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
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.