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I remember when medium format was revered as the precipice of having made it. Only a select few within the industry had the resources to shoot with a $60,000 Phase One or Hasselblad H-system. Although it was something many photographers aspired to, the minute club was rather pretentious. I remember assisting a photographer at Milk studios and feeling like I’d never be able to shoot that quality of work with my income. Enter Fujifilm. It has been a pleasant surprise watching the journey of Fujifilm’s GFX series shatter that mindset and evolve into what it has become today. And now, with the introduction of the Fujifilm GFX50s II, they are making medium format more accessible than ever.
The original GFX50S achieved what the Hasselblad X-system attempted to do and successfully bridged the gap. They created a desirable medium format camera priced on par with mirrorless full-frame offerings. Fujifilm has expounded upon that initial success with this newest iteration and has managed to be even more affordable. Fujifilm is offering the GFX50S II bundled with the GF 35-70mm f4.5-5.6 WR lens in a kit for $4,499. Let’s take a look and see what the money buys you.
What You Should Know
54.1MP CMOS Sensor Large Format (44x33mm)
Quad-core CPU X-Processor 4 with Latest FW
Mode Dial Controls
3.0fps Continuous Shooting
Full HD/30P, 4:2:0 8-bit (SD/HDMI)
Contrast Rapid AF of .272s
Lowlight Priority AF -3.5EV / 14 Stop Dynamic Range
Nostalgic Neg. Film Simulation
IBIS with 6.5 Stops of Stabilization, more than GFX100S
Fixed 3.9M-dot EVF (0.77x Mag. 50fps refresh)
NP-W234 (440 frame) battery. Same as “X-T4 Battery”
205MP Multi-Shot Pixel Shift / Drone-Gimbal Support
New 35-70mm f4.5-5.6 WR kit lens
The GFX50S II is the answer to many message board requests for an affordable medium format option. From a design standpoint, it is identical to the body of the GFX100S. Naturally, the GFX50S II will perform slower than Fujifilm’s flagship. Inside you will find the same sensor in the original body with an improved processor. Compared to the original, it has faster autofocus, lowlight priority, and overall much better performance. Phase detection is not included and is hugely reflected in the price. Among its 79 improvements from the original GFX50S, having better IBIS than the GFX100S is one of the more notable features.
Is GFX50S II perfect on paper? No. It is much improved. Granted, we haven’t tested one yet.
Although, it should be enough for those who want what medium format offers but do not have the deep pockets. It goes without saying that most working professionals would choose the GFX100S unless they don’t want the responsibility that the large file size demands. Regardless, the compromises that were made to achieve this price tag make sense and are paired with some notable upgrades. It’s definitely enough to entice those who are considering jumping from full-frame into medium format.
Can Fujifilm Continue to Compete?
It was only a few years ago that we were witnessing their debut into medium format. Now it appears as if they found an even stronger cadence. Can they continue to be a fierce competitor for companies like Hasselblad? Absolutely. And if the lack of action from Hasselblad points to any part of their future, it indicates they don’t have much of a future, if any, planned for their X-system. Can they compete with companies like Sony? Yes, especially if they keep pace with consumer demands, performance updates, and continue to expand their lens lineup. There’s a market for everyone, and Fujifilm has done a great job of identifying their client.
The Fujifilm lens road map indicates that they are doubling down and creating some niche lenses for the GFX system. That is exciting for anyone who wants to dip their toes in the water but couldn’t quite afford to invest in medium format. Plus, it plays well with Capture One whereas Hasselblad does not. This is a huge plus for old-school film photographers like myself or anyone who hates sitting in front of a computer screen. Film simulations that cross over into the raw file via Capture One is a huge selling point for anyone who would rather invest their time shooting. Fujifilm has added Nostalgic Neg. Film to their simulations for even more creative control with the GFX50S II. All of this makes Fujifilm competitive and a frontrunner for anyone looking to make the switch with a full-frame budget.
The GFX series is a welcome and necessary addition to keep the medium format world progressing into the future alongside full-frame mirrorless. It will be interesting to see if this forward march inspires other brands to step up or fall in. I hope it’s the former.