This was a post that I never intended to make but it happened anyway. It started when one of my Sons discovered an odd ball camera where he works and brought it home for the weekend for him and me to play with. Because the place he works makes extensive use of photography, this particular camera was obviously or as an educated guess, acquired for evaluation at some stage and then forgotten about.
The camera is the Fuji GFXsII a 50mpx ‘medium format camera and alongside it in the picture above you can see my Canon 5DS which is also a 50mpx camera but full frame.
I must admit a sneaking admiration for some of the regular camera reviewers I see on YouTube. They get hold of a new camera and seem to immediately get down to scripting and filming a review with firmly held opinions on this or that, oh sure I do know that they will have had advanced knowledge of new kit before. I couldn’t do that because I need to play with it for a time, get to understand it and test it out on the type of photography I do. I got hold of my 5DS about 5 years ago now and it took me about 2 months to fit it in to my ‘workflow’ (for want of a better description).
It therefore follows that a couple of days would get me nowhere so I deliberately restricted myself to two things, how it handles and a quick look at the results from shooting the same subject with both cameras to see if there was a noticeable quality difference between the output due to the larger image sensor on the Fuji. It is worth mentioning that through ‘pixel shifting’, the Fuji mounted on a tripod could generate up to about 200mpx on a single image but I had no time to delve into that. So in all fairness my comments should be seen in that light, first impressions rather than an attempt at a proper revue.
The first and most obvious thing about the Fuji GFXsII is that it is no ‘action camera’, both the body and the lenses are large and very heavy by today’s standards, you need to mount this on a tripod by default. If dragging this thing around for landscape shooting for which it should be ideal, hire a porter to carry the kit for you because it is chunky. It will shoot video up to 30fps but in all honesty I’m not sure why you would want to… Ergonomically I am not a fan and the control/function layout is certainly not intuitive.
The thing that disappointed me most though was when it comes to the image quality. In theory because the GFX has a sensor that measures 44x33mm compared to the 36x24mm of the 5DS so despite the cameras having similar resolutions of 50mpx, the pixels on the GFX should be bigger and there should be an uplift of some kind from that but there didn’t seem to be.
Now in fairness and in common with most modern cameras which are evermore ‘tricksy dixie’ at every iteration, time spent tuning the GFX setup may well produce better results than the ones I got. However and all that said, the camera did not excite me and frankly I would find it a chore to go through all that because it really isn’t an intuitive camera to come to cold.
A final and totally subjective observation concerning the handling: Canon ergonomics are generally very good and even the Lumix G series cameras I use are “good in the hand” but the GFX is not a camera you ‘fondle’.
Only a few days after publishing this post Fuji launched the 100mpx GFX MkII and there was something quite interesting about this. The original 100mpx GFX had been launched with an integral battery pack added to the body though I’m not too sure that would have improved its handling that much but the MkII version seems to have reverted to the identical body as the 50mpx version I had played with. It does come with the option of buying a battery grip that screws to the base so that you can have extra batteries as well as additional ‘camera’ to hold on to.
I suppose that the ‘headline’ is the fact that it is a 102mpx resolution camera but all of this comes with a hefty price tag. The body alone is £7,000 and the battery grip £480. Quite interestingly and of particular use to architectural photographers, they also launched two tilt/shift lenses at the same time, a 30mm at £3,900 and a 110mm at £3,500. The former would be considered wide angle, the latter slightly telephoto as a standard lens is probably 75-80mm in what is a digital medium format camera system.