At $6,500, Fujifilm’s GFX 50S will take on both medium format and full-frame rivals

Fujifilm today announced details on pricing and availability for its new medium format camera, the GFX 50S. The 50-megapixel mirrorless camera will be available by the end of February and will sell for $6,500, putting it neck-and-neck with the Nikon D5 and just $500 above the Canon 1D X Mark II, both of which use the smaller full-frame format. This also puts the GFX 50S well below what may be its most direct competitor, the $9,000 mirrorless X1D from Hasselblad that uses the same sensor. (All prices are for the body only.)

Three new Fujinon GF lenses will be available alongside the release of the camera: a 63mm f/2.8, 32-64mm f/4, and 120mm f/4 macro. They will be priced at $1,500, $2,300, and $2,700, respectively. A 110mm f/2, 23mm f/4, and 45mm f/2.8 are slated to be released at some point later this year, but no prices were given at this time. Like the camera body, all GF lenses are dust and moisture sealed for use in all weather conditions.

When paired with the 63mm, Fujifilm says the GFX 50S weighs just 43 ounces (about 2.7 pounds) which the company claims is roughly equal to a full frame DSLR with equivalent lens. The compact, lightweight design and weather sealing may not matter as much in the studio, but will be welcome features for professional travel and landscape photographers.

Users of Fujifilm’s now-discontinued medium format film cameras will be happy to hear that the company will be producing an H to G-mount adapter. With this accessory, photographers will be able to mount Fujinon HC lenses on the GFX 50S and retain full electronic control. This also enables the use of a leaf shutter – used in HC lenses but not native GF lenses – for flash sync at any shutter speed.

Other accessories include a vertical battery grip, electronic viewfinder tilt adapter, and even a view camera adapter to effectively turn the GFX 50S into a digital back for use in large-format systems. Pricing has not been released on the accessories.

The GFX 50S was unveiled in September 2016 and is Fujifilm’s first digital medium format camera, paving the way for the future of what Fujifilm is calling its G format. Many users of Fujifilm’s X-Series, which uses the APS-C format, had long hoped for Fujifilm to introduce a full-frame camera. The company seems to have skipped over it completely, going right to medium format rather than trying to compete with Sony in the full-frame mirrorless arena. By pricing the GFX 50S at $6,500, Fujifilm likely hopes to attract both full-frame photographers as well as existing users of medium format cameras.

First impressions

We had an opportunity to try out the GFX 50S during CES 2017, along with the lenses that will accompany the camera at launch. The camera, which looks like a larger X-T2, has an incredibly solid metal construction. It’s large and heavy for a mirrorless camera, but it isn’t any bigger or heavier than full-frame DSLRs like the D5 or 1D X Mark II, and certainly more compact than a medium format DSLR like Hasselblad’s H6D. As mentioned, the GFX 50S is useful in the studio, but the portability and the weather sealing mean it’s designed to be taken out into the field.

The body provides a nice grip in both our hands, although one-handed operation might be a bit tough. The layout for buttons, dials, and controls are similar to what you’ll find on an interchangeable lens camera (it’ll feel familiar if you’re a Fujifilm camera user), but they are nicely spaced out. On the top you’ll find two dials – one for ISO and another for shutter speed – as well as a monochrome status screen that displays mode and settings. The text on the screen is bright, like an ebook.

Although we didn’t spend enough time with the camera to properly comment on image quality, we will say that what we saw was awesome. The detachable electronic viewfinder was bright and responsive. With 120mm f/4 macro attached, we were able to capture a liquor bottle from several feet across an expansive Las Vegas hotel suite. From what we could see on the 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD, the bottle had amazing, near perfect detail when zoomed in, and we were casually handholding the camera. Imagine if you’re a professional photographer and the opportunity that the resolution provides you, whether in the studio or out in the field. Although it’s all about the photos, the GFX 50S supports video at Full HD 1080 up to 30p.

Again, we would need to see the photos on a proper monitor in order to judge image quality, but from the little of what we’ve seen so far, the GFX 50S has incredible potential. While pricey for general consumers, the camera could make medium format available to more photographers at the pro and enthusiast end.

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