Fujifilm GFX100S Long Term Review: What I Discovered After Five Months Of Using It
Updated: Aug 21, 2021
We’ve been putting the Fujifilm GFX100S through its paces – using it for professional workshops and photoshoots, in fact. We really wanted to give a longer-term review of the Fujifilm GFX100S to answer some of the questions you may have about the camera.
So without further ado, let’s dive right in and talk about the Fujifilm GFX100S camera.
Build Quality and Design
We previously discussed the Fujifilm GFX100S’ design back on our first impressions review, but to summarise our thoughts, the camera has a fantastic build quality – in fact, this camera is the best built GFX camera in Fujifilm’s lineup. It feels very solid and robust; you can actually tell that Fujifilm really improved the camera’s design all the way from the buttons to the overall quality of the camera’s design, even when you compare it to the GFX100.
The camera’s ergonomics are also fantastic – it feels like a full-frame camera system. Other reviews have said much the same, and we’ll repeat them as well; this camera deserves it. The camera’s size is pretty much the same as the Lumix S1R from Panasonic, if only a bit shorter than the latter. All of this goes to show what Fujifilm has achieved – putting a medium format sensor in such a small body.
The grip of the camera feels great even for people with bigger hands than average. It feels very ergonomic and it has a nice indentation for your fingers that makes the camera sit securely in your hands. You can attach an Arca Swiss plate for the bottom part of the camera to slightly extend the camera’s length. We’d probably get an Arca Swiss plate for the camera, though, if we plan on owning one because while the grip feels good to hold on to, the extra room the Arca Swiss plate provides is always welcome. Although we would like to have a battery grip for the camera, Fujifilm doesn’t offer one, making getting an Arca Swiss plate really handy.
The camera’s weight distribution is excellent, though it depends on what kind of lens you are going to use. We’ll talk more about this later down the road so keep this in mind for now.
Overall, the camera’s build quality is solid, and you can say the same about its EVF, rear display and everything else mentioned.
Speaking of the camera’s EVF, it is a 3.69-million dot OLED EVF that came equipped with a 100MP sensor with IBIS. However, many people were quite upset about this since the GFX100 has a 5.76-million dot EVF. While we understand those concerns, we’re here to tell you that we didn’t notice much of a difference between the two EVFs. This is based on our experience with the camera during the past few months we had it; we used it in many shoots in environments with low light or in broad daylight. The camera’s EVF quality is excellent – something that should be taken note of in any camera system outside of the GFX, for that matter.
Don’t look at the numbers; look at the optical quality coming out of the EVF instead. It could be the glass, the optics, the LCD panel, these are what you should take into consideration. Case in point, the Sony A7R IV’s EVF is duller when compared to the GFX100S. Mind you, the A7R IV has a 5.76-million dot EVF.
You will notice the lack of resolution sometimes when it comes to shooting in low-light environments, or if you want to really zoom in to fine-tune your manual focus. There are some moments you’ll probably miss the 5.76-million dot EVF, but overall, not having a 5.75-million dot EVF on the GFX100S isn’t a deal-breaker.
The battery life of the GFX100S is actually pretty good. Fujifilm actually used the XT-4 batteries in the GFX100S, which is different from the batteries used on the GFX100, so do take note of this. From our experience using the camera on a day-to-day basis, we never had any issues at all with its battery life. However, if you keep the camera on all the time, then you’ll find that the camera will drain quite a bit of your battery’s charge.
The camera’s 2.3-million dot rear touchscreen is very good, although it’s not the highest resolution rear display out there. The display doesn’t swivel out, but Fujifilm designed the GFX100S more so for photographers rather than videographers, hence the lack of such a feature.
The buttons and dials of the GFX100S are solid and remind us of the X-T4’s build quality. If you’re a fan of that camera, then you’re going to love the GFX100S in that regard.
In summary, the GFX’s build quality is really good. However, we do wish it has two UHS-2 card slots and a CFexpress Type-B card slot because shooting at 100MP in burst mode will result in the buffer filling up.
In terms of day-to-day usage and how the camera performs, let’s talk about the camera’s auto-focusing since it is a hot topic, especially with a camera system like the GFX100S. Fujifilm was advertising the GFX100S as a camera with fast auto-focusing, which the camera delivers. Its auto-focusing is really fast for a medium format camera, so much so that people are starting to compare the GFX100S to other full-frame cameras out there.
However, the GFX100S’ eye-tracking is still hit-and-miss and we’re still waiting for a firmware update from Fujifilm to correct this issue, if it’s coming at all. Weirdly enough, the camera’s eye-tracking works better on some lenses in our experience. Here’s to hoping that Fujifilm will work on the camera’s consistency in terms of its eye-tracking.
Overall, we’re happy with the camera’s performance regardless of its eye-tracking. In fact, using the GFX100S after reviewing the Hasselblad X1D II and testing the Hasselblad 907x is a huge relief due to its fast auto-focusing.
Another thing to discuss is the camera’s performance in low-light environments – another great attribute the camera has. You can actually shoot clean photos with ISO as high as 3200, 6400 and 12800. Yes, there may be some noise creeping in, but it’s not uncontrollable when you want to do some post-production editing on the pictures you took.
The overall image quality of the GFX100S is spectacular. It has the best imagery in any consumer camera – a great camera to date, and it’s only US$6,000 to boot. You’ll want this camera because you want that 100MP image, the ability to crop in and re-frame the image if you need to. If you don’t have a lot of lenses and you want to use different focal lengths, the 100MP that the camera provides is going to help you a lot in that regard.
However, you’ll need to take into consideration the file sizes of the pictures you’ll be taking with the GFX100S. If you want to shoot at uncompressed RAW, you’re looking at around 200MB and if you want to convert that to TIFF, you’re looking at a file size of 600MB. The large files are so taxing to the system that we would recommend shooting in JPEG if you’re only going to use the pictures for social media posts, which is only 60-80 MB in size. You can still edit JPEG images really well; it has a decent enough dynamic range for social media. However, if you really want to maximise this camera system, make sure you have the necessary storage, processing power and computer to handle what this camera can provide. The camera will tax your system; if you’re not rocking hardware good enough for the camera, then you’ll be experiencing quite the slowdown. A 512GB storage on any device will not cut it. Get some external storage if you have to.
We did find that the large amount of information really helped us for the many shoots we did, especially when we needed to manipulate the lighting or hone in on something. Cropping power is also a great attribute this camera has. People saying that 24MP is enough are correct, but if you need to crop in on something, then you’ll notice a big difference and be thankful that the camera’s sensor is 100MP.
So why doesn’t Fujifilm allow you to reduce the number of megapixels to reduce the file size? You can actually do this with a Phase 1 camera, but you can’t with the GFX100S and the GFX100 just yet. We’ve actually spoken with Fujifilm about this and they told us that they’re considering this request. However, because they still have their 50MP camera out there, they’re giving you the freedom to choose what camera you want. Having said that, however, we do agree with the people who are asking for this feature.
In summary, the GFX100S’ image quality is fantastic along with its dynamic range – you’re going to be blown away for sure. However, we recommend using a diffuser and getting a really good make-up artist if you want to shoot portraits because every skin imperfection will be shown in the picture in great detail.
The camera’s burst mode can take pictures at a rate of 5 frames per second, which is bad for sports shoots. Additionally, the camera doesn’t track that well, another reason not to use the camera for sports. Again, this is a medium format camera. You might get lucky with a few shots, but you won’t be able to track like with other cameras. The camera might get a firmware update that’ll solve these issues, but as it stands when this review was posted, it doesn’t track as well as full-frame cameras… yet.
The tonality of the GFX100s is beautiful; the 16-bit colour really comes alive when shooting vehicles. We actually used a 45-100mm f4.0 lens to take pictures of a McLaren and the resulting image was phenomenal. You will find that photos shot using JPEG format will come out with a high resolution despite the smaller size.
As mentioned earlier in the review, shooting sports or action photos will be a challenge when using the GFX100S. You have to know where your subject is at and fire away. Sometimes, the image’s quality depends on luck or the camera’s settings (use zone focusing and performance boost on the camera’s auto-focusing; it just might improve the resulting picture).
You need to learn how to utilise the GFX100S’ camera system a bit more to bring the best out of it in terms of resolution and depth of field, especially when you’re using an 80mm f1.7 lens. But if you have the patience, storage capacity and processing power, you will be rewarded with the best image quality out of any consumer camera system currently out in the market.
When we paired the GFX100S and a 45-100mm f4.0 lens for video, we found that its video quality is impressive and that the camera’s performance, when used for video recording, is decent. The GFX100S might not hold up as a video camera in terms of fast-tracking for sports or action shots, but it performs well when used to shoot interviews or when the subject is stationary or is moving slowly at least. The GFX100S is a very formidable hybrid camera system for a lot of you out there. Additionally, the GFX100S’ video quality is similar to the GFX100’s.
Of course, you can use the Atomos Ninja V, but in-camera alone, the quality is good enough for most of you out there.
Which Lens Is the Best Lens?
As for what lenses to use with the GFX100S, we noticed that a lot of people are debating whether to use the 80mm f1.7 lens or the 110mm f2.0 lens. Even though we used both lenses, we still can’t decide on which is better to use. This is because the 110mm f2.0 is a magical lens in the Fujifilm line; it gives you a beautiful bokeh, stunning sharpness and slightly faster auto-focusing than the 80mm f1.7. However, it’s around the 90mm focal length or so. This means that the 110mm f2.0 is not an everyday focal length. It might be right for you based on your shooting needs but for us, we tend to use something shorter.
The 80mm f1.7, on the other hand, is unique in that sense because it’s around 60mm in terms of focal length. So it’s almost in that 50mm focal range where if you want to do street photography, you can do so. The lens will also give you great low-light performance. Although the 110mm f2.0 also performs well in the low-light performance department, the 800mm f1.7 gives that little extra to keep the ISO down. But if you’re looking at image quality, the 110mm f2.0 is still the king, but for versatility, the 80mm f1.7 is the lens we would recommend.
The 45-100mm f4.0 lens is still fantastic and the 250mm f4 is a phenomenal telephoto lens if you want to do some wildlife photography or even some sports photography. The telephoto lens will give you that extra length, but keep its weight in mind. The 250mm f4 is a prime lens though, so it will limit some of you out there. However, as long as you know your focal range, it will perform fantastically.
We really like using the Fujifilm GFX100S; it suits many photography styles we usually do such as fashion, lifestyle, sometimes sports and action. The camera is great for landscapes, people and street photography. Rent a high-speed camera if you need it, but for everything else, the GFX100S will give you everything you need. That, and a fantastic video recording performance at a great price for a medium format camera.
The Fujifilm GFX100S is one of our favourite cameras in 2021 thus far, and we really, really enjoyed using it.
Content by Bobby Tonelli
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