First impressions of the Fujifilm GFX 50S

Fujifilm reps were at Samy's Cameras in San Francisco today, so I had a chance to play and "shoot" with the much-anticipated medium format (MF) Fujifilm GFX 50S. 

As the camera was a pre-production model, we were not allowed shoot any images on our own cards, but regardless,  I came away with some vey useful first impressions. 

The GFX is everything that you’d expect a medium format professional camera to be; it's clear that its extremely well thought-through and is executed to a very high engineering specification. In the hand, it is about the size of a Nikon D810 or Canon 5D-series. As you may have read, it is surprisingly light, but it is also very well made and robust-feeling; the fit and finish are excellent, The front grip and thumb are comfortable and nicely textured, and provide excellent purchase for a secure grip, and if you're an Fuji X-camera user, the now-classic X-camera knobs and dials will immediately feel right at home. The menu system is clearly-laid out and identical in organization and interface to the X-Pro2/XT-2. In use, given that the sensor supports contrast detection-only autofocus, I found the AF to be surprisingly fast, at least as fast as a Fujifllm X-T1. The EVF and LCD are gorgeous, bright and clear with neutral, accurate color and the EVF has a very fast refresh rate with no perceptual lag.  Having the joystick was very useful not only for AF point selection, but also for scrolling around the LCD when reviewing images or when zoomed in with manual focus to check critical focus. Something that I found notable was the shutter is quite specical:  upon actuation, it is very quiet and smooth and has “feel” that is to die for. Most importantly, it feels very well damped, you can tell that shutter shock is not going to be an issue with this camera.

Given the size of the lenses, they are suprisingly light, bright, and exude a very high level execution and fit and finish. The autofocus performance is fast and quiet with no discernable aperture blade chatter. The aperture rings have just the right amount of stiffness in rotation, and the manual focus and zoom rings feel very nice, smooth but with just the right amount of resistance that allows you to precisely set the adjustment exactly where you want to. The overall impression is that the lenses are extremely well-made with superb functionality. The sales rep said that the next two lenses in the series likely be available in the late Q2 2017 time-frame.

The strongest impression that comes across from using the Fujifilm GFX 50S is that it is a real workhorse and a serious "photographic tool".  This is not a camera, though, to replace Nikon D810, Canon 1D or 5D-series cameras designed for sports, photojournalism, or for the lack of a better term, "general purpose" enthusiast photography. After holding, using, and shooting with the camera, it's clear it’s primarily intended for seriously "hard-core" advertising, portrait, editorial, commercial, automotive, and fashion medium format photography of the highest professional standard, as well as expert enthusiast outdoor, travel, or landscape photographers who truly understand what working with a MF camera really means, and know how to get the camera to deliver it.

Given Fujifilm’s excellent track record of fully “thinking things through” and a very high level of execution, the GFX will become the hub of what looks to evolve into a very, dare I say extremely, capable system for demanding professional and expert photographer applications. While the term "game-changer" is bandied about all to often, in this case, I fully expect it will apply with the new Fujifilm GFX system. 

There was a lot of interest in the new Fujifilm GFX 50S at Samy's Camera, San Francisco