses as well (like the great Contax lenses that are orphaned right now)
Indeed you are right. The HC lenses for Hasselblad will fit with the adapter and as you know they are made by Fujifilm so they are decent quality. HSS is also possible as well as the ND filter trick. Regards, Damien.
Hi Brian. Yes, 125th second. You can use Hassy HC lenses etc with leaf shutters if you wish or you can use HSS. I use the ND filter method when I shoot flash on location. Every type of adapter plate will be made for sure by the likes of Kippon etc. So expect the prices of Contax lenses to start going up ;) Cheers Damien.
The Fuji GFX is a really interesting proposition. The price point, while not inexpensive, doesn’t push photographers into the stratosphere and a reasonable system can be assembled for a sum that is pretty close to what many photographers accumulate in time under the Nikon or Canon banner. What I can foresee happening is that is a small, but influential, group of photographers will start using the system and they will set a new standard for the image quality expected of professional photographers. In that case it is conceivable the commercial viability of other systems will diminish on certain markets. Once the bar is raised, it is unlikely to go back down. How much and how quickly Fuji grows will be an interesting spectacle. They have certainly thrown the gauntlet down and other manufacturers will have to respond vigorously if the GFX gets a foothold. In other words, this is a potential game changer with far reaching implications. For now I will continue using my X-E1 and look forward to acquiring an XT-2 in the near future. But will I keep my eye on the GFX? Absolutely, a new standard in usable image quality will be impossible to ignore.
Very nice images, one thing I have always loved about Fuji is their cameras produce lovely jpeg images “in camera” that do not require huge amounts of processing to be usable.
Very good observations. I totally agree about the bar being raised for the professional standard. Cheers, Damien.
I have kicked around the notion of the GFX ever since I first read about it. I’ve always loved the results I got with my 120mm back in the day. However, I have gotten too well acquainted with my X-E2 and now Pro 2 and how stealth fits into my wedding photography. I’d also be going back into a heavy bag which was the main reason I switched to Fuji in the first place. I could see renting one for the trips I sometimes take to Colorado or the “Low Country” of S. Carolina, but I can’t justify the investment at this point. I have been working for others instead of myself for quite a while and plan on changing that this year, so never say never! Beautiful work displayed here. I imagine it will be that much better when you can use the RAF’s!
Thank you Dwight. I’ll be in Arizona, Utah and Nevada again this year. You have a spectacular country that will suit the GFX for sure.
Kind regards, Damien.
Good Sir, the image quality from this is striking. The composition is beautiful. Everything about this oozes beauty. Thanks for sharing, especially the large view format.
Cheers George. The files are improving with every firmware :)
Damien, excellent pictures, I love the B&W most. You merged your model so well with the ancient castle. And the technical quality delivered by the camera is impressive.
Great insight Damien, the GFX ticks quite a few boxes for me. I’ve road tested the XT-2 and didn’t feel it was a quantum leap over its predecessor, so passed it over. Being a die hard filmnut, I have a nice set of Mamiya 645 primes and a few large format Fujinon/Schneider lenses. The thought of using a GFX as a digital back with adaptors for these old lenses and my 4×5 primes offers significant cost savings and benefits! Now to sell off a kidney or two.
Hi John, you are braver than me. Not selling off a kidney but working with manual focus. My eyes rely on a decent AF system ;) Thanks for the compliments, Damien.
Good grief Damien, the detail in your files are nothing short of incredible! For your type of work this is not just GAS I for one think it’s valuable. Takes me back to the days of when I used a Hasselblad 500CM for this type of work.
Cheers Gary. I will love the GFX for my wider work for sure :) Thanks Damien.
Having had the Pentax 645z (great image quality) I sold it because of the size and I wanted the GFX to go with my Fuji X-T2 system. Forever Fuji.
Hi Frank, good decisions. The GFX gives preview rather than post view. It focusses anywhere in the frame you want it to, even in the corners and is a fraction of the size/ weight. I can see why you wanted to make the switch. I’m sure the files will be very comparable.
Kindest regards, Damien.
Hi Damien, Like Frank, I’m using the 645Z and am thinking of changing to the GFX, would you recommend the change, great work by the way….john t
It’s too early to tell. I’ve only done two shoots with the GFX so far and I’ve never used the Pentax so it’s difficult for me to give advice. Hopefully within a month the interweb will be full of MF system comparisons.
I’ve not used either camera long enough to form a solid judgement. I expect it will come down to lenses and usability in the end. I’d never go near an SLR again. Way too much bulk for me and not a great user experience.
It won’t be long now and you will be able to walk into a camera shop and have a try for yourself :)
Just an update, I’ve just received my GFX with the 32-64mm and can’t wait to use it in the real world. It’s sitting there looking at me at work in its box at Chiswick Camera Centre, due to I have builders working at my home and don’t want to take any risks, if you know what I mean.
I can’t wait to see how it compares to the 645z I had last year.
I’ve had a go at the demo we have and already can tell the difference with the lightness and feel as well as seeing JPEG images that don’t need any post after taking. I love it already.
Bravo Fuji Bravo.
I hope you have had the chance to finally get out there and shoot with your GF 32-64mm lens. The more I use mine the more I love it.
What is the problem with GAS? Nothing, if you have the money. I would buy but I want hands on and I agree with Damien. The primes are the ones to have but nothing wrong with the zoom. Also can I justify the spend. Not at present so no GAS (as yet!).
Forgot to say. Great photos as always Damien. :-) Where was the shoot conducted? Also I notice you are using LR for the image. Is this a beta version to support the GFX or are you using a Pentax profile or what?
Hi Jonathan, Thank you. I’ll message you the details ;) Best regards, Damien.
It does tick all the boxes for GAS doesn’t it?
Superb set again.
I doubt my photography will ever need such a leap really. My Xpro 2 suits my need and the lovely little X70 every day shooting
That X70 is a winner. I couldn’t justify one as I had a X-T10 and an X100T. It’s the shooting pictures that really matters :)
Hi Damien around the web the reviews of this camera have been positive.
Maybe for the future of my wedding photography the new fuji beast may help?
It would be fine for weddings. I shot weddings for three years using a Phase One P25 back on a Hassy H2 without too many problems. Compared to that combo this will be a breeze :)
Sorry about the typo Damien!
I feel that maybe in a couple of years if my businees gets moving then I could consider it.
The ability to crop heavily could be a real boon!
Nice review. My XT2 is enroute, and I made a considerable investment in lenses in 2016, but as one who used to own a dream Hasselblad system (2 bodies, 4 lenses), I can appreciate what this camera can do and will probably get one within the next year. Wow!
Exciting times for you Nathan. That X-T2 is a terrific camera :) Cheers, Damien.
The images as always are sublime… as a follower there is no doubt in the capability of the camera it really is down to the person behind it and who better to show off the gear of the year. I look very much to playing with this… Thanks for the inspiration!
Thank you David for your continued support. Stay inspired, Damien.
Indeed, it will be a game changer. I think that most of the time the camera will be used for studio shootings, where that big resolution is needed ( product, fashion, portrait photography), even though I saw really big prints made with the last APSC sensors that looked perfectly fine. The hiring part of the lenses is the best choice, otherwise the total investment price will go up up up. But for candid, street, everyday use, I totally agree with you, X system will be more than enough.
The use of the term game changer is so over used. This looks like a wonderful piece of kit but aside from it being mirrorless I don’t see much in its specs that Pentax doesn’t already do for almost the same cost.
Who is Pentax ?
Hi Jeffrey, The way of shooting GFX is so very different to the Pentax. The bulk, shape and form of the Pentax is completely different too. I don’t see any comparison at all apart from a 50mp sensor. I’m not saying one is better than the other it’s just that they are as different as a Canon 5D mk3 is to a Fuji X-T2. The shoot outs will follow no doubt once the RAW processing becomes available for GFX. Maybe we will see a migration from FF users to GFX and maybe that’s what the term game changer is being used to signify – a move from SLR to mirrorless perhaps. Time will tell. Damien.
Wise words Stefan :) Cheers, Damien.
I think it will be a game changer, but alas it’s not for me. I personally don’t have a need for anything more than a couple of X-T2s and a 100T/F, but that’s just me. For studio, portrait, and commercial architectural Photography, this will be the camera I would hire, but for anything wedding (which is what I do) the XTs are more than enough.
Looking forward to getting my hands on a GFX none the less.
Damien’s right though – Do I need one – No.
Do I want one? ummm….
I’m with you on that one ;)
I fully agree :)