Quick Street Shots With The Fujifilm GFX 50S

· 9.March.2017

Thanks to the Classic Camera in London, I was able to take the new Fujifilm GFX 50S out for a quick set of photographs. All images in this article were shot with a pre-production unit GFX 50S, 63mm f/2.8 and 120mm f/4 (both wide open). Images were shot in JPG and slightly tweaked in Lightroom (nothing drastic, minimal cropping and white balance adjustment). The Fujifilm representative was very honest with me, and explained that they had a lot of faith in their camera and that these images, while not final examples due to firmware and processing should be treated as a preview and not as the final product.

My only other experience in digital medium format had been the Hasselblad X1D in a studio environment. My main setup for my professional portrait, fashion, photojournalism, and street has been the Leica M series for some time now and I will be the first to admit that my experience and knowledge of what medium format has to offer could do with improvement.

If I ever chose to use medium format for my professional work, the GFX-50S would very likely be my first choice. The controls, both externally and internally, speak the same language of design and ergonomics as the Fujifilm X Series, bearing a close resemblance to the size and usability factor of the X-T2 specifically. I use the X-Pro2 myself as a backup with an M adapter, so I am used to the menu system from that. It is essentially identical, and I appreciate Fujifilm’s dedication to consistency across their entire current range.

The ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture are all intuitive, and 90% of the other controls can be set up to preference and then left alone.  Aside from the fact that it is medium format it could easily be used by anyone, of any level of photographic knowledge.

The lenses were large, which I expected, and the autofocus was surprisingly snappy. As I am used to rangefinder focusing I did have a play with the focus peaking system and other manual control aides, but left it on auto and recomposed based off a central focusing point.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to shoot any high speed subjects to test the fast electronic shutter, but I did make an effort to cycle through as much of the ISO range as possible. Viewed at screen size on my monitor, I could not see much variance between 100 and 12800, although when zoomed to 100% there is some noise, although unless printing larger than A1 I doubt this would detract from any well-exposed and composed photograph.

Considering the poor weather caused by “Storm Doris”, I didn’t spend as long shooting as I would prefer. Also due to the storm, London was uncharacteristically empty.

Normally when shooting with my Leica M I don’t worry too much about asking people for a portrait. I expected that with the much larger system I would receive a lot more negative responses. However of the people I spoke with all of them agreed to have a photograph taken. Perhaps I’m more charming than I give myself credit for. Unlikely.

I shot a few portraits in a café, and another few around the streets. These images were in natural outdoor light, late afternoon.

In the café I spoke with the waitress for a while…

and then her friend joined and styled her for a portrait.

I then photographed a girl in a shop, as close as the focus on the 63mm would allow, for the pattern and texture on her clothing.

Followed by a girl sheltering from the storm under a tarpaulin…

… as well as her waiter for the afternoon for good measure.

This is likely one of my favorites from the day, as it shows the dynamic range available in a single exposure, which had been described to me by other medium format shooters, but not something I had seen directly myself.

Before finally a culinary student back at the Le Cordon Bleu.

I wish I had had more time with the GFX 50S, and one day I hope to be able to charge one to a client. The image sharpness is superb, and although bulkier than I am used to with my Leica, the camera itself is lighter even with its larger lenses than my 240 and Noctilux; and the controls are easy to use, which makes it less of a computer as some cameras tend to be these days.

None of the images here will be award winners, but this was more of a guerilla exercise in getting my hands on the latest gear and taking it for a spin than a considered fine arts project.

I shall close with this cliché, but very visual demonstration of pixels (as some people equate pixel count with quality).

Here is the last portrait I shot of the culinary student, with the 120mm Macro.

And here is my reflection in her eye.

What I like about this presentation of an image is that the word “pupil” comes from the Latin meaning “small doll” and that the reflection we see of ourselves is a very comparative small doll-like image.