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 – Performance
After a couple of weeks shooting with the GFX100, what’s impressed me most is how little it feels like a medium-format camera. Obviously it’s not as blisteringly quick as Canon and Nikon’s similarly-sized pro sports models, but it’s more than fast enough for the majority of subjects. It’s also unexpectedly easy to use.
Previously, I’ve got used to writing about how you need impeccable photographic technique to make the best use of high-resolution cameras. But with its PDAF, IBIS and vibration-free shutter, the GFX100 makes it implausibly simple to get sharp, blur-free images time after time while shooting hand-held. This brings far more fluidity and mobility to your photography, which can be invaluable when you have a brief window of stunning light to exploit, for example.
Of course, a high-resolution sensor is nothing without a decent lens in front of it, and special mention has to be made of Fujifilm’s supreme optics. I used the GFX100 with the GF110mm F2 R WR portrait lens, the GF120mm F4 Macro R LM OIS WR, and the GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR wideangle zoom, which are all practically flawless. Indeed the latter might just be the finest zoom I’ve ever used, and capable of rendering fine details right into the corners of the frame, even when viewing files close-up onscreen.
The image of Mount Fuji above was shot with the GF 1o0mm F2 R LM WR, and to get an idea of just how much detail is recorded in the foreground trees, here’s a 100% crop. This may not look like anything much different to other cameras, until you realise that when viewed on a standard 96dpi monitor, this is akin to staring up-close at a print somewhere around 3 metres wide. Oh and it’s taken from the extreme bottom right corner of the frame.
Here’s another example of the GFX100’s stunning resolution. This is an extreme crop of a lucky snap of a honey bee, taken with the 120mm f/4 macro. It would happily print to 10 x 8 inches, despite representing only about 7% of the overall image area.
Metering is generally very accurate, and it’s easy to see in the viewfinder when you’re in danger of either clipping highlights or underexposing, and adjust accordingly. Aside from the sensor’s staggering levels of detail, it also records vast dynamic range, giving you scope to expose for the highlights even in extremely high-contrast situations, then simply bring up the shadows in raw processing. At low ISO settings the GFX100 gives results that comfortably surpass even the best full-frame cameras, as well as its current 50MP GFX models.
The sensor is no slouch at high ISOs either, and a big advance on the older 50MP cameras; I’d have no hesitation in selecting its highest standard ISO 12,800 setting when necessary. The in-body IS also works very well, and means you don’t have to worry about keeping shutter speeds high simply to avoid camera shake. However if you’re doing a lot of low-light shooting a full-frame system would probably make more sense, due to the widespread availability of high-quality fast primes.
Fujifilm’s in-camera colour processing is peerless, with a whole suite of attractive film simulation modes to choose from. For colour I tend to prefer Astia, or ProNegS for portraits, while Acros delivers wonderful black & white images. Unfortunately Adobe software doesn’t yet replicate these profiles, but it’s sure to sooner rather than later. Auto white balance is pretty much perfect, and I rarely felt the need to diverge far from the camera’s judgement when processing raw files.
Portrait photographers should certainly appreciate the Smooth Skin Effect setting, which essentially lowers the contrast of moderately fine detail to give a more flattering complexion (rather like setting the new Texture slider in Lightroom to a negative value). Just be aware that this affects every tone in the image, not just skin, so landscape photographers (for example) will want to turn it off.
We’d like to thank TimeLine Events for setting up the portrait samples used in this review.