GFX Review with Craig Robertson

The tag line for the GFX advertising - is “the Game has Changed." 

That’s a pretty bold claim, but I think this camera really could be for a lot of professionals and amateurs seeking the best image quality. This will be the first medium format digital camera system that is actually affordable for many photographers.

I’ve only spent a couple of hours using the new GFX 50s but already I’m super impressed. I first got my hands on it in Japan at Fujikina in January. I snapped a quick full length portrait of a model dressed in traditional kimono and used the touch screen to zoom in. I was staggered - I could see her eyelashes and all the weave detail in the silk fabric! That is incredible. I was also impressed by its ergonomics, how small the body was and its weight. It was just like using a full frame DSLR - the lenses were a little larger but really that’s just how it felt.

The next chance I got to play with it was when I grabbed it off the NZ Fujifilm team before the Christchurch launch. I snuck away with it for a couple of hours while they were showing off the new X100F and X-T20 to retailers. I had planned to take it into the Port Hills and shoot some landscapes, but with an enormous fire burning up there, I decided to head for the gardens. To be honest this was a much better option as there was a much broader range of subject matter in a more confined space.

One of the huge benefits of the GFX for any current Fujifilm camera user (especially X-T2 users) is that there is really no learning curve. It’s essentially just like an overgrown X-T2 to use. The dials and buttons are mostly in the same places, and the menus are the same. This makes it easy for any professional photographer to switch between the two systems depending on the work they are doing. The new touch screen makes it very fast to quickly check focus by just tapping an image in playback mode to view it at 100%. This is critical when using a medium format system.

What surprised me with the GFX was being able to shoot almost street style images in the gardens with a medium format. The focus system, while not as fast as the X-T2, is accurate and fast enough to grab quick moments of people interacting in the gardens. In the couple of hours I had I was able to shoot gritty street style black and whites of people in the Acros simulation mode, architectural images with the 32-64mm zoom and close up plant shots with the 120mm macro lens. I also put the 32-64 optics to the test by shooting into the sun through trees - not a hint of colour fringing and sharp to the very corners of the frame. Straight lines in architectural shots showed no distortion whatsoever. As we have come to expect from the XF lenses the GFX lenses perform incredibly. High ISO performance for a medium format was outstanding - beautiful detail and colour and very little noise even at 3200 ISO.

I’m really looking forward to processing the RAW files from the shoot when updates are made to Adobe Lightroom to see what the full dynamic range (shadow and highlight detail) of the images is - but the JPEGs impressed me nonetheless.

I think this camera really will be a game changer especially when all of the six announced lenses are available over the next 12 months or so. I can’t wait to get my hands on one and really put it to work on a commercial shoot or go exploring to capture some spectacularly detailed landscapes.


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