Following the successful 2018 Photokina, there is no question that Fujifilm is not holding anything back in the medium format market. With three major medium format cameras: GFX50S, the most recent GFX50R and the upcoming GFX100, the company is quickly becoming a big player in the segment. This decisive move is especially compelling, as most other major brands have decided to pursue the full frame market.

We wanted to find out more about the thinking behind this interesting move, the development of the G-sensor cameras, and get to know Billy – one of the most recognizable faces of Fujifilm.

Below please find an excerpt from an exclusive interview for the first issue of the Medium Format Magazine.

Is there a separate team at Fujifilm working on medium format versus the standard X series when it comes to design technology and things like that? Are these two separate teams or are you together on both systems?

The development of each new product is always led by a senior marketing product planning person and each has a role in the development of that product and line-up. Let’s say we would have someone assigned to the X100 series and we might have a different product planner assigned to the GFX system. Although the teams work together, the overseeing is generally done by one product planner. As the product becomes more important or/and has more technical challenges, the more senior product planner is assigned to the project. But in general a senior manager oversees the line-up both for the X series and GFX.

It appears that the original GFX was aimed at commercial, fashion and landscape photographers. Were you surprised that so many serious amateurs bought the system? And what was the biggest surprise for Fujifilm in terms of the adoption of this camera?

When we developed the GFX50S we started with a small group of professional photographers around the world that specialize in this format. We worked with fashion, portrait, landscape, street and studio photographers. The goal of the GFX50S was to develop a system that appealed to a wider audience. Medium format in the past was very niche and expensive but we wanted the system to be used by everyone, so we developed the GFX50S to be more a system-style camera. We wanted to attract not just the traditional medium format users but customers who were completely happy with the DSLR but wanted better image quality, so we developed the GFX50S to be expandable. If you wanted lightweight, you could remove the electronic viewfinder included with the camera. If you wanted to shoot in the studio we offered a tilt adaptor for the GFX50S that allowed you shoot in the traditional way. And we ensured the camera was weather resistant so you could take it out of the studio and shoot in situations where medium format may not have been thought possible. 

We understood who we were appealing to and knew that the biggest growth would be someone coming from DSLR who wanted to improve the quality whether it’s a good dynamic range for landscape or greater resolution and image quality for architectural work. So it was important that the system would appeal to a wide audience.

The GFX50R was designed for something different. We knew the mirrorless medium format was still very important to maximize handling while ensuring that the system was as lightweight as possible and that it was still weather resistant. The GFX50R was targeted to serious photographers as well as enthusiasts who wanted to have the best image quality.

To read the full interview please refer to the October issue of the Medium Format Magazine. You can become a member here.