“You don’t need it, but the GFX 100 takes the best pictures from all the cameras we’ve tested.”
Excellent 102MP pictures
5-axis image stabilization
Much improved auto focus
Dual grip design with two batteries
Slow autofocus in low light conditions
Large sensor offers marginal advantages
I have never used a camera like the Fujifilm GFX 100. This mirrorless medium format camera with 102 megapixels worth $ 10,000 is out of my league (and my budget). His massive RAW files crashed my poor iMac. I first came across Adobe Photoshop’s 2 gigabyte PSD file size limit. My back ached after I carried him and a couple of lenses through an airport.
This is not a camera that I can recommend to anyone except the few high-end photographers who already know they want it. For most, it doesn’t make sense to spend thousands more on making a small improvement over the best full-frame cameras.
And yet I tried to develop a scheme to quickly collect 10 giants. I love this thing. It takes the best pictures from every camera I’ve used, and it offers a friendly user experience that’s unusual in medium format. It is a dream camera. But like any good dream, you have to wake up at some point.
Developed for professionals
The GFX 100 comes with a new design that takes on its role as a professional tool. It has a vertical handle and a second trigger for portrait photography and now contains two batteries for double juice. That’s about 800 to 900 shots with normal use.
The camera is large, but at least in landscape format it is pleasant to hold. The vertical handle isn’t as ergonomic as the primary one, but it’s still an improvement over no handle. It feels solid in the hand and creates trust.
Daven Mathies / Digital Trends
I also appreciate that you can see your exposure settings at a glance thanks to three different screens, including a permanently turned on electronic ink display on top of the camera. On the back is the usual LCD, which is inclined up, down or right for vertical shots. Below is an illuminated field that shows exposure settings, film simulation and white balance. This way, you can turn off screen overlays without losing sight of important information.
Despite an integrated handle and a larger size, the control layout appears rationalized and simplified. The special shutter speeds and ISO dials have been replaced by standard dials for the front and rear. Some controls are duplicated for vertical alignment, including the command dial and auto focus picker, but the camera still looks sparse.
The electronic viewfinder has 5.7 million pixels and, like the EVF of the GFX 50S, is removable. Removing the viewfinder doesn’t make such a large camera compact, but it can help it fit into a smaller area of your camera bag. While there is a hot shoe on the EVF, there is also one on which it is connected to the camera housing. This allowed me to attach my flash directly to my body without needing the EVF.
Daven Mathies / Digital Trends
The EVF is also compatible with the $ 550 Fujifilm 90 degree tilt adapter introduced with the GFX 50S. You’d think this functionality could have been built in given the starting price of $ 10,000. Well.
Two SD card slots support UHS-II high-speed media, and you can fit approximately 1,200 RAW images on a 128 GB card. However, newer storage formats such as CFexpress are not supported. This is good news in terms of storage costs and availability. SD cards are cheap and can be found anywhere, but photographers looking to pair this high-resolution camera with the fastest possible storage are out of luck.
Get more out of medium format
It’s not just the resolution or dynamic range that makes the GFX 100 so attractive. It’s surprisingly easy to use compared to previous medium format cameras. This is still a methodical machine, but thanks to a new autofocus system and capable five-axis image stabilization, it is much more versatile.
Medium format cameras traditionally live on high-performance tripods for use in controlled situations. This is due in part to its size, but a stable platform was required to get sharp results.
That changes with the GFX 100. The sensor shift stabilization helps to make optimal use of the 102 megapixels even when taking pictures by hand. This is not an Olympus OM-D E-M1X, where you can record shutter speeds measured in seconds and still achieve fuzzy results. However, you can use “reasonable” speeds and run away with sticky, ultra-high results. High resolution images.
Fujifilm advertises 5.5 stops of shake reduction. In practice, the limit with the 63 mm f / 2.8 lens was around 1/60 second. Your experience of course depends on your equipment and settings.
Hand recording is supported by the new phase detection autofocus system, which covers the entire sensor. You can position the focus point where you need it, and the focus is locked much faster than with the GFX 50S. Face and eye detection is available and works well in the right situations. It was effective when a single subject was shot. However, due to events with people hanging around, the camera didn’t know which face to focus on, so standard single-point AF was easier.
I did a wedding and gallery reception as part of this review, tasks that would have been difficult, if not impossible, with the older GFX 50S. With good lighting, the focus is fast enough to keep up with mirrorless full-frame cameras and DSLRs, although this is the case in darker situations. The double batteries offer security for event recordings, where you do not always know when you have the opportunity to replace or charge batteries.
It wasn’t long ago that medium format sensors were great for resolution, but terrible for high ISO noise. That is no longer the case. With the switch to CMOS sensors, starting with the 50MP unit in the Pentax 645Z (later used in the Fujifilm GFX 50S and 50R as well as in the Hasselblad X1D-50C and X1D II 50C), the high ISO performance was caught up and even exceeded . The GFX 100 continues this trend and its pictures are some of the cleanest I’ve ever seen.
Even after significant exposure corrections in the post, RAW files maintained their integrity and only started to collapse after extreme changes. There is nothing here that goes beyond the best full-frame sensors, but the differences are at least noticeable.
This is also a surprisingly powerful video camera, although I won’t call it “good for video” anymore. It contains both headphone and microphone jacks and records 4K videos with optional 10-bit F-Log and HLG recording, similar to the Fujifilm X-T3. In contrast to the X-T3, however, interlace and pixel binning are used to reduce the 102 megapixels to around eight, which are required for 4K, which means a reduction in quality. It also suffers from roller shutters.
There is a possibility that nobody in the market for a 100 megapixel medium format camera will buy it due to its video specifications. If you need to record video, this camera can do it, but it lacks the best video cameras.
The editing experience
With such a camera, the photo experience doesn’t end with the click of the shutter button. The image quality outside the camera is pretty good – with great JPEGs if you want them – but the real promise of this sensor is the flexibility it offers you with the RAW files in the post.
With a resolution of over 100 megapixels, local changes can be more accurate. During a portrait shoot with Halloween motifs with a friend of mine, I had to clone, mask, evade and burn a lot. Starting at 102 MP makes it easier to get clean results at smaller resolutions. I could even be a bit sloppy and still have details that looked clear when resizing the web. I’m by no means a Photoshop guru, but I can say that this is an incredible camera for post-heavy workflows.
Straight from the camera
Edited in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
The downside is massive file sizes. When shooting compressed 14-bit RAW, each image was about 90 megabytes (the camera offers optional 16-bit files, but there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable difference). After the conversion and opening in Photoshop, this file size is displayed. After some adjustments and effects, I came across the 2 gigabyte limit for PSD files, of which I had no idea until then.
This took a toll on my 7-year-old iMac, released the same year as the 36MP Nikon D800 (its resolution seemed crazy at the time). Times are changing. Operations in Lightroom that would normally take a moment now took a few seconds. Occasionally, the MacOS “Spinning Beachball of Death” persisted for over a minute after using the healing brush. Due to a badly advised demolition, I lost 2 hours of work. It was painful.
You can expect someone who can afford a $ 10,000 camera to buy a newer computer, but be warned. You need modern hardware.
This is a difficult product to check. You may have pre-ordered the GFX 100 and are looking for confirmation that you’ve made the right choice … or you can’t afford this camera, but like me, you’re a photo nerd and want to know what it’s all about.
If you’re somehow in the middle and trying to choose between a $ 3,000 full-frame camera and this $ 10,000 beast, follow my advice. Don’t spend the money. Opt for the full-screen mode and the accessories you need. Let yourself fall into the APS-C format with the Fujifilm X-T3. There is no practical reason to spend so much more money on a small increase in dynamic range and a small increase in resolution. If you need it, you already know you need it. If you are not sure, do not.
And yet I have to admit. This camera is awesome. I love almost everything about it, from the way I feel like a hardcore professional to the thoughtfulness it creates in the photographic process. I like the attention of curious viewers who don’t know what it is, but know it is special. There is no comparable camera.
Is there a better alternative?
For most photographers, a full-frame camera is still the way to go. Even for professionals, the Sony A7R IV with its 61MP sensor offers the GFX resolution for just $ 3,500. Even the $ 2,500 Panasonic Lumix S1 can reach 96 MP in a special high-resolution mode.
I think of the Hasselblad X1D II among the alternatives of the same format. It has half the resolution and no autofocus with phase detection and no stabilization of the sensor shift, but is smaller, lighter and a little over half the cost of the GFX.
How long it will take?
If you can overcome slow auto focus in low light conditions, this is one of the most future-oriented and future-proof cameras on the market. It’s incredibly well made, weatherproof, and feels like it could survive the war, let alone the hardships of a professional photo environment. It should take many years.
Should you buy it
No, but not because it’s not great. This is a great camera, although it was built for an extremely niche group.