Released in February 2017, the Fujifilm GFX 50S was Fujifilm’s first mirrorless medium format camera. It’s a 51.4 million-pixel (50MP) camera that has some similarities to a modern DSLR, but with some distinct differences. The body design of the GFX 50S is atypical compared to other medium format cameras on the market in that it incorporates some design principles of modern DSLRs, which makes the learning curve to use it smaller for any user that already has experience with a DSLR. This also makes the transition to the GFX system easier. I didn’t experience much difficulty in using the GFX 50S for the first time because it was similar to previous DSLR cameras that I’ve owned.
During my time with camera, I tested the GFX 50S in three scenarios: landscapes, street photography and portraiture. I want to take a moment to thank Fujifilm for allowing me to use the GFX 50S with the GF32- 64mmF4 LM WR lens for my review.
The first thing I noticed about the GFX 50S was the design aesthetics; I found the camera appealing to the eye and very comfortable to hold within my hands. The weight and size of it makes it feel as if you are holding a full-frame camera. The GFX 50S fits well into the hands and the front hand grip extends out far enough for my fingers to have plenty of room to grasp the camera.
The button layout is similar to cameras from the X Series with an ISO dial located on the top left. On the right side is a shutter speed dial and a display window that can be configured to present various camera settings to the users such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO, shooting mode and frame count. Most of the buttons on the GFX 50S are programmable, which I found to be a useful feature. I programmed the button on the front of the camera to switch between turning on and off the live preview mode. There is a very useful D-pad/selector button pad on the back of the camera, which I preferred using to navigate through the menus over using the touch screen on the back of the camera. Using the D-pad to navigate through the menus is something I am used to doing from my prior experience of SLR and DSLR cameras.
For landscapes, I found the GFX 50S to be excellent to use. Using Manual Exposure mode, I was able to produce beautiful photographs with excellent detail and dynamic range. The GF32-64mmF4 was a good option for landscapes since the lens has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 25-51mm and the size of the lens is well balanced with the GFX 50S. The landscape photographs that I shot during my testing of the camera were all taken handheld without the use of a tripod.
For street photography, I took the GFX 50S on a photo walk around downtown Memphis, Tennessee where there is always something interesting to photograph. Like with landscapes, I shot using Manual Exposure mode and had an excellent time taking street photographs using the GFX50S with the GF 32-64mmF4. This is a great combination for street photography because of the variable focal length of the lens; you can quickly adjust how close or far away you are from the subject by increasing or decreasing the focal length.
One of the things I like about Fujifilm cameras is the simplicity of the menu setup. It’s very logical compared the camera menus I have used in cameras from other manufacturers. One drawback of the GFX 50S and GF32-64mmF4 combination is the size; it is large and noticeable to pedestrians so when you aim the camera in the direction of a person, most people will notice you.
For portraiture, my goal was to successfully work with off-camera flash, which is my preferred method of shooting portraits indoors and outdoors at any time of the day. Once again using Manual Exposure mode, I wanted to test out the limits of the 1/125 flash sync speed. Paired with the GFX 50S and GF32-64mmF4 combo was the Godox AD200 with the Cheetah Snub 38” Reflector. The photographs produced during the session were vibrant and full of rich colours with the 50MP raw files providing a lot of latitude when retouching an image within Photoshop. I was very pleased with the final images from the photo session.
For my second portrait test, I took some headshots of my lovely wife, Fredrika, with the GFX 50S, GF32-64mmF4 and the Godox AD200 with the Glow EZ Lock 34” silver beauty dish. Everything worked as well as I expected with the portraits of my wife. The bokeh at f/4 was pleasing. I was surprised at how good the bokeh at f/4 on medium format looks compared to when shooting with a DSLR at f/4.
Overall, the Fujifilm GFX 50S is an excellent medium format camera. I would recommend it to any photographer that is seeking to set themselves apart from their peers by taking their photography work into the realm of medium format. Shooting medium format was a superb experience and one that I can honestly recommend to other photographers. The GFX 50S is a specialty camera and wouldn’t be ideal for some situations, so I’d definitely complement this setup with a secondary camera body from the X-T series of cameras to build out a complete professional camera bag kit.