I was kindly invited by simimaging to their Fuji GFX 50s Open Day, so I went along together with a colleague to chat to the Fuji expert James Gilbert who gave me us a brief run through of this new medium format camera.

     Sim imaging Fuji

I've been in the industry for over 30 years and in that time worked with a variety of large and medium format cameras. The medium format of choice to shoot weddings was the Bronica SQA  followed by the SQB and for commercial work it was the classic Mamiya RB67 followed by the RZ67 www.mamiyaleaf.com . Those cameras were absolute beasts, lasted for many years and produced truly high quality images. As a working professional I always felt I entered the digital world quite late as it was 2009 when I stopped using film and moved fully to digital. The change from handling medium format cameras to DSLR's was something I found difficult as it didn't feel professional, it felt like a backward step.

Since then technology and photography styles have obviously moved on, not only do I continue working with DSLR's using nikon.com/en Nikon D750 and D4s for photography, but my work now involves a lot of video so I use the Canon Cinema camera C100 Mark 2 cinema_eos_cameras/eos_c100/  and recently purchased my first mirrorless camera, the Panasonic GH5 for it's video capability www.panasonic.com

Having hired a Hasselblad for a couple of commercial shoots in the last year I haven't actually invested medium format yet, so in the last year or so I've been looking and keen to see what's out there, so this invitation to view the GFX 50s came at the right time.

Fuji medium format camera

I only had about 10-15 minutes with the camera so my comments/review here are based purely on how it looks, feels and handles; it really was just a glance. If you need in depth technical information I'd suggest having a look at gfx/fujifilm_gfx_50s     

So the first thing is this new camera is mirrorless and I generally don't like mirrorless cameras. As a working professional I look through the viewfinder to compose images, very rarely do I use the screen at the back of the camera, so whenever using a mirrorless camera I always find the viewfinder horrible; it just doesn't feel real. It's similar to composing an image on an old camcorder. It takes getting used. But with this new GFX my very first thought was how good the viewfinder was; it's still not the same as a conventional camera but it was very good for a mirrorless model.

Fuji gfx50 Fuji medium format GFX50

The camera felt incredibly light compared to holding a D750 and D4s, I immediately thought it would be a heavy camera to handle, so it was a bonus it felt so light. It also felt good in my hands as over the years I've suffered from pains in my shoulder due to camera use but this was so light it didn't feel uncomfortable at all.

The handling of a camera matters more to me than image quality before I actually by a camera. I feel if I'm spending a few thousand pounds on a camera the image quality should be very high, so before I look at the quality of the images it's more about how it feels in my hands. Do I feel comfortable working with it, are the controls in the right place, is it user friendly, is the menu easy to access, is it easy to understand, does it have dual memory card slots? These boxes have to be ticked first for me and this new camera certainly ticks them all.

The very first DSLR I purchased was the Fuji S2 which had a similar design to traditional Nikon bodies and this is also the case with this new camera, the controls felt comfortable because they're similar in design to Nikon. So for me the camera felt familiar as soon as I picked it up.

I had a little play with the menu system, looked at file size shooting options and noticed it has two Raw options; Compressed and Uncompressed, I'm 99% sure most photographers would be using Uncompressed if shooting RAW so I'd be interested to see the difference between the two. I shot a few images in the showroom and they played back quickly and it was possible to zoom in on them using the touch screen which is useful. The viewing screen not only tilts up and down similar to the D750 but it also folds out which could be useful in certain situations.

The demo table had a variety of different lenses to try but I didn't really go in to those, I really just wanted to see how the camera felt, the controls and speed of use more than anything else. To give it a real test I'd need to use it for a few days in different lighting conditions with different lenses to see if it gives me the results I would expect from a medium format.

One of the great features was the grip that attaches separately to the body, it's not built in to the body like the D4s. It's so well designed, so much better than the Nikon grip. It's moulded differently and makes the camera easy to use as the shutter button is located in a different position to the one on standard DSLR models. I can see Canon and Nikon changing their grips to something similar.

Abraxas wedding video camera

 

The model I used had 2 SD card slots, I'm not sure if the camera comes with other card type slots but SD cards are the most convenient.

There is one sticking point however, although the camera shoots video, it doesn't shoot 4K; I fully understand it's not aimed at videographers, however the market is changing and this is where Canon currently have the edge over other manufacturers. If I'm spending this sort of money I really would need it to shoot video, really high quality video. When it comes to DSLR I've always used Nikon only because I was introduced to Nikon rather than Canon, both manufacturers are as good as one another, however when the time comes to trade in my current bodies in the next 18 months I have to seriously consider moving to Canon as I know I'll be getting high quality video.

Abraxas Photography in Bedford

At some point when I have more time and if the opportunity arises I will look more closely at this medium format camera and shoot in depth tests particularly as the body is priced around £6000.00. My need for a medium format camera that isn't the price of a hasselblad is for commercial purposes, studio products and industrial type photography. I do a fair amount of work for the construction and engineering industry so it would need to withstand a lot of handling in difficult, dirty and dusty conditions. I'm not precious with my equipment, they are tools, a means to an end and when you spend this sort of money you would expect these cameras to be sturdy. For me to purchase one of these it has to be seriously good.

I'm not sure how well it could work at a wedding but then it's not really designed for that. One thing I can be pretty certain of is that it's very unlikely any guest would turn up to a wedding or event and have the same camera as I do! 

I have to say it does feel so good to hold a medium format!