“Live streaming of “FUJIKINA 2019 TOKYO” hosted by FUJIFILM.”
Today I made a flying visit to L & P Digital Photographic in Artarmon, a suburb in Sydney’s north shore that is home to several movie and photography industry retail, rental and manufacturing companies, the most notable of the latter being Miller Tripods. My mission was to have a very quick look at the Fujifilm GFX 50S and its first three lenses, the Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR, GF 32-64mm f/4.0 R LM WR and the GF 120mm f/4.0 R LM OIS WR Macro.
For the next couple of days a Fujifilm GFX 50S, vertical grip, tilt adapter and the three lenses will be available to see and experience a hands-on with and then, some time after that, a GFX 50S kit will be added to L & P’s rental collection.
L & P also operates a compact rental studio at their Artarmon premises that once housed the studio and darkroom of Max Dupain, the late Australian modernist photographer known for his architectural photography collaborations with Austrian-Australian architect Harry Seidler.
Some Rough and Ready BTS Snapshots
L & P is already taking orders from professionals wishing to purchase or lease Fujifilm’s latest photographic innovation in the form of the GFX 50S.
My aim during the visit was to get a quick impression of the GFX 50S as a hand camera and not a stand camera, and not to create great photographs of the types of subject matter I would place in front of a camera like this. With luck that opportunity will come later and I will do a proper job of it.
I simply stepped outside the door during a brief interval between rain showers, made two shots with the GF 32-64mm f/4.0 R LM WR lens set to f/8.0 and the GFX 50S set to ISO 400 and 1/640th of a second, focussing on the foremost figure at left of frame. I made the first exposure at 32mm and the second at 64mm.
I then processed each raw file in version 3.1.4 of Iridient Developer and applied minimal tone, colour and sharpness corrections after choosing Pro Neg S from Iridient Digital’s free Fujifilm-style film emulations set.
After exporting the largest JPEG file, I uploaded it to my Flickr account as I need to conserve media space in my website hosting account right now. Flickr has applied its own sharpness-reducing compression algorithm so please bear that in mind.
These snapshots are mediocre photographs but the GFX 50S is anything but a mediocre camera. Click the images below to see them large in my Flickr account.
Thoughts and Observations
A quick and dirty first test like this of a newly released camera can only tell one so much. But it satisfied my aims. I wanted to know whether the GFX 50S would meet my needs and be a viable option for renting, leasing or buying sometime in the future, bureaucracies and lawyers permitting. The ‘Untitled’ project self-financing saga is ongoing.
When I got back into photography after an absence enforced by ill health resulting from chronic photochemical allergy and extreme dermatitis, a major concern was whether then current digital technology would offer as much variety in ways of seeing and photographing as the variety that I had come to rely on with analog photography.
My first serious digital camera was a DSLR, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, and it was not an easy fit as I had never been an SLR person. Rather, I had relied on a range of non-SLR rangefinder and technical cameras and these somewhat unconventional, even non-conformist, cameras had helped create my personal photographic vision. Or more properly, visions.
It was only with the arrival of Fujifilm’s Finepix X100 rangefinder-style camera that I began to feel comfortable with digital photography. The Fujifilm X-Pro2 cemented that comfort with a camera that, in many ways, recalls the 120 roll film rangefinder cameras I had so loved.
Likewise Fujifilm’s X-T2 is a reminder of the technical cameras that were so crucial to my development as a photographer just as Panasonic’s Lumix GX8 shares some of the traits of the waist-level Rolleiflex twin lens reflex cameras I adored for their own unconventional way of showing me the world as a square and from down below, via the GX8’s unique tilting EVF.
Now the GFX 50S, with its clear similarity to the X-T2’s shape and usability, offers a combination of features I relied on in my technical cameras and my Rolleiflexes, filtered through Fujifilm’s and Panasonic’s recent digital camera innovations.
The GFX 50S allows you to use it like a small hand or stand-mounted view camera, like an EVF camera, more or less like a DSLR but minus the mirror slap, or like a tilting EVF camera that is in itself the closest simulation we have now of the wonderful TLR cameras once made by Mamiya, Rolleiflex, Yashica and others.
My brief experience with the Fujifilm GFX 50S was enough to tell me this and remove the last concern I had about whether contemporary digital hardware can provide me with enough creative options to build a set of closely related personal photographic styles in the way analog hardware did.
One thing is certain, confirmed by my two snapshots above: the Fujifilm GFX 50S’ resolution and image quality equals that of 4″x5″ sheet film cameras and I suspect that its future GFX 100S descendant will rival the results from 8″x10″ sheet film cameras.
After covering an International Womens’ Day rally in the Sydney CBD, I dropped into digiDIRECT’s city store to take another quick look at the Fujifilm GFX 50S. They had the camera, three lenses, EVF and vertical battery grip and kindly allowed me do some snapshots of one of the staff members, Benny, below.
This photograph was made with the GF 120mm f/4 R LM OIS WR Macro lens and with the Vertical Battery Grip on the camera. I processed the raw file in Iridient Developer then exported it as a TIFF that I opened in Alien Skin Exposure X2 where I applied a Polaroid Type 55 preset and platinum split toning.
I chose f/5.6, AutoISO and aperture-priority, and the GFX 50S set 1/60th second. Although this is not a portrait as such, the experience of making it reminded me of how I loved to make frontal, full-face close-up portraits of artists, chefs, celebrities and businesspeople for the glossy magazines in Polaroid Type 55 positive/negative instant film, split-toning prints made on silver-rich baryta papers.
On considering the Fujinon GF lenses currently available and coming later in the year, I would choose the GF 120mm f/4 R LM OIS WR Macro and the GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR prime lenses as a very workable pair for full-face and environmental portraiture. The 120mm is roughly equivalent to 90mm in 135 aka 35mm format and the 45mm lens is close to 35mm in 135 aka 35mm format.
Although I often lit those editorial portraits with Broncolor flash units with spot grids and barndoors, nowadays I’d be more likely to use continuous light such as my Rotolight Neo three light kit with barndoors to narrow the beam down.
Other LED lights I want to investigate sometime are the Dedolights with variable beams that spread from spot to flood and take a range of light-shaping accessories.
While electronic flash has its advantages in freezing movement, it can be distracting when trying to really narrow down the beam and place the light with a high degree of precision but little time with a portrait subject.
Using continuous light allows you see exactly what the camera is going to see and permits building a closer relationship with your sitter, faster. The GF 120mm f/4 lens’ optical image stabilization means one can handhold the lens in continuous light and obtain enough sharpness, or one can of course place the GFX 50S on a tripod and use it somewhat like a small view camera.
Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.
One of the first things I would advise camera makers do with radical new products is get them into the hands of famous photographers or photographers who work with famous people – credibility by association works. That has now happened with fashion and portrait photographer duo Markus&Koala picking up a Fujifilm GFX 50S for an advertising shoot and loudly singing the camera’s praises.
Markus&Koala have shared a BTS video of the RealRyder advertising shoot at RealRyder’s YouTube.com channel, and said this to the folks at FujiRumors in their recent article Fujifilm GF Lenses “Superlative” Sharpness Results :: It Feels Like You Can Step Into Each Image :: Clearly the New ‘State Of the Art’ for Fashion:
I would say that for me, the GFX is clearly the new ‘state of the art’ camera system (for high-end advertising, fashion and celebrity portraiture type work). I would go as far as saying it is the best camera ever built, and I would expect it to become a ‘game changer’ in the industry. Here are some samples from the RealRyder campaign that you are welcome to share.
Markus Klinko, famous for photographing David Bowie over the years and half of the Markus&Koala team “is an award-winning, international fashion/celebrity photographer and director, who has worked with many of today’s most iconic stars of film, music, and fashion.”
Markus&Koala have kindly shared some photographs from the campaign shoot at their dropbox account, three of which are below.
Thank you to FujiRumors for bringing this development to my attention and for granting permission to re-publish this story in my own way.
- Fujifilm X – GFX: The Game Has Changed. Medium Format Reinvented.
- FujiRumors – Fujifilm GF Lenses “Superlative” Sharpness Results :: It Feels Like You Can Step Into Each Image :: Clearly the New ‘State Of the Art’ for Fashion
- Karen Hutton – Fujifilm’s GFX 50 s: Yes! Worth the 35 Year Wait
- PetaPixel – This is How Fuji’s New Medium Format Sensor Size Stacks Up
- RealRyder TV – Markus&Koala Team Up with RealRyder® International
Header image concept and production by Carmel D. Morris.
Fujifilm’s GFX 50S medium format digital camera is more revolutionary than the most commonly shared images of it suggest. That is the first thought I had when I began exploring then downloading the product shots at Fujifilm UK’s image bank and I think it is only going to really sink in when more photographers than just the few manage to try one out.
The press images hinting at the GFX 50S being more than meets the eye prompted me to download them all and publish them here, below. Specifications lists like the one further down the page are well and good, but seeing is where we will understand the real nature of this camera and its accessories.
The most obvious way of looking at the GFX 50S is as a larger version of the Fujifilm X-T2, but with a medium format sensor instead of an APS-C one. And in a way, that is correct. The GFX 50S has the external form factor of a DSLR except for the fact that we know the GFX 50S – with S, we assume, standing for SLR-like –is most certainly a mirrorless camera with all that implies about its lack of mirror slap and its ability to use an electronic or a mechanical shutter.
But then dig a little deeper.
That pentaprism-like electronic viewfinder (EVF) unit is removable and yet, without it, the GFX 50S remains perfectly functional but as something more resembling a small view camera. Instead of a ground glass, it has a high resolution rear LCD screen.
So does the X-Pro and X-T2, like a slew of other excellent contemporary mirrorless and, for that matter, DSLR, cameras, all providing a live view that is perfectly adequate for using to compose, focus and create your photographs.
Contemporary mirrorless devices push digital cameras beyond the limitations of analog cameras in ways that mean I for one can never go back.
Fujifilm’s X-Pro2, for example, might be considered three cameras in one, in analog terms. In one way it is a small view camera not unlike the 120 roll film Linhof Technika 70, one of two Linhof Technika cameras with which I learned professional photography, the other being a Linhof Super Technika 4″x5″ sheet film camera with optional roll film magazines and a case full of accessories.
Although purchasing my own Linhof was beyond reach, the lessons learned on those two amazing cameras have stayed with me for life. They intimately shaped my portrait photography style.
Even when I used other view cameras, usually field cameras, for my work as a magazine portrait photographer, I often did so with a Linhof variable format 120 roll film magazine for more shots, faster operating speed and the choice of shooting square, rectangular or panoramic aspect ratios.
While I often find myself using the monitor of my X-Pro2 and other digital cameras as if a small view camera’s ground glass, there is no substitute for the real thing. It is all about the experience on both sides of the camera.
For me, a contemplative experience of care and precision. For my subject, an experience of respect, sometimes awe, and oftentimes an hypnotic fascination with this remarkable high precision machine into whose eye I was asking them to gaze, unflinchingly.
Then consider the images of the tilting EVF along with the images of the tilting monitor, both so reminiscent of the town lens reflex cameras that provided me with lessons in another way of seeing and photographing.
Although I learned that on an art school Mamiyaflex C330 TLR with interchangeable lenses, I chose Rolleiflex T and Rolleiflex 2.8G cameras for my professional use, for urban documentary and portraiture. All three left me with an appreciation of square format, 1:1 aspect ratio, for those times when I wanted to draw my viewers’ attention in so clearly it was like an arrow into the centre of a bullseye.
All my cameras were secondhand until I discovered 120 roll film rangefinder cameras and 120 roll film DSLRs. I won’t bore you with a list save to say that it was with the rangefinder cameras where I most felt at home due to having discovered Leica M-Series rangefinder cameras as a teenaged press photographer way out in the sticks working it all out for myself.
Rangefinder cameras have a special place in my heart to this day for their immersive window into the world, their sense of deep space and spatial relationships across the frame as well as forward and backwards.
After the demands of commercial work caused me to invest in 120 roll film DSLRs, while conceiving the magazine I later went on to cofound, I discovered Fujifilm’s GX680 Professional series, a remarkable creation combining the best of view cameras with the best of DSLRs, but one which regrettably, I never got to try out.
Another range of Fujifilm analog cameras that I was luckier with were its 120 rangefinder cameras that now live on in my hands in ghostly form as the X-Pro2.
When the late, great photojournalist-turned-landscape photographer Michael Reichmann favourably compared the Canon EOS D30 DSLR’s sensor to Fujifilm Provia 100F film, it was clear that digital photography had attained the ability to match the look of analog.
Fujifilm’s X-Pro 2, X-T2 and the coming X100F with their 24 MP sensors produce image quality far above that of 35mm film, rivalling if not surpassing that of low ISO 120 format film. We have so much to be grateful for.
There is just one thing I am a little peeved about, though, and that is that we have lost the wide variety of cameras we had during the analog era.
We now have remarkable image quality to the degree that images made on medium format DSLRs can surpass the resolution of 8″x10″ sheet film as Mr Reichmann demonstrated in another of his famous reviews.
But what all this testing, side-by-side comparisons, digital up against analog and so on fail to do is consider the experience of the cameras and lenses in question, on both sides of the sensor, and what that contributes to the images we make with them.
Image quality is crucial of course, and I say that as someone who commissioned photographs for 48-sheet posters during my advertising agency days and who now is contemplating a possible return to the art gallery wall.
For me most of all the experience of the photographer and the subject is what reigns supreme and always will.
- OrphanCameras.com/Butkus.us – Camera Manual Library 1997 – 2016
More GFX Challenges videos were released to go with the January 2017 announcement of the Fujifilm GFX 50S.
- FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Bernd Ritschel / FUJIFILM
- FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Claire Rosen / FUJIFILM
- FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Jan Gonzales pt.2 / FUJIFILM
- FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Jonas Dyhr Rask/ FUJIFILM
- FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Knut Koivisto / FUJIFILM
- FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Lito Sy / FUJIFILM
- FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Sangsun Ogh / FUJIFILM
- FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Seiichi Nakmura (中村成一) / FUJIFILM
- FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Shiro Hagihara (萩原史郎) / FUJIFILM
- FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Supalerk Narubetkraisee / FUJIFILM
- FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Victoria Wright/ FUJIFILM
- FUJIFILMglobal – GFX challenges with Wayne Johns / FUJIFILM
- FUJIFILMglobal – FUJIFILM GFX 50S Promotional Video / FUJIFILM
- Oliver Wehrli – Fujifilm GFX Challenge with Oliver Wehrli – Schweiz
Header image by Carmel D. Morris.