Fuji GFX 50S Review Conclusion

Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR at 46.5mm (37mm equivalent), f/16, 30s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for original image.

Last year, Fujifilm announced the GFX system, their new medium format mirrorless statement. The first camera in the system is the Fujifilm GFX 50S and we have had a lot of time with the camera both in our lab and in the real world. Be sure to read all our coverage for the full details on its performance throughout our testing if you haven't already. We're now ready to wrap up our coverage of the Fujifilm GFX 50S camera. Let's take a look at its strengths and weaknesses.

Image Sensor & Image Quality: The Fujifilm GFX 50S produces some of the best image quality we've seen

While the Fujifilm GFX 50S is a medium format camera, its sensor is smaller than what you will find in a camera like the medium format Phase One XF100MP. The GFX 50S' imager is a 51.4-megapixel 43.8 x 32.9 millimeter Bayer-filtered CMOS sensor. It's worth pointing out that the largest image size that the GFX produces is 51.1 megapixels (8256 x 6192 pixels). In case you're curious, the larger medium format sensor in the XF 100MP is 53.7 x 40.4 mm.

Sharpness: Very sharp and detailed images

In our resolution testing, the Fujifilm GFX 50S easily exceeded the 4,000 line limit of our chart. (We definitely need a higher resolution chart!) With that said, the JPEG file displays luminance moiré at around 3,800 lines due to aliasing. At various frequencies, both RAW and JPEG files show some color moiré.

Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR lens at 63mm (50mm equiv.), f/2.8, 1/250s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for original image. Click here for RAW file.
Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR lens at 63mm (50mm equiv.), f/2.8, 1/250s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop of the image above. The GF 63mm f/2.8 is a sharp lens, even wide open. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW file.

Unsurprisingly given the large, high-megapixel sensor, the GFX performs very well here, delivering incredible detail and sharpness. The camera, while offering very good JPEG results, can show even better image quality with a good RAW conversion process.

Color and Exposure: Accurate colors, but some exposure issues

With the standard film simulation, Provia, the GFX 50S boosts the saturation of most colors by only small amounts, although it does moderately increase dark red and dark orange while under saturating aqua. Mean saturation at base ISO is a bit higher than average, but hue accuracy is very good. We often see a yellow to green shift from many digital cameras, but the GFX 50S displayed almost none.

Furthermore, like other Fujifilm cameras the GFX 50S has many other film simulations to choose from which allows users to customize the look of their images. In addition to each simulation offering a different look, they're all able to be further fine-tuned.

Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR at 63mm (50mm equiv.), f/2.8, 1/80s, ISO 100. Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Click image for full-size JPEG file.

An area where the GFX struggled, at least with default JPEG images, is with our "Extremes" testing. Our extreme sunlit test case produced a lot of dark shadows or blown highlights. On the plus side, the camera offers Fujifilm's effective dynamic range expansion feature, and you can recover the lost detail easily with RAW files, so the camera sensor's dynamic range appears to be excellent. DxOMark has yet to test the GFX 50S and perhaps never will, but we can instead look to Photons to Photos (which utilizes a different methodology than DxOMark), to compare the GFX's "Photographic" dynamic range to other cameras. Click this link to see how the Fujifilm GFX 50S compares to the Hasselblad X1D-50C, Pentax 645Z, Nikon D810, Pentax K-1 and Sony A7R II. At ISO 100, the Hasselblad X1D comes out on top with a peak dynamic range of 11.98, followed closely by the GFX 50S at 11.9 and the Pentax 645Z at 11.77, which is excellent. Current leading high-res full-frame cameras top out at 11.59, 11.43 and 11.42 for the D810, K-1 and A7R II respectively.

High ISO and Print Quality: A new benchmark

High ISO performance from Fujifilm GFX 50S JPEGs is outstanding. Up to ISO 800, there is very minimal drop in image quality. Even at ISO 1600, the noise remains low and fine details are well preserved. In fact, the first really noticeable drop in image quality doesn't occur until ISO 3200, when the effects of noise suppression finally start to take a toll on fine detail. Image quality of course declines more rapidly at higher ISOs, but up through ISO 51,200 it's surprisingly good. At ISO 102,400 images become quite soft, though, with a lot of noise and dull colors.

The GFX produces highly-detailed 30 x 40 inch prints at up to ISO 3200, which is very impressive. From ISO 50 through 400, 30 x 40 inch prints are practically identical. Some fine grain pops up at ISO 800 and 1600 and at 3200, shadow noise is more noticeable, although not enough to downgrade our print size recommendation. We should note that you could definitely make great prints at even larger sizes, but the 30 x 40 inch size is the upper limit of our test. At ISO 6400, a good 24 x 36 inch print is still possible as detail remains excellent. 16 x 20 inch prints at ISO 12,800 look good, which is an amazing result for a print of that size. At ISO 51,200, the GFX manages to produce a nice 8 x 10 inch print, which is a new benchmark for our tested cameras.

Shutter Speed Concerns

An issue that arose during our testing of the Fujifilm GFX 50S is that it required shutter speeds of about 1/2 to 2/3 stops slower than other cameras needed for similar brightness. We are unsure if this is due to the camera overstating its sensitivity or due to the transmission characteristics of the Fujinon GF lenses we've used, or perhaps a combination of both. Regardless, it is something to be aware of when considering its high ISO performance, and how it impacts your experience with the camera will depend on what you intend to shoot.

Overall Image Quality

Overall, image quality on the whole is excellent from the Fujifilm GFX 50S with very few weak areas other than limited dynamic range in JPEGs at default settings. The lack of an optical low pass filter does make the GFX 50S more prone to moiré, but it also allows the camera to capture very high detail, which is certainly a worthwhile tradeoff considering the target audience for the camera, though fashion photographers may disagree.

Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR lens at 32mm (25mm equiv.), f/11, 10s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for original image. Click here for RAW file. This is a focus stack of eight separate images. The linked image is one of the middle ground focus images from the stacking series.

Shooting Experience

Autofocus is accurate, but it's not quick

Autofocus speed is an area of weakness for the Fujifilm GFX 50S. It's not unexpected for a medium format camera to have somewhat slow autofocus as the camera is clearly not designed for fast-paced subjects, but nonetheless, the GFX's contrast-detect autofocus proved a lot slower in the lab than the Pentax 645Z's phase-detect AF, a camera with the same sized sensor. The 645Z produced a full autofocus shutter lag about three times faster than the GFX's. On the plus side, low-light autofocus was quite good while on a tripod, with the GFX focusing down to -2.5 EV with our legacy low-contrast target and -4.4 EV with our high-contrast target with an f/2.8 lens.

In real-world use, the contrast-detect autofocus system scores points for its very impressive frame coverage and 425 autofocus points to choose from. However, in the field, its speed varied quite dramatically depending upon the lens used. The GF 32-64mm f/4 zoom lens, while very impressive optically, is a particularly sluggish focuser, for example. The Fuji GFX 50S can also struggle to achieve focus in dim lighting, especially when hand-held.

Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR lens at 35mm (28mm equiv.), f/13, 2.1s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for original image. Click here for RAW file. This is a focus stack of three separate images. The linked image is roughly the middle image in the series. Even in the dim forest, the camera did well acquiring focus. There is not a lot of room for error with the GFX, however, so a tripod helps ensure good autofocus results.

Continuous autofocus performance is not very good and it constantly hunts. Subject tracking performance is not great, although when using continuous autofocus and face detect, the camera did prove quite successful in the field. Another interesting portrait-oriented autofocus feature on the GFX 50S is its eye detect autofocus, which allows the user to select emphasis on the left or right eye. The feature works well in the field and could help when shooting with a very shallow depth of field.

There's no doubt that the GFX's autofocus performance is a mixed bag and the speeds are on the slower side, but the wide frame coverage and autofocus accuracy proved to be very nice and made the camera fairly easy to use out in the real world.

Performance: The GFX is certainly not designed for speed

The Fujifilm GFX 50S delivers mixed performance in other areas as well. Power on to first shot is a fairly sluggish 1.3 seconds, for example, which is okay when compared to most mirrorless cameras and actually a bit faster than the Pentax 645Z, but much slower than most DSLRs. And switching from Play to Record mode and taking a shot is no faster.

Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR lens at 32mm (25mm equiv.), f/4.0, 1/250s, ISO 800.
This image has been modified. Click for original image. Click here for RAW file. The camera's cycle times were sufficient for shooting a series of portrait images, but the speeds are too slow for fast-paced shooting situations.

When looking at single-shot shooting performance, the Fuji GFX 50S has cycle times of a second, which is a bit slow compared to most interchangeable lens cameras. The camera tops out at around 3 frames per second in continuous mode though its buffer when shooting best quality JPEGs was 40 frames and buffer depth when shooting lossless compressed RAW images was 21 frames, which is pretty good considering the resolution. In real-world use, the speeds were sufficient for subjects such as landscapes, portraits and certainly still life, but are obviously not going to cut it for sports or perhaps even quick-paced events, such as weddings. On the plus side, thanks to its UHS-II support, the GFX can clear its buffer quite quickly with a fast card, ranging from 2 to 8 seconds depending on the file recording settings.

Battery life is rated for 400 shots, which is decent for a large sensor mirrorless camera, but does mean that you may want a second battery -- and perhaps even the optional vertical battery grip, despite its high price point.

Overall, the Fujifilm GFX 50S is not a fast camera. There are not many cameras to compare it to that are equivalent, but nonetheless, when compared to modern full-frame DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, the GFX 50S is a slow camera.

Camera Body and Handling: Very functional and user-friendly shooting experience

The Fujifilm GFX 50S camera body is large for a mirrorless camera, but quite small for a medium format camera. The body looks and feels familiar to Fujifilm ILC shooters and includes a wealth of durability features, including 58 points of weather sealing. The robust magnesium alloy body includes dual SD cards, both of which support UHS-II, so that's very nice.

The GFX comes with a detachable 3.69M-dot electronic viewfinder with close to 100% coverage and 0.85x magnification. The EVF itself proved very good in the field, especially with the optional EVF Tilting Adapter attached, although it does show some "shimmering" artifacts when focusing, which can be distracting. Granted, that happens when using the tilting rear display as well.

The top e-ink sub display can be customized and works well in all lighting conditions thanks to its good viewing angle and backlighting.

Speaking of the rear display, it's quite good. It's a 3.2-inch LCD with a 4:3 aspect ratio (like the sensor) and has approximately 2,360K dots. It tilts, although its tilting range isn't dramatic. The display tilts 90° upward, about 45° downward and around 60° toward the right (which is great for shooting in portrait orientation with the optional vertical battery grip). In addition to being able to tilt the display, its brightness adjustments and coating helped make it work well even in bright lighting conditions. If you want to make the camera as compact as possible, it's not a problem at all to use the camera without its EVF attached.

The EVF and rear monitor can show an electronic level, live RGB histograms and much more during shooting. Along with the top e-Ink display, all the displays are extensively customizable. Fujifilm's Q menu is fully customizable as well and works well with the touchscreen display. Between the user-assignable function buttons on the camera and the Q menu, the Fujifilm GFX 50S is very user-friendly. It also has twin-dial controls -- each of the dials can be pressed in for further functionality -- and has a dedicated autofocus joystick. The GFX is a very functional camera.

The menu for assigning custom functions on the Fujifilm GFX 50S.

Video and Other Additional Shooting Features

The Fujifilm GFX 50S can record video, but it is clearly not a camera designed for video capture. It can record Full HD (1920 x 1080) video at up to 29.97p, additionally offering 25p, 24p and 23.98p frame rate recording options. It can record clips at up to 36Mbps bit rates up to 30 minutes in length. Its video quality is okay and its continuous autofocus is even poorer than it is when shooting stills, so there really is not a lot positive to say about the GFX's video capabilities except that it does in fact have video recording.

Wireless shooting is possible with the Fujifilm GFX 50S as well. The camera has built-in Wi-Fi and works well with Fujifilm's accompanying smartphone app, although transferring large files from the camera is of course very slow. But for taking small versions and quickly sharing them, it works perfectly well and the remote control capabilities are functional too. We also tested the GFX 50S as a tethered camera using Adobe Lightroom and the official Fujifilm plug-in. The software, at the time of testing, had some quirks and performance issues but remains a very capable method of using the GFX and is well-suited for studio work.

Where the Fujifilm GFX System Stands

Normally we wouldn't dedicate a section to a camera system as a whole in a review conclusion, but the Fujifilm GFX 50S is the first camera in the new medium format series from Fujifilm, so it seems worthwhile to touch on how the system is shaping up so far. Ultimately, lenses are a critical part of an interchangeable lens camera system and the GFX, despite releasing at the end of February, already has five rather diverse native lenses available: The Fujinon GF 23mm f/4 R LM WR, Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR, Fujinon GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR, Fujinon GF 120mm f/4 R LM OIS WR Macro and Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR zoom lens.

In 35mm equivalent terms, these lenses cover focal lengths from 18mm to 95mm. The notable absence in the Fujinon GF lens lineup is a long zoom or long prime lens, both of which have been mentioned by the company as possibilities down the line with the latter being confirmed in some capacity to release in 2018 alongside a teleconverter. We do know that a GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR (36mm equivalent) prime lens will be coming later this year as well. Also missing are fast wide-angle lenses. Hopefully Fujifilm will address that omission in the not-too-distant future.

With Fujifilm's move into a new system, some growing pains are to be expected. Fujifilm has already made some improvements with firmware updates and we hope to see more in the coming months to help improve autofocus performance in particular. Nonetheless, as it stands now, the Fujifilm GFX 50S has priced itself to go head-to-head with the best full-frame cameras on the market, DSLR and mirrorless alike, and it has delivered image quality to best them. The GFX has also priced itself well under medium format competition, making it an attractive option for those looking to make the jump into medium format.

Review Summary

The Fujifilm GFX 50S is not the perfect camera, although it may be a nearly perfect tool for some photographers depending on what they want to do with the camera. Its image quality is excellent and the camera itself is well-built and functional, lending itself well to landscape and nature photography. It also includes some nice portrait-oriented features that make the camera an intriguing option for portrait photographers and perhaps even wedding photographers. On the other hand, the camera is not fast in terms of autofocus or continuous shooting speeds, meaning it is not the right camera for photographing fast-moving subjects or sports. Further, its sensor size will limit the optical options for longer lenses (the longest available native lens is 120mm (95mm equivalent)) which in turns limits the use of the GFX for wildlife photography, even slower-paced wildlife shooting.

Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR lens at 32mm (25mm equiv.), f/8.0, 60s, ISO 100.
This image has been modified. Click for original image. Click here for RAW file. This is a focus stack of three separate images. The linked image is the middle image in the series.

If image quality trumps all other concerns, then the GFX 50S is, quite simply, one of the most impressive cameras we've ever tested. It's no slouch in many real-world usage scenarios either, featuring sufficient performance and Fujifilm's typical excellent physical controls, which seem as refined and functional as ever. The Fuji GFX 50S therefore easily earns an enthusiastic Dave's Pick.

Pros & Cons

  • Incredible resolution and detail
  • Pleasing JPEGs straight out of the camera
  • Excellent high ISO performance
  • Outstanding dynamic range in RAW files
  • Stunning print quality
  • Superb 63mm f/2.8 lens
  • Very good 32-64mm f/4 zoom lens
  • Bright colors with very good hue accuracy
  • Fuji Film Simulations
  • New Color Chrome Effect is nice
  • Effective Highlight/Shadow Tone and D-Range settings
  • 3fps burst performance may not be fast, but is good for the class
  • Good buffer depths for the class when shooting JPEG or lossless compressed RAW
  • Fast buffer clearing
  • Dual SD card slots, both with UHS-II support
  • Large, detachable high-res EVF
  • Very good (over 99%) viewfinder coverage
  • Decent battery life for its class
  • Dedicated autofocus joystick
  • Customizable controls
  • Rear monitor can tilt three ways
  • Good touchscreen functionality
  • Customizable e-Ink top display
  • Compact body for a medium format camera
  • Plentiful physical controls
  • Robust, wealter-sealed construction
  • Built-in Wi-Fi works well
  • USB 3.0 port
  • Slow autofocus
  • Sluggish power-on and cycle times
  • No AA filter means it's prone to aliasing artifacts
  • Low-light AF can struggle when hand-held
  • Requires about 1/2 to 2/3 stop longer shutter speeds compared to other cameras
  • Very limited native lens selection, although it is quickly expanding
  • No fast native wide-angle lenses are available yet
  • Expensive accessories such as the EVF tilt adapter and vertical battery grip
  • Camera does not save menu state when powered off
  • Cumbersome neck strap anchor point; the neck strap is constantly twisted
  • Limited dynamic range in JPEGs at default settings
  • Maximum flash sync of 1/125s could be an issue for studio and portrait photographers

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