The Joy of X – GFX

Fujifilm GFX with Vertical grip
Fujifilm GFX

I don’t really do excitement over cameras, they are just there to do a job. I don’t really go in for camera porn, unboxing videos or any such nonsense, frankly it bores me.

Also before I go any further I will say that I do work very closely with Fujifilm, but that doesn’t mean I just spout the PR line and be a puppet. My view here is my own, unbiased and an honest review of using a camera that I was loaned for a few days.

By now you will have all heard of the Fujifilm GFX, a 50 megapixel mirrorless medium format camera. I’m sure you’ll have seen the images of stunning quality by Wayne Johns and Damien Lovegrove plus many others.

You will have also noticed that most of these images are studio based, with excellent lighting.

I don’t do flash, I don’t really do people if I can help it, I do landscape, usually in the rain.

Also you should note I am not a pixel peeper or super techie geek, I go purely on feel and print quality. The camera has to be a subconscious extension of me, I don’t want to have to think about, feel or experience it in anyway. It can’t get in the way.

The warning from Fujifilm was “Don’t drop it or drown it!” . I smashed my X-Pro2 during testing, so they were understandably nervous of my reputation.

Given the short amount of time I was able to have to the GFX I literally set off straight to one of my favourite locations in Romney Marsh in Kent.

IMG_1048
The Fujifilm GFX50S dangerously close to getting wet!

170224_GFX test_001

My first impression was that it was lighter and smaller than I had initially expected. The user interface is very much like every Fujifilm X-series camera.

You can add an angled viewfinder and an extra battery grip, if you so desire.

In reality I wouldn’t use the battery grip or the angled finder that both come as extras, the screen is massive, bright and very clear  – plus it is touch sensitive which you can turn off. The screen also articulates in the same was as the X-T2.

In fact if you gave the X-T2 a course of steroids, you get the GFX50s. Without the battery grip it weighs the same  – give or take a little bit – as the X-T2 with its battery grip.

The viewfinder that comes supplied can be removed from the hot shoe to give an even smaller profile.

The styling is nice, although in my opinion it’s not as pretty as the rest of the Fujifilm range, and some would argue that the other mirrorless medium format camera by Hasselblad is somewhat prettier, which is fair.

However the GFX has been designed to a tool, to be used and not to be put behind glass and fawned over.  In the hand it feels like a Mamiya 7, which was for me the perfect medium format camera.

Speaking of hands, all the knobs, dials and buttons fall easily to the fingertips, making it quick to use and the adjustments are positive. Yes there are locks on the shutterspeed and ISO dials to stop moving them by mistake.

The layout of the GFX is simple and intuituve
The layout is very similar to the X-T2 making adjustments to your exposure is simple and easy.

Finally Fujifilm have given us a low ISO – the GFX goes down to 100 and stretches easily up to 12800, with more if you need it.

Now the exciting bit – the shutter speeds go all the way from 1/4000 – 60 minutes, oh happy day, I worship at the feet of Mr Fujifilm and his team. Total bliss for someone like me who uses long exposure as an excuse for sitting in the sunshine!

It also has dual card slots, takes the regular RR90 cable release and shoots video too. You access the battery compartment from the side which means you don’t have to remove it from your tripod if the battery suddenly dies.

The batteries are bigger and specifically for the GFX, Fujifilm claim you’ll get 400 shots but in terms of real shooting I got two full days using long exposures before the battery died. My unscientific test included lots of reviewing images and leaving the screen on even while walking around Venice leading a workshop!

How does it fare in the rain? Well I left it outside in the rain – sorry Fujifilm – but someone had to!

IMG_1063
The GFX was given a little shelter at the start of the rain storm but I felt it needed to get wet in the end!

After a gentle introduction to weather (I allowed it to shelter under my Blunt Umbrella) I retired to shelter leaving the camera outside for half an hour – it worked, with no sign of leaks in the card slot, battery compartment or the cover that hides the USB sockets. All good.

The lenses I was able to use – the 32-64 zoom and the 120mm macro – were both excellent, razor sharp and both fast to focus. Frustratingly the macro doesn’t do 1:1, but there are ways around that.

The lenses also take filters in the normal way, my Lee 100mm system was perfect and no cut off was evident  – although I wouldn’t expect on the 32-64 anyway.

Talking of filters, because the shutter speeds go all the way down to 60 minutes, when you attach the Big or Super stopper you can still see the image on screen which means long exposure photography just got a whole lot easier for a number of people who struggle to work out the exposure time.

I also enjoyed being able to switch aspect ratios through from a proper panoramic 6×17 to a more common 16×9, 4×3, 3×2, 1×1. The film simulations are there too for those who want the Velvia or Acros experience while shooting superfine jpegs.

Shooting at night is something I really enjoy, the GFX handled sulking around in the dark without breaking a sweat. The two images below one made at 30 seconds the other for 8 minutes have zero noise evident in the shadows, I do shoot to the right to get as much information in the shadows as possible. There is nothing muddy about the way the shadows are rendered.

In fact the quality of the prints I have made has stunned me, the detail and crispness of the images has to be seen to believed.

170305_GFX test venice_154-Edit-Edit
The 32-64 lens is very versatile with excellent detail and sharpness across the entire focal range.
170302_GFX test venice_083-2
Eight minutes exposure, zero noise in the shadows and the detail recorded it staggering.

So does the bigger camera get in the way, was I conscious it was there, did it feel like a brick?

Honestly no, perhaps because I’m used to the way Fujifilm lay out their cameras the step up felt entirely natural. Strangely using the camera I slowed down even more than I usually, the larger screen made the camera seem invisible to me while I was working with it. In fact I had the biggest smile on my face and wanted to take more pictures.

As I have been an evangelist about switching to Fujifilm X-Series because of the lighter weight, it must feel like I’m being a bit contradictory. But I’m not, yes it is heavier than the current Fujifilm range, the lenses certainly are, but when compared with a DSLR the GFX still wins out, because you get a beautiful large file, housed in a relatively light compact body that doesn’t feel like you are holding a brick.

At around £6199 for the body and £2200 for the 32-64 it is going to make your pocket lighter but I have to admit that I have ordered one because for my photography, the size I reproduce my images it is a no brainer, my work is worth the investment.

Below are some images that I shot while testing the Fujifilm GFX50s.

170302_GFX test venice_046-Edit-2

170303_GFX test venice_085-Edit170304_untitled_019170304_GFX test venice_119-Edit

170227_GFX test_004-Edit-Edit
Shot using the 120mm macro lens

170225_GFX test_003170225_GFX test_002-Edit

A Game Changer – the Fujifilm GFX

Fujifilm GFX with Vertical grip

 

Fujifilm announced at Photokina that they intend to launch a mirrorless medium format camera, aimed at professional studio, fashion and fine art photographers.

The Fujifilm GFX is certainly something to look forward to when it hits the shops next year, boasting 51.4 megapixels, the mirrorless body and beautiful design have been careful thought through to give the best of the now trademark lightweight body, with exceptional quality images and a new range of lenses.

However it was not the size or shape , number of pixels or any of the technical information released that excited me.

It was the one line in the press release that accompanied the launch yesterday afternoon – “a camera is a tool for producing artwork,”

This is the Fujifilm philosophy and one that I fully believe in.

Fuji has a long history of producing the finest papers and films, but also its pedigree in medium format cameras and lens is second to none.

If you look back at the medium format cameras Fuji have produced in the past they are all simple, un-cluttered, they are designed to aid the photographer get the very best image they can without getting in the way of that creative process.

The GFX is designed with the same core value, it doesn’t scream look at me, it’s not huge or flashy, it is simple and understated  – it’s a tool for a job.

gfx_sideleft_63mm_evf

 

There is a demand for high quality images commercially and in the art world, Fujifilm have listened to the photographers advising them, they have taken on board exactly what the working professional and fine art photographers need in a camera and they have delivered it in a simple yet beautiful body.

In my opinion there is too much stuff on most cameras, modes, functions, custom functions, more is made of the technical specifications than image quality sometimes.

Since I switched to Fujifilm cameras and began working closely with them the thing they care about most is the images produced on their equipment, it is all about the image. Yes they make cameras and want to sell lots of them but the overriding philosophy is that it’s the image that matters most – and to me that is what really sold me on Fuji cameras and lenses.

We know that the new sensor will be of the most incredible quality, Fujifilm know a thing or two about getting the best out of their electronics and image processing. The 51.4 megapixel sensor will be capable of delivering the finest details and unbelievable texture to the images created with the GFX.

gfx_front_evf2

The electronic viewfinder will be removable and have an optional mount to allow the positioning of it in the optimal place for the shoot you are doing. I just love that Fuji have understood how photographers work!

gfx_image08

No matter how good a camera is, or the sensor within it, the glass in front of it makes the biggest difference. Fujifilm have made the most incredible optics for years, their large format lenses are some of the very best ever produced, the dazzling array of X-series lenses delivering sharpness, colour and contrast rendition of the very highest standards will naturally be expected and furthermore delivered by the six new G mount lenses.

The line-up includes;

1. Standard prime “GF63mmF2.8 R WR” (equivalent to 50mm in the 35mm format)

2. Wide-angle standard zoom “GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR” (equivalent to 25-51mm in

the 35mm format)

3. Mid-telephoto macro 1:0.5 “GF120mmF4 Macro R LM OIS WR” (equivalent to

95mm in the 35mm format)

4. Fast aperture mid-telephoto “GF110mmF2 R LM WR” (equivalent to 87mm in the

35mm format)

5. Ultra wide “GF23mmF4 R LM WR” (equivalent to 18mm in the 35mm format)

6. Wide “GF45mmF2.8 R WR” (equivalent to 35mm in the 35mm format)

The 120mm macro is high on my list of desirables as is the 23mm, I do hope they will look at the feasibility of tilt-shift lens for the the GFX, I think this is a system where that type of lens will warrant the R&D.

I am more excited about the release of the GFX than any other camera. For me, being able to get back into using a medium format camera, that is lightweight and designed simply to help me create my images without getting in the way, will be a joy that underlines the reason I am a photographer.

 

The New Generation X

I converted to the Fuji X series system two and half years ago and I can honestly say it suits my style of photography. I like my cameras small and light – unobtrusive but with incredible lenses.

For me photography isn’t about the technical, pixel peeping or my kit is bigger, faster than yours. It’s solely about being able to produce the images that work for me.

My X-Pro1 and X-T1s have done a fantastic job. However I had always wanted a slightly bigger file size, maybe slightly faster focussing perhaps a wider ISO range.

My prayers to the Fuji fairy were answered in the X-Pro2

I’ve been very lucky and since November I have been field testing the X-Pro2 or Leo as it was secretly known!

The camera itself is very similar in feel to the original X-Pro1, design and weight haven’t changed too much, it retains that classic look that we all love.

But it boasts a lovely new X-Trans III  sensor that delivers a 24MP file.

The hybrid viewfinder is better laid out and the information displayed is customisable both in optical  (OVF)and electronic (EVF) modes. Personally I prefer the EVF which allows you to monitor white balance and see the subtle changes in exposure.

The shutter is new too, allowing up to 1/8000th of second plus a flash sync of 1/250th.

The clever chaps a Fujifilm have managed to squeeze more focussing points in too, up from 49 to 77. It’s easy to change the focussing point too with a simple flick button on the back which requires a positive movement by the user.

It even features dual SD card slots.

What I really like is that all the key controls can be operated without taking your eye from the viewfinder. 

The iSO dial has been moved so that it sits with in the shutter speed dial, the exposure compensation can be expanded to +/-5 stops too. The ISO sensitivity runs from 200-12800 but can be expanded in jpg from 100 – 51200.

Fuji have added a my menu so you can add up to 16 commonly used commands for quick access.

The body is tough and feels incredibly robust, however I can say that I have the dubious honour to be the first person to write one off!

While testing the X-Pro2, and to be honest falling in love with it, I was shooting in Lyme Regis on the south coast of England in high winds and rain – the camera is very weather proof – but when high winds and waves batter the tripod the camera was on to the point of knocking it over, I can report that when it falls from about 6 feet on to solid rock it does dent the body and bits did fall off – mainly filters and the lens!

Sorry Fuji, I didn’t mean to test it to destruction!

If you want a small light camera that delivers on everything then look no further than the X-Pro2 it is an incredible piece of kit, I love it.

IMG_7437IMG_7481IMG_7482x-pro2-2x-pro2-3x-pro2-4x-pro2-6xpro2 -12