Friday, April 14, 2017

Fuji GFX 50S

120mm f/32 0.5 ISO 6400
120mm  f/32 1/4 ISO 6400

I was excited last year when first Hasselblad and then Fuji introduced their mirrorless medium format cameras.  Hasselblad was first in showing what the X1D would look like and I’ll admit I found it attractive.  However after Fuji introduced the GFX 50S I began to like that body better even though it is larger.  In comparing the specifications of both cameras I began to be swayed towards the GFX mainly due to what I already shoot with (Phase One XF).  The body reminds me of the XF and I particularly like the top LCD screen, the ability to use the EVF as a waist level, and more importantly the articulating LCD touchscreen back panel.
32-64 at 32mm f/8 1/60 ISO 100

I now have three lenses for the GFX, 63mm f/2.8, 32-64 f/4 and the 120 f/4 macro, and am very pleased with them.  One of my more favorite lens on the Phase One XF is the Schneider LS 40-80; the downside is size and weight as it’s just too heavy to carry around your neck for any length of time.  The GFX has a cropped sensor similar to my first digital medium format back, the Phase One P30+.  That said I was very interested to learn that Fuji released their 32-64 lens for the GFX.  When taking in the crop sensor of the GFX the 32-64 is the same focal length as the Schneider 40-80. Additionally, both the IQ1-100 and GFX are CMOS sensors so for me, the GFX is much like having the smaller lighter brother of the XF/IQ1-100.
32-64 at 64mm f/8 1/250 ISO 100
32-64 at 34mm f/8 1/500 ISO 100
Different tools in the bag.  While the GFX is great for what I want it to do for me it nevertheless has limitations.  Crop sensor vs, full frame; 51.4MP vs. 100. There are more however these are the top two-on my list.  The Phase One will always be my go to tool when weight and size are no issue and especially when I want the very best resolution.  The GFX on the other hand will be a better fit for those times when I do have a weight restriction. 
32-64 at 64mm f/8 1/160 ISO100
32-64 at 32mm f/8 1/160 ISO 100
There has been a lot of talk about processing the RAW files and in large part I agree.  I have been using Capture One for many years and routinely use it when processing either the Phase One files or Sandy’s Sony files.  Sadly at the moment I cannot open the RAW directly into Capture One and don’t agree with using any “hacks” as proposed on the web.  I have found that Adobe ACR works well as does processing in Photoshop CC.  I understand many like Light Room however try as I have, I just can’t get to the point I like using Light Room and prefer Photoshop.
32-64 at 43mm f/5.6 1/200 ISO 200
63mm Camera set to "Auto" f/4 1/35 ISO 6400
This a good example of why I like the rear LCD. This was shot from the hip using the LCD for framing. The camera was set at f/8 1/60 and auto ISO that turned out to be 6400.
I found a 720nm infrared filter in a storage drawer and decided to try it on the 32-64. This was shot close to noon at f/11 6.5 seconds ISO 100. The file was opened in Adobe ACR before processing it in PSCC.
I’ve begun experimenting with the Wine Country filter kit and will be using it on the lenses in the future.

At the risk of repeating myself I’ll add that I like the camera.  The grip fits my hand nicely. The viewfinder is easy to use as is the LCD.  I like the top LCD and am used to using that on the Phase One XF. I like the fact that the 32-64 is very close to the 40-80 Schneider yet much lighter.  I like the fact that I can shoot low and tilt the LCD to an angle that I can use it without having to resort to the viewfinder. I haven’t done a weight comparison however the GFX is considerable lighter than the XF.  This comes as no surprise however there is a huge loss in resolution coming from 100-megapixels to 51; yet the RAW files have been stunning. 
The GFX replaces a Sony A7rII I had been using. It was never meant to replace my Phase One XF.  I was somewhat surprised at the file sizes when I downloaded the first images.  The typical RAW Sony A7rII file is 41MB while the IQ1-100 is 133MB and the GFX is typically 111MB.  The Sony RAW files once opened and saved as a Tiff will reach 240MB; the IQ1-100 reaches 580MB and the GFX will more than double to 293MB.  Not overly scientific just nice to know for on the road storage needs. The battery has lasted a full day of shooting, still uncertain why Fuji decided to place it where they did. I also like the idea of having two-card slots however I have yet to use both.
People reading this may have noticed I’m using the Peak Design camera strap.  While I like it, it doesn’t play well as the cord holding the anchor keeps twisting making the strap itself twist almost into a knot, something I’ve never had with either the Sony or Phase One XF.  I’m thinking the fault lays in having to attach it to the anchor point for the camera which also swivels. I’ll be replacing the strap shortly with one made specially of the type of mounting point Fuji decided to place on the camera.

I haven’t yet address how I plan to use this camera.  The answer is much the same as the Sony.  I’m getting to the age that luging around heavy equipment doesn’t work well for me specifically when I’m in an unknown area and all I’m doing is scouting locations.  As nice as the Sony is, it nevertheless isn't medium format (okay call me a snob).  I now have the ability to carry a lightweight medium format camera for everyday shooting as well as scouting locations for more serious work with the Phase One.  Again, just another tool in the kit.
I’ll continue to work with this camera and add more thoughts later. The images included are meant to be a sample of what’s possible. 




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