Fujifilm GFX 100 Conclusion
Fuji GFX 100 Conclusion
The Fuji GFX 100 is one of the most unique and ambitious new cameras to come out in 2019. The third offering in Fujifilm's GFX medium-format mirrorless system, the GFX 100 dwarfs not only the other GFX cameras in physical size but also with regards to image quality, AF performance, video features and build quality. Heck, the GFX 100 out-specs most other modern mirrorless cameras in several areas. In fact, the GFX 100 takes aim at those professional and high-end photographers who often reach for gripped, flagship DSLR cameras from Canon and Nikon. Taking the medium-format camera into totally new areas, this model moves beyond the usual slow, methodical photographic genres typically associated with medium-format cameras.
It's more than just a high-resolution camera aimed at landscapes, portraits or studio work. The GFX 100 blends its high-resolution sensor with high-performance capabilities and durable construction that make the camera surprisingly well-suited for some types of action, sports and other fast-paced endeavors -- subjects not traditionally favorable for medium-format cameras. What's more, it's also packed with video features not typically available in this kind of camera. In simpler terms, the GFX 100 is highly versatile in multiple ways.
However, it's not all sunshine and roses. As with most good products, there are a few rough spots. Size and weight, as well as performance limitations, native lens selection and, of course, price are important considerations that might make some take pause when deciding if this is the right camera for them. The GFX 100 is undoubtedly the most versatile medium-format camera to date, but it's not the best or most ideal camera for every type of photographic situation.
Read on to get our final thoughts on the unique Fuji GFX 100 mirrorless camera...
Design & Build Quality
With a design more akin to a fixed-grip, flagship DSLR, the big Fuji GFX 100 feels and handles more like a Canon 1D X Mark II or Nikon D5, for example, than the earlier GFX models or other cameras within Fujifilm's lineup. The camera features thorough, robust weather sealing, a quality that is expected for a camera of this class. While we never subjected our review unit to overly harsh conditions, the build quality of this camera feels extremely nice -- sturdy and robust, yet surprisingly lightweight for a camera of this size and class.
While the integrated vertical grip is nice to have, it feels somewhat unrefined compared to the camera's standard horizontal/primary handgrip. The main handgrip is fairly deep, with ergonomic contouring and wrapped in a grippy material. The vertical grip, on the other hand, is thin, not as deep nor contoured in any way, and isn't covered in a grippy material at all. It's a strange design choice to leave the vertical grip in this seemingly unfinished state. It does however hold two battery packs, leading to very good battery life for a mirrorless camera.
Square-ish gripped shape aside, the GFX 100 also sports a control layout that's more familiar to DSLR shooters, opting to do away with the characteristic shutter speed and ISO dials found on most other Fuji cameras, including the GFX 50S. Instead, most exposure parameters are controlled with front and rear control dials, with various settings displayed on a large top-deck display. It's an interesting design shift, making the GFX 100 more similar to flagship DSLR cameras rather than maintain some characteristic features of previous Fujifilm cameras. However, considering a big target customer segment are those flagship DSLR users, it's not a totally surprising design choice.
In other aspects, physical controls are plentiful and offer a lot of user customization. Strangely, though, many of the buttons, dials and particularly the joystick controls look and feel rather small and even tiny in comparison to the large camera body. There's a lot of empty space, especially on the rear of the camera. They all work fine, don't get us wrong, but having slightly larger buttons would be a welcomed tweak and would improve overall usability.
While we enjoy using the dual joystick controls -- one for horizontal use and another for the vertical orientation -- we are scratching our heads at the omission of the handy four-way directional buttons found on the GFX 50S and many other Fuji X-series cameras. The 4-way controls make menu navigation easier and also allow for additional custom button functions. The camera body is certainly large enough to accommodate them. In lieu of these buttons, Fuji offers customizable touchscreen swiping controls. It's a quirky design, and the touchscreen functions might be troublesome for those shooting out in the cold with gloves.
While the rear touchscreen display is more or less identical to the one on the GFX 50S, including its "triaxial" tilting mechanism, the detachable EVF on the GFX 100 gains a nice upgrade. It's slightly larger and offers a higher resolution panel. Our reviewer found the EVFs on earlier GFX cameras would, at times, feel sluggish and had some artifacting issues. These all appear remedied with the updated EVF inside the GFX 100.
|Fujifilm GF 250mm f/4 lens, 250mm (198mm equiv.), f/4, 1/320s, ISO 250.|
Image Quality & Video
As the "100" in the name suggests, the heart of the Fuji GFX 100 centers on its 102-megapixel BSI medium-format image sensor. As Fujifilm's top-of-the-line GF-series camera, the GFX 100 is capable of capturing incredibly detailed images. The 100MP files coming out of the camera offer incredible resolving power, especially at lower ISO levels, beautiful color rendition and excellent dynamic range for lots of tonal adjustment possibilities in post-production, especially when using the new 16-bit raw file option. While the camera's sensor isn't a "full-size" medium-format sensor, compared to the likes of many Hasselblad or Phase One systems, the chip inside the GFX 100 is still significantly larger than full-frame 35mm sensors (it's the same size as the 50MP sensor in the other GFX cameras), and offers imaging performance that should please those photographers who want the ultimate image quality.
One of the major new features in the GFX 100 is its in-body image stabilization, a first for a GFX series camera and medium-format cameras in general. The camera's 5-axis image stabilization is a stunning engineering feat given the size and mass of the sensor and the precision required to keep its 102-megapixel images sharp. Engineering marvel aside, the inclusion of an IBIS system in the GFX 100 is a critical feature, especially when it comes to versatility, as it lets you shoot handheld and capture tack-sharp shots with this ultra-high-res camera in situations not typically possible. It takes medium format off the tripod and truly into the field. Plus, the image stabilization system is also extremely welcomed when combined with the GFX 100's healthy array of video features.
|100 percent crop of the above image.|
Perhaps the one downside we observed with the GFX 100's image quality is its high ISO performance. It is by no means bad or disappointing, but it's not industry-leading either. As we've seen before, the higher the resolution of the sensor, the smaller the pixels, and so high ISO performance can suffer somewhat as a result. That said, high ISO image quality from the GFX 100 is quite good and the noise characteristics are pleasing with a fine-grained appearance and a low chroma component. However, images can get noisy pretty quickly as you raise the ISO. The maximum native ISO is just 12,800 which is expandable up to 102,400, but, as our reviewer found, the camera does its best up to ISO 1600, and perhaps even up to ISO 6400 in some situations or with careful post-processing. Of course, the severity of the noise can be lessened by resizing images to lower resolutions. However, you're paying for 100MP with this camera, and you likely want to maintain the best image quality possible.
Not only is the GFX 100 a stellar camera for stills, but it's also quite impressively spec'ed for video shooting. Unlike most medium-format cameras, the GFX 100 is surprisingly full-featured when it comes to video capture, offing high-end capabilities such as 4Kp30, Cinema 4K, Log recording and 4:2:2 10-bit uncompressed output via HDMI. Quality-wise, the video from the GFX 100 looks really nice, with very good detail, colors and tones. AF performance for video is pleasing, too, with quick yet smooth focus adjustments thanks to its phase-detect AF system.
Autofocus & Performance
Not only is the GFX 100 a high-resolution camera, but it's also a rather nimble camera -- a characteristic not usually associated with a medium-format camera. One of the major new features is its hybrid phase-detect AF system, a first for a GFX-series camera. As a result, the autofocusing performance is vastly improved, particularly with continuous focusing, compared to the other two GFX models, both of which use contrast-detect AF systems that beget fairly sluggish AF speeds.
|Fujifilm GF 250mm f/4 lens with GF 1.4x teleconverter, 350mm (277mm equiv.), f/5.6, 1/1000s, ISO 1250.|
In our lab testing, the GFX 100's single-shot AF performance was quite fast for a mirrorless camera, and as expected, tested much faster than the GFX 50S. In field-testing, both single-shot AF and continuous AF performed very well, proving a much more capable focusing system than that of the GFX 50S. The hybrid AF system of the GFX 100 offers better AF precision, faster speeds and improved AF point coverage across the sensor area. However, despite noticeable AF improvements compared to its contrast-detect GFX counterparts, the GFX 100's AF system still isn't as fast as those of high-end full-frame mirrorless cameras. The AF system is a big improvement, no doubt, and the camera is much better at focusing on moving subjects, but the GFX 100 still isn't up to snuff for challenging fast-paced action-centric subjects.
When it comes to burst shooting, again, the GFX 100 is much more capable in this area than previous GFX models, and compared to most other medium-format cameras, too. That said, this camera still isn't a "speed demon" by any means. At its fastest, the camera can "only" shoot continuously at 5fps, which is pretty underwhelming compared to most modern full-frame DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Keep in mind, however, that the GFX 100 is cranking through 100-megapixel images from a larger sensor, so 5fps is actually rather impressive for this camera in and of itself.
Compared to other GFX models, the GFX 100 is indeed faster and more nimble, but compared to flagship high-performance DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, the GFX 100 lags behind in AF performance, burst speeds and buffer performance given the high MP count.
|Fujifilm GF 250mm f/4 lens with GF 1.4x teleconverter, 350mm (277mm equiv.), f/5.6, 1/1000s, ISO 640.|
The Fuji GFX 100 is indeed a very surprising camera in multiple ways. With its 100MP medium-format sensor, it offers absolutely outstanding image quality performance, making it a wonderful camera for those who need the ultimate in quality and resolution from their photographs. However, it's more than just a high-res camera. From its tall, gripped body design, its phase-detect AF system, effective IBIS, burst capabilities (within reason) and its well-rounded video features, the GFX 100 is a high-res camera that's also highly versatile.
However, despite its improved autofocus and better performance over previous GFX models, if you shoot lots of wildlife, sports or other action subjects, the GFX 100 isn't really the most appropriate camera for those endeavors. The native GF lens lineup is still rather limited, especially for telephoto and supertelephoto options. The GFX 100's top 5fps burst rate is rather paltry compared to most other high-end, modern (albeit smaller-sensor) cameras on the market. And its $10,000 price tag is another major consideration. Yes, the GFX 100 is significantly more affordable than traditional medium-format cameras, but if you need greater speed, better autofocus, more lens options and don't necessarily need 100MP worth of image data, then you're camera budget is likely better spent on something else.
In the end, the Fuji GFX 100 is a very unique camera, offering an enticing combination of image resolution and performance that simply isn't found elsewhere on the market. It's not without some flaws, of course, but for a first attempt at a camera with these unique features, specs and capabilities, Fujifilm really set the bar at a new level.
The Fujifilm GFX 100 definitely gets the nod as a Dave's Pick in our book.
Pros & Cons
- Outstanding image quality
- 16-bit raw files (in single-shot mode)
- Good high ISO performance
- Excellent dynamic range
- 5-axis in-body image stabilization is very good
- Hybrid AF system with phase-detect is fast, precise & works well for C-AF
- Much better AF performance than previous GFX models
- Weather-sealed magnesium alloy body
- Dual UHS-II SD card slots
- Large, crisp EVF with improved performance over earlier GFX models
- Fast burst shooting for its class
- Excellent video quality
- 4K video up to 30p
- Lots of advanced video features
- Good battery life
- Supports USB charging and USB Power Delivery
- 5fps continuous shooting limits usability for sports/action
- Bit depth drops to 14 bits for continuous shooting modes
- High ISOs are good for 100MP MF sensor, but not industry-leading
- Vertical grip feels shallow, uncontoured and not covered in grip material
- Buffer depths are fairly shallow
- Flash sync limited to 1/125s
- GF lens lineup still pretty limited, especially with telephoto options
- $10,000 is a good value for a medium-format camera, but expensive compared to potentially competing flagship DSLRs