Gear

Fujifilm Reach For the Stars With 51.4MP Mirrorless Medium Format GFX 50S

Throughout day zero at Photokina, one question loomed over the convention…

Would Fujifilm actually, audaciously, skip full-frame and go for a digital, mirrorless medium format system?

Personally, I’ll admit I highly doubted it. For weeks our office has been awash with rumours that we debated the veracity of, and out of all of those crazy stories, the one I doubted the most was this one.

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After all, Fujifilm had just only released the X-Pro 2 and X-T2 in 2016 – surely they wouldn’t have the resources to develop a mirrorless medium format camera.

But I was totally wrong, and now Fujifilm have the GFX 50S and a new line of lenses on their G-mount. The 43.8 x 32.9 sensor is 1.7x larger than 35mm and is fully customised and designed by Fujifilm. Files will emerge from the camera at 8256 x 6192 – large enough for almost all commercial assignments and just sheer excessiveness for enthusiasts.

We include the amateur market in this article because similarly to the Hasselblad X1D, the GFX 50S is targeted also at anyone who feels like US$10,000 is a reasonable price to pay for a camera.

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That’s not to say that the GFX 50S will cost US$10,000. In fact, even though the price hasn’t yet been finalised, Fujifilm are promising that both the body and kit will be available for less than that – and surely Fujifilm will try to beat Hasselblad’s current price of US$8995 for the X1D, body only.

The GFX 50S is a glorious looking camera with glorious specs. It can shoot as fast as 1/4000th of a second with its focal planar shutter, and the design combines the best of the XT-2’s intuitive dial placement with the power of the world’s most pixel-packed tools.

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Going mirrorless has a lot of advantages for medium format cameras, and Fujifilm acknowledge that size is of course one of the main reasons why they went for this design. However they also insisted that image quality was paramount in their thinking, since now they could remove mirror shock.

In terms of size, the whole kit is just a little larger than the XT-2, which is remarkable. In old medium format cameras, the flange focal distance was 70mm; with the GFX 50S, it’s only 26.7mm.

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That means the new G-mount lenses will be both compact, even though Fujifilm is claiming that the lenses will “last for decades…and cover 100MP.” So far six G-mount lenses have been announced: the GF63mm f/2.8 WR, the GF32-64mm f/4 R LM WR, the GF 120mm f/4 Macro, GF23mm f/4 R LM WR, GF110mm f/2 R LM WR, and GF45mm f/2.8 R WR.

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The 63mm and 32-64mm will be available upon launch, with the 120mm f/4 Macro soon to follow. The 23mm and 110mm will be for sale in mid 2017, while the 45mm should finish up the year provided there are no delays. This seems like an incredibly ambitious plan, but follows the pattern of primes that hit the market when the X-mount launched. It’s also worth noting that almost all these lenses are weather resistant, meaning GFX 50S users will have a real kit to bring outdoors.

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All of this is impressive, but when Fujifilm revealed that there’s an optional EVF that can rotate horizontal, vertical, and sideways, the whole room cheered. It sounds cheesy, but cameras like this and the X1D are capturing the attentions of photographers all around the world. It’s a new dawn – and medium format may soon come to the masses.

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The GFX 50S will be available early next year, and the viewfinder will come bundled along with the kit.

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