At the brink of tomorrow – The Fujifilm GFX100 first look preview

This is not a review. Well, actually it is. It’s the same as it has always been, but as someone in an internet forum recently made me aware, “A hotel staff member can’t review the hotel he works for”.  I have never hid the fact that I was deeply involved with Fujifilm, nor that my views were obviously biassed because of said relationship.
So from this day going forward my reviews will be labeled first look previews. But the content will be the same. It will still focus on giving you a thorough look at the latest Fujifilm gear, but not through specs, rather through my images. I’m not a reviewer, I’m a photographer.
Alright. Enough about internet drama and linguistics for now. Let’s get moving with what this article is really about?

The new Fujifilm GFX100!

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Shot on GFX50R | GF120mm f/4 @f/22

Another limitpusher

Fujifilm did something quite gamechanging when they announced, and subsequently released, the GFX50S to the masses back in 2016. This was the first (well not counting the Hasselblad X1D announced a month prior)  mirrorless medium format camera, that  really gave users the possibility to use medium format cameras off tripod in a day to day photography setting. Fujifilm even made it happen at a very low price.
Then in 2018 they announced and released the GFX50R. Essentially the same innards as the GFX50S but at an even lower price.
Both of these cameras are based on a 43.8×32.9mm 51.4MP CMOS sensor. I have used both cameras extensively over the course of the last two years, and the output is absolutely amazing! But already at launch Fujifilm stated that the GF lenses could easily resolve 100MP resolution, so we all kind of knew what was in the pipeline.

Then, at Photokina 2018, Fujifilm announced the development of the GFX100. A new generation of their mirrorless medium format camera set to be released in quarter 2 of 2019. And here we are. It’s quarter 2. It’s 2019. And the GFX100 is real and ready for the masses.
Fujifilm promised a lot of things when they made the development announcement, most prominently Phase Detection AF (PDAF) and In Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS). If these things really ended up being implemented then Fujifilm would have a definite game changing product on its hands. And they did just that! They made a truly game changing photography product. They did everything they said they would do, and the result is quite fantastic.

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GFX100 | GF63mm f/2.8

Before we get going for real, I need to do a couple of disclaimers just to set everything straight. Feel free to skip everything but number 3 😉
Disclaimer 1: I’m an X-photographer. That’s spelled brand ambassador for Fujifilm. I don’t get paid for doing these write ups (and I have been doing them even before getting involved with Fujifilm). I get sent the gear when I do the editorial packshots for Fujifilm Japan (and for this I get paid, just as I should be!) – So I get to play around with the gear a little bit when they’re around the house. This means that I’m just about as biased as I can get, and whether you choose to believe my views or not is entirely up to you. I expect you to be adults, capable of forming your own opinions based on presented information.
Disclaimer 2: All the images in this article has been shot using 2 different prototypes of the GFX100 camera. Image quality might therefore not be final, although I have been told that it is.
Disclaimer 3: All shots with- and of the product has been shot by me, and is not to be used without my explicit permission.

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GFX100 | GF110mm f/2

Build and Feel

The GFX100 is unlike any other camera that Fujifilm designed the last 10 years, well actually it’s pretty much unlike anything the ever designed before. They decided to part with the manual control dials that have characterised the X-series and subsequently the GFX50 line, and instead go with a much more modern and actually top-line DSLR approach using big info screens and shifting operability to front and back command dials. According to Fujifilm the selector dial on the left of the camera top plate is to accentuate that this camera is both a professional camera tool AND a professional video camera.

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The new 102MP sensor | Shot on GFX50R | GF120mm f/4

Designwise Fujifilm made an integrated battery grip design that we know from e.g. the Canon 1DX. They make it look quite stylish though. Obviously they designed it this  way to hold double NP-T125 batteries, since this new sensor and IBIS can be quite power-hungry.
When you look at the camera the prominent thing is the big sub-monitor on the top plate. It will give you multiple different information, virtual dials or live-histogram. All customisable to you hearts desire. The screen on the back is a 3 way tilt screen like the one found on the XT-3 camera. You have quite a few unlabelled buttons dispersed across the back of the camera, and you have no battery-bulk behind the LCD like the GFX50S has.
The EVF is new and improved but it still detaches, and you can use the tilt-adapter. I don’t know if Fujifilm will make a new one specifically for the GFX100, but I tried the 50S adapter, and it worked.

The paint job and materials are also something quite different from what Fujifilm has made in the past. The colour is Graphite, but not with a sheen like on the X-Pro2 Graphite. It’s a matte finish. It looks really really good in person, much better than any of my images can do justice. The “faux-leatherette” is a very fine-grained type, and it is really comfortable to handle.
Build quality is pretty fantastic. Because there is a lot of heft in the camera, it feels much more like a premium product than e.g. the GFX50R that tend to feel cheaper because of the lack of heft. It’s a funny thing how the human mind thinks that because something is heavy, then it’s better built. In this case the GFX100 is heavy, and very well built.

Technical Specifications

This is where it gets really nerdy. Back when I started doing reviews…sorry first look previews, I would write all this info into prose. I stopped doing that a year ago, and just copy/paste in the info from the specifications list from Fujifilm. So below is the specs chart directly from the manufacturer.

I WILL INSERT SPECS CHART HERE WHEN I GET IT! – I PROMISE 😛

Features

This is where it gets much more interesting than the spec chart up there. Maybe not as interesting as the image quality section, but we’ll get to that. No worries.
I tested two different cameras this past month. The first one being a super early prototype with super early firmware, and the second was a final version pre-production model with close to final firmware. The features in the camera(s) tended to change with each new firmware revision, but towards the latest firmwares features got locked down. Those are the features that I want to write a little about. There might be more features in the final version, so I might do a part 2 of this article. We’ll see.

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GFX100 – GF63mm f/2.8

The sensor

Obviously the most important thing, and the raison d’être for this camera is the sensor. That glorious new 102MP sensor. Sporting the same physical size as the 44x33mm GFX50s/r sensor, it ensures full compatibility with the existing GF lens lineup. It has a backlit configuration so it handles ISO a bit better than it’s predecessor. This is very important since you now have close to the same pixel density as on high MP count full frame sensors. So is the ISO better on the new camera in comparison to the 50mp cameras? – Well actually I think it is! There are tons of features with this sensor, and for those specifics I urge you to study the specs chart further up in this article.

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GFX100 – GF45mm f/2.8

What is amazing about 102MP is the cropping power that follow along. If you shoot the 65:24 panorama mode you will now get a full 50MP panorama file. If you shoot sports or anything far away, the resolution will make it possible for you to crop into details that would simply be smudgy spot on other sensors with lower resolution.
The sensor is also capable of full 16bit raw output. You get a choice between 14bit and 16 bit output in the menus.

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GFX100 | GF63mm f/2.8

The IBIS

This is a big one! This isn’t a small feature to put in a camera with that sized sensor. I have been following the development of it, and there have been a lot of challenges for the incredible engineers at Fujifilm. But they pulled it off! And it’s amazing.
The 5-axis IBIS ensures up to a 5 stop improvement to usable shutter speeds, but most importantly it ensure tack sharp images with maximum resolution possible with the 102 MP sensor. Using third party lenses as well as vintage lenses is much better with IBIS, and using the GF primes without OIS is equally amazing. Suddenly the GF110mm can be shot at 1/60s with no issues what so ever! Factor in the already amazing ISO performance of the 44×33 sensor size, and you’ll end up with image quality unlike anything you’ve ever seen before in under any condition. Especially in low lighting situations.
Along with the IBIS the shutter mechanism has been dampened and hence silenced quite a bit. It all works incredibly well. It’s a true game changing feature to have this in a medium format camera.

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The IBIS is incredible. Shot at 1/8th sec handheld using the 23mm f4

Notice that sign at the far end of that Stockholm station wall? Lets zoom in to 100% shall we.

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100% crop. Tack sharp at 1/8th second. Incredible!

The Phase Detection AF

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GFX100 | GF250mm f/4 | 3x crop

Another big feature of the camera is the addition of phase detection AF pixels on the sensor. And it even has full sensor coverage. This means that it’s possible to use phase detection AF instead of the slower contrast detection AF. PDAF is much better in low light focusing as well as being overall much faster achieving focus. Your GF lenses needs to be updated to make use of the PDAF, and once updated you can really feel the difference. Focusing speeds are now on par and a times even faster than an XT2 camera with the latest firmware. This actually makes it possible to use this camera for sports. Combined with the incredible cropping power, you can shoot the GF250 lens at the sideline of e.g. a soccer match and crop in 50% to get relative of a 500mm equivalent lens. – all while still having a 25mp output. It’s quite insane.

The small gallery above is the final image that I liked, as well as the pre cropped version and the 100% version. Just look at that insane detail. And the focus? Spot on!

Sports photography with a medium format camera? Why not!

This fast type PDAF also makes it a breeze to use this camera as a lifestyle/street type camera. Although it would never be my first choice for this type of shooting because of its physical size, it’s perfectly capable of doing it. And it will actually do it really really well.
Eye detection AF is also really drawing good use from the new PDAF. Eye AF has never been better in the GFX line. It’s now something that I can rely on when I shoot shallow DOF headshots.

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GFX100 | GF110 f/2 | Eye AF is very precise now when doing shallow DOF portraits

Performance and misc features

The menusystem is largely unchanged from the GFX50s/r. Fujifilm added some new features that I want to highlight. Along side the Color Chrome and Grain control you now also have a “Soften skin” option that will do just that. In your jpegs the camera will analyse the image and adjust microcontrast and softness on skin when doing portraiture. The output is gorgeous, and quite flattering to the model.
The two images below of Nanna are unedited jpegs SOOC. The first is without skin smoothing, the second is with skin smoothing. If you download the full size files you can easily see the difference, especially on her forehead, while all things not skin is left unchanged by the camera algorithm.

Skin Smoothing ON

The “Boost mode” function now has different modes. You can choose to push power towards AF performance or EVF FPS performance among others. It’s really cool because you can adjust performance according to task at hand. Very cool.

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GFX100 | GF63mm f/2.8

Overall the camera feels very very snappy. The processor does an amazing job at handling everything without any hiccups. When you use the internal RAW converter you can output 16bit TIFF files. They’re quite large in size though.  Oh, and speaking of file size, the uncompressed RAW files comes in at 250MB and a typical jpeg around 70MB.
The two sub monitors are excellent in use.They give you very valuable shooting information such as live histograms, virtual dial info as well as plain info. They can be customised to your hearts desire.
The rear LCD is also very practical. Just like on the GFX50S you can flip in both horisontal and vertical orientation. Off course it’s also a touch screen. This is standard by now.

The new EVF

There’s an update to the detachable EVF. It now boasts a 5.7MP resolution and X FPS refresh rate. It’s big, it’s clear, and it has very little lag. I have not measured the lag time or blackout time, but it is definitely not a hindrance while doing some sports photography. It’s by far the best EVF I’ve ever used and I’ve used a lot of them by now.

As I stated further up, there are many more featured than the ones outlined here. These are just the main features that I found useful while testing the camera.

Video

As so many times before I will not go into the video specifics of these cameras, simply because I have no proper knowledge in that field.
What I do know is that the GFX100 will output 4K video at 30fps. Now that is something! Especially with a sensor of that size. Videographers and Cinematographers will probably find this VERY interesting since you have the possibility of mounting cinema lenses that will give you very shallow DOF for achieving a very cinematic look to your videos.
The movie mode menu features almost the same videoshooting functions as the XT3, but I really dive into it, so you’ll have to find that info elsewhere.
I do think that cinematographers will have a blast with this camera, and I’m quite sure we can expect to see a lot of high quality video being produced with the GFX100.

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The cinematic 65:24 crop is as close to video as I get. GFX100 | GF45mm

Image Quality

It probably doesn’t come as a chock to anyone, but the IQ is where the party is at with this camera. All the features outlined above serve only one purpose. To make the image quality of this camera as good as humanly possible. And oh my, is it good.
I saw myself zooming into 100% all the time back with the introduction of the GFX50S – That luckily passed. But the “100%-zoom-sickness” is back. It’s simply breathtaking to zoom into the details captured by the GFX100/GF lenses combo.
You have all the roundness, tonality, DR and overall gorgeous image quality that you know from the 50s/r, but now with twice the resolution!
Colors are vivid, true to life and very well balanced. The tonality in the deep dark black areas are as incredible as ever and the noiselevel is so amazingly well balanced that it’s not even funny.

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GFX100 | GF120mm f/4

When using this camera I really enjoyed the cropping capabilities in almost all situations where I used the camera. For street, you can keep your distance, and still crop into details equivalent of being right in the middle of the action. Cheating, to some, perhaps. But very handy at times.
No other place was the cropping power as apparent as when I used the GFX100 to shoot soccer, both kids soccer and 2. division soccer. I used the GF250mm f/4 and I could crop an insane amount to get closeups of players in action, and still get a final file output with the resolution of a standard 24MP camera. Just imagine, if you mount the GF250 and crop to 25mp, you have just mounted a virtual 500mm lens judging by FOV. Now THAT is something.

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GFX100 | GF32-64mm @32mm

When using the camera in the studio using artificial lighting the IQ simply made my jaw hit the floor multiple times. Using especially the GF120mm f/4 macro, the images came out with such sharpness that you actually want to unsharpened parts of especially the skin of your models. I could easily see why Fujifilm included the “soften skin” effect for use with the jpegs.
There’s something quite indescribable about the image quality coming from big format sensors when you feed them some good light, and the GFX100 is no exception. I think you’ll just have to look at the sample images to see it for yourself.

This camera is not just one of the most advanced cameras in 2019. It is THE most  advanced camera in 2019. Frankly Fujifilm has zero to no competition in this segment right now. And even though the price will land on something within the proximity of $10K it’s still waaaay cheaper than buying into the Hasselblad H system or the Phase One system. I know that these cameras use larger sensors, but they’re frankly missing those amazing new technological features such as the IBIS and PDAF as well as pro-grade video functionality. If you start thinking of the GFX100 and its pricing in that context, then it’s actually very reasonably priced. I would actually go so far as to call it cheap.

Samples

I don’t shoot brickwalls. I’m not a reviewer, I’m a photographer. Thats why I don’t do SOOC comparisons etc. You can probably find those elsewhere.
Samples are jpegs that I have made minor adjustments to using Adobe Lightroom CC or Capture One.
Since its latest update Lightroom support the RAF files, but while I had the camera it didn’t. So all the files are jpegs rendered by the camera.
This is how I chose to use the camera, and it might differ somewhat from what you plan on using it for. I tried to test it in various settings, really pushing its capabilities.

I made a dropbox link with 11 full resolution images for you guys to download and pixel peep if that’s what you wish to do. You can download them HERE

Make sure to open the gallery for maximum quality

jr050680

56 thoughts on “At the brink of tomorrow – The Fujifilm GFX100 first look preview

  1. Wonderful review but I believe your math is a little off. For 2x cropping you need to divide the total mp twice. So it would be (102/2)/2 which equals 25.5mp. Thus, cropping in from 250 to 500 would leave you with 25.5mp. Cropping to 1000mm would leave you with a little over 6mp.

  2. Jonas, the most remarkable thing when reading this review is admiring your ever-increasing skill as a photographer. These images look grand even in their tiny form factor because you have put in the work to develop an eye, an aesthetic, and an intentional style. More than anything, reading this review has inspired me to continue to get out and photograph. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Hi Jonas,

    In your comparison of the “Soften Skin” feature both pictures are marked as “Skin smoothing Off”. I also think that the sentence “The first is without skin smoothing, the second is with skin smoothing” is not correct. The first picture (on the left in my browser) seems to be with Skin Soften On.

    Many thanks for taking the time to write such a nice review!

  4. Fantastic photographic thoughts about this stunning camera. AND well biased. I can feel your passion for living, shooting and camera tools – expressed in the best neutral nerdy way.
    Loooove looking at those grrreat pictures showing the use of this beast. I hunger to try this piece of high end molded craftsmanship. Wauuuu

  5. Jonas it is such a treat to see a review/preview of a camera I have been very interested in since first hearing rumours of. I say ‘see’ and not ‘read’ as it’s your images that tell the story. So many websites fail in this regard because they demonstrate a camera with macbeth charts and generally incredibly poor image making. I struggle to pixel peep past the bad compositions and flat lifeless images but you manage to show the potential of the gear in the right hands. So thanks for this. (I’d better start saving)

  6. I wasn’t going to read this as I can’t afford one and I’m not yet good enough to deserve one, but I couldn’t help myself. Lovely looking camera and your pictures with it are fantastic. Deep sigh as I let the GAS out!

  7. Holy fwck.. amazing review, and wow, that is one hell of a beast! Nice touch with the GFX reflection on Ib’s eye! 🙂
    I must say Jonas, it was a joy following your journey from your first Fuji post.Your images are extremely compelling, it’s always a joy seeing your updates and posts! Keep up this amazing work that so many appreciate!

  8. Thank you for adding this to my roster of things to (more) obsess about.

    This camera is the literal personification of the “Teach your kids photography and they will never have money to buy drugs” meme.

    Great review, and my poor bank account.

  9. … ‘ready for the masses’..
    Sorry Jonas but I had to laugh! Entertaining ‘preview’ as always. Just curious about the start up time for such a beast to warm up the sensor / ibis / electronics and if there is any heat build up through long usage.

  10. Really great pictures Jonas, love those portraits. The sports shooting is a bit of a joke, but Ok, it works for mom and pop. I would have loved a few pictures of the camera in someones hands (shot with your style) along with all the fancy studio shots. Your images though, really tell the story of capability here.

    I’m so glad Fuji is still breaking the boundaries. They’ve been doing it for a long time now. My first camera was a Fujica ST801 and I’ve been a fan ever since. Why must they keep torturing me like this?!

    Cheers man, great work.

    1. Thank you Dennis! – and yes, I’m by no means what so ever a sports photographer, but I find it immensely impressive that it can actually do it – and in context it actually says so much about how far Fuji has pushed it this tome around.

  11. Jonas, please delete the above comment – I messed up the form and I’d rather not have my email public. Thank you!

  12. Please delete my above comment Jonas – I screwed up and made my name my email address. I’d rather not have that public. Thank you!

  13. Jonas, how’d you find the new interface? As someone who’s not in the market for this camera, but definitely an X series one down the road, I see this as a harbinger of what’s to come. To me the new interface seems much more clean, usable, and modern, but I’d very much like to know how it fared in practice.

    And thanks for the review. Terrific as always, and the photos are inspiring.

    1. Thank you for stopping by man. This is not the general direction for Fujifilm. They are still content on keeping that more tactile dial layout for their cameras. – they take great care to design the camera interface to fit the intended use.

  14. Thanks for the review. Can you address IMAGE QUALITY more?
    For us the whole point of 100MP is just that. Any comparisons to Phase One IQ3 (not to mention IQ4)? [particularly given Fuji’s crop sensor 43.8×32.9mm vs IQ3 53.7×40.40mm] Is this a practical “poor man’s” IQ3?

    Are there visible differences 16bit vs 14bit?

    Most MF assume “good (ie, studio) light” – when outdoors in real world, on fringes of the day, then is it practical to use other than 100 ISO? Any ISO comparisons? What is usable for super large, ultra high resolution fine art prints? how much practical difference does the backlit sensor make?

    Any details on the “multi” function – does it allow Focus Stacking, which is a CRUCIAL feature for hires architecture, landscape, and even product work?

    Also, things like WiFi (or Bluetooth) remote shutter triggering/intervalometer for sharp photos?

    FOCUS: what is max magnification factor to zoom in? Focus peaking accuracy? Does it have a hyperfocal distance calculator, or at least tell you current focus distance? Does it have DOF preview for critical focus? Are any/all of these features available on Phone/Tablet wireless or laptop tethered shooting?

    Ability to save custom shooting mode settings (quick change from tripod aperture to hand held shutter priorities, etc.)?

    Does it allow spot metering, tied to a single autofocus point?

    User manual?

    thanks!

    1. I have not even started to dig into all that man. There will be many more reviews out there soon, that will address this further I’m sure. Thanks for reading man, and those are all very excellent questions.

  15. Phantastic files! But did you sharpen some of them a little bit too much?
    Some pictures are quite grainy/noisy. That noise is in the out of focus aeras too…
    Are that JPGs out of camera or did you process in C1?

    1. Yeah, some of them was accidentally sharpened on export, while they were actually jpegs that needed no sharpening whatsoever.

      1. Can you please replace them with raw images or no sharpening jpgs ? I was shocked by the amount of either noise or sharpening artefact. I suspect sharpened noise as it was worse with increasing iso

  16. I have been waiting on this camera for a long time, and am now on the waiting list. Will you publish your preferred settings out of the box, as some of us would prefer to try to emulate what you have done with those beautiful gallery shots? What longer focal length cine would you recommend?

  17. I’ve only been photographing for about a year now, but your blog is one huge inspiration. I love your style, both in the writing of the (p)reviews as well as those pictures. Keep it up!

    Would you happen to know if IBIS can ‘stack’ with OIS? I know this isn’t true for the X-H1, but think Sony has managed to pull it off.

  18. Hi Jonas
    Thanks for being on the frontline in posting an assortment of images for us to scrutinise. As a 50S user I can see from your portraits the quantum leap in finer details. Skin texture and fine eye structures as never quite captured before at this price point. It brings back the joy of looking at bugs under the microscope as a kid in Biology lessons ! I have just one question: You are a long-time user of the stellar 110 F2 without any stabilisation just how good is the IBIS with the 110 lens ?

  19. A follow-up question: I shoot street, travel, people and some portraiture. Because I am new to Fuji, which lenses (native) are the best to adapt to the GFX, and which of the new GFX lenses are must-haves?

  20. Thanks for the review, but more importantly, thanks for the images. They are superb. You have a wonderful eye that would make any camera seem desirable. Where are those subway stations – the ones hewn right from the rock? Those are some of the coolest undergrounds I have ever seen – like something out of a sci-fi movie.

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