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: Viewfinder and screen
One area where the GFX 50R makes slight compromises compared to its larger sibling is in composing and viewing your images. Its viewfinder has the same resolution, at 3.69-million-dots, but the magnification is fractionally lower, although at 0.77x it’s still competitive with most other cameras. The EVF is also fixed in place, in contrast to the GFX 50S’s removable unit. But that’s a trade-off I’m very happy to make for the reduced body size.
The finder itself is excellent, being large and bright, with a crisp view right into the corners. Various views are available, with the exposure information either overlaid on the image or displayed on a black border around it, which results in a slightly lower magnification. The live view display is designed to closely mimic the image processing, which means it can look over-saturated and contrasty in some situations. But if you don’t like this, a Natural Live View option is available, which attempts to mimic more closely how the scene might look through an optical viewfinder. I found it helpful to assign this to the top-plate Fn1 button.
As for the rear LCD, at 2.36 million-dots it’s one of the sharpest and clearest I’ve used. It also tilts up and down, which is great for shooting at waist level or off a tripod, but sadly it doesn’t have an additional hinge for portrait-format work. This is probably the 50R’s biggest operational shortcoming, but to be fair it’s no different to high-resolution full-frame competitors such as the Nikon D850 or Sony Alpha 7R III. Swiping upwards on the screen while shooting brings up a large RGB histogram, while swiping down reveals a large, precise dual-axis electronic level. Both are particularly useful when shooting off a tripod.
Fujifilm GFX 50R: Autofocus
Ultimately the GFX 50R’s Achilles’ heel is its autofocus speed. Compared to the standards we’ve become used to from full-frame mirrorless, it’s slow and hesitant, with a tendency to ‘wobble’ noticeably during each focus cycle, and occasionally hunt or miss focus entirely. This is essentially attributable to its reliance on contrast detection for focusing, which is primitive compared to smaller-format cameras that now overwhelmingly exploit on-chip phase detection.
What you can’t argue with, through, is the focus accuracy. As long as you place the focus point somewhere in the scene with sufficient contrast, and are shooting in reasonably good light, it’ll nail focus perfectly time after time. Unlike any DSLR, it can also focus on subjects practically anywhere in the frame. Here the well-placed AF joystick is invaluable, making it quick and easy to place the focus point exactly where you want it. The large, clear viewfinder gives a really clear indication of whether or not focus has been properly achieved, along with an accurate depth of field preview regardless of the aperture.
For this occasions where autofocus fails, manual focusing is also available. You have a choice of magnified view or a peaking display to confirm correct focus, and these aids can be activated automatically when you turn the focus ring. Fujifilm’s GF lenses all use electronic focus-by-wire systems, and while the feel of the focusing isn’t necessarily the best I’ve come across, I had no problem with achieving critical accuracy.