Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8 review – Medium format reportage

Announced almost a year ago at Photokina 2016 the Fujinon GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR completes the “second wave” triplet of GF lenses (together with the GF110mm and GF23mm) for the medium format GFX system. In total there’s now 6 lenses available for the system.

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GFX50s – GF45mm f/2.8

The GF45mm f/2.8 is equivalent to the 35mm FOV in the full frame format, so it covers that great midrange wideangle focal length that is being used and loved by documentary, reportage, and street photographers alike. But why such a focal length that already exists in the much more handy X-series system? My guess is that it is used by a lot of shooters as a wider “standard lens” rather than the 63mm (50mm ff eq), so having it as a viable option for those with a wider preference makes complete sense. With the focal length included in the range of the GF32-64, it has been possible shooting at 45mm since the beginning of the system, but not in a “compact” prime, and not with a maximum f/2.8 aperture

I have been testing out this lens while also testing the X-E3 and XF80mm f/2.8, so I haven’t given it as much testing time as I would have liked, but I still spent enough time with it to get a feel of what’s up and what’s down with this lens.

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Contrary to what most people think you should do with a medium format digital camera  like the GFX, I treated the GFX/GF45mm combo as a street camera, which in itself is completely ridiculous because I normally go small and portable  with either the X100f or X-Pro2/XF23mm combo. But this focal length just begs to be used for this kind of reportage photography. I know a lot of you GFX owners will use this 45mm f/2.8 in a studio setting, which it is perfectly capable of doing, but for me I wanted to accentuate the fact that with this combo you can actually do street photography quite well with a digital medium format. And this exact reason is why mirrorless medium format cameras are such a great new invention – They’re actually portable cameras the size of a standard DSLR camera.

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GFX50s – GF45mm f/2.8

The technical mumbo-jumbo

Let me start this thing out with all the geeky stuff, cause with the GFX system it’s just so easy to get caught up in all that. This is probably because the technical achievements that Fujifilm are making right now are beyond incredible. These GF lenses are nothing short of breathtaking in all aspects, and many lens afficionados must be salivating at the numbers that are coming out of these GF lenses.

The lens is an 11 element in 8 groups setup. It has two low dispersion elements as well as an aspherical element. This is to avoid abberations. It has a flat front element which looks kind of cool, but I don’t know if that has any benefits over a curved front element. Furthermore the lens uses internal focusing in direct contrast to the GF63mm f/2.8 which is a lens utilising an external focusing mechanism. This internal focus engine makes for faster and more silent focusing. In terms of focusing speed I would rate the GF45mm f/2.8 the fastest of all the GF lenses produced so far.
Just like the rest of the GF lens lineup the GF45mm has weather sealing. It has quite a low weight of 490g and size is very decent at Ø84mm and length 88mm. It has just the right balance when attached to the GFX body, and the combination looks and feels like a perfect match.

Aperture wise, the aperture consists of 9 rounded blades. It has a physical aperture ring ranging from f/2.8 to f/32 in third stop increments. It has an “A” position for use in shutter priority mode, and it has a “C” mode, where you can control the aperture on the GFX itself using one of the scroll wheels. This is exactly the same as all the other GF lenses, so no surprises here.

The sweet sweet Image Quality

Disclaimer. The lens I have tested is an early prototype. Image Quality might therefore not be final, even though it look darn perfect to me.

I have been handling the GFX since late december 2016. The first couple of times it was through testing the camera itself, and then later testing the GF23mm and GF110mm. I took the plunge in May and bough my own GFX, and since then I have been using vintage full frame lenses, as we all as medium format lenses adapted lenses as well as my GF63mm and GF110mm.
I still stop my workflow once in a while, zoom in to 100% magnification and marvel at the sheer quality of these medium format files. The output is simply incredible!! Of course this is much to the credit of the GFX sensor. But it is just as big a testament to the GF lenses that I mount in front of this sensor. The resolution, sharpness, out of focus areas, corner resolution, low aberration and color correctness of the GF lenses is nothing short of sublime. You can easily tell that Fujifilm and it’s Fujinon lenses is an old brand that has acquired immense knowledge of large format lens making through the past 70 years.

The latest lens in the GF lineup doesn’t do this legacy injustice. Far from it. Image quality with the GF45mm f/2.8 is fantastic. It has great contrast, it has great looking bokeh and it renders great corner sharpness.  I did not encounter any barrel distortion as I sometimes do when testing out these early lenses, I do not know if this is software corrected or not, but I did not see any.

The lens is not just sharp at mid range distance. It’s sharp at long distance, and it’s sharp at close distance. I really do not know how they do it, but it is quite impressive what Fujifilm has done with this lens IQ wise.

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GFX50s – GF45mm f/2.8
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100% crop of the image above. Insane sharpness and detail

Summary

The GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR is an amazing lens. It’s very diverse, it’s made for lifestyle- and documentary photography, and it fulfils this purpose very elegantly. It has amazing IQ, it has fast internal focusing and it is built to a very high standard. If the 35mm ff eq focal length prime lens is your thing and you own the GFX, this lens is not just your only choice, it’s actually a very very good choice!

Samples

All the samples below have been postprocessed. If you want straight out of camera jpeg samples, there are other sites out there for that. Anyway, make sure to view the images in the gallery and click them for full size. The quality of this lens is in combination with the GFX sensor is incredible.

If you want to see how this lens handles in a documentary wedding situation, among other things, head over to my buddy and fellow KAGE member, Kevin Mullins’ blog HERE to see the amazing images he got from the lens the past months time.

Make sure to view the images below in the gallery viewer, the IQ of this lens deserves it!

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10 thoughts on “Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8 review – Medium format reportage

  1. my god there are some really great shots in here! They lift the spirit. Only one small downside to that, i don’t even care about the text anymore 😛

  2. What really? internal focusing, and its faster, that is enough for me to buy this lens, not to mention the 2.8 and field of view.

  3. Great review Jonas and excellent images, i promised myself i would not buy any more glass for the GFX, now could easily talk myself into parting with some more hard earned cash.

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