Fujifilm GFX 50R Review – Digital Medium Format Heritage

A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

I’ve always admired this quote by the late Apple founder Steve Jobs. He was a true visionary, and left a huge mark on the world and how we live in it today. The camera that Fujifilm announced today is in many ways a materilisation of that quote. At least to me. And that’s what I want to share with you guys today. What does this camera mean to me. Not you, not your neighbour. Me.

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GFX 50R – GF23mm f/4

So in my little write-up of the GFX 50R today I’m going to focus on exactly that. I’m going to focus on what this camera does to my creativity and my joy of photography. What I will be not be focusing too much on is the technical aspects of the Fujifilm GFX 50R. The reason for this being that on a technical specs sheet and pixelpeeping level this camera is undistinguishable from the GFX50S. The image quality, the focusing speed, the Processor. Everything is unchanged.

So what has changed? – Well, the change is something as elusive as the feel of the product! – Yes I said it. The defining factor in why I see this camera as the best release for Fujifilm since the original X100 and subsequently the X-Pro1 is all about something as abstract and non-technical as a bloody feeling!
Did I have you guys running away screaming yet?
To those of you still here, reading. Let’s get this show on the road.

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That marvellous sensor. In an equally marvellous enclosure

Disclaimer: The camera used in this review is a pre-production prototype camera. Image quality might therefore not be final.
Disclaimer II: All productshots of the camera are shot by me for Fujifilm Corp.
Disclaimer III: I’m an official X-photographer. That’s spelled brand-ambassador. My views are most likely as biased as they come. This being said, I’m an open and honest guy and I speak my opinions. I have used, and still use to this day, all other imaginable camera systems, be they analogues, digital or pinhole. Whether you believe my views regarding this camera or not, it still has one big-a** sensor!

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GFX 50R – GF23mm f/4

Rangefinder heritage

Fujifilm has been producing cameras for many years, and back in the film days they produced some stellar cameras, especially in the medium format segment. Back then, shooting medium format was a lot more common for the everyday photographer. Fujifilm made cameras in all kinds of shapes and sizes. One of their probably most iconic medium format cameras is the GW690. A large rangefinder camera that shoots 6×9 film. I own the version 3 of this camera, and it is still one of the best cameras I own. And that is largely due to the complete no-frills approach. There are no bells and whistles. Heck it doesn’t even have a lightmeter. It has shutter speed, aperture, a filmwinder and a shutter button.
Even though I know from Fujifilm Japan that the inspiration for the GFX 50R comes from the Fujifilm GA645, I still cannot help but think that the reference is closer to that of the GW690.
The philosophy of decluttering. Simplyfying, and making a tool that just works with no superflous bells and whistles. THAT is what the GFX 50R is all about.

 

So Fujifilm took the first step of ALL the companies that produce digital medium format cameras, and made something different. Something real. Something that the other manufacturers either didn’t have the courage to do, or saw a market for. I applaud Fujifilm for their approach. They look back at their history. They take that legacy seriously and they make amazing up-to-date products containing the heart and soul of photographic gear of days gone by. The GFX 50R is a culmination of that line of thinking. Just like the X100 was, almost 8 years ago.

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GFX 50R – GF110mm f/2

The unavoidable technicalities

I can do this quite briefly. As I mentioned further up, this camera has nothing new under the sun in regards to the technology on the inside.
The 44x33mm 51.4MP sensor, the processor, the image quality, the incredible dynamic range, the autofocus, the features, the film simulations, the jpeg engine. It’s all there, and it is just as awesome as in the GFX 50S.

So for this writeup I’m going to refer you to all the different posts I’ve made during the last 18 months on/with/containing the GFX 50S. Obviously the most technical of those runthroughs will be the original review of the GFX 50S. But image quality wise these posts below contain such a wide variety of imagestyles, that it will definitely give you examples on what kind of image quality is possible with this camera.

So there you have it. that is all the technical stuff I’m going to write about in this review. That is definitely a first for me, but as I wrote in the beginning of this write-up, this camera is about something else for me.

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GFX 50R – GF23mm f/4

Build and feel

This is where the magic of the GFX 50R lies. The new formfactor. The feeling of the camera. The layout. The incredible user experience that just begs for me to use this camera.
When you first look at the GFX 50R what you will obviously notice is how it now has a classic “brick-shape” with the eyepiece placed to the far left on the back of the camera. You will probably also notice that the is no OVF window like on the X-Pro/X100 series. This makes the camera resemble the X-E3 camera quite a bit.

 

I would have loved for Fujifilm to have included an OVF, but I am also not immune to the fact that it would mean massive obstruction of the rather large medium format lenses. But for a street-/lifestyleshooter using the smaller GF63, GF45 and soon the GF50 I would have loved to at least have the option of the unique OVF/EVF hybrid viewfinder that I love so much. But Maybe in the next revision. One can always hope, right?

If you inspect the GFX 50R further, you will notice that the “block” that you find on the back of the GFX 50S is now gone. Fujifilm managed to slim this camera down in size so that it is now only as deep as the battery itself.
You will also notice that Fujifilm kept the flip-screen, which is the first time they’re doing that on one of their “faux-rangefinder models”. I know that a lot of users are torn on the issue of placing a flipscreen on a rangefinder styled body. But I also know how much I enjoy having a flipscreen on many of the other models. So why not on a rangefinder? In use I found it a very useful feature, and something that I think even the “purists” will enjoy immensely. The screen is touch sensitive just like

 

The on/off switch has been moved away from the circular placement around the shutter-button, and in its place Fujifilm put an unlabeled wheel that you can customize for F-stops, shutter speeds and most importantly ISO. SO this functions as a separate ISO dial. So staying true to the classic uncluttered heritage of the film rangefinders, you have the basic functions right at your finger tips. Shutterspeed, ISO, Aperture, Exposure.

The diopter mechanism on the side of the camera has the same push-pull locking mechanism as the one found on the X-T3 which works really well. No more “turning that when pulling the camera from your bag”. The camera has a layout that makes most functions accessible with your right hand only. So with you left hand under the lens supporting the camera, operating it with your right hand is easy-breezy. Very well thought out.
The focus mode selector has been given a much more prominent position on the back of the camera. This is really nice if you, like me, switch between auto focus and manual focus all the time. definitely a very street-photography centric change.

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GFX 50R – GF45mm f/2.8 – Single exposure

The GFX 50R features a lot of unlabelled buttons that can be customised to whatever you want. So this is a tool that you can really shape to be your own.
The camera isn’t entirely shaped like a brick. You do have a grip on the front as well as thumb support own the back. This is quite useful for when you mount the larger lenses of the system.

The EVF is very nice and it is also quite large. It seems fluid, but I did notice a little lag at high speed panoramic movements. But keep in mind that this was very early prototype camera and firmware, so things are bound to change. It’s supposedly exactly the same 3.69mp OLED as on the 50S but I need to get that confirmed.

The commercial

Back in July I pitched the idea of making a video that was taking cues from the original X100 commercial that aired in Japan. I didn’t want to do a replica, but I wanted to do my own version. I wanted to bring that story, that essence of documenting your life, into the newer generations of Fujifilm cameras. And when I was told about the GFX 50R I had no doubt in my mind that it would be the perfect camera for that project I had in my head.

I asked my very good friend Palle Schultz if he was in on the concept, and luckily he said yes. We had an amazing creative process where it became quite clear that we were on the same path. We wanted to create something different from the typical Fujifilm camera commercials. We wanted to focus on the arts, and on life. – A life with photography if you will.
It ended up becoming a statement on how I view my life with photography as of 2018. I’m so very proud of what we ended up creating.

Anyway. This is the uncut version of the video we did.

Final thoughts

The GFX 50R  is such a capable camera. I cannot help but compare it to the X-Pro1. When the X-Pro1 came out it was Fujifilms first Rangerfinder styled interchangeable lens digital camera. The X-Pro1 launched only 6,5 years ago, and look where Fujifilm is now in the APS-C segment. If we’re to see the same development based on the digital medium format sensor, Fujifilm is going to be a major player in the medium format over the next 5 years. I mean, they’re doing so many things so right. They respect their heritage, yet they have the balls to push these new products that might end up a niche. Because let’s face it, the rangefinder styled mediumformat camera caters to a much narrower audience than the GFX 50S. Yet they build it. It’s a signal to me that they care about so many things other than sales numbers and specs.
They care about photography. And thats why I love the Fujifilm brand so much. They take me and other photographers seriously.

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My beautiful Sofie – GFX 50R + Unreleased Mitakon lens

The GFX 50R is a camera that triggers so many things for me. It’s a camera that gives me a an overwhelming desire to take it out and shoot. The rangefinder layout is perfect for street/documentary/reportage – and it works really well. I have the insane image quality of the medium format sensor so I can do high dynamic range landscapes, portraiture etc. So this is such a no-compromise camera for capturing moments of my life.

Samples

My samples for this review are not those of technical content. They are sample images that are shot as I love to shoot. For the pixelpeepers among you these will probably not satisfy your curiosity for dynamic range and depth. Or maybe they will. But this run-through of the GFX 50R is a bit different than usual for me, and so are the sample shots. Many of these samples shots are as close to my artform as a photographer as you’ll get, so they’re not your typical “brick-wall” shots.
All images have seen various degree of post processing in Adobe Lightroom.

(Make sure you open up the gallery, and you can “view full size” for 3000px long side images.)

 

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54 thoughts on “Fujifilm GFX 50R Review – Digital Medium Format Heritage

  1. Nice review and photos as always Jonas. I have to agree with you that they should have included Hybrid OVF/EVF on this, create the silver version and the camera would look much more beautiful.

  2. Dont waste money because it is not worth it. It doesn’t offer much more than a Sony FF, or Fuji rop sensor. Difference is visible only on huge prints so you can see the depth details. You are all just noobs that pile up tech stuff yet know nothing about photography. Typical millenials.

    1. Cheers for that anonymous Steve! Super helpful!
      Can you point us in the direction of your work so we can see what a seasoned non-millennial photographer is capable of?

    2. It is much more than the sensor. And certainly not about the “Megapixels”. Not much more than Fuji crop? If you think….

    3. I was exactly like you just few months ago. What? New camera? BS, it can’t do anything else than I do today with any of my cams. I shoot MF, LF, 35mm, digital FF and APS-C. Multiple lenses. It’s all about getting it right in camera.
      And then I got my hands on GFX50S. And that freaking 110/f2 lens. I was stunned. I was speechless. I still look at images I made there and can’t explain how and why, but the thing I’m looking at is not exactly something, I’d be able to replicate with any other camera.
      Then, one day, I met a guy who is actually using GFX50S and adapting vintage lenses to use on it. Magic of mirrorless cameras. Have you ever seen one of those Dallmeyer lenses in use on >FF sensor? Look for images on IG, this is magical.
      So yeah, I was in love. The only thing stopping me from buying this thing right away was it’s price. Guess what just happened…

    4. As someone who has actually shot cameras like X-T2, Nikon D850, Sony a7riii, and GFX50s, you sir are the one who is wrong here.

      It may not be worth to you, it may not suit for every work – definitely not for sports like action – but those who want the best IQ you can get under $20k, GFX lineup is the one to buy.

      1. You are all gone crazy with this technology every day new camera and your funny comments about superiority… Most of you stick with online presentation of photos. You dont need such camera. I understand when some professional printing company requires this camera for huge prints. Megapixels ok are not important so much but for size yes, also i was talking about DR. And all that again matters only for huge prints to notice difference between Sony or Nikon top range cameras and medium format digital cameras. Go to that page where you can compare images of all cameras existing at the moment. Check the difference… Pixel peep… To notice. Idiots.

        1. Don’t let your wallet limits your imagination, it is all about the feel of the product, the enjoyment of photography. Who cares about the tech. I would never consider taking a Sony or Nikon out for a trip or shooting all day. I indeed do not need such a camera, but I want it. Isn’t that simple?

        2. I don’t give a crap to someone whom he even have not hold or try the camera himself 😉 it might not huge leap from high MP FF cameras, but the superb IQ is there and you will notice the different from FF images. The lenses especially 45mm and 110mm produce beautiful images like you’ve seen in this review.

          It might not worth your money Steve but I bought it because I want and I can. Either than have your money lying around in the bank, I’ll call this money well spent ;D

  3. Well, this is what I asked for when the 50s was released. I much prefer a rangefinder style camera vs an SLR style. However, now that the X-T3 is out with the new quad-core processor, I’m pretty disappointed that it was not included with the 50 R. I would have gladly paid an extra $200 or so for that faster processing. I am pleasantly surprised it has a joystick and tilt screen though.

  4. Beautiful work. Beautiful video.

    I have tested GFX50s, but had hard time to come conclusion that I want to spent that amout of money on a camera body. This new body nails it closer to my comfort zone. I am probably gonna get one for myself once the 50mm is released. I’d only wish it would’ve some option to have the swivel EVF, but I guess you can’t have everything.

  5. Thx for the review Jonas. Brilliant pictures.

    I applaud fujifilm for producing such a camera, but…..

    To me, there is something esthetically wrong with this camera. It lacks the technical elegance of the analogue mf rangefinders of the past…. it’s too boxy and thick. And to be honest its “lame” to use those huge af gfx lenses on a rangefinderlook camera.

    It looks like the x e2, for me the least esthetically pleasing camera from fuji.

    I admit, these are shallow discussions about looks, but i cant think of another good reason for fuji to introduce such a camera next to the gfx.

    Regard John

  6. Jonas

    This is a first time comment from someone who found your blog fairly recently. I almost jumped to the Fuji 50S after seeing your images from Iceland, and I am feeling the same way after seeing these images. Stellar!

    Back in the film days, the Fuji Rangefinder style cameras were known as “Texas Leicas” in the US. It is good to see they are back in digital form.

    PaulB

  7. Hi Jonas.
    As far as I can see both you and Kevin Mullins are the only people who have so far attempted to define the shooting experience with this camera. It will be interesting to see what Damien Lovegrove thinks. It seems the youtube community has gone crazy in recent months and what their antics have shown is that most cannot be trusted to present us with a fair and honest review of any brand of camera.
    One thing I have learnt is that it is not all about specs. When you pick up the camera how does it feel. When you use it how do the images render. Xpro2 – still simply wonderful and I do not yearn for an upgrade as it does pretty much everything I want.
    However, for those of us with a passion, and a big enough wallet, with the GFX50R Fuji have perhaps managed to bring this level of equipment within range of us modest hobbyists. Indeed, everyone will have their own uses for such a camera, be it street, landscape or portrait. That is up to the individual as one size definitely does not fit all and for those who don’t need it, they don’t need to rubbish it, simply not buy it.
    I find your reviews always considered and I have never been given a bum steer on lenses, either Fuji or other brands, for which I thank you. Hopefully we will pass through the post Photokina craziness and Fuji will continue to develop cameras for those who appreciate its styling, attention to detail, aspirations for image quality and above all holistic approach to updating firmware, so we negate the need to keep buying the latest camera release.
    I am not a youtuber or a vlogger so here is a novel thought. How about a camera that is only used for stills, that produces optimal image quality in that genre and I wonder how many people might opt for something like this. If the discussion amongst the photo community with whom I discuss gear is anything to go by, I would suggest that there are a great many people over the age of 25, who do not want to be a youtuber or a vlogger, who fall in to this bracket. Perhaps some of us might even like a pure monochrome xpro2 – (talking my own book now:-)
    Some of these thoughts might provoke an interesting discussion when you next meet with the Fujifilm development guys.
    Thanks and regards
    Steve Chivers, Dubai.
    @steve.chivers_photography

  8. From one biased X-Photographer to another… fantastic review once again. Always great to read your impression of the latest Fujifilm offerings. Loved the portraits and video as well. Can’t wait to try my hand at this X-E3 on steroids! Ha!

  9. Hi,
    great write up, thanks for this Jonas.
    I am wondering if the TECHARTPRO adapter would function identically as it works on the 50S?
    Did you had a chance to try it out?
    Thanks an advance for letting us know
    John

  10. I too am a physician. I am an endocrinologist in the US. I am also obsessed with photography. I have 2 kids, 5 yr old and a newborn. Let me ask you this….how do you find time to do what you do? you have so many photos and blog posts, how do you do it? thanks!!
    Stuart

  11. nice preview on this new camera! though i would consider myself not in the market for a medium format camera, it is nice to see that fuji is really pushing the rangefinder style in its lineup. would love to see the following features included in the future x-pro3:

    – evf with either 0.77x magnification and 23mm eyepoint
    – ael/afl button locations and af-on function (for back button focus)
    – dual sd card slots, both uhs-ii
    – all-metal dials like the x-pro2
    – x-processor 4 and all the firmware features of the x-t3
    – 3-way tilting touch lcd from the x-t3
    – support for the bigger capacity np-t125 battery (if they can fit it in the grip portion)

  12. Thanks Jonas for sharing your thoughts. I work as a professional photographer. So I always have to think twice, before I am going to invest in a new camera system. The days I started my career, I had two camera systems: a zenza bronica etrs 6×45, wich was perfect in studio and for fashion shots, because of its 1/500s x-sync, and a Nikon f5, wich had the fastest autofocus and motorwinder ever built in these times. I bought both cameras and lenses second hand and never had technical limitations to get a job done. Then the digital age began. Suddenly it was all about the gear you use. And the megapixels. My clients went crazy for megapixels. Nobody did care about the skills of a good professional anymore. How to organise a good shooting that makes it possible to get excellent photos.
    If there are affordable, good cameras on the market, such as that new mf system by fujifilm, we all can focus again on what photography is and ever was about: photography is about seeing. It is not about technology or challenging the biggest lenes.
    Whenever people ask me what camera do I prefere, I always tell them: the one less annoying.

  13. Thank you for the review Jonas, and beautiful work as always. As a Fuji shooter, nothing is more important than that feeling that it makes you enjoy photography.

  14. Very helpful review, Jonas. I notice in your videos that you are left eye dominant and also wear glasses when shooting. I’m the same, though, being farsighted, my glasses are quite a bit thicker than yours. You’ve now used and reviewed both GFX models and I’ve gone back and forth them. Am still having trouble deciding between the two models. A couple questions, please:

    – Fuji’s specs indicate the 50S viewfinder has slightly greater magnification than the 50R’s. Have you noticed that difference? Or is it negligible?

    – More importantly, based on your experience and photographic needs, do you find the extensive adjustments possible with the 50S’s EVF make that camera ultimately easier to work with and/or more useful for you than the fixed EVF on the 50S? Or does the sleeker form factor and (I assume, please correct me if I’m wrong) quicker handling of the 50R, win out?

    Thanks very much. I’m subscribed and look forward to many more videos andreviews from you. Cheers!

  15. I am curious about the experience of using the 110 with the new 50r… How is the balance with the larger lens? I have and love my Mamiya 7 and look at this as a modern equivalent… The difference is those lenses were quite small.

    I shoot fashion, lifestyle, beauty, and editorial portraits… On location and in-studio.

    Thank you in advance.

  16. Hey Jonas, love the review, and especially love all the beautiful product shots you get of all the gear. Is there any chance you could do a small write up on how you approach the lighting on these product shots?

    Cheers

    1. I’d love to have some insight on this subject, too! I got some old vintage lenses that need more love, but not sure how to set up all the lighting.

  17. Hi, Jonas, very nice images, one question: Is the camera with it’s slightly brick- like shape good to hold over several hours, specially with the bigger and mor e heavy lenses?

  18. Unbelievable beautifull pictures. Only thing I always struggle with is the strange blue/purple or greenish sky colors from Fuji. Is not normal sky colour at all. I wonder why not more people find this a problem?

  19. Hi Jonas,
    lovely review. I am working on a double exposure project with a Hasselblad XPAN and I am delighted by the panoramic images you made with the GFX 50r. Is the panoramic mode a custom format setting like the 1:1 and 3:2 in the Fuj X camera menus? Is it possible to get double exposures in raf format from the camera?
    Kind regards
    Dirk

  20. Hi Jonas

    Thanks for the review.

    You started the article off about the elusive abstract and non-technical feeling of using this camera vs the 50s, given that under the hood they are the same camera.

    My camera bodies need to fulfil a triple purpose of both architecture, landscapes and hiking photography. The latter two often involves backpacking in high altitude mountainous terrain with relatively heavy backpacks. Given that for the first two applications, they are on a tripod the lens weight and bulk should not be that relevant.

    I was just wondering, given that you have used both, on your take of using this body instead of the 50s for architecture, interiors, and landscape mated with my canon tse lenses, and perhaps some fuji lenses for on the run mountain backpacking photography.
    Things that would concern me would the lack of ‘ample handhold’, having a viewfinder to the left as opposed to the centre (not used to rangefinder style, but would prevent my greasy nose from always smearing the screen 😉 )

    How have you found the dial under the shutter button for use with something like aperture or shutter speed?

    Any other things that you would consider a negative of using the 50R for my type of work.

    Lastly, why does the 50S, require a huge blocky bulge at the back, supposedly to cool the sensor down, and the 50R not?

    Thanks for thoughts.
    Karl

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