2017 was the year when people could finally get their hands on the first ever digital medium format camera from Fujifilm. Announced at Photokina 2016, the GFX50S made a big impact on FUJIFILM as well as the mirrorless camera industry as a general.
The fact that you could get a full blow medium format digital camera at an actual affordable price had up to this point been unheard of. But FUJIFILM actually changed the game.
In the mere 4 years since that launch of the GFX50S, FUJIFILM has launched the GFX50R, the GFX100 and no less than 12 GF lenses. And today they’re launching their latest digital medium format mirrorless camera, The GFX100S as well as the worlds fastest medium format lens ever created. The GF80mm f/1.7 R WR.
Normally I would split my articles for two such major product releases, but since I’ve mainly been shooting the two products as a combination since November, I thought it would make sense to write about both of these products in one article.
But before we get going as always, I’ll be courteous and write down my usual disclaimers.
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). 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 an early prototype of the GFX100S as well as a prototype GF80mm f/1.7. Image quality might therefore not be final.
Disclaimer 3: All shots with- and of the product has been shot by me, and is not to be used without my explicit permission.
So let’s start with the complex machine, and then get to the glass afterwards.
The Fujifilm GFX100S
The GFX100S is without a doubt the most accomplished GFX to date, as well as the most technically impressive. FUJIFILM has managed to take the groundbreaking IBIS mechanism from the GFX100 and shrink it considerably, making it possible to fit it inside a body that’s merely a bit larger than the APS-C format X-H1! This results in a complete beast of a camera featuring a 102mp 44x33mm medium format sensor, IBIS & phase detection autofocus all wrapped up in a body that is no bigger than a standard full frame camera. Color me impressed!
Before I get going on this article, please let me link to my previous reviews of the GFX cameras. I will make a lot of references in this article to those reviews. So if you havn’t already, you might want to give them a read.
But let’s dive into the new features and new shortcomings of the GFX100S.
Design, Build and Feel
Since the GFX100S bears the “S” moniker, it it safe to assume that FUJIFILM sees this as the successor to the GFX50S. A lot has happened in the past 4 years, since the release of the 50S, so the gap in technology between the two is huge. I think of it as he X-Pro1 to X-Pro2 update. A huge update, that is not just incremental.
Obviously FUJIFILM released the GFX100 in he meantime, so if you compare the GFX100S to the GFX100 the update is actually a mere incremental one…if any. (I’ll come back to that one later)
One of the key areas where FUJIFILM updated the GFX50S is in the design, build and feel department. And let me run you guys and girls through them now.
The first thing you notice when you pick up the GFX100S is how nice it feels in the hand. The deep right hand grip fits snugly into my hand. The leatherette texture is the same one that was introduced with the GFX100. A more finely rugged texture than that of the GFX50S.
When turning the camera around you’ll see some main characteristically changes of the GFX100S compared to the GFX50S.
1. Gone is the display “hump” of the GFX50S. The back of the camera is now completely flat.
2. The D-Pad is gone (shocker! – not really….)
3. The navigation joystick is made bigger and much more rugged for much more convenient use. Even when wearing Bernie Sanders mittens 😛
4. The scroll wheels have also made bigger for easier interaction. Both front and rear.
On the top plate you’ll see probably the biggest changes of all.
1. Gone is the hatched EVF, so you can no longer use the tilted EVF adapter. This makes the camera much more sleek and lean if you ask me. I personally never used the tilt adapter, but maybe some of you did. If that til adapter is your bread and butter, the GFX100S is not the camera for you. Simple as that.
2. The left hand ISO dial is now a PSAM dial, and to the right the Shutter speed dial has been replaced with the big info display from the GFX100 series. This change is a big one. I never liked the PSAM setup. I switched to FUJIFILM X system because of the manual dials. However using the front and back scroll wheels for ISO and shutter speed changes when in M-mode is just as easy once you get used to it. But it’s not my style. I understand that I might be a minority in that, so I’m not making a big fuss about it.
3. You now have a dedicated Movie/Still switch. Indicating that the video section of the GFX100S is definitely to be taken serious!
On the front of the camera you have an unlabelled function button and on the top plate you have two. Other than that you can pretty much customise all the labeled buttons to whichever function you would like.
The LCD is of course a touch screen where you can assign swiping function gestures. This has been the norm on all recent FUJIFILM cameras, so nothing new about that.
In the connection and ports area on the left hand side of the camera you will find dedicated headphone and dedicated mic jack. USB-C for connecting and charging, an mini HDMI port and a standard flash sync terminal.
On the opposite side you have the card slot bay. It’s fully equipped with 2 card slots both capable of running UHS-II speeds. Very cool.
The entire build of the camera feels incredibly sturdy and solid. When you handle the camera you get a distinct sense of heft, and durability. The body is made from metal adding to the feeling of quality that oozes from this camera.
Gone is the blue/grey’ish colorscheme of the GFX100, and the GFX100S comes in solid black. It is by far the best looking GFX camera to date. That even includes the GFX50R which this rangefinder-layout fanboy really loves.
With all of the above being said and done, the single most impressive thing about the build, feel and design of the GFX100S is it’s incredibly compact size. For a 102 Megapixel medium format camera with IBIS and focal plane shutter this is simply incredible, and up until today simply unheard of.
What this means for photographers in terms of usability and portability can simply not be understated. I know FUJIFILM has used this phrase a lot in the past, but this time even I can get on board.
The GFX100S is indeed a game changing camera.
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 some time ago, and just copy/paste in the info from the specifications list from Fujifilm. So below is the specs chart directly from the manufacturer. These are just numbers that makes no sense for me to comment, but I will outline the key features from that spec sheet below.
I WILL INSERT SPECS CHART HERE WHEN I GET IT! – I PROMISE
The sensor and processor
Obviously one of the most important things with the GFX100S is the sensor. That glorious 102MP sensor that was first introduced in the GFX100 back in 2019. 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 its predecessor from the GFX50S. This is very important since you now have close to the same pixel density as on high MP count full frame sensors. I still think that the ISO performance of this sensor is actually a bit better than on the 51mp sensor of the GFX50S. And after having shot this the GFX100S for 3 months, I can say that its ISO performance is absolutely amazing.
What is still so amazing about 102MP is the cropping power that follow along. If you for example shoot the 65:24 panorama mode you will still get a full 50MP panorama file. If you shoot sports or any subject that is far away, the resolution will make it possible for you to crop into details that would simply be a 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. Just like on the GFX100.
The Processor in the GFX100S is the X-Processor 4 it’s the same super fast image processing unit that we have in the GFX100 and X-T4 among others. A really amazing picture rendering machine that will do the output from the 102mp sensor due justice.
The new IBIS unit
As if it wasn’t impressive enough in the GFX100, the newly designed 6-stop IBIS unit in the GFX100S is even more impressive. Just like with the GFX100 it isn’t a small feature to put in a camera with that sized sensor. I have yet again been following the development of it, and there have been a lot of challenges for the incredible engineers at Fujifilm to shrink it down to a size that would make it fit into the GFX100S body. But they pulled it off! And it’s amazing.
The 5-axis IBIS ensures up to a 6 stop improvement to usable shutter speeds, but most importantly it ensures 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. The new GF80mm f/1.7 can easily be shot at 1/15s 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 under any conditions, but especially in low lighting situations.
The shutter mechanism is now so silent that I don’t know where to start. It’s so quiet that if used during even that faintest of conversations, no one will hear the camera firing. It’s even more silent than the GFX100.
The new EVF is not the super-resolution 5.79mill dots detachable EVF that you find on the GFX100. The EVF of the GFX100S is instead a stay-on 3.69mill dots OLED viewfinder with 0.77x magnification and a 100% viewing/capture area. I’m unsure what the refresh rate of the EVF is.
It’s the same EVF that you can find on the X-T4, and it’s a really really good EVF. As part of the “Boost” setting in the cameras Power Settings menu you get the option of boosting either the EVF refresh rate or the EVF resolution. When using either you get a really clear EVF experience at the very top of its class.
I never used the detachable EVF nor the tilt adapter, since I’m not that kind of shooter, so for me the added size benefits of the new built in EVF more than outweigh the disadvantages of not having a tilt adapter option. I know that a lot of you out there is the exact opposite. In that case the GFX100 is probably more your type camera.
FUJIFILM managed to cut back on power consumption especially with the new smaller IBIS unit. This means that instead of needing two of the old block-type batteries, the GFX100S now runs on one single NP-W235 battery. The same type of battery introduced for the X-T4.
The battery life is estimated at approx. 460 frames per full charge. Something that I havn’t tested to be true or not, since I never do that many images in one shoot, and since I don’t even have a card that will hold up to 460 RAF images at 102mp resolution. I was however quite impressed with how little power the camera consumed while in standby during non-shooting days.
I never ever ran out of battery shooting a whole day. Very impressive indeed.
The camera has a slew of different IQ modifying settings that can be adjusted in presence and strength. They can all be accessed and turned on from the IQ menu.
Clarity, Grain Effect, Color Chrome Effect, Color Chrome FX Blue as well as Smooth Skin Effect can all be used from there. Some very customizable features, which only affects your jpeg outputs and not your raw files.
400mp Pixel shift
Of course the 400mp pixelshift option that was introduced in the GFX100 firmware update last december has also made its way into the GFX100S. This feature lets you output 16 full resolution frames from the camera that you stitch using the proprietary software into a single 400mp resolution image. Needless to say this is done by moving the sensor unit around using the IBIS, so you will have to shoot using a tripod.
Using flash is actually doable using 1/5s shutter speeds, but I prefer to use LED lights for the high megapixel images. Below is an example of a product image that I shot using pixel shift.
You can download the full resolution 400mp jpeg image example above by clicking HERE (Beware it’s a 108 MB jpeg file…)
Well, this section will be quite brief. I seriously never used the damn thing. I just stuck it into M-mode and changed my camera parameters on the lens, and scroll wheels respectively. I know this will make a lot of DSLR shooters happy, and I also know what segment the GFX100S is marketed for. It makes total sense in that context. Me? I simply dislike PSAM dials, and prefer a good old Shutter Speed / ISO dial combo. Color me Hipster! 😀
We’re at a point where these medium format cameras from FUJIFILM are serious contenders to the full frame cameras in terms of speed and operability. Although not quite as fast as the top end newest generation of full frame mirrorless cameras, the GFX100S is closing the gap fast!
The autofocus system is super sensitive even in low light since the sensor has on board phase detection AF. When using the GF80mm f/1.7 the sensitivity is a staggering -5.5EV!
FUJIFILM also worked on the algorithm again, so the AF performance is now measured at 0.18 sec using CIPA standards. I have no way of testing whether or not this is true, but believe me it’s seriously fast. High speed street action? No problem. Kids’ snowball fight? No problem. Sports? Dunno…CoVid lockdown! 😀 But I don’t see why not.
The Eye detection AF also got some algorithm love again, and it seems more precise and faster than ever at locking on to your subjects face and eyes. I used it quite extensively for the making of the “Urban Cowboy” promotion video and it didn’t fail in me once.
As has been the case with every recent FUJIFILM release, I will not go into details regarding the video functions of the cameras. But one thing is for sure. The GFX100S is certainly serious about video!
You can output 4K 4:2:0 10 bit internally to SD card, and when using the HDMI you can now output 4K ProRes RAW 4:2:2 12 bit. This was also a feature of the GFX100 introduced via firmware.
A new feature of the GFX100S is the addition of the digital stabiliser function in conjunction with the IBIS. This is the same feature as on the X-T4. But with the larger sensor area, the approx. 10% cropping needed for digital stabilising doesn’t make much impact on final image quality.
And that’s all I have to say about the video functions of the GFX100S
Nostalgic Neg. Film simulation
I know that the majority of people who use the GFX cameras shoot RAW as part of their profession. Heck I shoot mostly RAW as well. But there are so many times where having to handle these big raw files is just a pain. During my 6 month testing of the X-Pro3 I shot nothing but Classic Neg. jpegs and tweaked them either in camera or in post. It was super simple, super quick, and most importantly it looked absolutely fantastic.
FUJIFILMs Film Simulations aren’t just gimmicks. They’re fine-tuned image processing algorithm made to respect and use the look of old Fujifilm stock.
The GFX100S really is a true allround camera that you can bring everywhere and shoot in any stuation. This also means that for me I will end up shooting a lot of every day images with this camera. Not necessarily images that I want to spend large amounts of time editing, but yet I want them to look good. This is where the Film Simulations are heaven sent. It’s almost like loading a film-stock for a particular situation, and just using that to get the right vibe of the day.
With the GFX100S, FUJIFILM introduced a new Film Simulation called Nostalgic Neg. It’s based off of the “New american color Photography” scheme of the 60’s and 70’s.
It features gorgeous cyan blue tones, deep reds, punchy greens and the best yellow reproduction in any of the film simulations.
Even though it looks a bit like Classic Neg. at first sight, tonality wise and saturation wise those two film smulations are actually polar opposites. Where Classic Neg. features a harder tonality with a lowered saturation, Nostalgic Neg. features a softer tonality with added saturation.
It’s definitely best used for sunny days, which was very hard to come by during the past 3 months of danish winter. But I’m really looking forward to shooting this simulation during summer time.
With the GFX100S I will just repeat what I wrote in my GFX100 article back in 2019…
“It probably doesn’t come as a shock 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.”
The above statement hasn’t changed one bit. The IQ of the GFX100S is in-sane! Not just because of the resolution, but because of the “roundness” of it all. The tonality. The way it renders images in near darkness, it’s like you have 100 shades of black! It’s incredible, and I will say this…once you go on the journey that this cameras takes you on… you will never look at IQ the same way again. When using this camera at nighttime it just renders images with incredibly rich color textures and depth, even though the ISO is set at 6400/12800.
You have an amazing 14 stop dynamic range on this camera, and the ability to shoot either 14 bit or 16 bit RAW. The headroom you get for postprocessing your files from the GFX100S is absolutely mindblowing!
When using the GFX100S for street, I will typically mount the GF50mm f/3.5, and I can keep my distance, and still crop into details equivalent of being right in the middle of the action. Cheating, to some, perhaps. But very handy during the social distancing times during the past year.
But of course in the right lighting conditions, either naturally occuring or in a studio setting, there’s something quite indescribable about the image quality coming from big format sensors when you feed them good light, and the GFX100s is no exception. But I think you’ll just have to look at the sample images to see it for yourself.
The GF80mm f/1.7 R WR
Welcome to part 2 of this double-whammy-super-duper-over-the-top…. OK, Jonas. Stop yourself!
Alongside the GFX100S release today, FUJIFILM also announced the GF80mm f/1.7 R WR lens. – Well.. They already did a development-announcement of it last year during the London X Summit. But today is the proper announcement.
Let’s just pause for a second…..
f/1.7…. medium format….
Yes, that’s correct. This is without a doubt the fastest medium format lens ever created. This in itself is a very remarkable thing. Now, if the lens had flaws, I would totally understand it…. but…. it doesn’t!
I want to give you guys a little “behind the scenes” story about the GF80mm f/1.7 lens today.
Back in october 2018 I was in Tokyo for the initial product meeting regarding the X-Pro3 and X100F. You can read more about that journey in my mammoth X-Pro3 article here – In addition to discussing the two X-series cameras, I was also asked to prepare some thoughts about future lens offerings within both the GF- and XF-lens segments.
At that time I was shooting my Mamiya 80mm f/1.9 lens extensively on my GFX50S. I have always liked how the 80mm FOV renders on a 645 medium format film. And I really loved how it looked on the 44x33mm medium format sensor. I love how it doesn’t compress the face as much as the 110mm, and how it is just a bit more compressed than the 63mm. – It just looks really flattering no matter the facial type. During that summer Hasselblad had released the 80mm f/1.9 lens for their medium format system claiming the throne of the fastest medium format lens in production.
So when we came to the discussion of future GF lenses, my answer was simple and quite straight forward…
“I would love to see an 80mm lens. But make it fast. Not just fast, but faster than what Hasselblad is offering” – I remember Takashi Ueno nodding and saying “What about f/1.7?”
The next time I heard of it was during the London X-Summit where they showed off the dummy-sample! Imagine my absolute thrill and joy.
Fast forward to November 2020, and I unpacked the brown box and bubble-wrapping that held the prototype GF80mm f/1.7 R WR lens….
Build and feel
It’s getting quite trivial writing about the build quality of the GF lenses. They’re all very well built, and features a very sturdy exterior that looks and feels amazing. The GF80mm f/1.7 R WR is no exception.
The focus ring is softly ribbed rubber material that gives you a great grip. The barrel is an all metal construction and the aperture ring clicks very nicely in steps of 1/3rd aperture increments from f/1.7 to f/22.
The aperture build up is made from 9 curved aperture blades to ensure nice rounded out of focus specular highlights even when stopping the lens down.
The mount is made from metal, and the front diameter filter thread is 77mm.
Of course the GF80mm f/1.7 R WR is fully weather resistant. It goes without saying that this is a standard in 2021. So not having weather resistance is a no go. But this lens has it, just like the rest of the GF lens lineup.
The lens weighs 795g. Length is 99.2mm and widest diameter is 94.7mm. Think of it as a GF110mm f/2 with the rear part cut off. It is surprisingly small for what it is. It was definitely surprising to me.
Is I stated. Quite trivial by now – But it oozes quality.
Lens optical buildup
From the lens diagram above you can see it’s a 12 elements in 9 groups design. It has 1 ASPH (Aspherical) element, and 2 extra low dispersion (Super ED) lens elements. This all sound very good on paper. But let me just remind you where you’ve last seen a 12 element/9 group / 1 ASPH buildup from FUJIFILM?
That’s right! The XF50mm f/1 R WR!
What this means is that FUJIFILM has made a lens for the GFX that has a very unique rendering. It has an amazing way of rendering out of focus areas, in a similar way that the XF50mm f/1 renders the background. But where the XF50mm f/1 can exhibit a softer wide open appearance, the GF80mm f/1.7 R WR remains absolutely tack sharp also at f/1.7. Heck, I almost shot it exclusively wide open. It’s mindblowingly good.
I gave an explanation of this lens buildup in my XF50mm f/1 R WR article here, but I’ve copy/pasted the very essence of it here:
“Usually in a modern lens construction with so many elements it is kind of unusual to see just 1 aspherical element. Fujifilm has done it a couple of times in the past, most notably with the XF56mm f/1.2 and the XF35mm f/1.4
The ASPH elements of a lens make sure that the light is “bent” differently depending on the site of entry on that lens element. This makes the focused image sharper since you control exactly where the light gathers on the focal plane. Another way to say this is that the ASPH elements lessen the amount of spherical abberation.
But if Fujifilm is just using 1 ASPH element, does that mean that the lens is soft?!
– See this is where it gets interesting.
Fujifilm chose to control the spherical abberation in the foreground/subject focusplane with the 1 ASPH element, but leave some of the spherical abberation in the background, instead having that portion controlled/handled by the ED elements near the front of the lens.”
So FUJIFILM is again giving us an amazing lens where the underlaying design choices reflect what kind of photography this lens is best suited for. Not just quest for perfection and optical superiority in sharpness, but a specialised tool for the toolbox of the working photographer.
Alright. Enough with the technicalities, and let’s have a look at the really important stuff! How’s the IQ of this beast of a lens?
In one short word: INCREDIBLE!
I could also have used “amazing” or any other superlative that comes to mind. The images that this lens is capable of producing are simply gorgeous.
The sharpness is so impressive even wide open. Combined with the 102mp of the GFX100S you have so much detail, resolution and clarity that it will make your jaw drop! – The out of focus areas are so smooth, and so well handled with transitions from in-focus to out-of-focus being some of the best I’ve ever seen with any piece of photographic gear. (Yes this includes the mighty Pentax Takumar 105mm f/2.4)
As the only “flaw” I see a bit of optical vignetting. (Cat eye shaped bokeh near the edges of the frame) I have always loved this look when doing full body portraits in areas of foliage etc, so for me it’s perfect. For some of you it might not be. That is seriously the only flaw I can find regarding this lens.
I think I’ll just let the images speak for themselves. Because this lens is amazing, and the image quality coming from it is insane. Especially when coupled with the GFX100S.
Conclusion & sample gallery
The new GFX100S is something as incredible as a portable everyday digital 102megapixel medium format camera. Whereas the GFX100 is meant for studio application the added portability and enhanced focusing algorithms of the GFX100S makes it the first truly allround mirrorless medium format camera. You simply get the very best camera available on the planet right now for almost all situations.
It is a jack of all trades camera, and it is a master of image quality. It has a suggested retail price of only 5999USD which makes it compete with the top end full frame camera systems in regards to price. But image quality wise these full frame competitors doesn’t stand a chance again the GFX100S. It’s getting really close to being the perfect camera.
The GF80mm f/1.7 R WR is the worlds fastest medium format lens ever created. Its image quality is staggering. The softness of the out of focus areas, and the sharpness and resolution of the in-focus areas is nothing less than amazing. Even taking the impressive specs into account its size is incredibly compact. And it is a very good match to the equally compact GFX100S
It’s the new kind of the GF line.
With todays 2 new announcements in the GFX series, FUJIFILM is once again showing us how the future of professional photography will look like. And it looks good!
I have shot mostly street-, portraiture- and lifestyle images with the GFX100S and GF80mm f/1.7 R WR. This doesn’t mean that they won’t perform in other fields of photography. The camera is as versatile as it gets.
I don’t shoot brickwalls. I’m not a reviewer, I’m a photographer. (Well actually I’m a doctor, but who’s counting..) Thats why I don’t do SOOC comparisons etc. You can probably find those elsewhere. All images can be viewed by clicking the gallery below. Download them at will and look at the EXIF. Everything is there. Knock yourselves out.