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03/11/17 Feedback on Fuji GFX 50s–A great start for Fuji with Medium Format

After a lot of waiting and wanting, Fuji has delivered the GFX to worldwide use. I am extremely grateful to have one as it’s readily apparent after the first round of shipments, that the April 2016 earthquake affected the Sony Chip plant a lot more than many in the U.S. understand. Fuji is still backordered on the X-T2 almost now 1 year since it’s announcement. And now the GFX 50s is slowly filtering into the photographic world. Most of the information I have seen and comments are from photographers in the far east or Europe. Very little U.S. reaction, but I am aware that there is a huge back order on the GFX. I am very grateful to B&H Photo for getting me at leas the GFX 50s and 32-64 lens. I had to move to Amazon to find the 120mm, but it arrived in one piece even though the shipped just dropped the Fuji box in another box with no padding, Amazing. Fuji can’t even ship the lenses in any volume.

I ordered my GFX on the 19th of Jan, with the the 32-64 lens, then on the 24th added the 120mm (even though I feel it’s grossly overpriced for what you get), then 1 week later ordered the 63mm. I held off on the 63mm, as it’s equivalent to 50mm on a 35mm camera and I just don’t use that focal length much. I also had the sense to order a spare battery, as they are also in very short supply. For a all day shoot, you will need more than 1 battery. Possibly 3, and they don’t charge up very fast, taking around 1 hour to 90 minutes to fully charge a battery with the Fuji Supplied charger.

There are a lot of comments out there about the GFX being ‘ugly”, or “huge”, or “DSLR” like etc. Most of this seems to be coming from photographers who purchased the Hasselblad X1D. No doubt the X1D is smaller, lighter, and a more striking camera, but for me in my work the GFX fits just fine. I prefer to have a tiling LCD, always. I like Fuji’s placement of the Shutter speed and ISO settings on the outside with separate dials. The remote’s I that work with the X-T2, worked fine with the GFX including the intervalometer, excellent. The grip is large enough to hold but I wish they not put the Q button on the grip, as I hit it all the time.

For my work, the GFX fits in very nicely. I was able to hand hold the camera for multiple pano shots very well. As a landscape shoot only, I feel that Fuji missed the mark on a few of areas.

1. No manual MF clutch on the lenses. If you are working a critical scene, and need to check your focus by going into play mode, the GFX drops the previous focus point just like the X series cameras. You can hit focus check and attempt to get it back, but since the camera is focus by wire, you will never really hit the exact same spot twice. If the lens had a MF clutch like many of the primes in the X line do it would be possible to switch the lens to MF via the clutch then manually focus, check your focus in play mode then continue to shot knowing that focus point did not change. Making such high end glass without a MF clutch to me is a bit oversight. NOTE, just switching the camera to M from S will not fix this issue. Each time you go to play to check focus you will lose previous focus point.

2. I have an issue with the fact that on play back the default zoom is way past 100%, more like 150%. I don’t understand why Fuji allowed the one push zoom to go past 100%. I you want to enable zoom past 100% fine, but let the default be 100%. Without this, each time you check your focus you are forced to pinch the screen down to zoom out as using the wheel doesn’t allow as precise a control. You cannot determine good focus with a 150% zoom, just like you can’t on a Nikon D810 which also zoom way past 100%.

3. The GFX continues as the X series cameras do to blur 1 of 3 bracketed shots. This happens as you drop your shutter speed down into the 1/15 to 1/4 of sec range during the bracketing. Of course I am using a tripod for these slower shutter speeds but the camera managed to blur many of the slower shots. I did no have the electronic first curtain enabled or electronic shutter, and I guess I should have tried them.

4. I would have greatly preferred to have the drive mode controlled with a switch around the ISO dial just like on the X-T2. Sure you need to setup the bracket in the camera menu just like you do on the X-T2, but to engage it I prefer a manual switch. The “drive” button is not in a great location on the GFX, being on the front top of the camera.

5. Fuji made the base of this camera huge. So it’s going to be very costly to make a L bracket for it. I understand the need for the bulge for the battery and LCD, but couldn’t have there been a slight extension added to the base to give it a more narrow appearance. Just me I guess.

6. AF performance in good light is excellent, in fact I feel it’s better than my X-T2 or X-Pro2. However in low light, often times the camera gets a AF lock, but it’s not accurate. This fooled me quite often on my first outing. With subjects way off in the distance, you will need to check your focus via playback to make sure you captured the best focus.

7. The current Lightroom/ACR conversions for higher ISO files is terrible. I have compared them to in camera jpgs and conversions by Capture One and the Lightroom conversions have way to much noise, and color smearing around areas of light and dark transition. Thank goodness it’s a simple thing to make the raw files open in Capture One, or I would more than likely returned the camera. The software that Fuji includes is worthless, a cheapened low end version of Silkypix. Fuji should have worked closer with Phase One to attempt to get P1 to break policy not supporting any non P1 Medium Format cameras.

Overall the camera is a wonderful addition to my toolset and I will use it often. The files are amazingly clean and the lenses deliver excellent clarity and sharpness. Hand holding the camera is very possible and I sure hope that the soon to be released 23mm and 45mm share this same high end quality.

Paul Caldwell

Written on 03/11/17 for paulcaldwellphotography.com

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