Updated: Aug 21, 2021
I have been using medium format cameras for close to 3 decades, all kinds of them, film or digital. So I will cut straight to single out my favorite feature on the new Fujifilm GFX100 I recently got delivered - the 5-axis in-body image stabilization claimed to be effective up to 5.5 stops. Except for the IBIS, nothing else excites me - before and after I got the camera. I have to clarify that I do shoot with many cameras that do not excite me, but that does not mean they are not capable of delivering a quality result. Such as the case of Fujifilm GFX100, such as the case of the Fujifilm GFX50R, which I also use among many others.
I switched to shoot medium format digital with Phase One P25 for Contax 645 AF since 2007 and gradually upgraded to P45+; to P65+ and IQ180 on Hasselblad H System; IQ380 and XF100 ( since 2016); so I am familiar with what 80-100 MP files look like, and Fujifilm GFX100 won't outdo what I already have working in my studio. However, with 5.5 stops 5-axis IBIS, the Fujifilm GFX100 does present itself as a compelling option for available light photography outside of the studio or to blend with artificial light in location when fast flash sync speed is not critically needed. Of course, there are many photographers who may use the Fujifilm GFX100 as a studio camera which it is fully capable of. However, it is not better than my Phase One XF systems and not a better option than Hasselblad H6-100c, yet, IMHO. However, for the mobile situation, the Fujifilm GFX100 will become my go-to choice when I need the highest resolution files.
This is an image blog than a camera test or review article, so making image comparisons of Fujifilm GFX100 versus camera XYZ is not what I do nor will do, unless paid very well for, of course. I use many different cameras and know how each one performs the way I want. They are all good or excellent cameras, whether I like it or not. However, I will comment on the camera along with the image post in this blog, as a photographer. I will also discuss, as an industrial designer, how do I feel and use the Fujifilm GFX100.
The original Fujifilm GFX system announced months after the groundbreaking Hasselblad X1D, which I started using since September 2016. Fujifilm is a large camera company with rich heritage and experiences in medium format and cinematic segments, so to consider the Fujifilm GFX system is anything less than Hasselblad X system is not wise. However, as an industrial designer, I do not see GFX-50S is a good camera chassis going into the modern age, the mirrorless age. So I predicted back when GFX-50S hit the market and able to briefly test-shoot the camera - that Fujifilm will introduce an alternative model different from the 50s model chassis using the exact sensor, and I further predicted that Fujifilm would go through 3-4 camera models before finally settling down on 2 lines of cameras for professional and pro-amateur users. I believe my prediction stands, and my prediction shall not take away the fact that both 50S and 50R are capable of delivering competitive images against the Hasselblad X system or any camera made use of the same sensor.
Changing camera chassis is not an image quality problem nor a usability issue; it merely signifies the engineering and design decision of the camera company. Two of such example is Canon has a very consistent design resemblance on EOS pro and pro-am models from the film (as early as T-90) through digital reflex cameras. At the same time, Nikon seemed to struggle from the autofocus F cameras and later with XF digital reflex cameras until D4/D800 introduced. They are different, and both are successful!
Now, to the point, the Fujifilm GFX100. It is only fair that the comments on design and craftsmanship shall base on its labeled price, and in general, Fujifilm delivered an excellent bargain! With excellent results to match base on my initial observation from quick test shots. On paper, the Fujifilm GFX100 chassis is constructed using 3-parts cast magnesium alloy which is 5-15% more weight reduction efficiency than aluminum alloy vs. low-carbon steel so while the built of GFX100 is substantial. However, it is not too heavy - at 1,400g, roughly the same weight as a Nikon D5 and lighter than a Canon EOS-1DX II. It is much lighter than Phase One XF100 (2,196g), which sits on the arm of FOBA ASABA Stand in my studio - where it belonged. However, the Fujifilm GFX100 does not have the kind of integrated solidness as XF100 which probably has the best built of any medium format camera not named Alpa 12, and also feel less robust than the Hasselblad X1D - also a 3-part construction using CNC-milled aluminum alloy. Feel is one thing, practicability is another - the GFX100 is without a doubt will last many years of heavy use, and it is built to make it affordable, let's be fair. The color scheme and surface finish are not particularly attractive, IMHO, but it has nothing to do with photography, so I will stop here.
Fujifilm GFX100 has a similar approach as Panasonic S1R with a host of switches and dials around the camera for quick maneuvering and customization, in a hectic layout. The 331-page user manual (just English version alone) details a large number of features and options of customization as well as video capabilities that will make the camera most versatile medium format cameras ever. Fujifilm appeared attempting to introduce the Fujifilm GFX100 as a candidate for optimizing still capture as well as a filming camera similar to Canon did with their 5D years ago. The size of the camera may be the limiting factor. Its ability is not.
Fujifilm did much more right than wrong with GFX100; my personal preference over camera design and approach will not limit me to use the camera to produce works. GFX100 has a nearly square body with an integrated grip for vertical operation as smooth as in horizontal orientation. The GFX100 RAF file is fully supported by Capture One Pro 12.1 and appeared more contrasty than the RAF from 50R, the detailed definition of the captured image viewed at 400% on Capture One Pro 12.1 is very impressive. The dual-bay battery holder is a useful feature even though the camera can operate on a single battery NP-T125, same as the one by 50S and 50R, with the same claimed 400 frames per charge - even GFX100 has the 102MP sensor, IBIS and improved EVF. From my experience with 50R, the battery life claimed for 400 frames is very conservative, I got close to 1,000 frames on 50R regularly. NP-T125 weighs only 80.7g, and I would not imagine myself not to fill the dual-bay battery holder that can potentially run for approximately 2,000 frames - I shall come back to confirm this when I have enough field experience.
Update April 12, 2020 - it is about 1,300-1,400 frames instead of 2,000 frames from my original estimation - after ten months of experience. Still more than acceptable.
A practice I do for all my camera batteries - label each one in a serial number, so each one gets used in even cycle.
The camera is ready for action!
June 30, 2019
Bang Sue Railway Station - the original plan was to shoot at the junk park to check on the ability of GFX100's definition of the heavily weathered and texturize decommission trains. Unfortunately, all those decommission trains have been relocated to Makkasan Workshop; therefore, my plan scrapped, and instead, I shoot some passengers in the train station.
The GFX100 is not a street-friendly camera, not for its speed but its size. The new phase-detection AF works very well, and the image stabilizer works excellently, but the passengers cannot help to pay attention to a stranger with such a big camera walking around. Most locals are used to see the smartphone as a camera or a tiny compact camera. They thought I must be mad!
July 2, 2019 Wat Tri Thotsathep - restoration in progress
Wat Tri Thotsathep - restoration in progress - probably a perfect location to run some test on my GFX100 to see how well it resolves all the detail, delicate color transitions in dark and light conditions.
Fujifilm claimed their GF lenses are designed for 100MP sensor and beyond - they are honest! The C1Pro 12.1 processed the 16-bit RAF smoothly, takes just 6s on my iMac Pro.
I brought Canon TS-E 24/3.5L II and TS-E 17/4L with me for the shoot - both handle the 100MP sensor easily to f/16 and become a bit less sharp beyond f/16 to f/32. However, even at f/32, the file is still acceptable, IMHO, with a bit careful post sharpening control. Both TS-E lenses shift to the maximum without problem for the temple interior, corner sharpness is still good, and vignette is not an issue for the temple interior shots.
One particularly annoying issue with GFX100 is when using a remote cable release connected to the camera remote release connector, which located at the middle of the horizontal handgrip, making the handle and adjustment of the camera somewhat awkward, even the camera secured on a tripod. This problem is not a deal-breaker, but it is hard to believe the mistake on such a professional camera. Fujifilm could have placed it anywhere logical, and they picked one of the worst spots.
As the camera does offer a wide range of customizing functions - I designated a button for quick switching between "IS MODE OFF" - "IS MODE CONTINOUS" - "IS MODE SHOOTING ONLY". Very handy when shooting while the camera/lens stationary on a tripod. Similarly, I also designated a function button for quick access to ISO setting so I can get away from AUTO ISO to nominated ISO - to liberate the rear dial works as assigned shutter speed dial, the way I customized my GFX100 when I do the stationary shot that lower ISO setting is preferred.
July 3, 2019
The beloved "Phra Thep", meaning "princess angel," referred by ordinary Thais, HRH The Princess Sirindhorn's oil painting portrait by artist Terdsak Chaiyakarn - is digitally preserved by using Fujifilm GFX100. The oil painting is a family collection of a dear friend, Chusak Voraphitak. I wanted to use Canon TS-E 135/4L Macro + Techart EF-GFX adapter for digitizing the precious oil painting but forced to use GF 32-64/4R LM WR, the only other lens I took with me, limited by the space to shoot. The GF 32-64/4 did not disappoint.
July 4, 2019 - Wat Tri Thotsathep - restoration in progress - the second visit
July 5, 2019
Fujifilm GFX100 works reasonably good in location, natural light portrait as I did with a model friend, Liza Kaylee. The phase-detection AF works better than the GFX50R I also use. The Eye AF, although still much behind my SONY A9 or A7RIII, is useful in the normal light situation but becomes hesitant in low light and low contrast situations, not unexpected. However, it is fair to say that Fujifilm GFX100 has the best location operational capability of every medium format camera I have ever used, which covers almost all of them.
One of the issues I do not prefer the Fujifilm GFX50S was its old fashioned approach, subjective opinion, of course. The GFX100 took a radical departure from 50S, and 50R is a more logical move, a move to the main-stream professionals who used to professional cameras like pro-SLRs, which evolved to pro-DSLRs. Durability and efficientcy in quick switching camera modes are paramount for most of them in demanding situations. It is not to understate the fact that traditional medium format cameras (film or digital) are capable of producing higher measurable image quality (meaning resolution and print) in more stationary works. However, they are in comparison to a small market and much fewer users than reflex cameras.
Digital and mirrorless technology enable different cameras to emerge. Some may argue the modern-day DSLR or FF mirrorless can produce prints that rival the medium format of the past, and the current digital medium format cameras can produce prints that match the 4X5 or sometimes 8X10 cameras of the past. Fujifilm GFX100 is now in the ballpark of size and weight of the main-stream professional cameras, with very useful 5fps, at 102MP resolution and filming capability to inspire the independent filmmakers.
Some may argue that the sensors inside the modern medium format camera (larger than 24X36mm) cannot measure up to classic 56mm roll film, therefore, cannot be called "medium format" - no serious camera manufacturers, sensor makers and the working professional care about what those people said. The only difference is that either people use the camera and don't use it. The result is the argument; talking is not.
As a professional camera, the Fujifilm GFX100 is more user-friendly in location than, for example, my XF100 or Hasselblad H system, which now I call them the studio camera. Do I wish it is a tab smaller and lighter? Of course, but do the size and weight compromise its capability? No, I don't think so, I just need to get acquainted with it and try to master it.
Liza Kaylee, with my Leica M10-D - an on-going project of mine to collect images of faces behind the camera - refer to my blog "Behind and in front of my camera" - https://www.kaisernchen.com/post/behind-and-in-front-of-camera which features mostly Leica cameras for obvious reasons - it's beautiful, well proportioned and impeccable finishes. I have Liza also posed for a shot with Fujifilm GFX100, and the image did not turn out as elegantly as the one pose with Leica M camera. I have been using Leica M cameras for over three decades, and using a Leica is second nature, and the latest Leica M - M10-D is among my favorites and currently my most often-used Leica M camera.https://www.kaisernchen.com/post/leica-m10-d-diary - so even I was out testing the GFX100; I have an M10-D with me.
The Leica M10-D is very close to what I would expect a modern digital camera to be as far as industrial design is concerned, IMHO. Its 24MP sensor is slightly less than 1/4 resolution power of the one inside Fujifilm GFX100, so most would assume that the image from Leica M10/M10-P/M10-D cannot measure up to Fujifilm GFX100 and they are not wrong. Leica has been under pressure since entering into digital; the once-marvelous coupled-rangefinder focusing mechanism showed its age! The beautiful M lenses are preciously crafted, and many are top-class optics, but its position in the capability to deliver visibly superior image quality eroded with many competitors present strong challenges, and some surpassed M lenses. However, Leica M camera's cult and iconic status still well shielded by the rich heritage behind it. I love my Leica M cameras, I see them like an old friend, enjoy using them - but I will make logical choices than emotional when picking the right tool for the right job.
July 7, 2019 - Wat Borom Niwat - my small project to documenting some unusual mural painting in Thai temples continues. The mastermind behind the mural painting in Wat Borom Niwat, Khrua In Khong https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khrua_In_Khong?fbclid=IwAR2avxyeWpLXp5RkyAy1enspv3iP-EiErq98J8tPUFtFo06JyKjdG3iLtM8 out a masterpiece in this temple, under King Rama IV's (Mongkut) desire, to modernize Thailand to survive the Western colonialist aspiration. The result presented is not entirely Buddhism but also a historical record of political events and social conditions during the reign of King Tama III.
July 10, 2019 - Time to get back to the comfort of my air-conditioned studio!
The GFX100 is a big step forward on the AF efficiency and accuracy for studio use than my GFX50R or Hasselblad X1D, which I don't use them as my studio camera because of sluggish AF and slow flash sync (GFX50R). Apart from that, I have a full Phase One XF system that is my preferred and trusted system. The GFX100 is an attractive option because of its intelligent hybrid contrast/phase detection and face/eye focusing that will make studio portraiture a lot faster if speed is needed. The CIPA rated 5.5 stops sensor-based image stabilizer will also make the GFX100 more useful to shoot handheld in natural light or to use fresnel or HMI lights inside my studio.
This shot of Liza and Katya took with GF 110/2 stopped down to f/7.1 and shutter speed at 1/125s, and the AF still works very well, not worse than my Phase One XF or Hasselblad H system - impressive!
July 14, 2019 On filming set at Lhong 1919, Bangkok
Profile of a face is like a rhythm in music; each is different; each has its charm; some are simply captivating.
The power management revisited.
Fujifilm GFX100 is not a power-thirsty camera, and it could operate on a single 10.8V 1,230mAh NP-T125 cell as the earlier GFX50S or GFX50R. I cannot find a reason to put only one cell inside the dual-bay battery holder as an additional cell only weighs 80.7 grams extra.
The camera will draw the power from the battery regardless it is on either "L" or "R" bay. In two battery situations, it draws from the battery in "L" bay first, and after the L Battery power reading is low, it will go on drawing power from R battery. My preferred logic will be the camera to draw power from the one with less power first instead of nominating it to L battery; therefore, the cells are evenly used. Something Fujifilm should consider in the future firmware update. For the moment, whenever I need to replace a battery, I always swap the R battery to L bay and place the fresh on to R bay. The additional battery is recommended as ever, and I got 5.
The NP-T125 charger runs only on AC power that is a bit old fashioned, could have a USB adapter option for more travel-friendly. Alternatively, I have a Nitecore FX2 charger for travel so it can charge two batteries instead of just one, and at 120.2-gram - it is lighter than the 135.4-gram NP-T125 charger and not bulkier.
Update January 29, 2020 - the Nitecore FX2 somehow fails to provide charging power suddenly even though I change several different power options. It is useless now. I need to send it to an electrician to check. I, at this moment, withdraw my first recommendation. I will be careful with my other Nitecore chargers from now on.
Fujifilm also has an AC-15V power adapter, which I do not have and not prepare to have it because the USB-C port on GFX100 can run on the power from the connected computer or compatible power bank that will be more flexible to operate.
Fujifilm claimed the NP-T125 to provide 400 frames per charge on GFX100, which is the same as the GFX50R, well, I always got close to 1,000 frames with GFX50R but not on GFX100 - I am on the 4th battery for 2,300 exposures, so far - not disappointed!
The mirrorless system camera development has come a long way! The latest and highest resolution Fujifilm GFX100 sits among the original.
During a recent interview with Reddotforum, Dr. Andreas Kaufmann (Chairman of the Board of Leica, and majority owner) mentioned that he counted 21 buttons on the Panasonic S1/S1R - an example alike GFX100 and elaborated that Leica design philosophy is quite different. "We are focused on just the essential elements of photography. Aperture, shutter, ISO. Additional options can be addressed in the menu, but we prefer the clean approach. You can see this in all of our camera designs." commented by Dr. Kaufmann. Leica is not the only camera maker with a clean approach. Most of the European camera makers went for a similar approach, such as Phase One XF cameras, Hasselblad X1D, and of course, the Alpa Swiss! There is no argument needed, everyone can pick the camera he prefers, on pure pleasure, on productivity or by budget.
I counted 29 buttons on GFX100! My Leica M10-D has only 5! My favorite Leica M Edition 60 has only 3! The camera capability is not judged by the number of adjustment buttons, not by how many or how little, the artworks do the talk. I prefer the design philosophy of Leica, Phase One XF, and Hasselblad - for example, X1D and the just-announced 907X-CFV II. However, I could also shoot with GFX100 without a problem, it is just not a design approach I prefer, which does not make it a bad camera.
SONY A7RIII, which is my most-used camera at the moment, has 15 buttons and against common opinions - better menu system, IMHO, than Fujifilm. Fujifilm successfully creates a group of loyal users to praise for its menu system says Fujifilm did an excellent job in market communication. Fujifilm produces great cameras, for example, the GFX100 - a typical engineer-driven design approach that will please some users and displease others, but let's not take away the fact that it is a fantastic camera, or I won't buy and shoot with it, simple as that. However, the design and menu system? - left much to be desired.
The biggest room in the world is room for improvement.
~ Helmut Schmidt
Sure, the camera design is biased to how it will be used and purposed for, so the result can be different, but to say something on hand is already perfect is self-hypnotize. I have no problem with not shooting with the best camera. However, I feel ashamed that I am using better cameras but cannot create better pictures than those masters who produce their iconic images using a much less capable camera. No camera is perfect for anyone, and any camera can be improved. Some imagination is needed, not the uneducated argument.
Enough on the design, for now, I will focus on the lens.
Fujinon GF lens program as of July 2019:
GF23/4 R LM WR - I don't have this lens because I don't usually shoot such wide-angle lenses but also because I have reasonably good alternatives: Canon TS-E 17/4L and Canon TS-E 24/3.5L II with Techart EF-GF adapter. In landscape situation, I prefer stitched images for better perspective without overstitching the corners, many people like it, I don't.
GF45/2.8 R WR - One of my first GF lenses and an excellent lens. This focal length on 55mm diagonal sensor equivalent to 36mm, that is very close to what I usually shoot with Leica M camera, the 35mm lenses. The 3:4 ratio makes this lens appears a little longer, and I use this lens for many portrait works. This lens shall last as long as I am using the GFX system.
GF 50/3.5 R LM WR - should be a good lens, but not for me because it is too close to GF 45/2.8 that I am already using. Of course, there is some subtle difference between 45mm and 50mm focal length, but I can cover it with the GF 32-64/4 zoom, besides I do not want to risk introducing dust to the sensor when changing lens often. I wish it to be 55mm, an actual standard lens that I can use for shooting one camera/one lens scenario. GFX system has no small camera and making a lens a bit smaller does not help much, especially on GFX100.
GF63/2.8 R WR - One of my first GF lenses and the one I use rarely. It is good, but not better than GF 32-64/4 zoom setting at 63mm, and only 1/2 stop slower. My least used lens.
GF 110/2 R LM WR - The lens I added to my GFX system once it is in stock in the camera store. An excellent lens, a bit heavy, my most often use GF lens when shooting inside the studio. I do not find this lens much useful for me outside of the studio because I do not plan to use the GFX system for the short telephoto shoot; I will use a 24X36 FF system instead for more spontaneous AF and better mobility. I did use it for a number of occasions with satisfying results. It is a lens worth trust.
GF 120/4 R LM OIS WR Macro - Not in my collection yet because for macro works, I will use the 24X36 FF system, and inside the studio, I will use my Phase One XF or Hasselblad H system which I have better lens choice and set up. Alternatively, I can use the GFX100 on Sinar P3 to work with my Rodenstock HR lenses, although I do not see it happen. I could also mount my Canon TS-E 90/2.8L Macro and TS-E 135/4L Macro using a Techart adapter that will work more appropriately for macro solution, IMHO. I don't need this lens does not mean it is not a great lens, which I don't have a doubt.
GF 250/4 R LM OIS WR - Not in my collection yet and don't need it now, but there is a possibility that I may want it later. I need to develop more desire to want to have it. It should be a good lens.
GF 32-64/4 R LM WR - One of my first GF lenses and the one I use the most. High quality and dependable in all situations when I am shooting with the GFX system. My favorite GF lens at the moment.
GF 100-200/5.6 R LM OIS WR - await delivery! I would use it in one of my field trips soon, for the travel landscape — will comment after I use it.
55mm - may be f/2.8 or f/2
50-110mm zoom, hopefully, f/4
On waiting - my RRS L Plate - pending fulfillment, hopefully, will arrive soon
July 24 - at The Okura Prestige Bangkok, put my GFX100 into different use
July 26 - at Central Embassy Bangkok
August 9, 2019 - Wat Tri Thotsathep - restoration in progress - the third visit
August 14, 2019
As the Really Right Stuff "L" plate still in no sight of delivery so I get a Smallrig version of "L" plate for my upcoming field trip. As expected, the Smallrig "L" plate is less finished than RRS while it also costs less, it does not appear to me that is unuseful, it should work well, but I will replace it with the original RRS "L" when it comes.
August 15, 2019
The GF 100-200mm F5.6 R LM OIS WR arrived! Not exactly a lightweight lens, but at 1,050g, it is not a burden to travel with. The ø67mm thread is convenient to use smaller filter holders making this lens landscape friendly; the purpose I would use this lens primarily.
As of August 15, 2019, Fujifilm latest G mount lens roadmap has somehow answered my wishlist for a 50-110/4 zoom, well, not precisely but close enough. A GF 45-100mm F4 R LM OIS WR scheduled for the release of 2020, this would probably be my most often use lens when it is available!
August 28, 2019 Banyueli She Village, Xiapu, Ningde, Fujian, China
Not all, but many Chinese photographers practice the art similar to calligraphy - by copy the maters (or so-called masters) they admired - often with the meticulous approach - the exact spot, angle, time of the day, sometimes that exact day of a year, some may go even further to use the exact lens and setting.
One good example here: with this elderly She tribe people, who dressed in the traditional costume, works more or less like a photo model, do the pose in slow motion, day after day, year after year when her picture took by a Chinese photographer that grasped the public's attention and photographers flocked to the small village to try to make the "exact" image. Millions after millions of copies each year!
She is of not the purpose of my travel to the village, of course. However, seeing so many traveling photographers trying to take the same picture and sometimes see photographers tried to squeeze into the exact spot to get a perfect "copy," I can't help but snapped a few shots just to entertain the moment!
August 28, 2019 Shajiang Village, Xiapu, Ningde, Fujian, China
It is seldom for me to push the aperture setting to avoid diffraction, but with this shot, I wanted to record as many details as possible to maximize sharpness, so I pushed my GF 32-64/4 to f/32. I am not disappointed!
September 25, 2019 SOTA 96
Back to the comfort of my Bangkok Studio - SOTA 96
November 21, 2019 Sabrina Baycroft at B Loft 115, Mueang Samut Prakan, Thailand
A very sharp contrast of cameras! The Sigma fp being the smallest mirrorless FF camera and the Fujifilm GFX100, the giant mirrorless camera. Each does what it is supposed to deliver, and both are excellent cameras.
November 29 - December 10 Russia
I have intended to make this Russia trip to focus a bit more on winter landscapes, so Fujifilm GFX 100 with GF 23/4 R LM WR, GF 32-64/4 R LM WR and GF 100-200/5.6 R LM OIS WR are the choice of my high resolution camera along with my other camera systems. Now on the last shooting day of this trip, my conclusion for the usefulness of GF lenses for this trip:
GF 32-64/4 R LM WR - this most useful lens for my shooting.
GF 23/4 R LM WR - minimal use this time, and I wished I have the Canon TS-E 24/3.5L II + adapter instead. The tilt-shift control would allow more versatile wide-angle framing for my preferred shots.
GF 100-200/5.6 R LM OIS WR - not used even once, not that this is not the right lens, but I have to work out a different camera bag set up for next trip, which I shall bring along again.
The above image shot with SNY A7R IV on my Fujifilm GFX100 and three GF lenses with me on the last shooting day of my Russian trip. I own both camera systems for some time already but have never traveled for photography with both together until now. Indeed the larger sensor size on Fujiful GFX100 (+68% over 24X36 FF sensor) gives it a clear edge on image rendering and extra attainable stretch on prints making it a more suitable choice for landscape work. However, at the moment, the Fujifilm does not have the lenses such as the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90/2.8-4 ASPH that I have for my Leica SL system nor FE 24-70/2.8 GM for my SONY Alpha system that is somewhat limiting. I owned many Fujinon lenses for my GFX system, but a wide-to-medium-tele GF lens would be great as a mobile and versatile solution. I have many GF lenses, including my 4 Canon TS-E lenses, which will make up an excellent landscape system with my GFX50s and GFX100.
The IBIS unit for the GFX100 is very effective and makes the camera the most useful medium format camera I have ever use, Mamiya 7 included.
On the other hand, the slight disadvantage on sensor size for SONY A7R IV when compares to Fujifilm GFX 100 is more than made up by almost everything else my SONY A7R IV is capable of delivering, mostly with superior performance. A7R IV, as of this writing, December 9, 2019, is still the best overall camera for all uses, IMHO. ~ more on https://www.kaisernchen.com/post/the-running-trains-sony-e-mount-ff-cameras
January 1, 2020 Bangkok, Thailand
Seconds into 2020 on Taksin Bridge over Chao Phraya River.
January 23, 2020 Bangkok, Thailand
2020 starts with quite a few photography activities for me, and none of my shots made with the Fujifilm GFX 100 yet, except those I shot in the first few seconds into 2020. Fujifilm just released the GF 45-100/4 R LM OIS WR - a lens which focal length that I use the most and complete the range with my GF 32-64/4 R LM WR and GF 100-200/5.6 R LM OIS WR, so I am expecting this would be my most often use lens when it becomes available.
Fujifilm also updates the G-mount Lens Roadmap with a GF 30/3.5 R WR (not interested), and a fast GF 80/1.7 R WR (highly interested) added to the roadmap that makes the Fujifilm GFX system a more competitive one.
January 29, 2020 with Kate Ri at Samut Songkhram Salt Farm, Thailand
A capture from the commercial shoot of Thai actress Mookda Narinrak at SOTA 96 Bangkok for Twin Lotus
Very few activities since mid-March as the CCP virus (yes, I agreed it is CCP virus as it was originated) pandemic situations worsened. As a safety measurement, I have my camera and lenses to go through my UV disinfection chamber every time I use them.
The alternative lenses
One of the most definite advantages of the modern digital system is the total integration between the lens, camera operations, sensor module and the processor of the advanced algorithm, and then the raw file development software. The use of an alternative lens is a break in the quality control chain of the system. However, the argument of adding flexibility to the original lens program does not offer a valid one. Economic is obvious another factor and one that each photographer needs to evaluate over the desired image quality. Personally, my preference is total system integration for best control of image quality. However, with Fujifilm, I have consistently use the Canon TS-E lenses, which provide critical lens-movement that the existing Fujifilm GF lenses lack, for example, the landscape, architecture, product, and creative portraiture shots. Adaptation of using cinematic lenses to the Fujifilm GFX100 is an intrigued one, for example, the Sigma 24-35mm T2.2 FF design for outstanding resolution for 6k-8k shooting. The lens attached to my Fujifilm GFX100 with good balance and the free of focusing breath is a favorable advantage to conventional photographic lenses for focuses-stack. The Sigma 24-35mm T2.2 is among the brightest zoom lenses practical enough for use with the Fujifilm GFX100 in full resolution.
The Ploenchit and Wireless Road interesetion area of Bangkok in the sunsetting hour.
The GFX system received the long-awaited firmware update at the end of June. My Fujifilm GFX100 is now running on Firmware 2.0 and battle-ready. Claimed to be the biggest firmware upgrade in the history of the Fujifilm GFX System, but in reality, it is a little underwhelm than it sounds. The enhanced image reproduction is just adding some film simulations that I don't use before this firmware or after. The improved autofocus performance is welcome, nice features, not something groundbreaking, but deserves some credit. Expanding functionality is fine, all quite minor to me, but could be more useful for other users, which I cannot speak for. Gimbal/Drone compatibility could be helpful, and it is something I have not done yet but will try it soon.
Now, the biggest upgrade seemed to be the RAW Video Data Output - not for me, but this is an essential move that is making the GFX100 a legitimate cine tool, good move for Fujifilm!
The feature that I am really look forward, as rumor mill suggested, is the pixel shift multi-shot mode which did not arrive nor mentioned. My SONY A7R IV has such feature that I have never use once yet coming from previous experience with Sinar eVolution 75H & 86H I know how useful it can be when it is needed. It is just a matter of time for such feature to become available with GFX 100 base on the technology Fujifilm already developed, hopefully soon!
The Fujifilm GFX system also added one more lens - the GF 30mm F3.5 R WR. I expect this is a very good lens, like all other GF lenses I own, although it is not a priority lens for me to get one because I have the GF 32-64/4 R LM WR to cover this focal length. I will avoid the debate on zoom versus prime because such discussion has no end and not entirely meaningful to me. I believe what Fujifilm writes about this lens, but masterpieces do not always come out of the best lens.
November 25, 2020 - My Fujifilm GFX100 did not get to use much during this pandemic time while Fujifilm continue to work diligently on Firmware upgrade making this camera more versatile, more capable.
Fujifilm GFX100 installed the Firmware Version 3.00 which adds the Pixel Shift Multi-Shot function that allowing photographers to create images with 400MP of resolution.
With the new software application, FUJIFILM Pixel Shift Combiner (Pixel Shift Combiner), which combines the 16 RAW images created by the new Pixel Shift Multi-Shot function into a single 400MP image. It also facilitates tethered capture capability when used with the Pixel Shift Multi-Shot function.
The additional resolution creates images with incredibly accurate color reproduction that are high in detail and rich in tonality - by align each pixel under the Bayer filter with full colors to faithfully reproduce every detail and achieve superior image quality with 400 megapixels of resolution.
This makes the Fujifilm GFX100 a real bargain camera for what it is capable of!
Fujifilm also introduce a forensic-focused GFX100 IR camera on November 25, 2020 which may also appeals to cultural preservation professionals for analyzing pigments and in works of art and historical artifacts, even if they have degraded over time. All good news!
My GFX100 did not get much use after March, and I shall put it into some works in 2021.
Fujifilm GFX100 is a very competitive camera and an excellent tool for still photography. The much anticipated, rumored, 100s model with the same sensor in a smaller package will be the Fujifilm GFX 4th model. As I had predicted when Fujifilm launched the 50s - a supposedly new camera system dwells in an aged design, Fujifilm will probably need 3-4 camera models before the final design settling down.
The rumored MSRP of the 100s is quite aggressive, suggesting that the Fujifilm GFX system is not growing to where the company expected, and Fujifilm wants to push it. I think my GFX100 is already a bargain; the rumored $5,999 GFX100s will probably not deliver what Fujifilm hopes but will provide an affordable upgrade path for the previous 50S and 50R users.
The camera's size needs to factor with the set of lenses, I am not too bothered with the size of GFX100, but I prefer it to be smaller, ideally something like Hasselblad's X1D, or a tab bigger but in similar shape and form. I may consider switching to a more portable chassis if it does not compromise the specification and performance. GFX100 is a camera that gets things done, dependable, but difficult to love it. I love the Hasselblad X1D and 907X, outstanding XCD lenses that are at least as good as GF lenses, but I will pick to use GFX100 if I work under pressure, as of today! Phase One is a different class.
My new project "Cycle of Life"
Adding GFX100 to shoot the project, this image blog inspired by a great friend of mine, the Master Photographer Ko Sichi, dated back more than 20 years ago during a trip to Chiangmai, Thailand, where we stayed overnight at a lovely Thai wooden house in a rose farm belonged to a friend of mine, Jo.
Ko was with his wife, Jessie Fan, a renowned dancer, a cheerful character, and traveling with the couple has every minute filled with Ko's stories and his pursuit of photography with people I could only know by their name on books. Conversations with Ko on photography are all about concepts, philosophy, and passion.
The morning of a rose farm is beautiful; beads of dew on rose petals reflect the light from the rising sun, and in no time, we found ourselves with the camera started taking pictures. It was when the exposed images stored inside the film catridge, and your curiosity hung in suspense before the development.
I was an avid Contax RTS III user back then with an extensive range of Carl Zeiss AE and MM lenses for the system - I have the best camera and lenses, full of confidence until about a week later compared my transparencies with Ko's. It was a shocking experience yet a great revelation to find out that all my slides are one after another correctly exposed, sharp, and colorful roses while Ko's roses are withered, tainted, and incomplete. Mine was ordinary, if not boring, and Ko's unexpected, mesmerizing and extraordinary!
Ko passed away earlier this year, June 2020 but lived in my mind with those unforgettable moments and masterful images he created. The idea of developing this series of images, "Cycle of Life," did not come to mind until a rather casual visit to a local park a few days ago with a respected Thai friend, Chusak Voraphitak, the park with the water lily ponds, that reminded me the moments with Ko.
January 27, 2021 Fujifilm GFX100S & GF 80mm F 1.7 WR
From GFX100 to GFX100S - in a heartbeat!
The most important factor of a camera, IMHO, is image quality; getting there are the camera's engineering issues and the photographer's job to make all things under control.
The camera's look is not as big a problem as its size because it could intimidate the subject in front of it or pulls too much attention. However, I am still not too fond of the industrial design of the GFX100s that appeared as an engineer put to design it! That is the thing for the entire GFX series cameras - the 50S looked aged, the 50R being pretentious, 100 seemed rushed into market with ½ design done, and we arrived at this 100S, a result like a carpenter working on a feeble light.... I am subjective, as most people! That does not mean I cannot use them; I have the 50R and happy with its image quality, I have the GFX100, and it performs fantastically with very high image quality. They are reliable tools. It is the photographer's job to learn to master the instrument.
The size of the GFX100 does not bother me; I am used to the size of professional reflex cameras of the past that is similar in size and weight (around1,300-1,400grams). All my other medium format cameras, except Hasselblad X1DII and 907X, are heavier than GFX100. But if Fujifilm can produce a version of GFX100 smaller and lighter without compromise the image quality, then that is the way to go, for me at least.
Fujifilm could have kept the 5.76M dot OLED/0.86x EVF than settle with the older 3.69M dot OLED/0.77x but, the newer generation IBIS is 0.5EV better, so that is even. Others I don't care about, except now it uses the NP-W235 battery that requires new management; four would be ideal.
The engineers at Fujifilm deserve credit to bring out the GFX100s without compromising primary image making capabilities and doing so with an aggressive price strategy.
Fujifilm GFX100s comes 24 hours after SONY introduces its Alpha 1, which packs all the latest technology, a different beast. May we see a GFX model with similar EVF, stacked CMOS sensor, and autofocus performance one day? Before then, I will switch to GFX100S, in a heart beat.
Fujifilm GF 80mm F 1.7 WR
The GF 80mm F1.7 is a welcome addition to the Fujifilm GFX family and the one that I would likely to use most often for portraitures outside of studio! The GF 100mm F2 R LM WR is an excellent lens which I enjoy using in my studio, in fact the most used lens on my GFX100, however, the 80mm F1.7 will be more preferred focal length outside of studio which I spend more time shooting. All the lens has its place!
February 27 Snow Moon
The 2nd full moon in 2021 is also known as the Snow Moon, due to typically heavy snow in February, indicating such term did not come from tropical countries.
It is also celebrated by the Chinese as the "Spring Lantern Festival" - on the 15th day of the first month in the lunisolar Chinese calendar. It is considered the final day of the traditional Chinese Spring Festival, such tradition traced back to Emperor Ming (28-75 AD) of the Han Dynasty, close to two millennia ago.
The picture took at 2:13AM when the moon is high in the cloudless sky. The Minolta RF 800 1:8 mounted on Fujifilm GFX100 captured the bight moon with very good detail, considered it is approaching its orbital perigee some 365k kilometers away.
Moon shot is easy, just focus, and Sunny 16 Applies.
The shot can be much better if I use the Pixel Shift Multi-Shot to get a better resolution and more accurate and larger color range on the surface of the moon, but I did not. I was lazy.
March 5, 2021 My GFX100S delivered! The new GFX100S deserves a new blog of its own Fujifilm GFX100S
It is what it is, and as expected! It is not a small camera, but it is, by comparison, very compact to GFX100. I have been using the GFX100 since July 2019 and was not bothered by its weight and size, but I welcome the camera of similar specification in a smaller package. The weight is not what I concern much; size is; for being travel-friendly. However, it is not something I would complain although I don't mind that the GFX100S is a couple of hundred grams heavier, so it may balance better with the larger lens.
The battery is one of the factors to allows the GFX100S to be able to shrink in size. The in-camera battery capacity was reduced from two on GFX100 to single in GFX100S. It is not an unreasonable approach as GFX100 runs on one battery even when you can place two inside or just one, and the most camera runs on single battery anyway. The switch made possible from Fujifilm re-engineered the electronics, so it runs on 7.2 V than 12.6 V on GFX100. The new battery NP-W235 is about the weight and size of the older NP-T125 but has a higher capacity of 16 Wh/2,200 mAh to just 14 Wh/1,230 mAh, which means the GFX100S run on lower consumption on a higher-capacity battery so that it may outrun the GFX100 with two cells.
The GFX100S is the fourth member of the Fujifilm GFX camera line. My prediction from the introduction of Fujifilm GFX 50S still holds today - I predicted that Fujifilm would struggle to settle on the final camera design for at least 3-4 models.
My take on the 50S was a new mirrorless system camera built on a decades-old camera concept; 50R mimicking rangefinder but in the wrong size; GFX100 rushed to market with design half-finished!
The GFX100S appears modeled from Fujifilm's popular APS-C cameras with re-arrangements; on the other hand, it is almost like a sister camera to Panasonic S1R, a great FF camera much better built. However, the GFX100S is by no means a poorly made camera; it is decent enough, and I am without a doubt it will deliver exceptional image quality, as does the GFX100, and it is what mattered the most.
On paper, Fujifilm filled the specification sheet with most features essential for photography and much more. My perspective on the camera as an industrial designer will not make my appreciation of new photographic tools such as GFX100S any less as a photographer. The photographer's job is to learn the camera, be acquainted with the camera, and be the master.
"It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument."
~ Ansel Adams
Do I miss anything on the GFX100? The EVF - probably at the cost of more power consumption, but it is more desirable, although it is not a deciding factor for picture quality. The rest very much inherited from the GFX100, except the integrated vertical grip with convenient controls, but I take the size reduction. The GFX100 has a nice weight that makes low shutter speed shooting with more confidence; I need to find out with GFX100S. The handle feels a bit short that can be improved with an after-market "L" plate, which will also add some weight and structural strength to the camera, something I do to all my cameras, except Leica M and Q, since the founding of RRS.
Fujifilm did what the company needed to do to try to break new marketing grounds. It is a straightforward strategy: a good quality product at a bargain. It will work to some extent but will it result in what Fujifilm hopes for? I have a reservation. The old marketing tactic is again at play to use low initial volume to drive market anxiety. Better safe than risking.
It is an excellent time with technology developments available for camera makers to make great products; it is a dangerous time when only a few things are certain, camera business not among them.
Go out and shoot!
March 6 Shalika Chitkosolsuk "Screened" Samut Prakan, Thailand
Red Carpet vs. Street
Photography has changed a lot and without a doubt has become one of the most popular activities involved by most people after drink and eat. The camera also becomes an object for the user to identify oneself, particularly among non-professional users. Such a trend also let rise to the accessorizing camera as a widespread photography discussion with absolutely nothing or very little to do with photography.
Likewise, the swarm of camera reviews goes as far as analyzing rumors, un-boxing, all the comical characters of initial camera review, serious, funny, crazy field review, all the way to finding ways to break the camera by putting it to laundry machine or blender. Where is authentic photography is not a concern; identification is what most are after.
The rise of digital media also helped diversify the use of images, still and animated; the content creation targets various audiences that quality of image often not the most critical concern, popularity probably is.
Here we have two good examples, the Hasselblad 907X and the newest Fujifilm GFX100S, one from a company trying to keep its head above water and one juggernaut that has probably more resources than the management capable of manage effectively.
On the specification sheet, the Fujifilm wins in a sweep. The GFX100S with its IBIS can potentially shoot at ISO 100 when the 907X needs to push to ISO 1,600 with all other things equal. The 100MP can allow larger and higher quality print than 907X's 50MP if the user makes prints. And the system cost - camera plus several lenses. There is a logical choice to make, and the logic shows in sales.
The reality is that camera is a tool; the best tool today will be replaced by the following tool, usually better, sooner or later. Usually sooner! The old tools do not become useless; in fact, I would comfortably assume that the best 10% of pictures from a decade ago are still better than most of the images taken by the most advanced cameras today by average users. And a decade-old camera can still service what most people do with their pictures today, except instant post. We can pick one camera over another base on logic; however, logic does not rule everyone's life.
More to continue on the new blog - Fujifilm GFX100S