Introduction and Q&A with a photographer who actually shot with the camera.
Fujifilm has just announced its fourth medium format camera, the GFX100S, a smaller, yet still powerful sibling of the flagship GFX100 and the GFX50S. Even though it houses the same 102MP, back-illuminated medium format CMOS sensor as the GFX100, its physique is more reminiscent of the GFX50S. In order to distinguish the brand new GFX100S from the rest of the line-up, Fujifilm decided to take some design cues from both the GFX100 and the GFX 50S and create a new product.
The price of a camera is usually mentioned at the end of reviews. We will break with this custom as, we believe, it is the most compelling aspect of this new release. There is no question that the medium format camera with the latest, medium format 102MP CMOS sensor, the IBIS system and fast autofocus in a relatively small package priced at US$5,999 is a ground-breaking proposition – to say the least. This is a clear shot at the high-end full-frame offerings from Nikon, Canon or even Sony (although the latter has its own high-profile release with the Alpha 1).
We suspect that one of the most fervently discussed changes implemented in this camera will be Fujifilm’s decision to abandon their hallmark physical controls or knobs and turn to a typical, SLR-like, PASM dial solution. Whether this decision was made to avoid upsetting new owners of the GFX100 or to appeal to an anticipated wave of new buyers coming from the full-frame world, is anyone’s call. We are confident this decision alone will turn the heat up on gear discussion forums following the announcement.
Another distinguishing feature of the GFX100S is its fixed EVF with the same resolution as the older GFX50S (no ability to attach a swivel EVF) and the lack of a battery grip, as is the case with the GFX100. And the battery itself is different from those used in the rest of the GFX lineup, which is not an ideal solution for those who own several GFX cameras.
Other than housing the 102MP CMOS sensor, the implementation of “a newly developed shutter and In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) system” are hugely important developments. Fujifilm claims that their five-axis IBIS is “now working in conjunction with GF Lens Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) to provide up to 6 stops of correction.” This is especially important to those who like to shoot from the hand, allowing the medium format camera to act like much smaller-sensor counterparts.
Although technical considerations are important, there is no substitute for hands-on impressions from someone who has actually used the camera. Therefore, the Medium Format Magazine partnered with Capture Integration, one of the largest and most respected dealers in the US of medium format gear, to bring you their impressions and thoughts about the GFX100S. We asked Dave Gallagher of Capture Integration a few questions about his experience with the GFX100S.
How do you find the size of the GFX 100S compared with the GFX 50S and the GFX 100?
Any photographers’ answers will come with a bias, so as I start to answer the questions, I think it is important to understand who I am as a photographer. I primarily shoot two dramatically different camera systems. The Phase One IQ4 150 for landscape and architecture, and the Leica M10R for travel and portraiture. Although all the Fujifilm bodies are always available to me, I seldom choose any of them for my primary shooting.
Importantly, why do I shoot these and not the FujiFilm products? I choose the Leica when weight and size is my concern. My primary lens is the Noctilux for speed and bokeh. That is my travel/everyday combination. When I want more resolution, I choose the IQ4 150 on my Cambo 1600. Weight isn’t my primary concern in those conditions, quality is. So I will always choose the highest quality capture available.
Why take the time to state that first, as we are answering questions about the Fujifilm announcement? Because up to now, the product line didn’t suit my personality. However, with the introduction of the GFX100S, I now have a smaller and lighter body (1.98lb vs. 3.08lb). Fujifilm also announced the fastest medium format lens ever created, the Fujinon GF 80mm f/1.7. This kit just might replace my “everyday” travel camera.
How did it feel? The weight and balance felt exactly like the 50S.
How did you like the IBIS system?
We had the new body and lens in our studio for 6 hours before we had to pack it up and send it back to HQ. Since the 6 stop IBIS is one of the top features of the GFX 100, we put them side by side to test them. What did we find? Our testing failed to show an IBIS quality difference in the half stop extra control in the new body. After about 45 minutes of testing the IBIS only, we gave up and moved on. So while I state that we “failed” to find a difference, to me that is also a successful test in that we showed the new lower price body is at least equal to its larger more expensive predecessor.
Do you like the PSAM dial? Did you find it limiting?
I am an old school manual shooter. My favourite cameras are the Hasse V and the Leica M, so give me as many manual dials as you can. The aspects that I love about Fujifilm cameras are the manual apertures on the lenses, the manual dials, and the simulated dials of the secondary LCD.
How about the lack of a D-Pad? Did you find the joystick enough?
For those FujiFilm users who rely on the D-Pad I understand why they will miss it. However, all the new bodies have eliminated this feature and I don’t see it coming back. Yes, the D-Pad has more functionality. But the tactile feel of the new joystick was something I could get used to. Which is better? I will let the seasoned user decide.
How does the camera feel with the larger lenses? Is it well balanced?
The body feels great and is very well balanced with the normal lenses up to 110mm. How does it feel with the two longer zooms and the 250mm? Well, not as balanced as its 100mp big brother. And if you are a long lens shooter, this could be one reason that Fujifilm has decided to keep both 100mp bodies in their line-up.
Did you miss the battery pack?
Do I miss the weight? No. Do I ever need to shoot 800 images without stopping? Not in my shooting style. But again, there is a reason both bodies are going to stay in production. For those who have a heavy trigger finger, the GFX100 might be the better choice.
What’s the battery life?
We did not have time to drain the new NP-W235 battery for a true comparison. What we noticed was the smaller footprint and design. It looks like a smaller Canon 5D battery. What we can tell from other testing is that it yields about 10% more life that the current NP-T125.
Is the image quality identical to the GFX 100 since it got the same sensor?
We conducted multiple side by side tests. Were we able to find a difference? Yes, were able to see about a half stop advantage in noise quality with the current GFX 100. However, in order to get there we exposed both scenes at 800 ISO and we pulled the shadows 7 stops. It wasn’t unit this much pulling and tweaking of the files that we were able to see a quality difference in any of our tests. So did we find a difference? Yes. But nothing at any reasonable shooting scenario or ISO. And if you need to recover shadow detail due to an underexposure of 7 stops then there are bigger issues than the camera you are shooting… 🙂
How about the EVF? What’s the resolution?
GFX 100 EVF = 5.7M Dots
GFX 100S EVF = 3.69M Dots
Is there a difference in quality? Yes.
If money is not the issue, what do you think is the key advantage of the GFX 100 over the GFX 100S? Would you recommend one over the other to a certain type of photographer? How would you approach this decision?
Here are the key advantages of the larger, more expensive GFX 100 body:
Longer shooting times without needing to change batteries
Removable EVF for waist-level shooting
Higher quality EVF resolution
Better balance of longer lenses
Advantages of the new GFX 100S:
$4,000 less expensive
And almost all the features of the larger, more expensive camera, including the same 102MP sensor
I ask a lot of questions before I recommend a camera to any of my clients. Sometimes, they wonder why I ask so many. But I have to understand their shooting style and needs before I can give them advice.
One thing that surprised you about this camera.
How damn good it was. I was shocked that with all our testing we struggled to find a quality difference between the files of both systems. I am shocked that Fujifilm added the IBIS to the new smaller body. And that they priced it under $6,000. If you ask me, it should have been thousands more expensive. Sony announced a new camera yesterday and while it does have some nice features, this new GFX 100S has twice the resolution, a larger medium format sensor, better dynamic range, and is $500 less expensive. There isn’t a comparison between the two. Fujifilm knocked this out of the park.
This is a game changer under US$6,000.
GFX100S + GF80mm F1.7
GFX100S + GF80mm F1.7
GFX100S + GF80mm F1.7
If you are planning to upgrade or purchase the GFX100S, please consider pre-ordering with our exclusive partner, Capture Integration – the most respected distributor of medium and large format gear in the world who specializes in and supports companies such as Fujifilm, Phase One, Hasselblad, Leica, ALPA, Cambo, and Arca Swiss. When you contact Dave, or members of his dedicated team, you immediately appreciate their expertise, no nonsense approach, and dedication to the marketplace. You will get the same price as everywhere else but by placing a pre-order here, you are supporting the Medium Format Magazine.
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