Fuji GFX 50R Conclusion

Back in 2016, Fujifilm unveiled their new GFX medium-format mirrorless camera system and announced its first family member, the GFX 50S. This medium-format camera featured a 51.4-megapixel Bayer-filtered CMOS image sensor inside a pretty large and very expensive camera body. Fast forward a couple of years and Fujifilm has launched their second medium-format camera based on the same sensor, the GFX 50R.

There are a lot of similarities between the GFX 50R and the GFX 50S, although you may not expect it when you first look at the cameras. The 50R looks very different when compared to the 50S, opting for a slimmer, more brick-like design (rather like a supersized X-Pro2). This change in design leads to not only a reduced price, but also results in a different kind of user experience when shooting with the GFX 50R when compared to the 50S.

The Fuji GFX 50R looks much different than the GFX 50S. It is styled more like a Fuji X-Pro 2 in its general design. While in some ways smaller than the GFX 50S, the 50R is still a large, bulky camera. Unfortunately, the front grip is quite small and the overall ergonomics are troublesome, particularly when using a heavy GF lens.

Camera Design: Smaller, but blocky and cumbersome

Whereas the GFX 50S was bulky and included a pronounced front grip, the GFX 50R opts instead for a blockier, somewhat smaller design. The GFX 50R is basically shaped like a (very) large Fuji X-Pro2 camera. While the 50R is, at least in our eyes, a more stylish GFX camera, there are some usability concerns which arise from the new design.

The lack of a deep front grip as is found on the 50S means that the 50R can be a bit difficult to hold, especially when paired with the heavier Fujinon GF lenses. It's not easy to get a comfortable grip around the camera. While a blocky design can be nice to look at, especially compared to the oddly-shaped and asymmetrical 50S body, the 50R is not as comfortable to hold due to its size, the weight of the GF lenses and the lack of a deeper grip.

Fuji has also removed some controls and features from the body. Gone are the top deck display, tri-axial touchscreen (the 50R's display tilts up and down, but not to the side), ISO dial and navigation buttons. Further, the 50R's electronic viewfinder has lower magnification than the viewfinder on the 50S (which is removable and has an optional tilting adapter).

With a lower price tag comes a stripped-down camera body. For some users, this may prove to be a worthwhile trade. For others, the poor ergonomics of the 50R may be a deal breaker.

Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR lens at 63mm (50mm equiv.), f/8, 1/3s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for raw image.

Image Quality: It's what inside that counts

Before getting into the performance of the image sensor and the GFX 50R's outstanding image quality, there is a bit of ambiguity with respect to what a "medium-format" image sensor actually is. In the case of the GFX 50R, the image sensor is a 43.8 x 32.9 millimeter 51.4-megapixel CMOS sensor. This is the same size sensor as is found in the Hasselblad X1D and the Pentax 645Z. However, the sensor is smaller than the one found in the medium-format digital backs produced by companies such as Hasselblad and Phase One. Those sensors, also called medium format, are around 53.7 x 40.4 millimeters. This means that while larger than full-frame image sensors (by about 1.7x), the Fuji GFX system is not built around the largest type of medium-format image sensor.

Fujinon GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR at 45mm (36mm equiv.), f/8, 1/4s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for raw image.
Fujinon GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR at 45mm (36mm equiv.), f/8, 1/4s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop from the above image. This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for raw image.
Fujinon GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR at 45mm (36mm equiv.), f/8, 1/4s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop from the above image. This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for raw image.

Regardless of the sensor size specifics, the 50R, like the 50S before it, produces superb stills across a wide variety of ISOs while producing images with excellent color and hue accuracy. Image files are very sharp with outstanding detail and low noise, but like the 50S, the 50R can produce moiré and other aliasing artifacts, which can be tricky to correct during post-processing. As we have seen with many other Bayer-filtered cameras with high resolving capabilities, it's a tradeoff.

Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR lens at 64mm (51mm equiv.), f/11, 2.3s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for raw image.

For photographers interested in capturing images of highly-varied light, you will want to process raw files, as the camera showed the tendency to produce very dark, clipped shadows in JPEGs using default settings. Dynamic range performance with raw files is excellent, however.

As you increase the ISO sensitivity, the GFX 50R continues to perform very well. From the base ISO of 100 to around ISO 800, there is very little noticeable drop in image quality. At ISO 1600 and 3200, performance remains very good, although at the latter ISO, you can more easily see the effects of noise reduction processing. We were able to produce detailed 30 x 40 inch prints up to ISO 3200, although some fine luminance noise "grain" is visible at ISO 800-3200. At ISO 6400, it remains possible to produce a nice 24 x 36 print, which is remarkable. And at ISO 12,800, you can make a good 16 x 20 print, which is as impressive as it was when the GFX 50S first achieved this feat.

Fujinon GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR at 45mm (36mm equiv.), f/2.8, 6.5s, ISO 6,400.
Click for full-size image. Click here for raw image.
Fujinon GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR at 45mm (36mm equiv.), f/2.8, 6.5s, ISO 6,400.
100 percent crop from the above image. Click for full-size image. Click here for raw image.
Fujinon GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR at 45mm (36mm equiv.), f/2.8, 6.5s, ISO 6,400.
100 percent crop from the above image. Click for full-size image. Click here for raw image.

Overall, the image quality from the 50R is essentially identical to that from the 50S, which is to say superb. The primary draw of the GFX 50R is medium-format image quality in a more affordable package and the 50R delivers here in spades. The camera produces incredibly sharp and detailed images across an impressive range of ISOs.

Autofocus and Performance: A mixed bag

Autofocus and performance is an area where the GFX 50R offers slight improvements over the 50S, but still lags quite a bit from similarly-priced full-frame cameras. Whereas high-end full-frame cameras in this price range generally deliver not only great image quality, but also a lot of speed and overall performance, the 50R remains primarily focused on image quality.

On the positive side, the GFX 50R offers better autofocus and speed than some other medium-format cameras, although it is not as fast as the relatively old Pentax 645Z DSLR, which is no surprise given the Pentax's dedicated phase-detect AF sensor. The 50R's 425-point contrast-detect autofocus system is noticeably slower, but it covers nearly all of the image area, which is impressive given the large sensor size.

Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR lens at 63mm (50mm equiv.), f/2.8, 1/60s, ISO 160.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for raw image.

Although a bit sluggish, autofocus performance is accurate and fast enough for many types of photography. The GFX 50R is not an action camera, but it's also not a slouch when compared to other large-sensored cameras. Low-light autofocus performance is also pretty solid. The camera does include face and eye-detect autofocus, although the performance is mixed.

Like the 50S, the 50R is capable of shooting at up to three frames per second. The GFX 50R is not speedy, but its speed is typical for a medium-format camera. Buffer depths are also not great, but ample enough for short bursts and improved in some cases when compared to the 50S, especially when shooting JPEG images. In the lab, the GFX 50R had an unlimited JPEG buffer, whereas the 50S slowed down after 40 frames. The buffer when shooting lossless raw files also improved over the 50S, but only modestly, from 21 to 25 frames. As we said when reviewing the 50S, it's not an action camera. The 50R is not either, although its performance is slightly improved compared to when we tested the 50S.

Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR lens at 63mm (50mm equiv.), f/8, 1/10s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for raw image.

Summary: Same great image quality in a lesser body

The Fujifilm GFX 50R includes many of the features which made the GFX 50S such an impressive camera when it released. However, despite the lower price point, the GFX 50R also misses the mark in some ways which may prove significant for some photographers. The superior ergonomics of the 50S may have resulted in an ugly camera, but it feels great to hold and use, even when using heavy lenses. The 50R, on the other hand, is blocky and difficult to grip.

Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR lens at 54.6mm (43mm equiv.), f/16, 0.9s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for raw image.

With that said, the 50R does improve the camera's overall performance some and retains the excellent imaging performance of the 50S. The 51.4-megapixel medium-format image sensor captures great images with excellent detail, colors and dynamic range, especially if you are working with the 14-bit raw files. Autofocus performance, although a bit sluggish, is good for its class and the autofocus area coverage is excellent.

The GFX 50R cannot compete against high-end full-frame cameras in terms of speed, autofocus or video features. However, it delivers incredible image quality above and beyond what even very good full-frame cameras offer. To this end, we think that the GFX 50R is a very good camera for stills photographers looking for the ultimate in image quality. However, it's likely the case that for some photographers, the GFX 50S remains a better overall choice than the GFX 50R. But for those who are willing to live with the tradeoffs Fujifilm made to reduce the size and lower the price, we definitely recommend the GFX 50R as a Dave's Pick.

Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR lens at 41.1mm (33mm equiv.), f/9, 4s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for raw image.

Pros & Cons

  • Same outstanding image quality as 50S
  • Superb high ISO performance
  • Excellent dynamic range in raw files
  • Stunning print quality
  • Bright colors with very good hue accuracy
  • Fuji Film Simulations
  • Effective Highlight/Shadow Tone and D-Range settings
  • Excellent viewfinder coverage
  • Useful dedicated autofocus point joystick
  • 425-point autofocus system covers much of the image area
  • AF illuminator (50S doesn't have one)
  • Well-built weather sealed body
  • Good touchscreen
  • Deeper JPEG buffer (unlimited versus 40 frames)
  • Slightly deeper lossless compressed raw buffer (25 versus 21 frames)
  • Dual SD card slots, both with UHS-II support
  • Fast buffer clearing
  • Decent battery life for its class
  • USB Type-C (USB 3.1 Gen I) port
  • Built-in Wi-Fi with added Bluetooth
  • Slimmer body than 50S (but still bulky)
  • Less expensive than 50S
  • Lackluster ergonomics
  • Poor grip when using heavy Fujinon GF lenses
  • Fewer controls
  • Slow autofocus
  • Smaller, fixed EVF
  • LCD tilts in two directions rather than three
  • No top-deck status display
  • Low-light AF can struggle when handheld
  • Limited dynamic range in JPEGs at default settings
  • Requires about 1/2 to 2/3 stop longer shutter speeds when compared to other cameras
  • Poor video features and performance
  • No headphone jack
  • Maximum flash sync of 1/125s could be limiting for studio photographers
  • No battery grip option


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