Anyone who has picked up and played with a recent Fujifilm X-Series digital camera should have a good sense of what a pleasure they are to use and the stunning results possible. They're one of the big reasons why mirrorless cameras continue to gain popularity and desirability among photographers of all levels. From the original gorgeous rangefinder styled X100 to the recent 4K enabled X-T2, Fujifilm have built a fully-fledged mirrorless system with a passionate following in the space of a few short years.
|Kyoto 1 - Image taken on the X-Series System|
|Kyoto 2 - Image taken on the X-Series System|
When challenged with the task of giving users even more performance, image quality and resolving power Fujifilm decided to go big. No, that doesn't accurately describe it all, they went HUGE. With 51.4 Megapixels spread over a sensor 70% larger than Full Frame and nearly 4 times larger than APS-C sensors used in their current cameras!
Medium format cameras are nothing new, even in digital variations but the bulky size, weight, cost and difficulty of use has typically kept them out of the hands of mere mortals. This in turn has led to 35mm format (Full Frame) digital cameras becoming the de facto standard amongst enthusiast and professional shooters across most photographic disciplines and championed by nearly all of the major photographic brands.
With the GFX 50S, Fujifilm believe they can change many of these long-held MF traits and after playing with one even briefly I'm in complete agreement. This is a Digital Medium Format camera that’s as easy to pick up and quickly get results from as your average DSLR. It feels far more refined than any first generation product should, no doubt due to the many borrowed technologies and components from the current X-Series cameras such as:
- the machined control dials for ISO and Shutter speed selection
- lens mounted aperture control rings
- X-Processor Pro running the show
- weather sealing throughout
- 3-way tilt screen now with touch functionality and
- Fujifilm's trademark film simulation modes delivering superb colour straight from capture
Of course, there are plenty of new features to go along with that phenomenal sensor including 6 all new G-Mount lenses (3 available at launch) plus a H-mount lens adapter, 3.69 million dot electronic viewfinder with optional tilting adapter, always-on 1.28in monochrome top info display and a new vertical battery grip to house an extra NP-T125 high capacity battery. Those new lenses cover most of the major focal lengths from 18mm to 90mm in 35 equivalent terms and include zoom, macro and fast prime designs all with the same weather resistance as the GFX body.
In use the GFX feels solid but comfortable with a much more prominent grip than previous Fujifilm cameras. It balances very well with the battery housed just underneath the LCD screen and no mirror box to pushing the lens further away than necessary. It weighs less than its size suggests and will certainly see more handheld use than MF cameras of the past. Controlling the camera is identical to an X-T2 with the same AF selection joystick and direct top control dials except now you can choose to use the front and rear command dials to change aperture and shutter speed much like a traditional DSLR.
It's this familiar size and control that reveal who Fujifilm really want to target this camera toward; high end DSLR users. Although it may cost a decent amount more the GFX50S should be on the mind of anyone considering a Canon 5D Mk IV/5DSR, Nikon D810, Pentax K1 or even a Sony a7R II. These are all fantastic cameras in their own right but the new Fujifilm represents a giant leap forward in digital imaging and is a flagship camera truly deserving of that title.
A huge thank you to all the people at Fujifilm Australia and Fujifilm Japan for organising a great event. We eagerly await this and other new Fujifilm products in store over the coming months.
By Ryan Hoile
Note: Sadly none of the images in this article were taken with the GFX 50S as we only had access to pre-production models and sharing images from those cameras was not allowed. Instead the images from around Kyoto were taken on the Fujifilm X-T1, XF14mm, XF27mm & XF56mm. We look forward to capturing images with the GFX50S once it arrives in Australia in the coming weeks.