This Fujifilm GFX 50S drew actual whoops and cheers during the press conference at Photokina – the kind that are usually reserved for the likes of Apple.
The Fujifilm GFX 50S is the company’s first foray into medium-format cameras, and is designed to offer “overwhelming” image quality (their word, not mine). In fairness, it seems pretty likely that image quality will be incredible, but then it should be considering it’s going to set you back somewhere in the region of £10,000.
It has a 51.4-megapixel sensor that’s 1.7x larger than a full-frame sensor. It’s also mirrorless, has a focal plane shutter and a range of other specifications that drew delight from the crowd in Cologne. I was able to spend a little time with it before it made its way to the show floor to be drooled over by the public.
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Fujifilm GFX 50S – Handling
Considering this is a medium-format camera, it’s lighter than you might expect – and that appears to be the opening impression of everyone who pick up the camera for the first time. Okay, we’re not talking compact system camera light, but for a model that’s housing such a huge sensor inside, it isn’t too bad at all.
A large grip makes the Fujifilm GFX 50S feel comfortable in the hand, and of course gives it that air of quality. There’s no getting away from its slightly utilitarian look – it doesn't have the beautiful curves and edges of Fujifilm’s X series – but some will no doubt find beauty in it anyway.
The model I looked at had the viewfinder attached, but this can be removed to make the camera smaller and lighter. With most professional cameras, you probably wouldn’t dream of taking off the viewfinder, but for a model that may be used in a studio environment, mounted to a tripod, using only the screen may make sense. Happily, the viewfinder will come in the box, so you won’t have to fork out even more cash if you want one.
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However, if you do have some extra money burning a hole in your pocket then you can splash the cash on a second viewfinder. This one twists and tips to provide an easier view when shooting angles – believe it or not, it was this that drew the most excited gasps during the press conference.
The screen on the rear of the camera also tilts, which again will help with shooting angles, and it’s touch-sensitive too. Take note, Sony.
Sitting atop the camera you’ll find a shutter speed dial and an ISO dial. To change aperture, you’ll use rings on the lenses themselves – three will be available from launch, with a further three coming before the end of 2017. This being a completely new system, it required a bunch of completely new lenses as well.
There’s also the opportunity to buy a battery grip to extend the camera’s shooting life, a by-product of which is that it gives the camera that square shape that many pros tend to favour.
Although I only had a brief chance to use the Fujifilm GFX 50S – with the models we saw just working prototypes – I was pretty impressed by the speed of autofocus. Medium-format cameras aren’t generally known for their speedy focusing abilities, but the GFX 50S appeared to perform rather well in the strange light of a meeting room.
There have been no opportunities to shoot with a fully working sample yet, so I can’t discuss image quality in any great detail. However, hopes are high. Fujifilm’s sample images were highly impressive. I know that the company has excellent photographic nous from the superb X series, so can only imagine what the GFX 50S will be capable of.
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In many ways, the Fujifilm announcement was the most exciting of the whole show. It got people talking – and kudos to the company for entering new territory and launching new systems. Image quality should be superb – but no doubt you’ll be paying through the nose for it.
Although the actually price of the camera has yet to be confirmed, we were told that it should be “under” $10,000 for the body plus lens. That may mean it costs $9,999. Of one thing we can be certain, however: it isn’t going to be an impulse purchase.
If you’re a super-rich hobbyist, or a working professional, then the Fujifilm GFX 50S could be the next camera for you – and for the rest of us, it’s something to dream about for when we win the lottery.