Day 1 with the Fuji GFX 50R
A Digital Medium Format camera sub $10,000? No, this one is sub $5,000.
For the last few years I have been a Leica shooter. My primary cameras have been the Leica Q, Leica M10 and the Leica SL. Sometime back I sold the Q. Lately I have been having difficulties focusing with the optical viewfinder of the M10 Rangefinder. All the three cameras mentioned above are fantastic. Image Quality and menu simplicity matters for me, more than anything, in a camera. The Leica cameras fit perfectly in that mold. They let you focus on the light, color, contrast and composition, rather than waste your time fiddling with buttons and menu systems.
So, I decided to sell the M10. It was a tough decision and an emotional one but I couldn’t justify such an expensive camera lying around just so that I could admire its beauty. With the M10 gone I would be left only with the SL and since I shoot only with prime lenses another body is always helpful while shooting weddings. The Fuji 50R was an instant choice. I did consider the Hasselblad X1D. It is beautiful but slow as a snail and much more expensive with its array of lenses so Fuji won hands down. They both carry the same sensor but the color science is different of course.
1stImpressions: I had held the 50R before and tried a few frames so I knew the look, feel and ergonomics. It is solid but light. It is surprisingly light but then if you are used to the Fuji X Pro1 or 2 (I had the X Pro1 long back) this feels a lot like those, just that the size is bigger. The SL and 50R almost are similar in size but the SL is a solid block of aluminum, heavy and has a pronounced hand grip and a smaller sensor. The 50R feels like a camera you can hang around your neck and walk around all day.
Startup time is about 1-2 seconds. This is important for me as I switch off the cam if I feel I won’t use it for a few minutes in between. Mirrorless cameras, by design (sensor read out, EVF, LCD), are battery guzzlers and switching off helps me conserve battery.
Focusing is definitely faster than the first gen Fuji X Pro1 but there is still a slight play when it tries to nail focus. To be honest I did miss focus on a few shots as I began testing but I quickly learnt how to nail focus. I don’t care much for focusing points, focusing speed, tracking etc as I come from old school manual focusing and have adapted to shooting with whatever the camera offers. In fact, I am more comfortable with manual focus most of the time.
I love the Fuji film simulations and shot extensively on Velvia and Acros modes on day 1 and boy oh boy are they fabulous. These are jpegs out of camera and a tad underexposed.
After selling of the Sony I was missing the tilt screens for shooting low angles. None of the Leicas have it. The 50R has brought it back in my life.
With such a big sensor and so many megapixels you can crop till you drop. I almost never crop pictures but this kind of sensor is quite useful if you ever feel the need. Check out the 100% crop of the below pictures.
Shadow/highlight recovery is another strength of larger sensors and the 50R rocks in this aspect. I deliberately shot this backlit scene and underexposed it to see the recovery strength. The 50R does not disappoint.
The following pictures were shot in RAW and edited with Photoshop Adobe Camera RAW. All these pictures were shot with the 45mm 2.8 (35mm equivalent field of view on full frame)
The possibilities with this kind of a camera are endless. So here is what is coming up.
- I just got a Fotodiox adapter to adapt my M mount lenses on the GFX, especially the 50mm Noctilux. There would be pronounced vignette but once you crop you would still get 50mm albeit at the loss of a few megapixels. I am also excited about trying the brilliant Voigtlanders 21mm 1.8 Ultron and 15mm 4.5
- I also bought a Fotodiox adapter to fit the 50R on my Large Format Wista Field 4X5. The 50R can be used as a digital back and take advantage of all the movements of a Large Format camera. I will be testing this soon