Fuji GFX 50S Review
The Fuji GFX-50S is first Medium Format Mirrorless Digital Camera by Fujifilm and only the second such camera in the world, having been released just after the Hasselblad X1D-50c
Hasselblad X1D-50c. These two digital cameras feature larger-than-full-frame 44x33mm imaging sensors in a mirrorless body. Each with a new lens mount introduced for the platform while their sensor could in fact be the same 50 megapixels unit.
The GFX Mirrorless Platform is inspired by the Fuji X-series of APS-C mirrorless cameras, scaled to Medium Format size. The large 0.8X crop-factor sensor has a 4:3 aspect-ratio, like film and digital Medium Format cameras, although that is not as large as the film counterpart which is 60x45mm. Medium Format cameras are necesarily large and expensive, so are exclusively targetted at professionals.
Fuji built the GFX-50S with a hybrid digital and analog design that gives direct access to exposure parameters and an unprecedented amount of flexibility. This huge mirrorless camera is weatherproof and freezeproof with an industrial fit and finish.
A 50 megapixels CMOS sensor is at the heart of the GFX-50S which does not use an Anti-Alias Filter to maximize captured details. Fuji introduced a number of compatible GF-mount lenses which are designed for resolutions of 100 megapixels for future models in the GFX-series. This sensor offers a broad ISO 100-12800 standard sensitivity range, expandable to ISO 50-102,400. It is responsable for Contrast-Detect AF and can record full 1080p HD videos at 30 FPS. Given the high throughput needed for high-resolution images from the Fujifilm GFX-50S, it can shoot continuously at no more than 3 FPS.
This first Fujifilm Medium Format mirrorless model has an unconvential yet highly expandable design for a professional digital camera. The hybrid hot-shoe directly on the camera accepts standard flashes or an optional ultra-high-resolution 3.7 MP EVF with 100% coverage and a class-leading 0.85X magnification. The EVF unit offers a pass-through standard hot-shoe and can be used with a unique adapter to allow both tilting and rotating the EVF.
This digital camera review analyses the usability, performance and image quality of the Fujifilm GFX-50S.
Fujifilm GFX-50S Features
- 50 Megapixels CMOS sensor
- No Anti-Alias filter
- 0.8X Crop-Factor
- 4:3 Aspect ratio
- Contrast-Detect AF
- Fuji GF lens mount
- ISO 100 to 12800 sensitivity range, 1/3 EV steps
- ISO 50, 25600 - 102400 expansion, 1 EV steps
- Auto ISO, Selectable 200-12800 Maximum, Minimum 1/4-1/500s Shutter-Speed
- ISO Bracketing, 3 frames, 1/3-1 EV steps
- 1/4000-60s Mechanical Shutter, 1/3 EV steps
- 1/16000-60s Electronic Shutter, 1/3 EV steps
- 60s-60m Mechanical Shutter, 1 EV steps
- Bulb exposure, maximum 1 hour
- Optional Electronic Front Curtain Shutter-Release
- PASTMB Exposure modes
- Multi-Segment, Center-Weighed, Spot and Average metering
- Exposure-Compensation, ±5, 1/3 EV increments
- AEB, 2-9 frames, 1/3-3 EV increments
- 100%, 200% or 400% Dynamic-Range
- Dynamic-Range Bracketing, 3 frames
- Automatic, 7 presetsDaylight, Shade, 3 Fluorescents, Incandescent, Underwater, Kelvin and Custom WB3 Memories
- WB fine-tuning along 2 axis in 19 steps
- WB Bracking, 3 frames, 3 step sizes
- Film Simulation: Provia, Velvia, Astia, Classoic Chrome, Pro Negative Hi, Pro Negative Standard, Across, B&W, Sepia
- Optional Color Chrome Effect, 2 levels
- Optional Filters for Across and B&W, 3 colors
- Film Simulation Bracketing, 3 frames
- Adjustable Color, Sharpness and Noise Reduction, 9 levels each
- Adjustable Highlight Tone and Shadow Tone, 7 levels each
- Optional Lens Modulation Optimizer
- Optional Long-Shutter Noise-Reduction
- sRGB or AdobeRGB color-space
- Single-Shot, Continuous or DMF autofocus
- Manual-focus mode, Electronic Magnification
- Single-Point6 Sizes around 425 or 117 points, Zone3 Sizes around 117 points or Wide AF-Area
- Optional Focus Check
- Optional Focus Peaking
- Optional Rapid AF mode
- Optional Pre-AF mode
- Fly-By-Wire focus-ring on all current lenses
- 3 FPS Continuous Drive
- Unlimited JPEG or 13 RAW Buffer
- Interval Timer, 1s-24h interval, 1-999 or Infinite frames, 0m-24h delay
- Multiple-Exposure, 2 frames
- Self-timer, 2s or 10s
- 1920x1080 @ 30 FPS Video
- 1280x720 @ 30 FPS Video
- MPEG-4 codec
- 20 Microphone levels
- Mini-Jack stereo audio input
- Mini-Jack stereo audio output
Display & Viewfinder
- Optional EVF:
- 3.7 Megapixels
- 0.85X Magnification
- 100% Coverage
- Eye-Start sensor
- Optional EVF Tilt and Rotate Adapter
- 3.2" Tilting Touchscreen LCD, 2.4 Megapixel
- Customizable Monochrome Top Status Screen
- Digital Level, 1-axis
- Depth-Of-Field Preview
- Optional Live-Histogram
- Optional Framing-Guides, 3 types
- 3:2, 16:9, 1:1, 65:24, 5:4 and 7:6 aspect-ratios
- 51 and 12 megapixels resolutions output
- JPEG, RAW, RAW+JPEG capture
- 3 JPEG Compression levels
- Uncompressed or Losslessly compressed RAW
- Dual clickable control-dials
- ISO sensitivity dial, standard range only
- Shutter-speed dial, full-stops only
- Aperture ring on lenses
- Focus-Control joystick
- 9 Customizable Buttons
- Hot-Shoe & Sync-Port
- Wired-Remote connector
- HDMI (1080p) output
- USB 3.0 connectivity
- Proprietary Lithium-Ion battery
- Dual SDXC UHS-II memory-card slots
- Built-in WiFi
Suitability - What is it good for?
A Medium Format camera distinguishes itself by having a rather large sensor. With a 0.8X crop-factor, the linear difference of 25% over full-frame translates into 56% more area and light-gathering capability. According to physics, this equates to better image-quality when all else is equal. A larger sensor also implies a more shallow depth-of-field, at the same aperture for an equivalent focal-length and focus-distance.
The Fujifilm GFX-50S is a specialist camera. It builds on its strengths to push boundaries at the expense of versatility. While most types of photography would benefit from a very high-resolution sensor like the 50 MP one in the GFX-50S, such a high resolution comes at a cost. Its slow shooting speed is obvious when looking at specifications but that translates into slower image transfer, slower processing and a greater volume of data. Files from the GFX-50S can weigh down the entire photography workflow.
The ideal use-case for the Fujifilm GFX-50S is studio work. High-resolution imagery demands critical focus, limited movement and time to ensure everything is precisely in place. This is exactly the environment that studio photography provides. Product photography and posed portrait are very good subjects for this digital camera.
Architecture, urban and landscape - with some caveats - photography are also specialties that the GFX-50S can excel at. These all involve mostly still subjects, giving time to achieve critical focus and lock down the camera on a firm support, although landscape photography poses a logistic difficulty considering the large size and heavy weight of the GFX system. One has to get the camera on-location, potentially with a number of lenses, in order to capture amazing landscape. Wind is also cause for concern when capturing images at very high resolutions.
Action and sports photography are certainly not well-suited to this camera. Contrast-Detect AF on the GFX-50S is quite slow and the 3 FPS maximum drive speed is insufficient to catch peak moments or ensure a sufficient number of hits. The same is true for wildlife photography. Plus, there are no long lenses for the GFX system yet.
Travel photography is a blend of architecture, landscape, urban and street photography with the additional constraint that gear must constantly be moved from place-to-place. Although one would expect excellent results for most travel photography with the Fujifilm GFX-50S, few travellers can manage with its bulk, including a sufficiently strong tripod which is a must. Actually, this mirrorless camera is designed to be used on a tripod. A number of controls are angled upwards and very difficult to access when hand-holding the camera. This includes particularly important ones such as the Focus Drive switch, the Playback button and the Delete button.
The shallow depth-of-field captured by a Medium Format sensor gives a distinct look that makes exact focusing crucial. It takes very little movement to push something out-of-focus which, again, invites the use of a tripod. Subject movement can also induce blur more easily, so faster shutter-speeds are needed which in turn forces ISO higher as one often stops down to get enough depth-of-field.
Fujifilm built the GFX-50S with good endurance against the elements. The camera and all lenses launched since are fully weatherproof against humidity, rain and snow, while being freezeproof down to -10C. Its build-quality should make it stand harsh weather, although we have some doubts about the connectors for the EVF and tilting adaptor. There does not appear to be any sealing between them. The tilting LCD mechanism is very sturdy and has no dangling ribbons which is good news for amateurs of that feature.
Considering the Fujifilm GFX-50S is unlike choosing a DSLR. Modern DSLRs are masters of all types of photography, with some models exceeding others for particular tasks. Choosing the GFX-50S is about knowing exactly when its performance and uniqueness can truly shine.
Capability - What can it do?
The Fujifilm GFX-50S captures 50 megapixels images which is sufficient to print huge photos. Prints up to 40" x 30" will stand up-close scrutiny and larger sizes can be produced for more distant viewing. Files from this Medium Format camera can capture a considerable dynamic-range, making it capable of handling high-contrast scenes better than most cameras.
Given a standard sensitivity range of ISO 100-12800, the GFX-50S works down to low-light levels comparable to the previous generation of DSLRs. The range is expandable to ISO 50 for bright scenery and up to ISO 102,400 when it becomes dark. As explained in the performance page of this review, that comes at the expense of image quality, so possible print-sizes diminish as ISO increases.
A hybrid shutter gives this digital camera an unprecedented amount of flexibility for capturing motion. When the mechanical shutter is involved, either for the front and rear or just rear, the shutter-speed is limited to 1/4000s. When an all-electronic shutter is used, shutter-speed can reach 1/16000s. The Fuji GFX-50S allows Timed or Bulb exposures of up to 60 minutes! Anything above one minute is chosen in full-stops, rather than thirds though. Whenever a shutter-speed greater than 1s is selected, the camera counts down the remaining time which is immensely useful. This makes the GFX-50S easily capable of shooting light and star trails.
In addition to common drive modes, this Medium Format camera can capture Multiple Exposures by super-imposing two frames and, more usefully, offers an infinite Interval Timer. It supports intervals of one second to one day, taking from 1 to 999 images or until the memory card fills up, with a user-specified start delay up to 24 hours ahead. This produces a sequence of frames that can be assembled into a Time Lapse by computer. Given the size of files though, this is probably one occasion to set the camera to 12 MP resolution.
Fujifilm are experts at color science. They offer a high number of Film Simulation modes based on classic Fuji film. For the undecided, there is even Virtual Bracketing which takes one shot and renders it as 3 images, each one using a different user-selected Film Simulation. New to the GFX-50S is a Chrome Color Effect option. This changes color and contrast slightly according to a secret formula which Fujifilm says is resource intensive and rather difficult to reproduce out-of-camera. As always, none of these settings affect RAW files. There is also Virtual Bracketing for White-Balance with 3 step sizes available along the A-B axis.
There are several bracketing options in this camera: AEB, ISO and Dynamic-Range. ISO Bracketing captures 3 frames with step sizes of 1/3-1 EV. Dynamic-Range Bracketing captures images with 100%, 200% and 400% dynamic-range, which is actually only available between ISO 400 and 12800. Exposure Bracketing is the most sophisticated of any camera to date. The GFX-50S can capture between 2 and 9 frames using the current exposure as base, center or limit. It allows any step size from 1/3 to 3 EV. Frames can be captured continuously or individually and in any of 4 possible orderings! When capturing a bracket, the previous bracket image stays displayed but there is no indication of progress or remaining time.
Medium Format Digital Cameras have brought video to the format. The GFX-50S can read its sensor at up to 30 FPS and produce either 1080p or 720p video from it with stereo sound, either using a pair of built-in microphones or an external audio source. It supports a stereo audio input source and stereo output via a pair of mini-jacks. The only adjustable video setting is the audio input level. Input level can only be changed while the camera is in Video mode.
One crucial component of a camera is available optics. Since the GF-mount was introduced only a few months ago, options in this area are limited. Here is the always-up-to-date exhaustive list of all native GF-mount. Along with this review, Neocamera also reviewed half of the current lineup in our Fujinon GFX Lens Roundup. Read it to learn how optics for the GFX-50S perform. At the time-of-writing, GF-mount lenses cover a focal-range of 23 to 120mm, equivalent to 18-96mm, which is suitable for subjects from architecture to portraits.
Fuji GFX 50S Facts
|51 Megapixels Mirrorless||ISO 50-102400|
|Fujifilm GF Mount|
Sensor-Size: 44 x 33mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|Unknown Size Optional EVF 3.7 Megapixels (0.85X)||Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|Automatic Eye-Start sensor||Custom white-balance|
|2 Axis Digital Level||Spot-Metering|
|Weatherproof down to -10C||Hot-Shoe & Sync-Port|
|Built-in Dust Reduction||Stereo audio input|
|3 FPS Drive, Unlimited Images||Lithium-Ion Battery|
|1920x1080 @ 30 FPS Video Recording||Secure Digital Extended Capacity x 2|
|3.2" LCD 2.4 Megapixels|
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