“”FUJIKINA 2019 TOKYO” will be held on May 25th-26th 2019!
This event is a must-go for all GFX and X Series users. You will be able to try the latest range of GFX and X Series cameras and lenses. There will be live talks, studio demos and photo galleries showcasing the works of the professional photographers and creators from all over the world. Quick maintenance service and loan programs will be available free of charge (reservation required).
There will also be public shooting of music videos on site. The production team led by Pål Laukli will only use GFX and X Series models to complete the music video and stills. This is a rare opportunity to witness the professional at work!…”
Fujifilm Australia’s Warrewyk Williams arrived at the Touch and Try event at Ted’s World of Imaging in Sydney last night with one of the few, if not the only, Fujifilm GFX 50R medium format rangefinder-style digital cameras along with a selection of G Mount lenses, Fujifilm GFX 50S DSLR-style medium format camera, Fujifilm X-H1, Instax printers and more.
The event provided an opportunity for a brief but informative hands-on with the GFX 50R with the proviso that the camera is a pre-production model with pre-release firmware and so comes with possible quirks and operating speed reductions.
This event was particularly welcome as I have not had the opportunity to touch or try the X-H1, GFX 50S or any of Fujifilm’s Instax products, given the closure of our local top-end camera stores, and I have long been hoping and waiting for a digital version of Fujifilm’s justly loved and celebrated “Texas Leica” 120 roll film analog cameras of the past.
Some “Texas Leica” medium format rangefinder cameras from the analog era, made by Fujifilm, Bronica and Mamiya
Some of the last Fujifilm analog 120 roll film cameras.
The last 120 roll film analog camera to be made by Fujifilm, the Fujifilm GF670 folding rangefinder camera with fixed Fujinon 80mm f/3.5 standard lens. I saw one once at a photography trade show in Sydney alongside its non-folding wide-angle rangefinder sibling.
Fuji GS645 II Professional Wide 60 120 roll-film rangefinder camera with wide-angle lens, great for photojournalism. Photograph courtesy KEH Camera.
Fujica GW690 120 roll film rangefinder camera, image kindly released into the public domain by Jfriedl.
Mamiya 7 II interchangeable lens 120 rollfilm rangefinder camera. Photograph courtesy of Japan Camera Hunter.
Bronica RF645 6×4.5cm 120 roll film rangefinder camera, photograph courtesy of Japan Camera Hunter.
Fujifilm, as well as Bronica and Mamiya, made some remarkable 120 roll film rangefinder cameras with Fujifilm producing a huge variety of “Texas Leicas” in the 6×4.5cm, 6x6cm, 6x7cm, 6x8cm and 6x9cm formats and for all I know may well have produced 6x9cm and 6x12cm cameras too.
I continue to search for top quality photographs of these and other cameras in the hopes of preserving some of the camera-building achievements of the past, some of which may trickle down to the present day.
The Fujifilm GFX 50R has clearly benefited from Fujifilm’s analog innovations, its look and feel reminding me of the company’s larger 120 roll film cameras while also sharing a great deal of the X-Pro2’s own DNA.
Fujifilm GFX 50R Touch and Try
Reeling off a few snapshots with an unfamiliar and pre-production camera is hardly a thorough real-world test but the experience reminded me that documentary photography and portraiture with a medium format camera is a very different thing to making the same sorts of photographs with a small, fast, agile, gestural camera like the X-Pro2 or X-T3.
Making reportage and portraits photographs with the GFX 50R and GFX 50S is more akin to how I used to work handheld with my Hasselblad, Mamiya 7 and even my Crown Graphic 4″x5″ sheet film 4field camera – slower, more deliberate and with fewer shots than I would make on APS-C or Micro Four Thirds cameras.
I tried two lenses, the Fujinon GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR and the Fujinon GF 120mm f/4.0 Macro R LM OIS WR in emulation of the two-lens moderate wide and medium telephoto kits I had for my medium and large format analog cameras.
I learned that, aside from the coming-soon Fujinon GF 50mm f3.5 R LM WR pancake lens, equivalent to about 40mm in the 35mm sensor format, more wide prime lenses are planned for GF mount cameras along with the Fujinon GF 45-100mm f/4.0 R LM OIS WR and Fujinon GF 100-200mm f/5.6 R LM OIS WR zoom lenses currently slated for 2019 and 2020 releases on Fujifilm’s G Mount Lens Roadmap.
The Fujifilm GFX 50R is, for me, a combination rangefinder-style and small field view camera, for use primarily handheld but also on a portable but sturdy tripod such as 3 Legged Thing’s Winston or those made by Really Right Stuff, for making environmental and full-face portrait photographs.
My quick and dirty test shots indicate that it has the image quality of an analog sheet film camera rather than a 120 roll film camera, and I would prefer to use prime lenses with it rather than zooms.
Warrewyk Williams estimates the focal length equivalence factor at 0.79 for Fujifilm’s G Mount lenses, making the 45mm equivalent to 35.55 in 35mm terms and the 120mm equivalent to 94.8 in 35mm terms.
Other lenses worth considering for my sort of portrait photography include the Fujinon GF 110mm f/2.0 R LM WR equivalent to 86.9mm and hopefully a soon-to-come 35mm GF lens equivalent to 28mm.
Not to be discounted is the Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4.0 R LM WR zoom lens which provides at least three useful focal lengths for different forms of portraiture, in 35mm equivalent terms 28mm, 35mm and 50mm, and is available right now rather than waiting for fast prime lenses to come.
A two or three lens kit for the GFX 50R may be all I would need for portraiture should I invest in digital medium format.
While it is too early too come to conclusions about the GFX 50R and its lenses, I have been particularly struck by the superb 3D image rendering in the available light snapshot portrait of Warrewyk Williams above and am very much looking forward to exploring more of the creative possibilities of Fujifilm’s GFX camera and lens system very soon.
Portrait of Warrewyk Williams made by Karin Gottschalk on Fujifilm medium format camera with Fujinon GF 120mm f4.0 R LM OIS WR Macro lens as five autoexposure brackets processed in Skylum Aurora HDR 2019 with film emulation LUT applied and further processing in Skylum Luminar.
Documentary photographs made by Karin Gottschalk on Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens.
Header image of GFX 50R made by Jonas Rask for Fujifilm.
“In this video I try to explain why the Fujifilm X-T2 just didn’t sit with me. I am much happier after switching to the X-Pro2. All of it is of course just personal preference based on how I like my cameras. And the X-T2 is also a great camera, truly fantastic. Its just that with expensive gear like this I get very, very picky. On cheaper cameras I would let it all slide. So if you have the X-T2, I’m not ripping on your camera. I actually like it a lot….”
With the impending release of Skylum’s Aurora HDR 2019, the first version that allows me to quickly and easily obtain the emotion-laden, infromation-rich image renderings I have been visualizing ever since getting back into photography with digital, I have been excited about seriously getting back into portraiture again.
Portrait photography was how I made a living for some time shooting for magazines and newspapers colour supplements, and I loved it with a passion, and I have missed doing it for years.
Working out how to do it in digital in the way I used to in analog is proving to be something of a quandary as that hardware and those processes are no longer available to me and nor should they, given the environmentally unsound nature of photochemical processing and the fact that contemporary cameras are an altogether different proposition.
My favourite analog films no longer exist and never will again, and my favourite analog cameras are long gone, broken down and unrepairable, or stolen.
The task now is for me to bend the digital gear I have now to making something as close to or better yet surpassing how I used to make portraits, and the biggest challenge is in doing that with full-face close-up portraits where little more than one eye is in sharp focus, with either my beloved Fujifilm X-Pro2 or my trusty Panasonic DMC-GX8.
Eye Detection AF automatically detects human eyes: Choose Face Detection to automatically detect human faces, or turn on Eye Detection AF to automatically detect and accurately focus on human eyes for successful portraits with a shallow depth of field. You can also define the area of priority focus, for example right or left eye, or the eye closer to the camera. These functions have been upgraded for improved accuracy to a level that will impress professional photographers. They are particularly effective when shooting with the XF56mmF1.2 R / XF56mmF1.2 R APD or XF90mmF2 R LM WR lenses.
Pinpoint accurate focusing in MF mode on both the X-T2 and X-T3. “The FUJIFILM X-T2 has a variety of functions that assist pinpoint focusing in the MF mode. Set the Focus Mode Lever to MF and rotate the focus ring to access a variety of MF Assist functions. These include Focus Peaking, in which color is used to show the parts of the image that are in focus, and Digital Split Image, where focus is achieved by lining up the split image strips in the center. These features are particularly useful in macro photography and portraiture, which involve a shallow depth of field and require focusing precision.”
Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds sensors with their 4:3 in horizontal or 3:4 in vertical aspect ratios are often better suited to portraiture and the printed page than Fujifilm’s APS-C sensors’ 3:2 and 2:3 aspect ratios when uncropped.
Visualizing within a sensor of the best aspect is always easier, more accurate and more satisfying than shooting with one that is too long in one dimension then cropping later.
Right now though I am leaning towards shooting full-face portraits more with my X-Pro2 than my GX8, mostly because I have the amazing Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens and I have nothing equivalent in my Olympus and Panasonic lens set.
The difficulties with getting pinpoint accurate focus on an eyeball with the 56mm’s aperture almost wide open are casting my thoughts back to trying out the Fujifilm X-T2’s ability to manually focus accurately enough, and really liking it.
If only Fujifilm’s engineers had seen fit to give the X-Pro2 a better, brighter electronic viewfinder that worked in almost the same way as the EVF in the X-T2.
Will the X-Pro3 be improved in that regard, and will it be appearing any time soon?
Or should I be looking at the X-T3, or the X-H1 or better yet the X-H2 that surely must be following along on the heels of the X-T3 sometime next year?
Or might the coming rangefinder-style Fujifilm GFX 50R offer a more viable solution along with bigger file sizes more suitable to large exhibition prints?