How does the Fujifilm GFX 50S compare to other medium format cameras

27 January 2017 | Category: Stills

How does the Fujifilm GFX 50S compare to other medium format cameras

 

Fujifilm surprised many in the industry when it announced its new mirrorless medium format GFX system at Photokina 2016. Many had assumed the company’s next move would be a full-frame system, so leap up to medium format left some scratching their heads… but plenty intrigued.


Fujifilm’s logic makes sense when you think about it. Canon, Nikon and Sony (and to a degree, Pentax) are already well established in the full-frame market, so by avoiding that battleground altogether they can leave the big three to duke it out and introduce something new that these manufacturers currently don’t offer.

What’s more, Fujifilm has said that its new medium format system was also driven by a belief that its APS-C line of X-Trans sensors is just as good as full-frame, and that a new full-frame system would undercut everything its X-series has achieved.

Of course, the Fuji GFX isn’t the only digital medium format camera on the market. The GFX 50S joins other models such as the Hasselblad X1D and Pentax 645Z in a slowly expanding market, giving photographers who need the big resolution medium format affords some viable new options.

Like the GFX, the Hasselblad X1D is also mirrorless and offers 50-megapixel resolution along with some of the flexibility we’ve come to expect from mirrorless cameras such as a smaller body design, a touchscreen, built-in Wi-Fi. 

The X1D is a little smaller than most small-format full-frame DSLRs

However, the X1D is perhaps not as flexible as the GFX, which is also very portable and boasts unique features like its detachable viewfinder and a tilting adapter for shooting at unusual angles.

Perhaps what makes the GFX the ‘everyman’s’ medium format camera, though, is its simple interface. The GFX 50S menu system is very similar to Fujifilm’s range of APS-C X-series cameras, which helps ease the transition into medium format photography.

Likewise, the Pentax 645Z takes this approach. Pentax introduced a menu layout very similar to its DSLRs in its digital medium format camera, providing photographers with a nice progression upwards.

But for all its simplicity on the inside, the 645Z can be a bit of a beast to handle. The camera employs a traditional DSLR design that makes it much bulkier and heavier to carry than the GFX or X1D.

This makes it less versatile, which can be an issue for some depending on what you are shooting.

Another intriguing option is Phase One’s XF 100MP, which pairs a 100-million-pixel digital back (the Phase One IQ3) with a Phase One XF body. What’s interesting about Phase One’s system is its modular design, which allows you to remove and swap the lens, back and viewfinder for alternatives if you wish.

And with that 100-megapixel resolution, none of the other digital medium format cameras listed here can really compete. But then none of the other medium format cameras listed here come with a £35,000 price tag!

It’s also quite large and heavy. So if you’re willing to take a reduction in resolution to a still-staggering 50 million pixels, the much smaller and lighter GFX 50S looks very appealing at £6,199.

The Fujifilm GFX 50S will be available from February 23, 2017 but I suspect it will be March before we have them in stock to hire.  We will let you know as we know more on that date.

In the meantime, if you want to give medium format photography a try you can hire the Pentax 645Z here.