Fuji GFX 50R First Impressions

Gallery and hands-on time with a new instant classic

By Dave Pardue | Posted: 09/26/2018

Ahhh... to have Medium Format in a rangefinder-styled body sporting 50mp that costs a few thousand dollars less than the original GFX 50S… Now that is the promise of the Fuji GFX 50R. We were given a prototype of the camera last week, ahead of the announcement, and then a few days later were told that we could actually shoot with it in the field... so straight out the door I went!

I went to fields with flowers, fields with insect life, even to a soccer field. I searched and waited for the rising moon, and for any dramatic skies I could find to bring you examples of what a sensor this powerful could convey. And, while only a prototype sample, I did let the ISO climb on occasion as well. After all, Fuji bodies have historically shined brightly in higher-ISO competitions, with the GFX 50S itself setting a new record for maximum print size while dialed to ISO 51,200!

But mostly, I just had a lot of fun shooting with this incredibly capable, large-sensor camera.

1/2000s / f/2.5 / ISO 100 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: Pro Ng. Std]
Bright midday sun: The dynamic range afforded by a sensor as large as the one housed in the 50R can help tame even harsh summer sun in the Southeastern U.S. This shot with a smartphone or even a camera with a much smaller sensor would most certainly show blown out faces and a severely overblown sky lacking much detail.

(Images here are in-camera JPEGs that have been resized to fit this page, cropped and/or altered in post-production, primarily to balance shadows and highlights as needed. Clicking any image will take you to a carrier page with access to the original, full-resolution image as delivered by the GFX 50R. These images are from a prototype sample, and are therefore labeled as "beta" -- final image quality may differ slightly. For additional images and EXIF data please see our Fuji GFX 50R Gallery page.)

GFX 50R: A modern, beefy "rangefinder"

Before moving on to the gallery samples, let’s talk about the GFX 50R in the hands. I had the privilege of shooting with the original GFX 50S shortly after it was unveiled for an initial gallery piece and was duly stunned by the image quality. But of course the feel of that camera in the hands is far different from the new 50R, as they are simply "different beasts" in their overall external designs.

Fujifilm GFX 50R in the hand (shown with the GF 63mm f/2.8)

Just as Fujifilm offers the X-Pro series (rangefinder-styled) alongside the X-T series (DSLR-styled), both equipped similarly under the hood, this split-type series idea now makes its way to their GFX Medium Format offerings. The only big difference other than external shape is that the GFX 50R is priced far less than the original 50S, which runs about $1500 higher. So while not an inexpensive camera to be sure, the 50R is now the most modestly-priced Medium Format offering available, which should certainly turn the heads of some landscape and portrait shooters who've been waiting for a more affordable entry point into this enticing realm.

Having a camera this large but without a traditionally deep grip took some getting used to at first. There is a small front grip, and the rear thumb grip is beefy and generous, but I still felt compelled to quickly add a wrist strap for safety. The camera is simply larger than any rangefinder-style camera I've yet held, and is reminiscent of models from bygone days in the film era. I love the aesthetic, but again it took some getting used to out in the real world, especially in the hot, humid days in Atlanta where perspiration is a given.

The 50R controls are rock-solid, as I'd both hoped and expected. The metal dials are firm and reassuring, and the shutter speed dial has a locking mechanism as well. Every photographer is different in their personal preferences regarding external controls, but for me there is no substitute for actual dials. Simple, solid, old-fashioned dials. I love them, am addicted to them, and once I don't have them I get upset and lose my bearing. Hey, to each his own, as that just happens to be the way I am. Being able to look through the EVF while I am adjusting the dedicated shutter speed dial to suit the shot is just awesome to me, or aperture, or EV, and with bodies from Fujifilm that is exactly what you get. Nothing more, nothing less, very simple.

Fujifilm GFX-50R - Controls

They've removed the 4-way dial and associated buttons from the back, which at first seemed a little weird. But the joystick takes the place of it for the most part, and the joystick is, um, a joy to use. Once you've had one at your disposal for jockeying your AF point you'll see what I mean and will miss it when you switch to a camera without one. My right hand constantly goes back and forth to and from the dials and the joystick. Oh, and much like on the 50S, having the AF switch (S, C, M) near where your thumb sits is awesome. Fuji often puts this switch on the front of their cameras, and that has always seemed counter-intuitive to me. Now it's in a logical place that's easy to reach (and remember!).

With this initial prototype sample I found autofocus to be fast and responsive, and accurate as well. With the super-shallow depths of field provided by bright lenses on a huge sensor, you certainly have to pay close attention, but that's not the camera's fault. The power afforded to photographers with this combination is awesome, but the learning curve heavily increases as well. I found myself concentrating more on the shooting than ever before, or at least in a similar fashion to when I shot with the GFX 50S. But wow, when you nail focus, the rewards are significant.

We'll discuss handling in deeper detail in a forthcoming Field Test once we receive our full production sample. And for a comprehensive 50R hands-on video please click here!

50R: Images from the field

Let's head out into the field and take a look at the image potential from this rangefinder-esque beauty!

1/500s / f/2 / ISO 100 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: F2/Fujichrome/Velvia]
Dreamscape: This is shot in my boring little back yard, and that's the beauty of a camera like this. The otherwise boring can quickly become sublime.

The Simulator

As mentioned earlier I've only had a few days with this sample so far, and fortunately the weather cooperated for the shooting time. I'm a big fan of Fuji's Film Simulations, so I've tried to give you a good assortment in this initial piece as well. I shot part of the piece in Film Simulation bracketing, where the camera captures one RAW file but provides three Film Sims (user-chosen) as JPEG files. This provides a lot of flexibility during image culling, as you can quickly choose a good starting point for rendering your final image (even if you decide to process from RAW).

My personal favorites are Classic Chrome, Pro Neg Standard and Velvia, so you'll see a lot of these here. I also delved into several of the relatively new Acros presets, which I'd only gotten to use on a few occasions before. They're a ton of fun to use and can really add tone and texture to an image before any post-processing need occur. In a fast-paced and chaotic world I enjoy this as a benefit, because while I enjoy post-processing, I often simply don't have much time for it.

1/250s / f/3.6 / ISO 125 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: Acros Yellow Filter]
Acros Magic: This little local garden scene is heavily transformed by the Acros simulation, and I'm glad they added it to the arsenal a few years ago, as it imparts a lot of natural depth and texture to the right subject matter.


1/500s / f/2 / ISO 1600 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: Pro Ng. Std]
The Standards: I use Pro Neg Standard more than any other film simulation, more or less a "go-to" for me in the Fujifilm world, as it simply has a timeless quality for portraits and such. It removes "digital sterility" for me before I even need to touch the images.


1/250s / f/4 / ISO 800 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: F2/Fujichrome/Velvia]


1/1000s / f/2.8 / ISO 500 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: Pro Ng. Std]


1/1000s / f/4 / ISO 125 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: F2/Fujichrome/Velvia]
Rich Colors: Fujichrome/Velvia film simulation really brings out the natural world. It's nice to have in Film Simulation bracketing, as you can also include less dramatic simulations to have after the fact.


1/400s / f/4 / ISO 100 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: Classic Chrome]
The Classics: For a more subdued look, and yet still having a lot of presence, Classic Chrome brings a far different feel to the natural world, and other subject matter. I have also used it successfully on portraits before.


1/200s / f/2.8 / ISO 100 / GF 63mm f/2.8 lens
[Film Simulation: F2/Fujichrome/Velvia]


1/250s / f/4 / ISO 640 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: F2/Fujichrome/Velvia]
Sublime: Similar to the image of the fall foliage earlier in this piece, the combination of the 50R and Velvia can yield an otherworldly beauty to what would otherwise seem normal or ordinary.


Using your resolution

One of the major advantages to a camera like this of course is the generous 50mp resolution you're provided! There are precious few cameras available that go this high. In addition to the promise of massive print sizes, this also affords ample cropping potential, and here are a few examples where I needed to use it simply because I couldn't get close enough to my quarry without scaring them away.

1/1000s / f/4 / ISO 160 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: F2/Fujichrome/Velvia]
[1:1 crop of above image]
The image above is already cropped in to a degree, while the lower crop is at 1:1 to show you the full cropping power of the 50R and its generous resolving power.


1/500s / f/4 / ISO 100 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: F2/Fujichrome/Velvia]
[1:1 crop of above image]
Shallow: Even stopped down to f/4, nailing focus can be quite tricky with such a large, high resolution sensor!


1/500s / f/5 / ISO 100 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: F2/Fujichrome/Velvia]
[1:1 crop of above image]
Detail: One more example of the image quality while zoomed all the way into the image.


More Film Simulation examples

1/680s / f/4 / ISO 100 / GF 63mm f/2.8 lens
[Film Simulation: F2/Fujichrome/Velvia]


1/450s / f/4 / ISO 100 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: F2/Fujichrome/Velvia]


1/300s / f/4 / ISO 100 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: F2/Fujichrome/Velvia]



1/2000s / f/8 / ISO 100 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: Acros]


1/2000s / f/7.1 / ISO 200 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: Acros Red Filter]


50R: An unlikely sports camera

The GFX 50R won't likely be mistaken for a high-end sports camera, nor would I take one to a professional sporting event (unless, of course, I was hired to shoot portraits of the athletes!). But if you buy one of these and also have a child in a sport like soccer, you may want to tote it along for the game, and that is exactly what I did.

1/2000s / f/2.5 / ISO 100 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: Pro Ng. Std]

I used Continuous AF and continuous drive mode through much of the game. The camera didn't feel like a high-end sports camera, and I got far fewer keepers than misses, but a lot of that comes down to very shallow depth of field and also simply being new to the camera. It is also a prototype sample, so the final C-AF adjustments are likely yet to be made. But the image quality is second to none and so the shooting experience was still an enjoyable one, especially since I knew not to expect anywhere near the kind of performance you'd get from a high-end sports camera.

1/2000s / f/2.5 / ISO 100 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: Pro Ng. Std]


1/2000s / f/2.8 / ISO 100 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: Pro Ng. Std]
Dynamics: These are the type of shots that the GFX 50R lends itself to with aplomb. With most cameras, and virtually all smartphones, that bright Georgia sky would be completely blown out and unusable. One side benefit I should mention to shooting the GFX 50R in a public place: The camera itself turns heads! Buy one and you'll see...

Summing it all up

Using a medium format camera to capture images is like using a high-end microphone to capture a singer in the studio. The bump up in image quality from enthusiast-grade gear may not be huge, but once you've experienced it, there is a noticeable difference that just can't be achieved with lesser gear. Thus far, and even with this prototype, the GFX 50R is capable of producing astounding images, even in the hands of this non-professional photographer. I'm quite sure I'll be sneaking the full production sample out of our lab on weekends once one arrives.

1/2000s / f/22 / ISO 1600 / GF 110mm f/2 lens
[Film Simulation: F2/Fujichrome/Velvia]

Fujifilm GFX 50R Gallery


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