23 January 2017
Although Fuji announced the 51MP GFX 50S back in September 2016 at Photokina in Germany, it was only officially launched on 19th January - and we were at Fujifilm UK’s gala event at Althorp House in Northamptonshire to shoot with it.
To recap the headline specs, the Fuji GFX 50S has a sensor that measures 43.8x32.9mm, approximately 1.7x the size of the sensor in a full-frame camera like the Canon 1D Mark II. That means that the 51.4 million pixels are a good size, enabling them to capture lots of light and generate a strong image signal so that noise levels are kept down.
The sensor is paired with two X Processor Pro processing engines and this enables a standard sensitivity range of ISO 100-12,800, but there are expansion settings that stretch from ISO 50 to ISO 102,400.
As the sensor is larger than the APS-C sized devices in Fuji’s X-Series cameras, the GFX 50S debuts a new lens mount and three new lenses (FUJINON GF63mmF2.8 R WR, FUJINON GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR and GF120mmF4 R LM OIS WR Macro) are launching at the same time as the camera.
As it’s a mirrorless camera, the GFX 50S has an electronic viewfinder (EVF). Fuji has plumped for a 0.5-inch OLED device with 3.69 million dots and it provides a very clear view of the scene, with lots of detail visible. A key benefit of an EVF is that it’s possible to see the impact of camera settings such as exposure, white balance and Film Simulation mode, but if you prefer the GFX 50S can show you an unprocessed view similar to that seen in a DSLR viewfinder.
As with some popular analogue medium format cameras, the viewfinder of the GFX 50S can be removed. This allows the camera to made smaller for use on the move - images are then composed on the rear screen. Alternatively, a tilting adapter can be fitted between the EVF and the camera to enable the viewfinder to be used at a range of angles - it’s particularly useful with low-level shots.
On the back of the camera there’s a 3.2-inch touch-sensitive screen with 2,300,000 dots. Like on Fuji’s X-T2 this can be tilted vertically or horizontally for easier viewing. It proved very helpful in a couple of the shooting scenarios during the launch event.
Further good news is that the screen is touch-sensitive, enabling you to set AF point with a tap and to zoom quickly into shots to check sharpness. There’s also a mini-joystick like on the Fuji X-Pro2 and X-T2 which really speeds up making some setting selections and shifting the AF point.
One of the first things that we noticed about the Fuji GFX 50S when we shot with it was how fast the autofocusing is for a medium format camera. Many of the shooting scenarios that we shot in were quite dim, but the GFX’s AF system coped well, getting the subject sharp quickly in most instances.
In low light it’s helpful to select a large AF area so the camera has a better chance of finding some contrast to latch on to, but it good light it can snap onto very small areas within a scene.
We’ve only been able to shoot with a pre-production sample of the GFX 50S so far, but the quality of the images that it produces is very impressive. At ISO 200 the level of detail is stunning, and it remains at a high level all the way up to ISO 12,800.
Image colour and dynamic range are also very good and we’re really looking forward to using a full production sample in the near future.
(Please note all images were taken on a pre-production camera running non-final firmware)