Why I Upgraded to the Fujifilm GFX 50S II

Wall of Towers - Austin, Texas

Wall of Towers – Austin, Texas

I’ve featured photos from the Fujifilm GFX 50S II for the last several posts. Today, I explain why I upgraded from my previous Fujifilm GFX 50R. They both use the same sensor, so the image quality is identical. However, there are features and benefits to the new model that, when added together, made for a worthwhile improvement.

The Fujifilm GFX 50S II is the newest Fuji camera announced in September 2021. I casually played with it in December during Precision Camera’s Winter Expo, not expecting to buy it. The calculus changed, however, when I factored in multiple considerations. Plus, I got a slight discount, and the trade-in value of the GFX 50R was better than expected. I jumped on the 50S II and have been thrilled with the upgrade.

Number one on my list is in-body image stabilization. Fuji’s previous stabilizing attempts have been okay. But have lagged behind Olympus. I was surprised the GFX’s stabilization was quite capable, especially when factoring in the size of the sensor. I’m told a larger sensor is more challenging to stabilize. The smaller micro 4/3 sensors allowed Olympus to do remarkable things like 2 seconds or longer hand-held exposures. Testing at Precision Camera, I managed a 1-second sharp picture. Though this was an outlier. I can easily and consistently create 1/5 of second exposures. That’s roughly in line with what I got on the older Olympus PEN-F. In fact, today’s photo and the last several were all at 1/5 of a second, hand-held. As I explained in this post. I bought an EF lens adapter for Canon image-stabilized lenses on the GFX 50R. That didn’t work as well as I had hoped. The GFX 50S II completely fixed this issue.

I also wanted faster focusing. The GFX 50R was pokey. Perfectly adequate for architecture and possibly for street photography. It was really pushing it for portraiture. I was eyeing a future purchase of the Fuji GFX 100S, which featured faster phase-detect focusing. However, the $6000 camera was years away. I noticed improved focusing with the GFX 50S II. Not as quick as the 100S, of course. But noticeably faster than my original 50R model. While the GFX 50S II still uses only contrast-detect focusing. The fast processor and new algorithms have improved focusing speed. It has made portrait shooting more enjoyable and accurate.

There are numerous ergonomic and build-quality improvements over the GFX 50R, with GFX 50S II using the same body as the GFX 100S. I prefer the physical exposure compensation and shutter speed dials of the older 50R. However, the change in form factor, the UBS-C charging, and other niceties are a net positive.

Finally, Fuji had a special bundling deal where I could get the GF35mm-70mm zoom lens for $500. That was half off the list price. When factoring in the lens deal, my trade-in value, and the discount. I paid an acceptable additional charge to get into the GFX 50S II. After 5 months of solid use, the upgrade was totally worth it.

How about the GFX 100S? I can imagine someday getting the higher-resolution model. Maybe used at a significant discount. But not for a while. 51MP is more than enough for me, and 102MP is overkill for many of my photos. However, as scary as this sounds. I’ve gotten used to 51MP and no longer find it as impressive as I once thought. That’s how these things go. You ratchet up the capabilities, and it becomes the new baseline. 102MP no longer sounds as outrageous as it once did.

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4 thoughts on “Why I Upgraded to the Fujifilm GFX 50S II

  1. Very satisfying depth and detail. If you hadn’t explained these as handheld rather than on a tripod I never would have guessed.

  2. I was wondering if you were still using the 50R body, and now you have updated the story. You certainly had a better experience with the 50R than I did. I hope you continue to grow into the system and it supports your vision. Though, I have to agree with you, once you get used to using ~50MP (I traded the 50R for a Leica SL2) going back to 20MP is a noticeable change. Even if handling a M43 body is easier than a larger camera.


    1. Thank you for your comment and encouragement, PaulB. I don’t know if anyone truly appreciates it. However, I’m having fun.

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