While I have read mostly everything out there when it comes to the Fujifilm GFX 50s I wanted to purchase one for myself and form my own opinions. I started my photography life shooting Canon. When I was ready I moved up to a 5dMarkIII. I spent a few years with that camera until I decided to ride the mirrorless wave and I dove head first into a full Sony system. First with a Sony A7II then A6000. Then I went in for the A7RII and A6300. At the time I believed that the A6300 was their best system. The A7RII had some serious short comings and actually led me to jumping ship yet again but only this time I would find myself going with Nikon. In full disclosure I must say I love shooting the Nikon system. I started with a D810 and that camera has been nothing short of amazing. Producing files that have an amazing range to work with. I purchased a D750 for a backup but after a year with that camera it started to feel a bit cheap compared to my D810. I then purchased a preowned D3s which inevitably gave me the urge to grab a D5. The D5 blew me away. During all these systems swaps I owned a beautiful Leica M9P and a Fuji X100T. I also had a Hasselblad H1 paired with a Leaf Aptus 65s which I sold to fund my Phase One DF+ and Phase One P40+ back. Now while my list of cameras above sound like nothing short of bragging and boasting I can assure you its not. I simply want to lay the ground work letting you know that I have extensively shot a number of great systems prior to owning this GFX from Fuji.
Im not going to go over everything that has been said by every camera reviewer on youtube already. What I will say is one of the most enjoyable things about the Nikon system for me is ergonomics and button placement/layout. For me the GFX has that same feel. External top dials are amazing and clickable command dials are an engineering marvel. I still don't know why other manufacturers haven't used this yet. Being able to control F-Stop and ISO on one command dial with a simple click is mind-blowing. The GFX while not a small system does not feel overly big either, even my wife had no issues giving it a spin. With a deep grip and solid build I had no issue at all carrying the system all day long using a Blackrapid Cross Shoulder style Sling. If you want to slim the system down even further then remove the to EVF which gives you a simple live view shooting off the multi angle tilt rear LCD. The GFX has another great feature which is the system allows you to customize basically any button you want. They have really geared this system towards the working professional who knows what they want and where they want it placed because they need to access it on the fly.
I load my GFX up with dual 64gig cards choosing the first slot to capture uncompressed RAW files and slot two creating backup Jpeg files. A 64gig card gives me 535 uncompressed RAW files. Battery life has been decent. Its not going to compare to a D810 or Canon 5D series system. However with that said it smoked the daylights out of my Sony system. I've heard the new A9 is much better but I cannot comment as I have never handled that camera. I carried the GFX around all day in the hot Key West Florida heat shooting the camera often enough and I still had a bar left going into the evening hours.
Shooting the GFX has slowed me down considerably. When you have this system in my hands you have to be aware of what this camera is for and wait it is NOT for. Fast action sports......NO! Although even with the slow frame rate and E-Shutter turned off I was able to capture a few action shots with the Pentax 105mm f/2.4 once prefocus was achieved. Bottom line, don't use it for sports.
Is its a walk around street camera? Well yes and no. I certainly had no issues carrying the camera and the 63mm Fujinon lens around all day. Some users have even adapted the Minolta 45mm f/2 for an even smaller profile. I just received mine the same time of writing this post so I haven't shot with it yet. Others who have say its amazing. While in Key West the GFX was unfortunately subjected to a tropical down pour and got soaking wet. Twenty minutes later the sun was out in full force exposing the system to 95 degree heat which caused major humidity. Even with this condition the GFX function flawlessly without skipping a beat. To sum up, would this be my choice for street work? Absolutely no. I would gravitate towards one of Fuji's smaller systems or even an XT-2 but the GFX can certainly pull it off if needed.
Native Glass vs Adapted Glass
My native glass experience is extremely limited due to the fact that I only own the 63mm lens at this time. My choice when purchasing this lens is
A. Im a huge fan of prime lenses
B. I enjoy the 50mm focal length. I have found the 63mm lens amazingly sharp with solid contrast. The lens will hunt ever so slightly before achieving focus but this is no doubtably partly due to the GFX employing an Contrast Detection AF system only. I did have issues achieving focus in heavily backlight situations but again this is not uncommon for most systems to struggle in this area.
My adapted lens work has been a bit more extensive however. So far out of the lenses I have used for this system the two major lenses that stand out for me have been the Pentax67 105mm f/2.4 lens and the Mamiya 120mm f/4A Macro. I have adapted these lenses with the Kipon Baveyes 0.7x adapters which allow my to use the entire lens not just the center area. In my opinion the Kipon Adapters are among the best machined and engineered adapters found in the market today. The owner Xiaoming Zhang is extremely personably and always quick to reply to questions. He really takes pride in his products.
Most adapted full frame 35mm lenses will exhibit some amount of vignette however this can be minimized either by choosing one of GFX's native cropped images such as 5;4 which still gives you a blistering 48mpix image or you can correct the vignette in post. This is certainly the case with the Canon FD 55mm f/1.2 SSC. Amazing lens and very sharp on the GFX.
When using medium format lenses vignette has all but disappeared unless you again choose a Baveyes adapter which will squeeze the image onto the smaller sensor. A plus for this adapter is your using the entire lens not just the center so this gives you a true focal length plus the real look of the lenses as it was intended to produce. The negative is they can be pricey and they do introduce a small amount of vignette. Each lens is different so asking around can be helpful before spending the cash. The GFX Owners page on Facebook can be an amazing source as there are a ton of knowledgable photographers on there that are more than willing to help you out..
Ive created a link for some RAW Files that can be downloaded for you all to play with.
Please do not post my images as they are my property and for your own evaluation only Thank you.
Below are images I have taken with the Adapted Pentax67 105mm f/2.4 using the Kipon Baveyes adapter. The 105mm gives you roughly an 73mm focal length in 35mm terms. Beautiful subject isolation and fall off.
Mamiya 120mm Macro A f/4. Rich Sharp images and a joy to use. Not bad for a lens that can be had for around $200-300. Also doubles as a nice portrait lens. This lens is perfect for my other business and taking product photos.
Overall the GFX has been an amazing addition to my photography kit. I have always found medium format files unlike anything else. For me the Hasselblad and Phase One kits I've owned before lacked in usability. They were slow and cumbersome. Menu systems that felt like I was using an old Atari gaming system. Once the photograph was taken forget trying to chimp and see if focus was achieved due to the horrendous LCD screen. When compared to Fuji's current offering with the GFX the systems seem worlds apart. While Im sure Phase One's current offerings are amazing I can hardly comment since I will never own one being that the price is approximately that of a nice luxury automobile. I am more then happy with the GFX and all its strong attributes. I feel it will give my clients a look that separates my work from others. The fact that the system is mirrorless just adds to the possibilities available to me when it comes to adapting all sorts of glass which in turn gives me a huge variety of results. I know I haven't even scratched the surface with this blog post as there are so many features the GFX offers. I just felt that after owning the camera for sometime and having experienced other systems within the same format I wanted to type a few lines with some pretty photos. Maybe they will help a few others out that are on the fence.