Playing with the Fujifilm GFX 50R

Emily at Drink and Click - Austin, Texas

Emily at Drink and Click – Austin, Texas

A month ago, in the December Drink and Click, Fujifilm brought a few of their medium format cameras to play with. There was considerable interest, and I got to shoot one for about 10 minutes. I asked Emily, who I have featured before on this blog, (here, here, and here), to model for me. While the lighting conditions were far from great, the photographs I made with this beefy camera were surprisingly wonderful.

The event was at a brewery in a converted industrial warehouse, as you might be able to tell. Fluorescent lights supplied most of the light, but I also added additional illumination with a hand-held LED light wand. With light wand in one hand and the chunky GFX 50R in the other, I made a few portraits. Attached was the Fujifilm GF45mm f2.8 lens. In full-frame terms, it’s about a 35mm. Since the medium format camera has a sensor larger than full-frame, there is a “reverse” 0.79 crop factor.

The GFX 50R, as the name might imply, has a 50MP sensor (actually 51MP). The detail is astounding. But, perhaps more important for me was the color and tone, which was both rich and understated. Since I didn’t have a RAW converter for this camera, I just shot in JPEG. I did some minor post-processing that responded well, even with the RAW.

Emily's Eye at 100%

Of course, the headline feature is the high-resolution sensor and an equally sharp lens. Here’s a 100% crop of Emily’s left eye. I shot this at ISO 2000, which still looks great. You can see the grain (or noise) with the 100% crop, but it’s very well controlled. Viewed full size on a 27 inch 5K iMac, the noise is barely discernible and totally acceptable.

While this large camera doesn’t have the fastest auto-focusing system, it was more than adequate for making this portrait. Since I’m now familiar with the Fuji cameras, operating the GFX 50R was straight forward — most of the controls mimic the smaller X-system. It was surprisingly easy to create this high-resolution portrait in un-ideal conditions. I was very impressed.

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