Fujifilm GFX100 Review: The Medium Format Game Changer
Updated: Aug 19, 2021
We bring the camera that we think is the most innovative camera in 2019, the Fujifilm GFX100, out on a shoot at night in Chinatown so we can see how it performs.
It’s definitely a unique medium format camera, that’s sized similarly to the Canon 1DX Mark II, the Nikon D5 or even the Sony A7RIV when paired with the vertical battery grip. For a camera that has in-body image stabilisation (IBIS), a 102MP sensor and two batteries (thanks to the grip), that’s impressive.
It’s a gamechanger of a camera, and in some ways, it’ll change the way we use medium format as a whole. The design is a departure from the retro aesthetic that we usually see from Fujifilm, the knobs and dials are gone, making way for a gunmetal gray magnesium top and bottom, separated by a black leather wrap that feels really great in the hand around the mid-chassis.
The vertical grip has received mixed reviews online, with some people really hating it. Yes, it’s thinner than the normal grip, but something to remember with medium format is that the aspect ratio is different from full-frame cameras. And when shooting in portrait, it’s not quite as visibly different, which means you might not even be using the vertical grip all that much.
The grip doesn’t slip out of the hand, or hurt the hand when in use either. Buttons that are required are all present, and the design language works well with the main body as well.
No dials up top, with just a display that can show exposure settings or a histogram along with some functionality buttons. Here’s where we feel that Fujifilm could have done a bit better in terms of quality, with the buttons being a bit mushy at times.
Moving to the back, there’s an articulating 3.2-inch touch-sensitive display along with other buttons. The display is vibrant, colourful and shows everything that needs to be seen. But to see all the details, you’ll have to shoot in JPEG and RAW, otherwise, the camera will just use the JPEG to show the sharpness of the photo. There’s also a small sub-display at the back that can be customised to show different information depending on the user’s needs.
The GFX100 doesn’t use a full-sized medium format sensor, but it’s almost like an APS-C medium format camera. You still get a lot of information in the 16-bit uncompressed images, and there’s a lot more to this camera like dynamic range, the ability to play with the highlights and shadows and pull details out of dark areas.
Sometimes, compressing a medium format photo for social media might make it less obvious to people who view it. They might not know it’s medium format, but they’ll still be able to appreciate the tonality and image quality that’s different from full-frame and other cameras.
We tested the GFX100 with a few lenses, so let’s start with the GF 50mm f/3.5, a pancake lens. It’s one of the lightest medium format lenses on the market and a great street lens. Converting the numbers to full-frame, it’s about a 35mm lens with f/2.8 aperture. It’s not super fast, but it works if there’s enough light.
It’s sharp, no softening in the corners and the weight really makes it a great lens to carry around.
Next up is the GF 32-64mm f/4, a pseudo-wide angle zoom lens with the full-frame focal lengths being approximately 24-50mm. It’s not a lens you’ll be inclined to bring out at night due to the aperture, but it works great in the daytime. The lens is heavy though, and results in the camera feeling a bit unbalanced.
It’s not a bad lens for photography, images are sharp and there’s generally a consistency across the lenses in the Fujfilm GF lens lineup. For video though, it’s not the best if you want to track someone walking and talking. You’ll notice that the focus goes in and out a little.
The next lens, the GF 110 f/2, is one of the most beautiful lenses we’ve had the chance to try. If you can only get one lens to go with the GFX100, this is the one. Approximately equivalent to a 100mm f/1.4 on a full-frame camera, the image quality out of this is stunning.
We also had the chance to try the GF 45-100 f/4 before it released at the end of February, and we only had it for a few days, but this might be the one lens most people will use regularly. The reason for that is because this focal length on a full-frame camera is approximately 36-80mm at around f/3.2.
It’s not a super fast lens, but there’s OIS, 16 elements, 12 groups, three aspherical elements, one super ED element, one ED element and it’s going to reduce a lot of chromatic aberration. The image quality is excellent and it really is a stunning lens.
It weighs in at around 1kg so it won’t be the optimal lens for lugging around, but the images out of this really make up for it. As for how the OIS works in conjunction with the IBIS of the GFX100, we heard from a Fujifilm representative that if a lens has 3 axis OIS, the GFX100 will compensate with 2 axis IBIS. If a lens has no OIS, the GFX100 will compensate with 5 axis to ensure that there will always be 5 axis stabilisation.
We don’t know how Fujifilm has done it, but the IBIS and OIS is some of the best image stabilisation we’ve seen so far.
Down to the final lens, the GF 100-200 f/5.6 OIS. This will be good for sports photographers and certain wildlife photography. It’s not the fastest lens at f/5.6, which is approximately 92-180mm and f/4.5 or so on full-frame.
We tried out this lens in a basketball match to just being around Chinatown, but with the OIS in the lens and the IBIS in the body, we went all the way down to 1/10s handheld for static images and still managed to get a sharp shot.
In terms of weight, it’s not as girthy as the 32-64mm, but it feels like a 70-200mm lens for the most part. This could definitely find a place in some photographers’ bag, depending on their needs.
The GFX100 is capable of so much that we never thought possible with medium format. It’s not just the 102MP sensor, it’s the sensor and camera size, the IBIS, OIS and more. It’s not just to shoot landscapes or just meant for studio photography, it works excellently on the streets as well.
We do have some things for people to take note of though. Low light performance for one, if ISO is bumped up over 6,400 then there might be issues with the grain, but it’s a non-issue if the photo is going on social media and the likes.
The grip is good, but it’s a little shallow if you have larger hands. We would have preferred a bit more bulk in the grip considering the size of the camera. But the image quality that comes out of this will absolutely wow people.
More information about the Fujifilm GFX100 can be found on Fujifilm’s website.