Fujifilm gave the first indications that they were planning on building a superduper, 100-megapixel medium format camera body at the 2018 Photokina. At the time it seemed almost too futuristic a concept with its list of abilities, but here we are with the model in hand to see exactly what the Fujifilm GFX 100 is about.
As you would expect for a camera body which features the supposedly cutting-edge of everything you can cram into a medium format, it’s large, expensive, but also an attempt to lead the pack for what is now possible at the top end of camera bodies. So, let’s dig in and see what this heavy hitter has to offer.
For those used to the chunky design of a full-size DSLR like the Nikon D5 or Canon 1D X, the GFX 100 will feel right at home. Having a mirrorless design, the dimensions are kept as compact as possible, if you can call it that, but there’s also a lot to fit in the tin.
One reason for such a bulky body is the addition of the in-body image stabilizer (IBIS), which is a new feature for the medium format world. The stabilization system promises 5.5 stops of stabilization across five axes, a definite plus point for handheld use and lenses without stabilization.
As for basic specifications, everything is wrapped around a 102MP medium format CMOS sensor which uses an X-Processor 4, four times faster than the GFX 50S. The ISO range is 100 to 12,800 which is expandable to 50-102,400.
AF points consist of 3.67m phase AF points, with single-point, zone, and wide-area AF for good measure. It’s also very capable on the video side of things offering 4K UHD/DCI4K at 30p, 25p, 24p. Everything weighing in at a hefty 1,400g.
On the video side of things, the Fujifilm GFX 100 can shoot uncropped 4K footage which is one of the largest out there. Lots of pro-features are included, such as 4K 30p 10bit 4:2:0 internally and 10-bit 4:2:2 when linked to an external recorder. LOG and HLG are also included for the serious video guys.
As for stills quality, there are 14 and 16-bit RAW options, which can also be produced as an internal 16-bit TIFF file. This results in the normal 200MB file being bumped up to 600MB meaning write speeds and storage need to be increased for your memory cards.
The maximum burst rate is only five frames per second with a 41-shot JPEG buffer. Not as fast as a top-end Nikon or Canon, but still reasonably fast for this level of medium format.
One thing to note is the rear LCD screen which is 3.2 inches and tilts -— very useful. The viewfinder itself is a crisp, 5.76 million dot display and can be interchanged with the EVF-TL1 version.
Moving onto the top plate, features have been simplified to fit a studio environment with a three-way dial to flick from movies, multi, and stills. Multi is for other shooting features such as exposure bracketing.
Dials for changing features such as ISO, shutter speeds and exposure compensation have moved to a 1.8in screen. The rest of the buttons are rather small but have just the right amount to access all functionality. Fuji says this layout has been chosen to fit in more with studio shooters.
Lastly, the Fujifilm GFX 100 has a large and chunky grip which is needed for a bulky camera. However, once you bolt on a reasonable sized Fujinon lens, you’re moving around a good few kilos of kit, which can become wearing over a long days shoot.
The Fujifilm GFX 100 in Use
When it comes to the image stabilization system, this will help out enormously considering the weight of the camera and shooting handheld. The claimed 5.5 stops was more like three stops, which is still fine for most situations, but consider it as an added extra.
The area where this camera is going to whet the appetite is in its resolution. If you are wanting that extra level of detail or to print your images directly onto a billboard, you will have no problem with this camera. Resolution alone, you can’t fault. With decent amounts of light and with low ISO, the dynamic range is one of the best out there.
The AF features have proved over what you will find in the GFX 50S, feeling more like a full-frame mirrorless body than a studio only medium format. Features like the eye-tracking AF expand the usefulness into the real world, meaning high-end photography can be ported to many more situations. The same goes for the continuous AF, great for slow movement, but it’s in no way a sport shooter.
How Does It Compare?
The obvious comparison for the Fujifilm GFX 100 will be with the GFX 50S. The GFX 50S delivers medium format quality in a DSLR size. It won’t be able to match a DSLR for speed of autofocus or continuous shooting, but that’s not the comparison here. It’s less bulky than the GFX 100 and still able to produce ultrafine images. It may not have the 4K video capabilities, shooting in HD, but it has a similar scope of ISO range.
The big factor will be the price. The GFX 50S costs less than half as much, so the real-world decision will be down to your ultimate needs and budget.
|Fujifilm GFX 100||GFX 50S|
|Video||4K UHD 30p||1,920×1080 HD|
We’ve only just scratched the surface of what the Fujifilm GFX 100 is capable of, but for most medium format users it should tick every box. Phase One and Hasselblad may be the obvious choices in this arena, but they also cost far more, which makes the Fuji an even more enticing proposition.
However, there are caveats. Although the image stabilization is a fantastic feature, it’s not as fully rounded as expected. But this is also new territory for a medium format camera, so it can’t be judged too harshly. One thing that it can’t be faulted on is the image quality.
Like all medium format cameras, it’s not a complete all-rounder, which means it’s not the greatest in low light or handheld for long times, but for ideal lighting and shooting on a tripod, Fuji has nailed this department.
The price may seem initially high, but compared to other medium formats, Fuji has done an outstanding job and at a competitive price point.