With the 102-million-pixel GFX100, Fujifilm has made the most practical ultra-high-resolution camera yet. Andy Westlake explores what this means.
Fujifilm GFX100 – Features
First of all, let’s think about what 102MP really means. The GFX100 outputs files that measure 11648 x 8736 pixels, which equates to approximately 39 x 29 at an output resolution of 300ppi (for metric thinkers, that’s about a metre wide). As a result, it can deliver critically sharp prints about four times the area of A3+, the largest paper size home printers can generally handle. Even its full-frame crop mode delivers 9552 x 6368 pixel, 60.8 MP images – fractionally larger than the new Sony Alpha 7R IV. It’s a landscape photographer’s dream.
While the GFX100 isn’t the first 100MP medium-format camera ever made, it is the first that’s been specifically designed for hand-held shooting under demanding outdoor conditions. With such a high-resolution sensor, even the slightest handshake or operational vibration risks blurring fine detail. So Fujifilm has gone out if its way to help users get the full benefit of its resolution without having to use a tripod all the time.
Accordingly, the GFX100 is the first medium-format camera to include in-body image stabilisation (IBIS), that’s claimed to provide up to 5.5 stops of shake reduction. The firm has also isolated the shutter from the sensor, IS unit and lens mount using a system of springs, to minimise any chance of image blurring from mechanical shock. By default the camera uses an electronic first-curtain shutter to eliminate vibration, although a mechanical first curtain is required at shutter speeds faster than 1/1250sec.
In terms of core photographic specifications, the standard sensitivity range covers ISO 100-12,800, with extended settings reaching ISO 50-102,400. While this is vastly beyond the range offered by older medium format sensors, it’s still not quite a match for the best full-frame models. However Fujifilm claims that the new back-illuminated sensor can record a very impressive 14 stops of dynamic range, with a 16-bit raw option available to make the most of this.
The resultant raw files are vast, at 200MB a shot, which means they require an up-to-date computer to process them at anything like a sensible speed. Even using a brand-new top-spec Windows laptop with an Intel Core i9 processor, they take about 10 seconds each to develop; on a 5-year-old Core i3 machine they can take almost a minute. Then there’s the disk space required simply to store all this data.
The camera offers timed shutter speeds as slow as an hour, which means that landscape photographers shooting with deep neutral density filters shouldn’t have to mess around with bulb mode. The mechanical shutter maxes out at 1/4000sec, and while the silent fully-electronic shutter can attain higher speeds up to 1/16000sec, it’s generally best avoided as rolling-shutter distortion is immense.
Continuous shooting is available at 5 frames per second, which again doesn’t match the latest high-resolution full-frame cameras, but is still pretty staggering when you consider the data throughput. However once you get past the spec sheet and actually use the camera, it quickly becomes apparent that live view between frames isn’t available at this speed, with the camera playing back previous images instead – something most mirrorless cameras grew out of about five years ago. If you want to keep track of moving subjects in the viewfinder, you’ll have to drop down to the 2 fps Continuous Low mode. So not surprisingly, this really isn’t a sports and action camera.
Elsewhere you get broadly the feature set as Fujifilm’s X-system users have come to appreciate. Most importantly, this includes the firm’s Film Simulation modes, which surely count as the most attractive suite of colour and black & white JPEG processing modes you’ll find. In-camera raw processing allows you to experiment with different looks after shooting, too. Given that the ludicrous resolution will reveal every tiny detail, whether you like it or not, Fujifilm has included a new ‘smooth skin effect’ option for portraits. Other handy features include an intervalometer and extensive bracketing options.
The integrated grip has allowed Fujifilm to include two NP-T125 batteries, as previously used in the GFX 50S and 50R, promising a combined endurance of 800 shots. As befits a professional camera, the GFX100 also has dual high-speed UHS-II SD card slots. It’s possible to use them simultaneously or sequentially, or record JPEGs to one and raw files to the other. On the left side you’ll find microphone and headphone sockets, along with USB-C, HDMI and 15V power-in connectors, plus a PC sync socket for studio flash. A 2.5mm remote control socket is located on the handgrip.
The GFX100 also boasts an extremely impressive video specification. 4K recording is available at 30fps using the full width of the sensor, with footage recorded at 10bit 4:2:2 externally and 10bit 4:2:0 internally, using the H.265/HEVC codec. Fujifilm has included its cine-optimised Eterna Film Simulation mode, while F-log allows greater flexibility for grading in post-production. Hybrid Log Gamma is also available for recording HDR footage.
Naturally Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are built-in, allowing connection to a smartphone or tablet for remote control of the camera or copying images for sharing. Meanwhile tethered shooting is available via the USB-C port, using Fujifilm X Acquire or Capture One Pro software.