Fuji GFX Extended Gallery

Delving into portraits, higher ISO's and more

By Dave Pardue | Posted: 03/17/2017

As I started writing this extended gallery piece I couldn't help but notice that the Fuji GFX is not only the most popular camera on our website as of today (populated by readers in the Most Popular pod on our homepage) but it also has been for some time, and is leagues ahead of the next camera on the list. That wouldn't be at all surprising to me, given several factors such as how good our First Shots looked from a first pass through our test lab. However, the relatively high price tag compared to even most full frame cameras makes that enormous popularity all the more intriguing. My colleague William Brawley had just brought the camera stateside after an initial gallery sampling in Japan, and asked if I'd take it out for a portrait spin. (Well... sure!)

Given the enormous sensor housed inside, I was, like many others, surprised by how relatively light the camera is. Even with the 63mm f/2.8 attached, which is the only lens I had to work with, the entire package is scarcely larger than a typical full-frame DSLR. Given this reasonable weight and the ability to fit in my relatively small "everyday" camera bag (a slim, over-the-shoulder Lowepro) I therefore kept the camera with me a lot more than I would have expected, including on some extended family hikes in the hills. This is obviously not your father's medium format camera here, and the more I shot with it the more I could understand the attraction. It's not without a few obvious and immediate drawbacks in the performance arena, which we'll be exploring in depth for you from the lab and from the field. But, then again, that's not why people spend their money for a medium format camera.

1/125s / f/2.8 / ISO 1250
[Film Simulation: Acros+R]

(Images 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. For additional images, EXIF data and access to the RAW files from these images for downloading please see our Fuji GFX-50S gallery page.)

Portraits: The medium format Fuji way

Of the two prime lenses announced alongside the Fujifilm GFX, the 120mm f/4 (95mm eq.) certainly sits more snugly in the range of common portrait territory, but the 50mm-equivalent 63mm f/2.8 is a full stop brighter, and sports a focal length that is definitely still within the common portrait wheelhouse, especially for capturing more of the subject than just basic head shots. As you'll see from these images as well as a few down below, the much larger sensor adds to the shallow depth of field potential lost by the shorter focal length and dimmer aperture than what's typically found on most classic portrait lenses and somewhat levels the playing field for this lens when shooting wide open.

1/320s / f/2.8 / ISO 100
[Film Simulation: Monochrome+Ye]
Separation anxiety: An f/2.8 lens at 50mm eq. focal length is generally not enough firepower in the shallow depth of field department to really separate a subject from distracting background elements, but as we'll see even more down below, the large sensor makes up a good bit of the difference in that regard. One thing to note with high-resolution sensors is that nailing focus becomes all the more critical. I slightly missed focus on this image, hitting the front tip of the jacket collar instead of the eye. At this viewing size that's OK, but if you decide to make the glorious jump into the medium format world with the GFX you'll certainly want to pay special attention to critical focus.

1/340s / f/2.8 / ISO 2500
[Film Simulation: F2/Fujichrome/Velvia]
Natural velvet: I used Velvia film simulation here initially for the saturation boost to both the warm and cool colors intermingling in the shot, but decided after the fact to re-process the RAW to also try Fuji's new "Color Chrome Effect". It's fairly subtle, but provides what appears to be a depth in the color richness. This is one of the many options available in-camera for processing from the RAW file after the fact, which is a very useful feature that a few manufacturers now offer on select models.

1/280s / f/2.8 / ISO 125
[Film Simulation: Classic Chrome]
The relatively new Classic Chrome film simulation is a terrific all around setting for a variety of subject matter. It delivers good contrast but doesn't go overboard, and can yield a rather timeless look.

While I've very much enjoyed shooting with the capable and reasonably lightweight 63mm f/2.8, it will be interesting to see if our friends at Fuji have a special portrait lens on the drawing board for this mount coming at some point down the road, especially given their excellent XF 56mm f/1.2 and XF 90mm f/2 portrait lenses for their X-series mount. When they do, this photographer will surely be eager to try it out!

ISO freedom: Cranking the gain on a large sensor

When you crank the volume on a tiny speaker it breaks up quickly and turns to noise, but not so with a quality speaker of ample proportions. So too are we accustomed to that luxury while cranking the ISO gain as the sensor size increases, and as we saw from the initial lab images of our Still Life test target from the GFX, this sensor and processor combination are indeed designed to allow for that freedom in spades. I suppose the use of higher ISOs isn't the first reason people reach out for a medium format camera, but it's certainly nice to know you have that power at your disposal when you need it.

1/600s / f/2.8 / ISO 4000
[Film Simulation: F1b/Studio Portrait/Astia]
Turning up the heat: ISO 3200 is the highest setting I'm generally comfortable with in the MFT and APS-C worlds (with a few notable exceptions to that rule in the Fuji X-T2 and the Nikon D500) and ISO 6400 for Full Frame cameras (though again there are exceptions, such as the Nikon D5 and D810). This camera brings additional freedom to the equation, and depending on your own comfort level for noise, the ability to shoot in lower light settings and still keep the shutter speed relatively fast certainly increases.

1/1900s / f/2.8 / ISO 5000
[Film Simulation: Classic Chrome]
Rare calm: I had the shutter speed cranked here because these kids were mostly on the move. They stopped briefly to pose for this shot, captured at ISO 5000. In this setting I learned much about the drawbacks of this camera in the performance arena, as I wasn't able to nail focus while they were running around as I would've been able to with something like the X-T2. But as mentioned earlier, this isn't the common use case for a medium format camera.

Stay tuned for much more to come from us in the higher-ISO image quality department, as we'll soon bring you our signature Image Quality Comparisons and Print Quality Analysis. Those should both prove eye-opening based on the initial results from our laboratory First Shots. We'll have more to come from the lab and the field in the performance department as well.

Fujinon 63mm f/2.8: A nifty fifty with shallow DOF

We touched on the 63mm f/2.8 lens earlier, but let's take a closer look at the relatively shallow depth of field attainable with this combination. After all, when you think 50mm eq. at f/2.8, you're not generally thinking about the subject-to-background isolation potential afforded by something longer and brighter, as the classic portrait lenses generally provide. This is where the third part of the equation comes into play in the form of that huge sensor housed inside, one that can take an otherwise average-sounding aperture and focal length and make it behave more like something a bit more exotic.

1/600s / f/2.8 / ISO 200
[Film Simulation: F1b/Studio Portrait/Astia]
Frosted bokeh: This image more than any other in this collection showcases the shallow DOF possible with this combination, and also hints at the general flavor of the bokeh.

1/250s / f/2.8 / ISO 1250
[Film Simulation: Pro Neg Hi]
A rose by any other film: More bokeh flavor here, in combination with yet another of my favorite film simulation modes - Pro Neg Hi. This mode retains more contrast than Pro Neg Std, yet still gives a relatively soft and natural glow to the subject matter at hand.

1/220s / f/2.8 / ISO 200
[Film Simulation: Pro Neg. Std]
Film: Pro Neg Std is my favorite film simulation for portraits, and a definite go-to setting for people. It has a relatively subdued look in the colors that I find generally appealing for skin tones, but still retains good contrast to give enough pop for most purposes. Of course, if you prefer the more dramatic looks, you can most certainly achieve those as well, as seen in some of the other examples here. In this shot, the focus is on the left subject, but from this distance and shooting wide open, the right hand subject is slightly out of focus, which is simply a characteristic of such a large sensor at this setting. You have plenty of ISO freedom to stop down, but then those distracting trees would get even more so. (Ah, the trade-offs in photography.)

Fuji Film Simulations: Let's go to 11!

If you've not yet surmised, I'm a Fuji Film Simulation addict. Admitted, convicted, not restricted. I fell for them years ago and think about them often when I'm shooting with Fuji cameras (and yearn for them when I'm not). Their default simulation, called "Standard" and based on their Provia film, is fine and certainly the most "true" to the real life scene in front of you, but I rarely use it as I'm often going for a certain look from the start. You can certainly achieve this after the fact, but I very much like getting a head start on the look I want, knowing the RAW file will still be there later for choosing another direction or for converting in-camera. I'm quite certain these film simulations have changed the way I shoot, and most definitely expand the artistic canvas while out in the field.

1/125s / f/2.8 / ISO 1600
[Film Simulation: Acros]
Acros accommodates the gym: I was very much going for a tough-girl vibe here, and Acros is great way to get there. Richer and deeper than its Monochrome counterparts, Acros can get you into the old-school arena quickly and dependably.

There are 9 Film Simulations found in the GFX, and the two monochrome versions each come in 4 flavors, yielding 15 in total. In this piece and throughout our GFX gallery, I've covered 11 of these for you, including all 6 of the color varieties. They really can radically alter an image and give it the "feel" you're after, while generally remaining subtle enough to not seem like a gimmick. To each his own, as some purist photographers will surely disagree, but I'm also certain that there are some of you reading this who are fellow film simulation addicts like myself. (And I'd love to hear from both sides in the comments down below... do you have a favorite film simulation or two? Do you shun their very existence? Let's hear it! Family-friendly, please.)

1/1000s / f/2.8 / ISO 100
[Film Simulation: Pro Neg. Std]

1/220s / f/2.8 / ISO 100
[Film Simulation: Monochrome+R]
Booster: Adding the yellow or red filter to either the Monochrome or the Acros film simulation can subtly boost the face, and I chose that for this shot after-the-fact, using in-camera processing from the RAW file. I'd chosen a color simulation for this shot initially, and it was too much with the red truck. This is, yet again, another coveted reason for having in-camera RAW processing where on-the-fly changes are desired. (And, of equal importance, for the many times we camera reviewers don't yet have access to compatible RAW processing software given the early nature of the product.)

So my addiction to film simulations remains alive and well, and even bolstered by the relatively new ability to process RAWs in-camera after the fact. Of course, you can also bracket 3 different simulations while shooting, but you do lose the RAW file option in that scenario. I do use the bracketing feature though, when I'm sure it'll be narrowed to one of those three, as that saves time and lends to the artistic enjoyment of selecting images after the fact.

GFX Extended Gallery Conclusion

Shooting with the Fuji GFX was an enjoyable experience for me and really taxed my skill level. Only once have I shot with this high a resolution (Canon 5DS) and once again found it a good learning experience. In addition, the enormous sensor housed in such a reasonably-sized package is very alluring for a variety of subjects, and when combined with the high ISO prowess and Fuji's film simulation modes, the camera lends itself to a wealth of artistic expression for the adventurous photographer, even while on-the-go. Of course, the medium format class is also known as a primary tool for landscape photographers, and our own Jeremy Gray is working on a Field Test for you as I type from the late winter locale of Maine, USA. Stay tuned for his experienced take from the field and snow, landscapes aplenty, and for more on factors like weather-sealing as well.

1/60s / f/16 / ISO 1000
[Film Simulation: F2/Fujichrome/Velvia]
"Hey babe, the sky's on fire." - James Taylor (Ibiza, Spain, 1968)

For more images from this collection and from our tour of Japan please see our Fujifilm GFX Gallery!

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