Fuji GFX 50S

Discussion in 'Equipment & Media' started by Chris Dodkin, Sep 30, 2018.

  1. Chris Dodkin

    Chris Dodkin West Coast Correspondent

    With the announcement this week of the GFX50R, I'd better get my thoughts down regarding it's bigger brother, the Fuji GFX50S.

    I was fortunate to be present at the birth of this camera - back in Jan 2014 at CES.


    I was at CES, at the Fuji stand, when Zach Arias rolled up for a deep dive discussion with Bully Luong and the Fuji tech team, regarding a 'crazy' idea for a medium format (MF) Fuji X camera, one which could shoot a MF frame, and possibly a range of crop factors including 1:1.

    Zach was very enthusiastic, and we got into a great planning session with the Fuji engineers on what we'd like to see in such a camera, what it would take from Fuji, and how we felt it should be priced.

    Roll forward to 2017, and the camera we discussed just arrived via UPS, complete with new lenses, and accessories. Long wait, but well worth it!


    I'll steer away from a tech-fest of data - suffice it to say it's a modular 50MP mirrorless body, with a new range of custom G mount lenses.

    First Shoot - Makeup Artist Editorial Shoot

    My first work shoot was a makeup editorial studio shoot - I bolted the GFX to a tripod, and used the only portrait lens I had at my disposal at the time, the 120mm f/4 lens, and also the 63mm f/2.8 prime.


    This lens has OIS for handheld shooting, which btw is amazing technology, but I switched the OIS off for tripod use.

    I used the rear screen on the GFX to compose images, and didn't;t use the EVF at all - The rear LCD has 3 way tilt so was comfortable to use from any angle, and had an iPhone-like touch feature where I could pinch and zoom images for review.

    Way cool!

    I set up a beauty dish and reflector, and a couple of blinds. Triggering the Elinchrom Quadra flash using their Skyport basic trigger in full manual mode.

    First response to this set-up was WOW!


    AF was precise, not lighting fast, but no slouch - AF in studio lighting was no issue. DOF with MF lenses is shallow - even when shooting at f/8 (as above) you notice it!

    What is stunning is the level of detail, even zooming past 100% in PS you have crisp detail from a well taken shot. And the tonal range and transitions - just gorgeous.

    I shot with the 63mm prime as well, again at f/8


    Boom! Makeup artist was blown away when I zoomed in to the eyes on the camera LCD - model was as well. I uploaded the full rez file above - click on it to see what I'm talking about.

    Check the box for studio tripod mounted camera

    Second shoot - Victoria's Secret

    Second shoot was a location lifestyle twofer - one location, two models over two days. All natural light in a cool loft apartment in Little Italy, San Diego.

    Day one was Victoria's Secret with Danielle.


    Hand holding a 50MP anything is tough - it requires extreme concentration and a no-rush frame of mind. Any lack of attention and you're basically screwed, because as you zoom in to your image, you'll see the camera movement or missed focus easily - way more so than 35mm or APS-c.

    But it was very do-able, and with the natural lighting and location, I immediately started to see an extra dimensionality to the MF images - they had a 3D pop to them which I hadn't;t seen since I shot 6x6 Hasselblad on film.

    This is something I love about larger format systems - they have the ability to convey more space and dimension in your images. It's very compelling.

    The 63mm was awesome at f/2.8


    I used the EVF shooting hand held - and quickly fell in love with the tilt-evf adapter - which allows you to use the EVF from a whole range of angles, including looking down into it with the camera cradled below your chest. It's a great shooting position, and a great perspective as well.

    I use auto ISO on the GFX, and set my aperture, and let the camera choose shutter speed and ISO - I then fine tune with the EC dial, using the EVF to decide the correct exposure.

    As the light level dropped, I swapped out to the GF32-64mm f/4 zoom lens - the only lens I had at the time to cover my preferred 35mm FOV.

    I was concerned that a zoom might let the side down - I am, predominantly a prime guy in my shooting.


    No need for concern - the zoom is a super lens, probably the best zoom I've ever used in fact - behaves much more like a prime with low distortion, CA, etc. I'd have preferred a faster prime but it didn't exist yet!

    It really is a super zoom


    Day Two was Brooke, at the same location, but this time in the early morning light.

    More work with the 63mm prime, with some nice reflected sunlight.

    And a change-up to the 120mm f/4 for close up, hand held portraiture, with the OIS engaged this time.

    That OIS is amazing - makes hand-held work very do-able - not bad for a 'macro' lens!

    More zoom work as well


    Loving the flexibility, but I still want faster glass and shallower DOF for this sort of work.

    End result from the first location shoot - loving the images where I nailed it, in agony with the images where I didn't;t pay attention, and moved or missed focus - I realize I need to pay attention to my shit!

    More in part 2
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  2. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

    A really interesting review / experience piece, Chris. And some lovely shots to illustrate it. I especially like the mono rendering. Mind, the colour si pretty gorgeous too.

    I am always impressed by the Fuji lenses on the H system. Different to the old Zeiss glass of the V-system but much more clinical I always think, which is nice in a way as it lets you paint with your own style in PP when appropriate.
    Chris Dodkin likes this.
  3. Chris Dodkin

    Chris Dodkin West Coast Correspondent

    Part 2

    Natalie in the wild flowers on the California Coast - early morning location shoot - natural light


    First outdoor shoot, and I'm shooting into the rising sun!

    I use a pop-up reflector to bounce some fill back into Natalie, and shoot quickly to catch the light.

    First thing I notice - that 3D pop - wow it's like a new dimension - even with the zoom lens! (as above).

    AF into bright light can cause hunting - same as the Fuji X Series cameras - I have to pick good edges to get AF lock, but when it locks it's good.


    Next thing I notice - zoom lenses don't flare like primes :mad:

    No escaping it, they just don't work the same way shooting into the light - try as I might, I get general flare and lower contrast images - it's a dose of reality, I will eventually need to get the prime(s) as they are released.

    I shoot almost all of the set on the zoom as I'm really pushed for time - the sun moves fast!

    But I do swap up to the 63mm at some point


    It's a better lens - more crisp and less contrast loss - man I want me a 35mm FOV prime.

    First location shoot done - I felt rushed and pissed-off at the zoom's performance shooting into the sun - but I got some great looks from Nat, and she's super happy with the final image set.

    Darcy on a bridge over Interstate 5, in downtown San Diego.

    Darcy is a new model - the sister of a model I'd shot before, so I agreed to do a portfolio shoot with her to check her out, and get her some good portfolio images, with a pro makeup job, and pro pose direction from Brenna.

    A chance to put my newly arrived Fuji 110mm f/2 to use, in the wild.


    Holy crap, this is a killer portrait lens! Sharp as a tack wide open, and bokeh to die for - 120mm will get little to no use from now onwards, as this may be the best portrait lens I've ever owned, including the legendary Canon 85mm f/1.2

    While I'm playing with the 110mm, I also try a new Godox hotshoe flash - which can be used at sync speeds above the x-sync on 1/125 on the GFX.

    This high speed sync (HSS) mode, get's you flash at any shutter speed, allowing you to use flash in daylight shooting, with wide apertures, where the shutter speed is way higher than 1/125.

    Prior to this tech you'd either use a camera with a leaf shutter, or use ND filters to lower the shutter speed to sync range. With HSS, this is no longer a requirement.

    I try the diminutive Godox TT350F and shoot f/2 1/140 with the GFX and 110mm


    The Godox flash works as advertised - I have full TTL with FEC in camera, it's simple plug and play, and I feel the $80 was worth it for the proof on concept.

    I make my mind up to look more closely at the Godox 600W strobes that use the same technology - this may be the way to go for studio and location flash for the GFX (and my other X-Series cameras)


    Darcy does really well, but I still miss the faster lenses at the 35mm FOV - the zoom is crisp, but the DOF is too deep, even with MF.

    Still loving the 63mm - the more I use it, the better I like it


    I don't like the external AF motor on the 63mm lens though - it's slower and it changes length as you focus, and I've already seen reports of the lens failing if that movement is accidentally restricted in any way - not good.

    110mm looks like a killer though - fast, quiet, and razor sharp :p

    More in Part 3
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  4. Chris Dodkin

    Chris Dodkin West Coast Correspondent

    Part 3

    Gymshark Fitness with Brenna at the old FBI HQ in San Diego

    I decided to bite the bullet, and buy a Godox 600W portable head - the AD600

    This get's me a 600W strobe, which runs off a rechargeable lithium power pack. It's fully wirelessly controllable from a trigger on the GFX hot shoe, with HSS and TTL if I want it. I also purchased a remote head for the unit, which allows the flash tube to be placed in a modifier, with the main strobe separate, connected by an umbilical cable.

    This allowed me to put the head in an Octa on a stand, and keep the heavy strobe unit down low in a shoulder carrier - avoiding the top heavy stand problem which often causes stands to topple over on location.


    The flash head will sync at any shutter speed I select, with power dropping by one stop with each full stop faster shutter speed selected. HSS works by pulsing the flash head at high speed, during the exposure, making it behave more like a hot light than a strobe regarding power.

    But, with 600W available, I am free to select my chosen aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to get the ambient/flash mix I want - Iand I can then adjust the FEC mix in camera from the flash menu - no other messing with the Godox trigger or head required. This is super easy and very very effective.


    1/1400 at f/2 with the 110mm lens - HSS is delivering, and I'm loving the match of Godox with Fuji. And this stuff is half the price of Elinchrom!


    Even in full noon sun, the Godox provides more than adequate fill for the f/4 zoom lens - BTS set-up above

    Finished shot with backlit sun on Brenna.


    I'd been told that HSS might lack the power I'd need to shoot - but this was simply not the case with the 600W head. As you can see in this BTS shot, we had harsh August noon sunshine, yet were able to fill easily to get the look we wanted (below).

    Here at 1/3500 f/2 - you can't even do that with a leaf shutter camera like a Hasselblad, because the shutter speed tops out at 1/2000! Well not without ND filters any way.

    Super happy with the Godox/Fuji combo - client is super happy with the location lifestyle look of the shoot - GFX system is now looking like a sure winner for fashion location, and potentially studio use of HSS.

    More in Part 4
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018
  5. Chris Dodkin

    Chris Dodkin West Coast Correspondent

    Part 4

    Megan in the Studio - Calvin Klein - Elinchrom Litemotiv 190 and 1200W of Godox


    Next big steps come with a studio shoot with Megan. We're doing Calvin Klein lifestyle looks, and I've stepped up my studio flash game with a second Godox AD600 unit, with remote head, and a HUGE Elinchrom Litemotiv 190 modifier.


    The Elinchrom is more like a small Zeppelin - it has internal and external diffusion, and provides amazing light. Using an Elinchrom adapter for Bowens, I can use it with my Godox flash heads.

    For this set-up, I combine two AD600 units into a single 1200W Godox remote head - so I have 1200W of wireless HSS/TTL at my disposal in the studio. Megan does her best not to be intimidated as I roll the Zeppelin towards her! :D

    Having HSS in the studio gives me two benefits.

    1) I can raise the shutter speed to kill any house lighting - so I can have bright house lights for comfortable environment and easy AF, but still kill them using the faster than 1/125 shutter speeds.

    2) I can have complete creative freedom regarding aperture and shutter speed - without ever having to adjust my lighting set-up. this is amazing, and very addictive!


    I love the resulting freedom - the client loves the shots - the model learns to overcome her fear of low flying blimp lighting!


    I go on to use this set-up extensively for my studio work - it's highly reliable, and the IQ is outstanding.

    Natalie Puma Sports Shoot

    More of the Godox/Elinchrom Zeppelin work


    110mm f/2 in the studio

    Itza Portfolio Studio Shoot


    More Zeppelin plus 110mm f/2

    Check the box for GFX studio with HSS / TTL Godox flash system

    More in Part 5
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  6. Chris Dodkin

    Chris Dodkin West Coast Correspondent

    Part 5

    If you go down to the woods today... New lens and Sarah in the forest


    Finally a new prime - the 23mm f/4

    Not exactly a portrait lens, but this location shoot provided a great opportunity to test it out - fill flash provided with the Godox AD6000.

    The super wide prime is about 18mm FOV in 35mm film terms - and is very nice corrected optically and with in-camera image processing. This correction is automatically applied in programs like PS and LR, and adds an extra dimension to the new lenses - they are optically and digitally corrected to get to a better end result.

    Apparently the 23mm can be used without a model in frame - who knew! And makes a superb landscape lens stopped down to f/16


    And here at f/8


    This is another full rez image, so click to zoom!

    I've also had great fun replacing my G617 panoramic film camera with the 23mm and GFX, with the built-in panoramic crop mode on the camera.

    Using the various crop modes allows you to see the image in real time in the EVF, as it will appear cropped - a great aid for composition. The camera has a built-in 3D level to ensure everything lines up perfectly.


    This is a full rez image using this in-camera crop on a RAW file.

    More in Part 6
  7. Chris Dodkin

    Chris Dodkin West Coast Correspondent

    Part 6

    Yet one more prime, finally a 35mm FOV


    Finally Fuji released the 45mm f/2.8 with the equiv FOV of a 35mm lens - used here at f/16 to get the starburst effect on the Sun.

    This is a small fast prime, with a lovely shallow DOF and bokeh at f/2.8 - a real gem of a lens


    The feeling of space and 3D pop is very evident, with lovely transition from in-focus to OOF.

    I use this focal length a lot for my work, it's an ideal lens to get the subject in situ, bringing in the environment to the portrait.


    The 45mm, 63mm and 23mm are designed to compliment the new 'rangefinder' styled GFX50R - and look well balanced on the smaller R style body.

    The 45mm is perfect for 1/2 body portraits, and especially double page spreads in magazines - here for J Fitness apparel, shot at the Disney Theater in LA.


    The 45mm completed my 'holy trinity' of primes for portrait work, the 35mm equiv of 35mm, 50mm and 85mm - and I feel that Fuji have done a great job getting these lenses to market to meet this need, in a short timeframe - the quality of all lenses are second to none - they are some of the best lenses I've ever owned - and testing by my good friend Jim Kasson has corroborated this view in the 'lab'.


    I probably use the 45mm lens the most day to day, with the 63mm and 110mm not far behind.

    Conclusions in Part 7
  8. Chris Dodkin

    Chris Dodkin West Coast Correspondent


    It's been a long journey, very enjoyable but also very expensive!

    I sold all of my Canon L lenses to pay for the body and first three lenses, so 20+ years of Canon hardware was gone (much to SWMBOs delight) and my tie with Canon was broken.

    I bought each new lens as they were released - and I think they are good value, but they are still expensive. They are of a next-gen quality optically, so I feel they are a solid long term investment, with quoted resolving power to tae them through the next gen 100MP sensors to 150MP beyond.

    I didn't buy the 250mm f/4, as I didn't feel I would use that focal length for my work, and I didn't have $6k buying about!

    A few years ago, the prospect of having a medium format camera, at this price point, delivering studio and location images, was just a pipe dream.

    The very idea that I'd be hand-holding a MF camera, at night, shooting available light at a county fair, was just ridiculous.


    Yet here we are - 63mm f/2.8 1/125 at ISO 2500 - hand held

    We live in amazing times - I need to pinch myself sometimes - this is stuff I dreamed of only a few years ago.

    The camera has been an easy transition from the X-Series - easy to use controls, the ability to see how the camera is set from it's physical dials.

    The color science has been consistent as well - lovely Fuji colors using their 80+ years of film color science - a legacy no other camera manufacturer can match.

    I think the GFX 50S is a bit chunky - I get that it's modular, and functional, but it's not going to charm the ladies!

    The new GFX50R on the other hand is slim, and sexy, and has been working out at the gym - same functionality, smaller, lighter, cheaper body.

    $4500 for a medium format camera - holy crap!

    Lenses have been the real win - Fuji are one of only two manufacturers who manufacture broadcast lenses, and that legacy shines through these GFX lenses. They are outstanding - hard to believe from clearly biased idiots like myself, so I suggest you rent them if you're interested, and check them out for yourselves.

    The future is bright for medium format - it starts where 'full frame' 35mm ends - and now extends to the GFX100S which will be released in the first half of 2019.

    100MP, medium format, 100% CDAF AF, IBIS, for less than $10k - game changer.

    Probably won't be buying one, but I have to admire Fuji for just going for it - and looking to eat Hasselblad's and Phase's lunches!

    The world can't be encompassed by 35mm - go big or go home!
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
  9. Chris Dodkin

    Chris Dodkin West Coast Correspondent

    Thanks Pete - I tried to illustrate the system with actual examples - rather than just blather on.

    Fuji's V-Lens experience put them in prime position to produce their own MF lenses - I think they have learned to include more character as well as precision, as time has gone by
  10. Rob MacKillop

    Rob MacKillop Edinburgh Correspondent

    Well, well, well. What can I say, Chris? If Fuji keep going forward like this, they'll soon be a match for my Sigma SD Quattro :p:D

    Only kidding. Amazing shots - truly wonderful. I can see why you are so pleased, and skint. But the times they are changing, again. I'm so pleased to have seen your journey from the Fuji X Pro 1, which I was very envious of when you got it. But now they are ludicrously cheap on eBay. But you are future proof for a good stretch with those lenses.

    Keep it up, Chris, and thanks for sharing.

    My favourite is the second-last shot in Part 5, the beach shot at f8. Gorgeous.
    Chris Dodkin likes this.
  11. Milan Vjestica

    Milan Vjestica Well-Known Member

    Excellent series of articles Chris. The look of the images, that 3D pop, is awesome. The GFS50R looks very interesting. Fuji do appear to be shaking up the market.
    Chris Dodkin likes this.
  12. Dave Farnes

    Dave Farnes Well-Known Member

    Very interesting articles Chris, thank you for sharing your experiences. Fantastic sets of images too, your decriptions of how each one was put together are most informative.
    Chris Dodkin likes this.
  13. Chris Dodkin

    Chris Dodkin West Coast Correspondent

    Thanks Rob. The move to Fuji has been very rewarding - yes they have taken whole load of my money, but in return I've had a more enjoyable experience, and hence taken more photos. Which is really the point!
    Rob MacKillop likes this.
  14. Chris Dodkin

    Chris Dodkin West Coast Correspondent

    Thank you Milan - the 3D pop is still controversial, as the 'scientists' with cameras have trouble defining how it works, so often say it doesn't exist! Seems odd to me, because I can see it with my eyes - So maybe you and I are both seeing things! :p
    Milan Vjestica likes this.
  15. Chris Dodkin

    Chris Dodkin West Coast Correspondent

    Thank you Dave - I didn't take the BTS stuff thinking I'd be using them later, but I'm glad I did.
  16. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

    I agree, a great set and an interesting review. Love the fill capability of that flash - very interesting. And I also like that first portrait. I like the lower contrast and the reflector has done a great job with the fill.
    Chris Dodkin likes this.
  17. Chris Dodkin

    Chris Dodkin West Coast Correspondent

    Thanks Pete

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