Fu­ji­film’s GFX 50S is the first cam­era in its new medium- for­mat sys­tem, promis­ing im­age qual­ity sur­pass­ing what's on of­fer from smaller sen­sors

Digital SLR Photography - - Contents - Test: DANIEL LEZANO

Fuji’s foray into the world of medium- for­mat has shaken up the in­dus­try. How good is this 51.4- megapixel beast?

SPEC­I­FI­CA­TIONS Guide Price: £ 6,000 ( body- only) Im­age sen­sor: G- for­mat ( 4: 3) CMOS ( 43.8x32.9mm) Res­o­lu­tion: 51.4- megapix­els Max­i­mum im­age res­o­lu­tion: 8256x6192 pix­els Con­trast AF sys­tem: 9x13 ( 117 points) / 17x25 ( 425 points) sin­gle fo­cus points and six sizes of fo­cus area Me­ter­ing pat­terns: Multi- zone ( 256 zones), spot, av­er­age & cen­tre- weighted ISO range: ISO 100- 12800 plus Auto. Ex­pand­able to 50- 102400. Shut­ter speeds: 1/ 4000sec- four sec­onds & Bulb. ( Elec­tronic shut­ter: 1/ 6000sec- 60 min­utes) LCD mon­i­tor: 3.2in 2,360,000- dot tilt­ing touch­screen Frame rate: Three frames- per- sec­ond Stor­age: Dual SD ( SDHC/ XC) Size ( WHD): 147.5x94.2x91.4mm Weight: 825g in­clud­ing bat­tery & card / 920g with EVF Web­site: www. fu­ji­film. co. uk

FU­JI­FILM’S X- SE­RIES of APS- C mir­ror­less cam­eras have proven in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar, thanks to their com­bi­na­tion of small size, high spec­i­fi­ca­tion and ex­cel­lent im­age qual­ity.

The GFX 50S is a to­tally dif­fer­ent type of cam­era and the first in Fu­ji­film's G- sys­tem. At its heart is a medium- for­mat sen­sor that's 1.7x big­ger than full- frame yet smaller than other medium- for­mat dig­i­tal sen­sors. Pho­tog­ra­phers as old as me will know that Fu­ji­film has a her­itage in medium- for­mat cam­eras, with mod­els like the GA645, GX680 and GX617 of­fer­ing a di­verse range of op­tions for en­thu­si­asts and pro­fes­sion­als. So while the GFX sys­tem is new, the brand is well versed in medium- for­mat cam­eras and op­tics that are ca­pa­ble of meet­ing the needs of the dis­cern­ing pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher.

The GFX 50S is the first model in the range, and hav­ing used it for a cou­ple of weeks I'm very im­pressed with it. While the big­ger sen­sor re­quires the cam­era body to be larger to ac­com­mo­date it, the GFX 50S is sim­i­lar in size to pro- spec DSLRS from the likes of Canon and Nikon. How­ever, the out­fit does be­come bulkier with a lens fit­ted, as op­tics need to be larger due to the larger sen­sor. That said, it's still a rel­a­tively com­pact and light­weight of­fer­ing bear­ing in mind the for­mat size – I took the body and two lenses on a short over­seas trip and didn't find it much dif­fer­ent to car­ry­ing around a pro DSLR and set of lenses.

As you'd ex­pect, the mag­ne­sium al­loy body feels very ro­bust and well put to­gether and is sealed in 58 lo­ca­tions to en­sure ex­cel­lent dust- and weather- proof­ing. A prom­i­nent hand­grip af­fords a solid hold, so much so that one- handed shoot­ing- from- the­hip is pos­si­ble. Two large di­als on the top- plate han­dle ISO and shut­ter speeds, with both of­fer­ing a cen­tral lock but­ton to pre­vent ac­ci­den­tal ro­ta­tion. Con­trol but­tons are lo­cated on the top, front and rear of the body and while some are la­belled, others ( chiefly the cus­tomis­able but­tons) are un­marked, which is un­usual. Cus­tomi­sa­tion – an im­por­tant fa­cil­ity for pros – is ex­ten­sive on the GFX 50S, with ten op­tions, in­clud­ing a Q ( Quick) but­ton near the thum­brest and a four- way con­trol, al­low­ing fast ac­cess to im­por­tant func­tions.

The 3.2in LCD mon­i­tor is ex­cel­lent, pro­vid­ing a very sharp and bright dis­play when us­ing Live­view or re­view­ing im­ages. An up/ down ( no side- to- side) tilt­ing fa­cil­ity al­lows it to be used high or low and, best of all, it sports a touch­screen fa­cil­ity too.

The elec­tronic viewfinder ( EVF) pro­vides 100% cov­er­age and uses a 3.69- mil­lion- dot screen, which gives a sharp and colour­ful elec­tronic im­age, along with ex­ten­sive in­for­ma­tion and the op­tion to have a his­togram or elec­tronic level on the screen. A sen­sor can be ac­ti­vated to switch be­tween us­ing the LCD or EVF to com­pose or re­view im­ages. The EVF is de­tach­able, al­low­ing an op­tional tilt­ing adapter to be fit­ted.

All these fea­tures en­sure users feel at home with the GFX 50S rel­a­tively quickly, with the ma­jor­ity of the cam­era's op­er­abil­ity be­ing very sim­i­lar to that of a DSLR.

The Fuji's 51.4- mil­lion pixel CMOS sen­sor is larger than full- frame and much larger than APS- C, and the ad­di­tional sur­face area means big­ger pix­els ( and larger op­tics), which both work at al­low­ing the GFX 50S to cap­ture im­ages with far more de­tail and sharp­ness than smaller sen­sors with a sim­i­lar pixel count. It boasts an ex­cel­lent dy­namic range of 14 stops and, as well as the na­tive for­mat, can be set to shoot in six other for­mats in­clud­ing 1: 1, 3: 2 and 16: 9.

The X- Pro­ces­sor Pro is the imag­ing en­gine tasked with han­dling these large

files and en­sur­ing pro­cess­ing ex­tracts max­i­mum im­age qual­ity and min­i­mal noise. The ISO range can be ex­panded as low as ISO 50 and as high as 102400, so there is plenty of scope for low light hand­held pho­tog­ra­phy. Ex­po­sure modes are lim­ited to the core four: pro­gram, man­ual, aper­ture­and shut­ter- pri­or­ity. There are four me­ter­ing modes, with the de­fault be­ing a 256- zone pat­tern. Spot takes a read­ing from a 2% area and can be linked to the ac­tive AF point.

The AF sys­tem is based on con­trast AF and of­fers a wide range of modes and op­tions. Along with sin­gle and multi- point AF, zones us­ing 3x3, 5x5 or 7x7 points is avail­able, with a fo­cus lever on the rear al­low­ing quick ad­just­ments of their po­si­tion. Face and eye de­tec­tion op­tions are also avail­able.

Other no­table fea­tures are a wide range of Film Sim­u­la­tion modes based on clas­sic Fu­ji­film emul­sions, a 1.28in LCD info panel be­hind the shut­ter but­ton, Full HD video, an in­ter­val timer, mul­ti­ple ex­po­sures, a hot­shoe for ded­i­cated flash and Wi- Fi con­nec­tiv­ity.

Bar the odd ob­vi­ous thing that sep­a­rates mir­ror­less to DSLR ( such as the EVF), us­ing the GFX 50S is ef­fec­tively no dif­fer­ent to us­ing a large DSLR. AF is re­spon­sive and ac­cu­rate, and in terms of speed is close to match­ing that of cur­rent DSLRS. The multi- zone pat­tern was con­sis­tently good too, with only strong back­light­ing throw­ing it off. Im­age qual­ity is ex­cep­tional, with the huge files record­ing an in­cred­i­ble level of de­tail. Dy­namic range proved ex­cel­lent too, while noise was han­dled far bet­ter than I ex­pected – night shots at very high ISO rat­ings are more than us­able. In terms of im­age qual­ity, no other dig­i­tal cam­era I've used can match the Fu­ji­film GFX 50S. My only con­cern in terms of us­age is bat­tery life – a spare or two is rec­om­mended.

Above & be­low: De­spite hous­ing a medium- for­mat sen­sor, the Fu­ji­film GFX 50S is a sim­i­lar size to pro- DSLRS and has a con­trol lay­out that's easy to get used to.

Ex­po­sure: 1/ 160sec at f/ 10 ( ISO 500)

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