Fujifilm GFX 50S Review

Fujifilm GFX 50S Review: The mirrorless medium format for landscape photographers?

Introduced in January 2017, Fujifilm GFX 50S is the newest mirrorless medium format camera model from Fujifilm and considered one of the best mirrorless cameras out there today.

It has a large medium format (43.8 x 32.9 mm) sensor with a very high resolution: 51.4 MP.

This puts this camera into competition with the  Hasselblad X1D – not a rival unworthy of paying attention to. Check out the review here.

Fujifilm also equipped it with an articulating 3.2” touch screen.

It has 2,360k dots ready for your live viewing, environmental sealing, a high resolution electronic viewfinder (3690k dot) that can be rotated or removed completely, and the opportunity to use your smartphone as remote control.

PROS

  • High resolution medium format sensor
  • Convenient design
  • Large articulating, high resolution touch screen
  • Removable, high resolution EVF
  • Weather sealing

CONS

  • Relatively short battery life
  • Quite heavy for a mirrorless camera

Fujifilm GFX 50S Review

If a camera is competing with the Sony A7R II and Hasselblad X1D, you know the sensor is going to be good.

And indeed, Fujifilm outdid itself and produced their biggest system yet with the GFX 50S.

Although this camera is not big for a high-end camera with a medium format sensor, it is certainly big when compared to Fujifilm’s other models.

The Grip

But, the design team over at Fujifilm has taken this into account, and made some changes to the grip, for example.

Where the grip is normally quite small on Fujifilm mirrorless models – suitable for the small size and light weight of the camera – this model has had an upgrade in ergo-dynamics.

The grip is fatter, with the front formed perfectly for your fingers and the shutter release button placed at a slight angle to ensure a natural grip.

Controls

On the back there is a small nook present in which your thumb can easily rest closely to the control buttons.

Those control buttons are all we’re used to from Fujifilm; placed conveniently close without making the camera appear crowded, the thumb can easily reach buttons on the back including that handy nubbin for selecting the AF point we all know and love.

Fujifilm GFX 50S Review

On the top of the camera we can find Fujifilm’s usual dials to easily adjust the ISO sensitivity and shutter speed, and Fujifilm promises to introduce lenses with aperture rings soon as well.

Finally, we can also find a very DSLR-like LCD screen on top of the camera, allowing you to view all basic information at a glance.

Fujifilm GFX 50S Review

The LCD Screen

Moving on from body to LCD screen – very little complains there!

Although I am personally not a huge fan of Fujifilm’s menu systems as I like more simple and easy ones like the Hasselblad menus, the perfectly placed buttons and handy dials make up for that, so I will mainly focus on this screen’s capability of working well with live viewing.

Well, first of all, the screen is big. It’s 3.2”, making it a very good size to view your image, check your focus, see if you’ve exposed correctly, etc.

It also does some rotating, enabling you to flip the screen up, down and 90 degrees to the right.

This means you get some freedom when it comes to shooting from weird angles, but if weird angles really are your thing and a rotating screen is of vital importance to you, you might be better off with a fully articulated screen like the one on the Canon EOS 80D for example.

Electronic View Finder

Another greatly designed feature on this camera is the electronic viewfinder with a resolution of no less than 3690k dots.

Not only am I a big fan of clear and beautiful electronic viewfinders, since I like being able to see if I got my exposure right when I’m shooting hand-held as well as when using the live view, this viewfinder has an extra trick up its sleeve – well, more like a few extra tricks.

Fujifilm GFX 50S Review

First of all, the EVF can be completely removed from the body. This is an amazing feature for landscape photography use, since we’re so often traveling or hiking around and would really benefit from a smaller camera body.

Since live viewing is more often useful when shooting from a tripod, being able to remove the EVF to lose some camera weight is definitely a big plus.

But in case you are going out shooting but are not sure if you might be needing your EVF for some hand-held shots, the EVF is also rotatable when attaching the Tilting Adapter between the camera body and viewfinder, enabling vertical tilt (0-90 degrees) and horizontal rotation (more or less 45 degrees).

These angles allow you to be more creative with your hand-held angles and still being able to make use of the EVF’s amazing quality.

Another great addition that seems to be a present especially for landscape photographers, is the 3d system used in the viewfinder, the perfect tool for determining if your vertical and horizontal lines are exactly straight.

Fujifilm GFX 50S Review

The Sensor

Moving on to the reason we’re all here: the medium format sensor.

We’ve all witnessed the greatness of the Sony a7R II full frame sensor, now be prepared to be amazed some more.

Although up until now it has mostly been Hasselblad dominating the medium format field, Fujifilm is coming in strong and has come a very, very far way.

This might seem surprising, but when you look into some camera history you will see that Fujifilm was actually one of the brands producing medium format cameras for film.

Not so surprising anymore that they are not letting Hasselblad getting away with all the shine anymore…

This sensor is an impressive 43.8 x 32.9 mm large SMOC medium format, with a resolution no less than 51.4MP and a X-Processor pro.

If you thought your full frame images were sharp and detailed, think again. Like the images from the Hasselblad, these images will survive almost any kind of zooming and cropping, and provide you with some outstanding dynamic range.

Fujifilm GFX 50S Review

Battery Life

Although I haven’t found many disadvantages to this camera for landscape photography, there are of course some.

The battery life for example, is not much longer than 400 shots.

This means extra weight to carry in the form of extra batteries, just like was the problem with the Sony a7R II and Hasselblad X1D.

Like its Hasselblad rival, this camera is also quite heavy for a mirrorless camera with 800 grams.

However, that is still a pretty light weight to carry in return for medium format image files…

For action photography this camera might not be ideal, since the maximum continuous shooting rate is only 3.0 fps and the autofocus is not the fastest out there (although it does a better job than the system on the X1D).

Alternatives

Hasselblad H1d

Hasseldblad X1d

This camera is probably most similar to the GFX 50S, as it’s one of the few medium format cameras in the shape of a mirrorless, more or less light weight camera.

Like mentioned before, the Hasselblad has a menu system that is just unbeatable. It’s also designed very cleverly, and is slightly lighter than the GFX. The X1D is a bit more expensive however (like is to be expected from a Hasselblad), and only has a few (expensive) lens options.

Sony a7R II

Photography Ambition

One of my personal favorite mirrorless camera’s to date, with a back-illuminated full frame sensor and no optical low-pass filter for images very comparable in sharpness, detail and dynamic range to the medium format files produced by the Hasselblad and Fujifilm.

This camera is also a bit lighter, and offers 4K video if you’re into some landscape videoing on the side. This camera is a lot less expensive and more suitable for all-round photography than the GFX or the X1D.

Pentax K 1

Pentax K1

Equipped with a full frame 36 MP SMOS sensor, this Pentax does a pretty impressive job in image sharpness.

Like the a7R II this camera also lacks the optical low pass filter, making for an even sharper image though some more noise when using high ISO sensitivities (which you very probably won’t be doing when shooting landscape).

This camera does have a decent battery life of 760 shots, a lot more than the other cameras listed (although still no Canon 1100 shots…).

It also has built-in image stabilization, using the Sensor-shift system. It lacks the electronic viewfinder however, but the optical viewfinder does do a 100% coverage. This camera is a lot less expensive than the GFX 50S, but it will show in image quality when compared.

Conclusions

The Fujifilm GFX 50S will produce some of the highest quality images out there, which makes it an outstanding camera for landscape photography.

The great body design, high resolution screen and electronic viewfinder are just the beginning of this camera’s greatness, as the real pearl lies within: the medium format 51.4MP sensor responsible for all that high image quality.

The battery life could be improved, but all other shortcomings are not really a problem for the landscape photographer.

This is the camera for you if you are ready for a big investment, and make the step to a very high-end medium format camera.

Check out more Camera Reviews here 

About the Author Luca

Hi, I am Luca, founder and editor in chief at photographyambition.com. I am crazy about photography and I always have a camera with me. When I am not busy with my day job, enjoying my family or taking photos, I am on Photography Ambition to share what I have learnt so far.

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