Fujifilm’s rangefinder-style medium-format mirrorless camera offers addictively high image quality in surprisingly portable package, as Andy Westlake finds out
Fujifilm GFX 50R: Build and handling
In terms of design, the GFX 50R broadly resembles a scaled-up version of Fujifilm’s highly regarded X-Pro2 APS-C mirrorless model. It has a similar rectangular shape, with a corner-mounted viewfinder. The body is dust and weather-resistant, and designed to be used in temperatures down to -10°C. It’s truly a medium format camera that can be taken out of the studio and shot on location in tough conditions.
The camera feels extremely secure in your hand, thanks to the prominent thumb-hook on the back and the shallow grip on the front. This may not look like much, but with the thick, chunky body it works really well. The controls have an excellent tactile quality, with the dials clicking firmly as they’re rotated. The buttons are a little small, but they’re well spaced and have just enough travel to provide decent feedback when pressed.
Like most other Fujifilm models, the control system is built around traditional analogue dials. Dedicated exposure compensation and shutter speed dials can be found on the top plate, with the latter having a central toggle lock. They’re complemented by the large, easy-to-use aperture rings that are found on all of the lenses. But the GFX 50R has an additional trick, in the shape of an electronic dial around the shutter release that directly controls ISO sensitivity, meaning you have a separate, well-placed dial for each exposure parameter. Coupled with the AF area joystick on the back, and the option to set focus point by touch when composing with the LCD screen, this makes the GFX 50R an absolute pleasure to use.
If for some reason you’d prefer not to use the analogue dials, though, Fujifilm still has you covered. Place the shutter dial to its T position, and you can then change the speed using another electronic dial embedded in the back plate. Set the aperture ring and/or exposure compensation dial to C, and these settings get passed to the top-plate ISO dial; pressing a button on the camera’s front-plate then cycles through them. It’s all really well thought out, giving you plenty of options for how to work.
The rest of the back-plate controls are closer in concept to the X-E3. There’s no conventional d-pad for navigating menus and changing settings; instead you can use either the joystick or the electronic control dials. A small focus mode switch above the LCD screen selects between single, continuous and manual modes, and is easier to use compared to being on the front of the camera, as with the X-system models. Pressing the Q button calls up the onscreen quick menu for changing secondary settings, which can be done using either the rear dial or the touchscreen.
With the increased size of the GFX 50R’s body compared to its APS-C stablemates, Fujifilm has also found space to dot a number of additional buttons around the top and back. Several of these are unmarked, reflecting the fact that they’re all user-configurable and can each be assigned to any one of 44 settings. What’s more, directional swipes on the touchscreen – left, right, up or down – can also be used as custom controls. In fact, with such a plethora of buttons and dials available, I found the main challenge was working out a way of making good use of them all.