Took a day after this release as a cool off period so as not to fan boy out on this camera all over a blog post. I admit that may not have been long enough. Let’s see.
Usually it is Sony that clandestinely taps into my psyche and strikes out at me with a product announcement now and again. The A1 was a near strike, but overshot me by a bit. Fujifilm once came very close to a direct hit on me with the GFX 50R. I made it to the step of standing in the camera store requesting one be ordered. But I stopped short. Why?
- 50MP with a larger sensor was not enough of a resolution jump from cameras like the Sony A7RIV for me. While larger than 35mm cameras like the GFX 50R, Hasselblad X1D/907x, and even Pentax 645Z (All of which I have considered.) all share a sensor size smaller than the medium format film cameras I have or have had. To justify the jump my fevered little brain needed a significant accompanying MP jump.
- And trust me, I am fully aware that this completely contradicts my statements on 24MP being my sweet spot. But logic goes completely out of the window with me where medium format cameras are involved. I have owned a 645 (here and here), 6×6 (here and here) , 6×7 (here and here), and a 6×9 (here and here). Doing better now, having weened my way down to two, if you ignore the fact that a medium format film camera is far from necessary to begin with.
- Contrast only AF?
- No IBIS?
Those last two were a hard sell for someone completely happy with their A7III. In the end I stood down and invested in Sony glass instead. And I had no regrets. But first let me back up. Fujifilm and I go back a ways.
I have gone three laps with Fujifilm digital cameras. Two of those laps were kicked off by a medium format Fujifilm film camera purchase.
Great cameras. And I currently own exactly none of them. While I subjectively adored many of these cameras in the end they lost out to the full frame practicality, capabilities, and varied lens selection of the Sony system. A decision I stand behind, but objectively driven, not subjectively.
<Witness that I have no Sony camera family portraits to share here. Very telling.>
I did not warm up to the GFX 50S that started the Fujifilm digital medium format camera line largely for the same reasons as the 50R. The GFX 100 was a fantastic release, but no matter how much I liked it, similar to the Leica M10, that camera was priced far outside what I would or could bring myself to spend on one camera.
But Fujifilm scored a direct hit on my subjective illogical processing center with the GFX 100S.
It is the perfect mash up of all of the current Fujifilm GFX cameras.
- While retaining all of the headline features of the $10,000 GFX 100 it is priced closer to the 50S and 50R.
- 100MP sensor.
- Phase detect AF.
- It is sized close to the 50R with a healthy grip added which I prefer over the built in battery grip design of the GFX 100.
Further it is an unlikely mash up of every camera type I would like to own.
- High MP medium format studio and portrait camera.
- A size and weight that could be used as an every day camera.
- Fast enough for candid photography no matter how absurd such a thing may sound.
- 5fps is plenty swift enough for the mild action I tend to encounter.
- Can be used for video. The level of video I shoot anyway.
I have heard this phrase used from time time, but this is the first “Shut up and take my money!” camera that I have encountered.
But it is not all roses..
While I am surprised that it is less expensive than the technical powerhouse Sony A1 you still need lenses. Even if starting from scratch with the A1 there are many fine performing inexpensive lenses for Sony. While definitely a good value for a medium format system the least expensive Fujifilm GFX lens starts around the price of a good, entry level full frame camera.
…And this is the point where the objective starts trying to weasel its way back into my subjective jamboree.
What am I hoping to achieve here?
- Not needed for my purposes as has been documented. But this means nothing here in my medium format haze.
Color depth, dynamic range, and detail:
- True, but $6,000 worth including lens? Yes, the haze responds.
Depth of field:
- And here is where things go a bit wonky for me every time I look down the digital medium format path. While a larger sensor area does contribute a great deal to depth of field the lens plays a large part also.
I cannot see myself investing in zooms for this camera. I once had a medium format film zoom lens and while a keen performer it is just not what I buy medium format for. Here are the three primes that interest me.
The least expensive GFX lens and the one I would likely get first because of that is the excellent FUJIFILM GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR Lens. But after putting it through the mmcalc focal length and aperture calculator this lands me at 39.5mm f/2.77. While the sample images are truly impressive with this lens I am currently able to replicate this look closely enough for my purposes with a few options already available to me. In my wildly unscientific opinion I tend to get to a relative medium format-ish look on full frame for my taste when I get to f/1.4 or faster regardless of focal length. One lens that springs to mind when looking at the GF 50mm is the Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/1.4. And I have no complaints about that lens.
So what lens would I consider next if I could stretch a little further? Likely the…
Run it through the focal length whisper chipper and you get 49.77mm f/2.21. Again. Impressive samples. I am a bit obsessed with 50mm lenses so I have a host of full frame nominees to compare. The wonkiest would be the 7Artisnas 50mm f/1.1 or the Knock-off-ti-lux.
But adapting lenses might not be someone’s bag so I offer the Rokinon/Samyang 50mm f/1.4.
But in reality neither of those GF lenses are really what I want. Landscapes, environmental portraits, and normal focal length photographs are not why I would buy into medium format. Portraits. All day. That is what I would really want to do with a GFX.
I am sure the new GF 80mm f/1.7 is amazing and at a full frame equivalent of 63.2mm f/1.34 there is no Sony FE peer I am aware of. But the ultimate lens for me would be the GF 110mm f/2. Every time I review sample images taken with that lens I am completely blown away. The magic calculator says that this would be a 86.9mm f/1.58 full frame equivalent. But I have owned a few fast 85mm lenses and really like my current 85mm, but none reproduce what I see in the GF 110mm f/2 sample images. Two that approach this territory are the Mitakon 85mm f/1.2…
…, but manual focusing an 85mm f/1.2 is the opposite of a good time so I moved on, and the Rokinon/Samyang 85mm f/1.4.
Now that I think about it the 7Artisans 75mm f/1.25 does well with the TECHART AF adapter.
But ultimately these lenses are the definition of close, but not cigar.
The FUJIFILM 110mm f/2 takes the prize hands down.
Team that lens with the GFX 100S and you have a phenomenal portrait combination unmatched by any camera and lens at any price point and size in my opinion. In fact the GFX 100S is one of the most well rounded cameras on the market if the promised specs prove true.
- As many MP as anyone could possibly need realistically.
- Phase detect AF that is competitive with most systems and far ahead of much more expensive medium format cameras.
- 4K video that is usable.
- Respectable 5fps and 1/4000s mechanical shutter speed and 1/16,000s electronic shutter speed given the sensor size.
- Reasonable DSLR like size and weight.
Apologies. This post is all over the place.
Dang it Fuji…
Worth it? I think yes.
Would I buy one? I don’t know.
Short term? I do not want to do anything rash so I am holding firm for now. I would need to clean house of my current gear and I am nowhere near their yet as a concept.
Long term? I could see myself making a case for the GFX 100S one day. Unlike medium format cameras on the market before this the GFX 100S is a camera I could actually see myself using as a single camera solution. The following three bits would be my preference for a kit.
- GFX 100S
- GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR
- GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR
- Can’t shoot portraits all the time.
- Plus with 100MP I could crop to my heart’s content to fill out the focal range if need be.
I would actually be more inclined to get this camera than the A1.
And at not that much more than the GFX 50R I am very happy that I waited and did not get that camera now.
Kudos to Fujifilm.
But if I did ever buy this camera I am fairly certain that I would not regret it. If for no other reason than to get my hands on that GF 110mm f/2.
We’ll see. Regardless the good news is for consumers. This is yet another intriguing camera release in less than two weeks and I will take all of the distractions I can to ponder nowadays. But this is a distraction that could crater bank accounts… Or maybe I prowl the used listings for a 50R or 50S on trade when these go on sale in March… In the end I will likely sit this one out after all… But it would be nice… Takes a heck of a camera to have you questioning gear you are perfectly happy with.
Dang it Fuji.
Addendum: Upon further reflection I realize that Fujifilm has now cured me of my other camera obsessions, digital Leica and the Hasselblad 907x. So there is that. Focused GAS if you will.