GFX 50s — What to Make of Fujifilm’s Medium-Format Entry

Fujfilm’s hotly anticipated medium-format GFX system finally sees the light of day with the GFX 50s camera. We’re promised spectacular detail and unmatched color and light rendition. Yet, is Fujifilm gambling too high? With a price tag of $6,499 for the body and $1,499 for the “cheapest” 63mm F2.8 lens they’re aiming for the professional and affluent amateur market. But… is medium format a market with the rich choice of full-frame solutions and ever more sensitive imagers? Fujifilm doesn’t just promise high image quality, but “ultra-high” image quality.

With 51.4MP you can expect richest detail and sublimely out-of-focus images. However, the sensor is still quite a bit smaller than the film size on medium-format cameras of yesteryear, which had film frames of 60 x 45mm or even bigger, depending on the make of the camera. The iconic Hasselblad 500EL, used by American astronauts on the moon, had a 60 x 60mm frame size.

Hasselblad’s mirrorless X1D medium-format camera sports a 43.8 × 32.9mm sensor. Fujfilm’s new medium-format sensor has the exactly same dimensions, which is 70 percent larger than the 36 x 24mm image sensors on full-frame cameras from the likes of Canon, Nikon and Sony.

But the Fujifilm GFX 50s is smaller, lighter and cheaper than most its rivals — well the Hasselblad is 75 grams lighter.

The camera body is modular-boxy with familiar Fujifilm ergonomics and control layout. Plus: the 54 million pixels with the relatively large size of each photosite (5.3µm in diameter, which is a very decent number considering how many pixels there are) should be appealing to landscape photographers, who often need to shoot in poor light, crop heavily and print their photos very large.

Fashion and portrait photographers will love the GFX 50S’s depth of field. Using the standard lens it is so shallow that Fujifilm has taken to calling it “stereoscopic bokeh,” presumably because there will be bokeh on a microscopic level both behind and in front of the subject / object.

Sure every new camera is a lot about marketing. Fujfilm ups the ante quite a bit though. Check out the many official videos highlighting the GFX system as a game changer that re-invents medium-format.

Quite a bit unpretentious Fujifilm promises its GFX 50s has the “world’s best image quality.” Period.

For specs and order details:

Fujifilm GFX 50s: $6,499 (B&H Photo / Adorama)

Fujinon GF 63mm F2.8 R WR for GFX: 1,499 (B&H Photo / Adorama)

Fujinon GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR for GFX: $2,299 (B&H Photo / Adorama)

Fujinon GF 120mm F4 R LM OIS WR Macro for GFX: $2,699 (B&H Photo / Adorama)

  • right_writes

    Even though this is not exactly MF Dan, it represents a significant improvement over FF (digital), a very interesting approach from Fuji, they are to be commended.

    Swiftly traversing from the sublime to the ridiculous though, on Tuesday morning I received a parcel from some lads in Slovenia who make a genuine MF camera called the ONDU.

    There are several models, mine is a 6X9, a hand-built wooden beauty, and all for less than £200…

    … I’m off to the beach tomorrow to get some groynes.

  • The GFX’s and a full-frame per-pixel cost are about the same, yet the GFX opens whole new horizons. I wouldn’t need more pixels, but the additional flexibility offered is a no-brainer.

    And you mention the most interesting genuine medium-format ONDU. Awaiting your review!

  • Chris

    If one was a wedding photographer…(where most professional work is),…do you think his clients would tell the difference between a the Fuji and a 5d mk3 or 4?…It is hard for me to see why a professional wedding photographer would change over to another system if they are making money with what they have. After all if one is in business,making money is what it is all about,..not spending it!

  • My point exactly, what’s the GFX market. Fashion and publicity mainly. Existing systems offer so much power and versatility already. This commercial niche can be big enough if the likes who use medium-format are willing to change or feel the need to switch horses. It’s a courageous decision by Fujifilm, they must see a clearly defined market. BTW I wonder whether Hasselblad’s 1DX uses that Fujifilm sensor…

  • Chris

    No,Fuji has no input at all according to Hasselblad’s CEO; I was listening to an interview,that is how I know.For me personally, I think all this modern technology has taken away the real challenge in photography,..but do like to see the advancement as well. It is good to have the choice, and it is great to take a few steps backward now and then to appreciate film.