The new Fujifilm GFX100S is based on the original medium format GFX100, but in a smaller body, smaller price with image stabilisation and the same terrific lenses.
It is, without doubt, the best stills camera you can buy today, the sensor, lenses and image processing plus the numerous Fujifilm film styles deliver unparalleled quality. In good light, it rivals the best medium format film cameras of yore and in poor or low light it is infinitely superior.
This is a camera that truly brings digital ahead of the cellular film race. The 102 MP medium format sensor provides crisp, deep, detailed and rich-toned images every time.
Fujifilm is unusual in that they do not offer full-frame sensors, it’s either smaller or medium format. An interesting and daring approach to carving out a precise niche in digital cameras. Plus their advanced film style filters, which some dismiss as a gimmick. I assure you they are not, think of them more a style you alter in seconds when shooting that saves so much time editing later. It brings in-camera photography back a little, so you plan ahead rather than shooting blandly and altering it in the edit. You can always switch styles afterwards, so nothing is lost.
Pick a vibrant saturated Velvia for landscapes, Pro Neg for neutral tones, Classic Chrome for soft colours with shadow contrast or be daring and shoot direct in Black and White.
The lenses are a major reason to invest in the system. Fujifilm has developed a gorgeous lineup of aspherical lenses. The glass makes the difference between a good shot and a truly great one. The visual impact is much superior in images shot on high-grade lenses. The Fujifilm G Series lenses are a cut above anything from the DSLR makers, the quality is impressive. No distortion, amazing Bokeh, impeccable contrast and extraordinary resolving power. Oh and that depth of field, just gorgeous. The lenses alone are a strong reason to switch up.
Whilst Fujifilm has made this smaller and lighter, with a GFX lens it is still reassuringly solid. You need a bit of heft to capture great images, something that feels solid in your hands. It helps to reduce shake, though the in-camera stabilisation does a brilliant job of that. You get an extra 6 stops which is huge.
I found that with the ISO at 12800 in low light I lost only one shot out of 600 that was not pin-sharp and there was barely any noise at all. The low light capability is quite astounding and it led me to take many more risks than usual which meant I got shots that would have been impossible on a DSLR or with film.
The focus is excellent in stills mode and tracks faces but in video mode, you do need to watch both your's and the subject's movement speed, particularly with longer lenses.
The auto ISO settings go from 100-12800 too and expand from 50-102400 so you can shoot at night and still handhold. It is very clean even at 12800 which meant I could shoot in natural light even indoors as I much prefer using natural light when possible unless I want that strong contrast flash look.
The colour and depth of the image tones are superb, as close to 120 film as it gets and the medium format sensor means you get more than enough pixels and depth of field to play with.
The tilting touchscreen has a 3.69 million comfortably sharp OLED panel and even though I normally prefer using a viewfinder it became my preferred modus operandi. So convenient to frame at waist level for portraits, fashion and weddings.
There is a physical mode dial now too so you can easily select the settings you want. Plus it has bespoke settings for rapid change as circumstances warrant. The layout reminds me of the old Pentax 6X7, which was based on 35 SLR’s so it is easy for anyone coming from a DSLR to use.
Dynamic Range settings offer Auto, 100%, 200% and 400% in still and video mode, brilliant if your scene is dramatically high contrast. So useful as you can play with the image afterwards if things go awry or the lighting is beyond your control and still keep the detail in the highlights or lowlights.
The sensor is 43.8mm by 32.9mm CMOS so you get a lot of light capture plus the GFX100S uses a quad-core X-Processor 4 imaging engine that is responsible for the rich deep colours you just don't get on any other camera in this price range.
There is even a smooth skin and colour chrome effect. Not something I would use in-camera, but for bloggers with deep pockets, it could come in useful. Includes Bluetooth V4.2 for remote control or live view.
One small niggle, the camera does not come with a battery charger, you recharge it in the camera. A terrible idea as that means the camera is out of action during recharge. So a recharger is essential as is a second battery. Though I got quite a bit more than that, probably more like 600.
The price tag is within reach of most professionals, it compares to high-end DSLR's and is superior in every way. For the well-heeled, it is the camera to buy if you always seek out the best.
You select focus and settings using a little joystick on the back. Which worked far better than I expected. Something I thought I would hate, but used constantly. I apologise to the purists and will go back to focusing through the lens when speed is not so essential.
There is also a 400 MP mode, you can shoot multiple images of the same subject and it will combine them to create a monster file that will require massive computer power to edit. But hey, if you need a cinema poster for Picadilly Circus then this will do it. It also means you can crop in ad-infinitum offering you endless possibilities for reframing a shot.
The video is broadcast quality, so you can make a full-length feature film for cinema. The lenses and sensor will give you enough rich cinematic colours, tonal gradation and depth of field to please Coppola. It will also now record for up to 120 minutes, so if you dream of shooting a continuous sequence to make Steven Spielberg jealous you can. Remember the opening diamond chase scene in Temple of Doom?
Boasting 4K Movie with 10-bit colour depth and richly detailed 4K/30p with a shallow depth-of-field, wide tonal gradation, and impressive ISO sensitivity in either 10-bit F-log or 12-bit ProRes RAW. This is all possible thanks to X-Processor 4, which also facilitates a bit rate of up to 400 Mbps, the commonly used 17:9 aspect ratio, and support for common compression codecs, like H.265 and H.264.
Dual SD card slots so you can shoot for ages, though the images and video do take quite a bit of space.
So what did I shoot with it? A friends wedding, a few supercars I was testing, some portraits, flowers and landscapes. I loved the results. You could sink into the rich images. There was a depth to the colours that heightened the visual quality beyond the pale digital imagery we are now used to. Images that conveyed an artistic depth that resonated in the eye and mind.
As you should know Fujifilm made analogue film that was used by every professional photographer worldwide for generations. Their film-know how is a major factor in the quality of the images, not just the tech, but their experience. This is why they are so passionate about the result as much as the camera specifications. Because the image is everything and more than just the specs, though this has those aplenty.
In conclusion, the quality of the aspherical lenses plus the utter brilliance of the sensor and processing make this the top camera for professionals or those learning to be the best. And I would include those with a few bob that want to take great holiday and family snaps. I class this is the finest luxury camera for anyone that wants to take truly outstanding pictures.
Price: £5,499 Body Only