« Quote o' the Day: Kenneth Tanaka | Main | Open Mike: I Rock! »

Friday, 24 February 2017


"After holding, using, and shooting with the camera, it's clear it’s primarily intended for seriously "hard-core" advertising, portrait, editorial, commercial, automotive, and fashion medium format photography of the highest professional standard,"

The biggest difference between the Fujifilm GFX and Hasselblad X1D seems to be that the Fujifilm GFX is better for vertical and has a touchscreen to focus setup better economics costs a little less and Hasselblad X1D has leaf shutter lenses.

Until Sony figures out how to make cmos sensors with global electronic shutters that can synch with flash the way CCD sensors can, leaf shutters are the killer feature for anyone who uses flash.

If the Fuji had a leaf shutter, Hasselblad would be in big trouble. I think Hasselblad will be fine.

Stephen said:

"It’s primarily intended for seriously "hard-core" advertising, portrait, editorial, commercial, automotive, and fashion medium format photography of the highest professional standard, as well as expert enthusiast outdoor, travel, or landscape photographers who truly understand what working with a medium-format camera really means, and who know how to get the camera to deliver what it's capable of."

Could he explain that a little more? I think a good percentage of the people here are pretty hard-core -- but why would choose, say, a D810 instead of a GFX? Is the GFX slower, or more limited in certain ways? I'm about to upgrade some stuff in my Nikon system, but might not do that if the GFX proves enticing enough. Why would it entice any particular shooter?

"Something I found notable was that the shutter is quite special: upon actuation, it's very quiet and smooth and has feel that's to die for. Most importantly, it feels very well damped."

Nobody has ever explained to me why a digital camera needs a shutter. The shutter has to be open for the LCD monitor to work, so the sensor gets the image before the "exposure" takes place.

For studio-based work I'm wondering if flash synch is becoming less of an issue with recent improvements in continuous lighting LED panels.

I predict this article will induce a huge traffic spike in Mike's blog. Isn't GFX Japanese for catnip?

For the curious, it's worth checking Luminous Landscape for an interview with the guys from Fuji, in which they make some illuminating comments on their design choices for the GFX.

Everything I've read and watched indicates that this will indeed be a great camera for the intended usage described by Stephen. If only I had the budget... landscape etc, would be so much fun to explore with this system. One thing to keep in mind - lenses will be toward the wide to short tele side.

Well, we're short of people with actual GFX experience here [the camera hasn't been released yet to those who have it on order —Ed.] , but the AF is contrast-only, so it's completely out of the question for sports and doubtful for photojournalism or events (wedding receptions no, ceremonies maybe, portraits yes).

Don't know how it would do against a D810 at high ISO, but the D810 isn't all that exceptional there anyway (surprising, for the resolution, yes, but not exceptional in the current market).

Not sure flash is as important as it used to be; with higher ISOs, you need less light, and with modern sources, it's cooler, and between the two flash might be more of a habit than a good idea in the studio. Also, what's the strobe sync with mechanical shutter? On the D810 it's only a stop below what was available on the Hassys through my film period for flash sync. With a bigger sensor this might be slower, though (bizarrely, I found a whole article on leaf vs. focal plane in the GFX that never managed to mention that spec).

And of course the price.

This is the sentence that caught my eye: "The strongest impression that comes across from using the Fujifilm GFX 50S is that it will be a real workhorse and a serious photographic tool. This is not a camera, though, to replace Nikon D810, Canon 1D or 5D series cameras designed for sports, photojournalism, or, for the lack of a better term, "general purpose" enthusiast photography. After holding, using, and shooting with the camera, it's clear it’s primarily intended for seriously "hard-core" advertising, portrait, editorial, commercial, automotive, and fashion medium format photography of the highest professional standard, as well as expert enthusiast outdoor, travel, or landscape photographers who truly understand what working with a medium-format camera really means, and who know how to get the camera to deliver what it's capable of."

I see a number of others above had the same thought I did: Why? Is this a buffer or "through-put" issue? A file storage or data manipulation issue? I feel like there is a missing piece here. Stephen, can you flesh this out a bit? Full disclosure: I am a "general purpose enthusiast," so your warning caught me off guard. . . and intrigued me, as I am also a "gear head" and, for instance, use many bits of specialist gear as I stumble about.

Thanks very much for your preliminary GFX notes, Stephen. I think impression notes like yours are at least as valuable to many people as hard specs. I am a bit eager to take one for a rental drive perhaps later this year. I'm equally eager to try the new Hassy H1D. Nevertheless I must admit that interest is principally idle, as I've long been deeply invested in a different MF system and am not inclined to make a change in the near future.

SRLs arrived to a top evolution that can´t do more for a reasonable price. In the other side EVFs are attractive because they have less volume and weight and have excellent results, still users of them miss a big prime telephoto. At the same time a study about the profile of today photojournalists of the last WPP indicates that there was a loss of sport photographers because the expensive equipment and lack of access to some games. EVFs can fight at less one of this variables.
In 90´s we have medium format for all that is advertisement, portrait and 35 mm for sports and generally photojournalism. Is nice to hear about improvements, but now we arrived to the point that there are not much difference at high ASA or in about how fast is the AF. So, I recommend to the designers a way to make all this equipment more low price than now, I doubt that someone would be excited because more high resolution instead the price is much low than before. Obviously, you always will have the niche of Leica and Carl Zeiss. But big purchasers that generate jobs are in the other side.

Just checked my lottery numbers. Dang it. Not this week...

(OK, I'll fess up, I don't need anything my Xpro2 does not already do handsomely - it's pure lust. Not something I generally suffer from where camera gear is concerned.)

I notice a lot of comments about leaf shutters. I understand the desire, but these lenses are very expensive and need regular maintenance. If you were in that market, you would not worry about the price of the body too much.

I hear rumours that Fuji may be able to adapt some third party leaf lenses - although technically not so easy to sync - if they can find an engineering partner to help.

It took Leica forever and a day to come out with leaf shutter lenses for their S System. A good many commercial shooters were enthused about the S System when it first appeared, but the lack of leaf shutter lenses (along with a lack of Firewire) led those prospective customers to reluctantly conclude the system wasn't for them.

Leaf shutter lenses are expensive, and the shutters have a short lifecycle. If Fuji isn't targeting the commercial market (which means, additionally, getting their system into rental houses), they're not likely to offer them. They are, however, offering an adapter for Hasselblad H series lenses.

DSLRs are ideally suited for action, such as sports and combat, because of their fast focus speed and focus tracking, high frame rates, large buffers, portability, and extensive selection of long focal lengths and fast lenses. In all these categories medium format is comparatively deficient, but it is better suited to studio and fashion work, as well as landscape, because of its specific imaging characteristics. It's also better suited to photographers who value those characteristics at the expense of what DSLRs offer.

Regarding the question about LED lighting: it's great for video but not ideally suited to photography because it's non-directional and has exceedingly fast light falloff. Strobes by their nature enable you to output a great deal more light, and because the light is directional you can more effectively modify it and shape it. Additionally, strobe light is far less likely to induce color shift than is continuous lighting.

I suppose it would be more accurate to say produce color shift, rather than induce.

Also, I was concerned about this camera being 14-bit instead of 16-bit, but it turns out that, with one expensive exception, claims of "16-bit" have more meaning for marketing departments than for photographers.

The Phase One XF 100MP is a true 16-bit back. Kit price: $48,990. All other cameras and backs touting 16-bit have a data pipeline with a 16-bit capacity, but the data coming through that pipeline off the sensor is 14-bit. Frankly, I'm way out of my own bit depth here, so maybe an engineer can step in, but I have a feeling the 14-bit output of the GFX will be up to the standards expected of digital medium format.

Flash sync is 1/250 so that limits it for "seriously "hard-core" advertising, portrait, editorial, commercial, automotive, and fashion."

There are also no leaf shutter lenses in the near future pipeline. The sensor is smaller than Hassleblad, Phase and Leica S medium format systems. While the price is certainly attractive and Fuji glass is spectacular the camera might fall a bit short once all the hype calms down.

Given what you said about how carefully they evaluate features,
Perhaps Fujifilm has concluded that they will sell more (or enough) at this price point and are knowingly willing to give up sales to those who need flash synch, 16bit color depth, and rear curtain synch?
But in my experience as photographers in those categories may not always use (or even like) flash they need a camera flexible enough to do whatever is necessary.
Nor can I say how big an actual difference there will be in files at 14 vs 16 bit, but it is one of the things photographers who use MF rave about.
Rear curtain shnch is sometimes just necessary to get a certain look.
Perhaps there is a secret roadmap that addresses these things, or perhaps there will be enough enthusiast photographers who just want to try MF to make the camera a big success without those things.??

No doubt this camera is producing enough "GAS" to light up a city. No doubt I'll rent or borrow one to play with.

I am achieving fine results with three-year old mft and 35mm mirroless cameras.

All of us hate it when someone, who is praising one of your pictures, says, "Oh, you must have a great camera!" Well, with the universe being invaded with the likes of Fuji's "great" GFX, I'll soon being able to answer, "No, I don't, I just have an old X-Pro 1 :-)

Stephen's "sneak" look at this fabulous toy was excellent and will probably be about as close as I'll ever get to one...

This is not really a "discussion thread" format, but I would just like to chime in with a big "Thanks" to Stephan for the clarification/explication above.

It really has been about seven years (D3/M9) since I was seriously tempted by another piece of digital gear. Fuji's recent offerings have weakened my resolve somewhat. I'll admit to cruising past KEH's used website in past years looking at older MF digital backs that might get my older Hasselblad equipment off the shelf . . . But unlike the rest of the digital ecosystem, the price of MF digital has never quiiite dropped to the point where I might want to also solve all of the associated problems that go along with an ever growing collection of massive files. The Fuji Stephen is writing about on the other hand . . . just about makes m'palms itch.

At any rate: many thanks for taking the time to pass your impressions on to the rest of us here. Very helpful and most appreciated.

If any TOP readers buy one of these and find that high speed flash sync is a deal killer then I will be willing to trade my D70 (1/500 sync) for your Fuji even up. I won't even ask for any money on top.What could be a better deal than that?

"so buy yourself an H6D and quit yer griping."
Well. that is what Fuji is saying too.
I know you don't use flash but many in MF do out of choice. or the dictates of a particular job do need high synch speeds.
Fuji knows that too and has decided not to include Leaf shutter lenses, even though they have designed and built some of the best.
An adapter is an expensive kluge.
I think the decision is about price point, It looks like a wonderful camera and Fuji probably feels confident in selling a bunch to folks who don't need or care about flash.
This is their first FF+ Digital, if sales of well they can always make leaf shutter lenses. I hope they do.

I hoped so much, that I finally could adapt my various Pentax 645 and beloved Pentax 67 lenses to this medium format body, but now I realized that it has a leaf shutter design, which is a deal breaker for me.
The old lenses would be fine with me, because I'm not looking for high resolution etc. but looking for the medium format look in digital for a more or less affordable price. So I have to use film furthermore and have to scan it.

Hasselblad's 1/2000 high sync speed is important to me. So I'd go with an X1D, a XCD 30mm f/3.5 lens (=24mm FF) a Nikon SB 400 flash, and treat it like it was a Ricoh GR (=28mm FF). Snap-shot photography reinvented for the 21st century 8-)

BTW there are many ways to skin a cat. Fuji's methodology is no better or worse, just different.

Mike Plews- Seems I remember David Hobby saying your D70 will sync to ridiculous speeds with a manual flash- was it 1/8000? Maybe you should charge a bit extra to trade.

Regarding leaf shutter lenses I think the on going advances in high speed sync from Profoto, Elinchrom, and Phottix are making the need for such lenses redundant.

Regarding Benjamin Marks' first question, Is this a buffer or "through-put" issue? A file storage or data manipulation issue?

Actually, my comments were more to provide some context about the use scenarios for which this camera is designed. There's been a lot of banter from folks on various photo forums that seem to think the GFX is just another DSLR with a "bigger than FF" sensor. As a result, there's been something of an unspoken assumption it would perform like one. When they read the AF is a bit faster than X-T1, or it "only" shoots at 3 FPS, some get into a tizzy and the usual bitch fest ensues. My point was simply that it's not a DSLR, and one should not expect to perform like one, or use it where using a DSLR or the current the state of the art mirrorless cameras are the better choice.

Regarding leaf shutter lenses: Fuji's decision to utilize a focal plane shutter for a MF camera has come up on pretty much every thread or discussion I've read about the "shortcomings" of the GFX. Granted there are situtions where being able to crush down ambient lighting and light the subject using high-speed flash synchronization enabled by leaf shutter lenses is required, but I'm with Mike it will likely only be required by a small fraction of photographers or needed a small fraction of the time, and there will are adapters for using H (and other mount) leaf shutter lenses to provide this functionality. As Doug Thacker points out, leaf shutter lenses are expensive, but if the GFX achieves the market penetration in the pro ranks I personally think it will, its entirely possible that Fuji will develop their own native leaf shutter lenses for it, as the camera is designed so that it could fully utilize these if made.

Re my comment about flash sync, as a working professional being able to creatively use flash in an image, when possible, sets the image apart from folks charging no money (lets not get into that discussion) for the "experience" of shooting something. The high speed sync on the Nikon, and Canons similar system, is a game changer for action, sports and getting a different look. I spent 3 years photographing commercial, portraits and sports with a Leica S. Yes, sports was challenging but then I shot sports with a Nikon S2 back in the "old" days. Being able to produce an image with the kind of depth you see with medium format and creative lighting sets you apart. I'm sure that is why Zack wants leaf lenses and more professionals are shooting Hasselblad for action. See Michael Clark's work. Anyhoo, different strokes for different folks. It's all good and the benefit is the technology pushes every one else forward. Plus the prices get a little more reasonable.

As far as I know very high-speed sync is a tool used mainly by outdoor portrait photographers to get properly exposed subjects, shallow DOF, and dark skies and backgrounds. It's an old and venerable technique taken to the furthest extreme.
At midday If I want to use f/2 at ASA64 my shutter speed is 1/2000. To darken the sky a stop or two takes me right to 1/8000 but luckily Profoto and a couple of other companies have strobes that sync that fast.
It's a fad, but it produces nice images in the right hands.

This new Fuji has led me into a bit of a crisis. I am at a point where an upgrade may be in order. Frankly a D7200 or even a gently used D7100 would do me fine but the Fuji ignites a pretty nasty case of camera lust.
It's all academic because this beauty is so far out of my price range just thinking about it makes my gums bleed. Still Mrs Plews kindly said “it doesn't cost anything to dream”. But what if it does?
What if there is an alternative universe where there is a Mike Plews who is perfectly content with a fifty year old Rollei and a ten year old D70 but every time I lust after something it lands unbidden on his doorstep?
His house must look like a scene out of Hoarders but instead of old newspapers and half eaten cans of rotting cat food there are stacks of unopened Leica boxes floor to ceiling.
This has to stop. Therefore I am laying off the camera porn for a while so my alternative self can have the mother of all garage sales. It's only right.
But as a peace offering to him I am sending one last thing. It costs the same as the Fuji but I think it will be better enjoyed.


He can use it to listen to the 25,000 or so LPs he didn't ask for.

Flash sync is an engineering problem that will be solved at the sensor level (the term is "global shutter"). It makes no sense to design a new system with leaf shutter lenses that will become obsolete in 2 sensor generations (3 to 5 years).

Bill B. hit the nail on the head, Mike, and if you read/view Communication Arts' photography issues (not sure I ever remember you referencing that publication) for any length of time you'll see the look Bill is talking about. The Strobist too, was a big part of this back in the day (a "long" time ago, but clearly not a galaxy far away).

For working media shooters, this could be a wallet-changer (global shutter notwithstanding).

As Bill B.'s comment attests, for commercial work strobes are a creative asset. They are used to control the look of the image and whatever it is being featured in the image. Expertise with controlled lighting is much of what distinguishes one studio from another. In such a context, leaf shutter lenses are a given, even if they aren't always used.

For commercial photographers who buy the GFX for personal work, and find themselves wanting to deploy it professionally, the adapter for Hasselblad H series lenses should suffice. But for Fujifilm to actually be player in the commercial segment is another thing entirely, as I'm sure they are well aware. If initial sales go well, perhaps they'll consider taking it on. But, then again, maybe they will content themselves with dominating the non-commercial segment, which is probably all they're hoping for right now.

The comments to this entry are closed.