THE NEW, FUJIFILM GFX 50R
My first impressions of the Fujifilm GFX 50R medium format camera with sample images
Sunrise over the shipping channel in Toronto
Fujifilm GFX 50R First impressions
The shiny white box was a bit smaller than the original GFX box I remember – and lighter. Inside were the usual bits & pieces including cables, strap, charger and the camera body itself – which was smaller that I imagined! It lacked the bulk of the first GFX. Indeed, in my hand, it was a perfect fit!
After testing the pre-production model of the X-Pro2 for months and now owning two of them, I am very familiar with their look and feel. So when I held the GFX 50R for the first time, there was an instant familiarity – this new GFX has the same look and feel as the X-Pro2, only a little larger.
The back of the camera is pretty similar to what we are used to with Fujifilm cameras with the exception of the absence of the circular function/selector buttons. This reduces the buttons to only a few – still within easy reach of my thumb and my muscle-memory.
The 51.4 MP sensor is the same as its predecessor so I knew the files would be large, highly detailed and with a beautifully wide dynamic range. The earlier GFX lenses are also designed to be used with this camera. Working on GFX files is a joy – so much sharpness and detail. If you need to retouch any images, then there is a ton of information with which to work.
As for actually going out and using the GFX 50R, it is less bulky and more discrete – no larger than your average DSLR. You can certainly use it for street photography without feeling like you are lugging something obtrusive around. I did not have the new 40mm pancake lens at the time of testing, so I can only imagine that that would be a perfect lens for street photography making the camera even smaller and lighter.
Being mirrorless, it is quiet, save for the soft sound of the shutter. When shooting in quiet situations, you won’t give yourself away like you would shooting a DSLR. Together with the understated styling and quiet operation, it is a great combination when you want to shoot indoors at a wedding ceremony or other occasion where discretion is required!
Wandering about at 2:30 am in a farm field with only a sliver of moonlight, the GFX is easy to operate in the dark with only a few buttons to feel for. Once my 2-minute exposure was dialled in, it was pretty quick to set up, level off and shoot others before moving on, flashlight in hand, to compose many scenes under the stars.
Returning to Toronto in the early morning, hunting for shadows and little pockets of light, the GFX was light enough to easily hold up to my eye and remain there until a cyclist or pedestrian passed through the scene. Being discrete the camera looks to the average passerby to be nothing special – this is one of its greatest features – that it looks plain and not very “shouty” like a busy DSLR which may draw attention to itself.
Over the years, I have photographed in areas where larger cameras often drew unwanted attention – so having a small black box with few features is perfect for me. People won’t notice it – and that’s a good thing in my opinion. What they also won’t see are the large and beautiful images that this camera creates.
I am not sure how much this camera will cost in stores, but I know it will be priced less than the first GFX due to some of the refinements and new styling. This will put a medium format camera in the hands of a lot more people who will appreciate the larger files for creating highly detailed and rich prints for commercial and other client work where large files are needed and when enlargements will be printed.
The big question for me after spending a bit of time with the new GFX is, will I purchase one? An unquestioningly, hell yes! The look, feel, ease of operation and of course, the files all come together to make a camera that ergonomically fits both my hand and the way I shoot.