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: Verdict
It’s always exciting when a camera brings something new to the market that we haven’t quite seen before. By placing the stunning image quality of its medium format sensor into a relatively small body at a groundbreaking price, the Fujifilm GFX 50R does exactly that. Indeed this feels like it could be a transformative moment for medium-format digital, bringing it into serious consideration for a much wider audience than ever before.
First, let’s consider the price. We’ve looked at several ‘affordable’ medium format cameras in recent years, but the GFX 50R undercuts them all considerably. It costs £1000 less than its stablemate the GFX 50S, and £2000 less than the Hasselblad X1D 50c. Even the four-year-old Pentax 645Z DSLR costs £1500 more, body-only. Fujifilm’s GF lenses are reasonably affordable by medium format standards, too.
Equally important is the portability factor. With its relatively compact size and light weight, it’s really no more difficult to shoot with the GFX 50R out on location than it is to work with a full-frame DSLR. Fujifilm’s lenses aren’t too huge or heavy either, and I was perfectly happy carrying the camera on extended treks with the 32-64mm f/4 zoom and 45mm f/2.8 and 63mm f/2.8 primes. This isn’t something you’d usually say about medium format kit.
Crucially, the GFX 50R is also an extremely enjoyable camera to use. Thanks to its traditional analogue control dials, it’s just as intuitive and engaging as Fujifilm’s APS-C X-system models. Its image quality is utterly addictive too, with the firm’s trademark gorgeous colour combined with phenomenal levels of detail. With so much going for it, this is a camera that simply begs to be picked up and used, and occasionally I even found myself taking pictures just to see what hidden features it might tease out of a scene.
Of course the GFX 50R is still a niche, specialist camera. For the majority of serious photographers, a full-frame system will be the more obvious choice, especially when super-fast autofocus and continuous shooting are required. Indeed the very best high-resolution models, most notably the Nikon Z 7 and D850, will come very close indeed to matching its raw image quality. But for those who understand how to exploit its strengths, and who aren’t concerned by its weaknesses, the GFX 50R is a truly phenomenal photographic tool.