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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 😛
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.
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.
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.
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.
Notice that sign at the far end of that Stockholm station wall? Lets zoom in to 100% shall we.
The Phase Detection AF
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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