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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

Twice as nice..

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One of the issues we as photographers have is never quite having a long enough lens for the shot we want to achieve.

There are three options open to us;  move closer, buy a longer heavier lens and carry it around on the off chance it may be needed or buy a two times teleconverter.

Sarah Jones at Cambrian Photography asked me to review the new Fuji 2x teleconverter.

Fuji have just launched their 2x converter, for those not familiar with these little bits of kit they lock on to the back of your telephoto or telephoto zoom lens – in my case the 50-140 f2.8, – and then the camera body attaches to the converter, transforming your 50-140 in to a 100 – 280mm, with a subsequent loss of 2 aperture stops so the 2.8 becomes 5.6.

 

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With converters you are adding glass at the back of the lens, the problem that some manufacturers have is that the additional glass between lens and body affects image quality adversely.

Fuji have worked hard to maintain the high optical standards their X series lenses are known for, and have managed to keep any colour, contrast and sharpness issues to a minimum, certainly with the 50-140, I haven’t tried it on the 100-400. The overall feel of the converter is really nice, when I lifted it from the box it was heavier than I thought it would be but 170g isn’t  much to add to my bag.

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The shot at the top of this page is the remains of Herne Bay Pier, it was taken as the sun was going down to the left of the frame, it’s made up of 8 vertical frames stitched together. The camera settings were 2 min 43 seconds exposure and the lens was set to f2.8, with the converter attached. The image is made from the jpgs out of the camera and stitched together in Lightroom.

The converter performs well, there is a little loss of contrast as you shoot more towards the light but it is a crisp as I would have expected it to be.

Back at home I ran my usual sharpness test…

I attach a page of a newspaper to the bedroom door and with the camera mounted on a tripod I shoot the page of newsprint and blow it up to 1:1, it’s not very scientific but allows me to see how sharp the lens or converter is and what the overall contrast and sharpness is like.

Here are the comparison images, they wont be the most exciting pictures you will see. All are straight from the camera, unsharpened with no retouching just cropping in Lightroom.

1; 50×140 f2.8 uncropped at 140mm

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2; 50-140 F2.8 cropped 1:1

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3, 50-140 plus 2x converter uncropped at 140mm (effective focal length 280mm) at F2.8

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4, 50-140 plus 2x converter at 140mm (effective focal length 280mm)and cropped to 1:1

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5, The same image but taken at F6.3 and cropped the same – notice the sharpening of the edges of the text.

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You can see the slight drop in contrast with the converter and the slight loss of sharpness when used with the lens wide open but as soon as you stop down the converter performs really well.

The converter is priced around £350, weighs in at 170g and is weather resistant too. As a lightweight addition to your camera bag I can really recommend this little fella.

If you want a really technical look at the 2x teleconverter and understand the lens performance graphs then please visit :

 http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/x/fujinon_lens_xf2x_tc_wr/specifications/

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.

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