This article is focused on what could be considered as the “elite” of mirrorless cameras, medium format cameras, with the GFX series from Fujifilm. If you are interested in this type of body, you can actually look in detail at our page listing all the lenses for the G-mount.
Since 2016, Fujifilm joined Phase One and Hasselblad in the medium format category. The 44 x 33 mm medium format sensor (1.7 x larger than full format) is recommended for photographers looking for the best resolution and image quality, especially in terms of colorimetry. With outstanding imaging technology, the GFX system can meet the expectations of professional photographers from commercial to landscape photography. But Fujifilm goes even further with the release of its GFX 50S II, which opens the door to affordability of medium format for any professional or amateur (who still has a good budget, of course…).
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The medium format also allows Fujifilm to offer a better bokeh to its images, giving them a unique style. If your budget does not allow you to buy these beauties, then I invite you to look at our page dedicated to Fujifilm APS-C mirrorless cameras.
Let’s now enter the world of Fujifilm medium format, with the presentation of these different cameras and for whom they are intended.
I decided to talk about the three most recent cameras of the brand because the two older models are a bit outdated today, and have a less good quality/price ratio.
With the GFX 50R, Fujifilm is trying to attract APS-C and full frame customers to the GFX system by offering a lightweight, compact and yet relatively cheap (for medium format) camera. This is the second GFX series camera, after the 50S.
The GFX 50R is a 50MP mirrorless camera. It shares most of its components with the existing GFX 50S, including its sensor and processor, but rearranges them in a slightly smaller and less expensive body. While this sensor is quite old and lacks advanced technology like on-sensor phase detection and in-camera image stabilization, it is still a very capable sensor, able to produce excellent images. Despite its compact appearance, Fuji managed to fit a 3.69 million dot OLED viewfinder on the back of the camera, in addition to a large tiltable touchscreen LCD. Connectivity is complete: a USB Type-C port, an HDMI Type-D port, a stereo microphone jack, a C IN 15V power supply and a remote jack control. Finally, two SD format storage spaces are provided. And to satisfy all its ambitions, the body is both dustproof and weatherproof.
The image quality is sensational. The large CMOS sensor, combined with a selection of lenses, makes it quite easy to get some of the best image quality you can find. Details are perfectly reproduced up to ISO 800. The promises for the burst are well kept at 3 fps. But the autofocus is not the fastest, and makes it a difficult tool to use when shooting moving subjects.
As for the GFX 50S, its video functions are also very limited: recording is in FullHD at 30p. The image quality is good, but 4K and ultra HD are not available.
Overall, the GFX 50R is a very nice camera that will undoubtedly satisfy demanding and detail-obsessed photographers. While the image quality of the GFX 50R is essentially the same as its older sibling, its handling and controls offer a very different shooting experience.
The Fujifilm GFX 50S II is the company’s third 50MP medium format camera, and the first with built-in stabilization.
The 50S II is a lower resolution version of the GFX 100S, sharing more with its high-pixel counterpart sibling than with the original GFX 50S. Fujifilm is using the same 51MP CMOS sensor as the original camera, but in the body of a GFX 100S, along with the body’s mechanical stabilization. This means it is slightly smaller and lighter than its predecessor. It has a tilting touchscreen, a built-in viewfinder (with lower magnification than the 100S and the original 50S) and 440 frames of autonomy thanks to a new battery. Its sensitivity goes from ISO 100 to 12,800 and can be extended from ISO 50 to 102,400.
The GFX 50S II produces impressively sharp, rich and detailed images. However, its autofocus is said to be rather slow and its face and eye detection rather random. This can be slightly disabling for portrait photography, especially if you like spontaneity. Its slow autofocus and maximum shooting rate of 3 fps exclude it mainly for sports and action, areas in which full frame high resolution cameras are becoming more and more powerful.
Using the older 50MP sensor means the GFX 50S II doesn’t benefit from the 4K video capabilities of the GFX 100S, despite the many other pieces of hardware they share. So while the 50S II has a dedicated photo/video switch, mic and headphone jacks, its video performance is nothing special. Video is limited to 1080/30p. While the quality isn’t bad at all, the competition and its big brother the GFX 100S offer 4K footage. Just like its predecessors, video is not the major draw for potential buyers of the GFX 50S II.
So the GFX 50S II takes a familiar sensor and mounts it in Fujifilm’s most refined GF body. This results in the company’s first 50MP image stabilized model, while becoming the cheapest medium format digital camera ever launched. This is clearly a mouth-watering prospect for anyone who dreams of going beyond full frame.
The Fujifilm GFX 100S is the logical next step in the development of the company’s medium format lineup: a 100MP sensor in a single grip DSLR-style body.
In 2019, Fujifilm introduced the GFX 100, a raw-finished mirrorless camera with a medium format, stabilized 102-megapixel sensor! An exceptional body with a weight of 1.4kg and for a very large sum of money. To relieve your back and your bank account, I now present you the GFX 100S.
In its relatively compact body, the GFX 100S incorporates the 102MP BSI CMOS sensor of the original GFX 100, mounted with a smaller and more powerful image stabilization mechanism. The GFX 100S has a very similar control layout to the original GFX 100, with a large LCD screen and a comparable number of custom buttons. But the use of a smaller battery (460 shot capacity) and a fixed viewfinder has made the GFX 100S much smaller.
The main highlight of the GFX 100S is the addition of image stabilization built into the body. Unsurprisingly, the image quality of the GFX 100S is virtually indistinguishable from its predecessor – it’s incredible. And with built-in stabilization, there’s no need to worry about the stability/loss of detail trade-off!
Impressively, for a camera with a 100MP sensor, the GFX 100S can shoot up to 5 fps with continuous autofocus. It’s apparently not the best autofocus there is, but it does its job and can be quite accurate, especially for portraits and eye detection.
Regarding the video, it has the same options as the GFX 100, including 4K at 30p and no cropping. The video performs well despite the very high pixel count, and the images are flattering.
The combination of the GFX 100S’s neat interface, built-in image stabilization and fast autofocus makes it an incredible medium format camera that is sure to deliver its full image quality!
Choosing to switch to medium format is not a trivial decision. First of all, it’s a question of budget (for camera and lenses), and remember that the 44 x 33 mm format is only 70% larger than full format. So, the difference in image quality between a 50MP medium format and the best of its full format counterparts is very small.
So as far as original GFX 50R or 50S are concerned, which are very nice cameras and will undoubtedly reward the demanding, detail-obsessed photographer, I see them more as the cheapest way to get into the medium format and the GF lens system. For most users, a more flexible body with better autofocus, frame rate and video performance using a smaller sensor format will be the most reasonable option.
But with the release of the GFX 50S II, you might feel a little hesitant… and I understand. You have a body here that takes the refined body of the GFX 100S, but with the sensor of the GFX 50S and 50R, to which mechanical stabilization is added. This is the cheapest medium format camera on the market, with exceptional image quality, albeit with an awkward slowness, but which gives you access to a range of excellent lenses and a special style of photography.
If you are shopping with your head and have the extra budget, then the GFX 100S is THE camera you need. A newer, more efficient sensor, better resolution, and reactivity, close to that of consumer full frame cameras make it the smallest and cheapest way to get better image quality than full frame can currently offer. The trade-off is that you lose some responsiveness and flexibility, but as an image creation tool, the GFX is excellent.
This is the end of this article about Fujifilm’s medium format cameras. Although this format is intended for a more restrictive (and wealthy) panel of users, Fujifilm democratized this segment a bit and allowed image quality and detail enthusiasts to get a foot in the medium format.
See you soon,