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  • Cheryl Tan

Fujifilm GFX100S and X-E4 First Impressions

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

You’ve seen the title, you’ve most likely seen the announcement, and we’re back with Fujifilm X-Photographer Ivan Joshua Loh to take a look at the all-new Fujifilm GFX100S paired with the 80mm f/1.7 lens and the Fujifilm X-E4.

The first thing you’ll notice about the GFX100S is that it’s really small for a medium-format camera. Weighing in at just 900 grams, it’s about the size of a full-frame camera. Fujifilm has managed to pack in a whole bunch of stuff into this camera, including 5-axis in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) and a 100-megapixel sensor we’ll talk more about later. The best part? It’s much cheaper than other medium-format cameras, coming in at just US$5,999.

The camera feels great in the hand, and honestly? It doesn’t even feel like a medium-format camera at all. The build quality seems to be a bit better than the GFX100 and the dials and buttons all feel good.

The rear display is articulating but it can’t fully flip out, which means that vloggers might have a hard time framing themselves in the shot when filming. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) isn’t detachable and seems to be the same resolution as the GFX100, or 5.76-million dot if you didn’t see our review previously.

The 5-axis IBIS in the GFX100S is new, and not the same as the one present in the GFX100. It’s also smaller and more power-efficient as a result. There are 14 stops of dynamic range, and 16-bit colours if you’re shooting in RAW, resulting in some really beautiful images.

The GFX100S uses the same batteries as the X-T4, so if any X-T4 owners are looking to dip their toes into the world of medium-format cameras, being able to use their existing batteries across both systems will definitely be a big plus.

There’s also a mic jack, headphone jack, mini-HDMI and USB Type-C port on the side. This positions the GFX100S as a portable camera meant for outdoor shooting, while the GFX100 is still better equipped for studio shoots and the likes where you can have a USB-C dongle ready to plug in microphones and such. We do wish the camera came with a full-size HDMI port though since mini-HDMI ports tend to be a bit finicky.

The GFX100S isn’t just for stills though, there’s even a stills/movie mode switch on the top so users can switch between both easily. It’s a great hybrid medium-format camera, and we expected just as much after shooting some fantastic footage with the GFX100 in the past.

There’s the option to shoot 4K video in a 16:9 aspect ratio, DCI-4K in 17:9, and up to 30FPS. There was also an option for 60FPS, but we guess it’s probably for external recording.

The camera can shoot at 5FPS for stills, and while we don’t have the specs and numbers available, the autofocus does feel just a tiny bit quicker on the GFX100S than the GFX100. When shooting with Fujifilm cameras though, their film simulations are a big part of why photographers love the brand, and there’s a new one called Nostalgic Negative that’s supposed to mimic the old American colour and look of the 60s and 70s.

This camera only comes in a single colour, black, and while we loved the two-tone design of the GFX100, the GFX100S is definitely more portable and easier to bring around for day-to-day usage. That being said though, the 100MP sensor means that you get so much detail in your photos. In fact, if you take a look at the Lightroom portion in the video, you’ll see a shot where we zoom into writing on the wall and it’s all perfectly legible.

Ivan’s opinion is that the Fujifilm GFX system has matured over the last four years, and the GFX100S is probably the camera that has all the improvements and features built-in. With the GFX100S, medium-format cameras are now “realistically affordable” in a sense. Compared to other medium-format cameras out there that could cost over US$10,000, the GFX100S represents a much better return on investment for professional photographers when the US$5,999 price tag is taken into account.

Moving on to the 80mm f/1.7 lens, the closest competitor you’d find in the Fuji lineup would be the GF 110mm f/2. The two focal lengths are pretty similar, so the question is, are there any differences? Yes, there are.

The optical philosophy for the 80mm f/1.7 lens is more like the XF 50mm f/1.0, which we also reviewed previously, meaning the focus is actually on the background rather than the subject. The subject is sharp, of course, but it’s not pin-sharp like how the GF 110mm f/2 would render.

We loved the XF 50mm f/1.0 because if you used it for portraiture, the results weren’t harsh. You would get a beautiful creamy background and a more cinematic feel. This lens is the same. You get a soft, creamy background and it’s a really nice lens.

But let’s talk about the other camera, the Fujifilm X-E4. It’s modern-looking, it feels like the Fujifilm X100V (which we reviewed here) and this time, the rear display can actually be fully flipped up.

The X-E4 uses the same processor and sensor as the X-T4, which is basically what all the Fujifilm APS-C cameras are doing right now. The top plate feels really good, and it might be aluminium as well, but overall, it’s really reminiscent of the X100V.

There’s also a little grip that can be attached at the bottom of the camera if you find the design of the camera a bit too flat at the front and you miss the bump for the tips of your fingers to hold.

It’s the smallest X series camera with interchangeable lens, it does video as well and it comes in at just US$849. For people looking to get a compact camera with interchangeable lenses, this might be a great option to consider.

The last little surprise we had was Ivan whipping out the new 70-300mm f/4-5.6 telephoto lens. Sure, the slower aperture means it’s limited to being used in daylight or brighter situations, but it’s a lightweight zoom lens that might find a home in your bag if you find yourself typically shooting from a distance.

One good thing about this lens is that it’s compatible with a teleconverter, either 1.4x or 2x, and it comes with 5 stops of image stabilisation. People who want to get started with bird or wildlife photography will definitely want to take a look at this lens since it only costs US$899, as opposed to more expensive lenses like the 200mm f/2.


Content by Bobby Tonelli


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