Fujifilm GFX50S II
Price as Reviewed:£3,500.00 (body only)
Andy Westlake takes a first look at Fujifilm’s new sub-£4000 medium format mirrorless camera, the Fujifilm GFX50S II
Fujifilm GFX50S II at a glance:
- 51.4MP CMOS sensor, 44 x 33mm
- ISO 100-12,800; 50-102,400 extended
- 3.69m-dot viewfinder, 0.77x magnification
- 3.2in, 2.35m-dot tilting touchscreen
- 5-axis in-body image stabilisation
- 200MP multi-shot mode available
It’s only five years since Fujifilm revolutionised medium format digital with the launch of its GFX 50S, which provided 51.4MP resolution and mirrorless architecture for what was then a ground-breaking price of £6,200 body-only. Since then, the GFX system has gone from strength to strength, with the GFX100S offering 102MP for £5,500 in a compact, SLR-shaped design earlier this year. With the new GFX50S II, Fujifilm has brought the price of entry even lower, to just £3,500 body-only, or £3,900 with the new matched 35-70mm kit zoom. This is very competitive with high-end full-frame systems.
Despite its name, the GFX50S II isn’t based on the original camera. Instead, it employs the same 51.4MP sensor, but places it into the exact same body as the GFX100S, and mates it with the updated X-Processor 4. In effect it’ll replace the rangefinder-style GFX 50R as the entry point to the GFX system, with that camera no longer in production.
Fujifilm GFX50S II: Features
In essence the GFX50S II offers the same imaging specifications as the older GFX 50S and the flat-bodied, rangefinder-style GFX 50R. Its 51.4MP sensor is, at 44x33mm, 70% larger than full frame, and offers standard a sensitivity range of ISO 100-12,800, that’s extendable to ISO 50-102,400 with certain image-quality compromises.
One area where it shows its age is a continuous shooting speed of 3 frames per second, which is pretty pedestrian by current standards. It’s also only capable of recording video in Full HD resolution, rather than 4K, which feels decidedly outdated. But if you’re thinking of buying into medium format, chances are you’ll be far more interested in shooting still images anyway.
Unlike its 102MP siblings, the sensor lacks on-chip phase detection, so autofocus is based on contrast detection only. But thanks to the faster processor, it should be quicker than the older 51.4MP models. My early experience of shooting it with the new 35-70mm lens revealed it to be impressively quick at locking onto static targets. But it’s probably not going to be the best choice for tracking erratically moving subjects. So rather than sports or wildlife, this camera will be best suited to landscape, portrait or studio work.
The GFX50S II also inherits many of the features that made the GXF100S one of our favourite cameras of the year so far, including a large, high resolution electronic viewfinder that provides an accurate preview of how your pictures will come out. The rear screen tilts in three directions, which allows high- and low-angle shooting in both portrait and landscape orientation, and it’s also touch sensitive for changing camera settings.
Two UHS-II SD card slots are available for recording images, and as usual, both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are built in for connecting to your smartphone, allowing image sharing and remote control of the camera.
Other notable features include 5-axis image stabilisation that promises up to six and a half stops of shake reduction, which helps you get sharp pictures hand-held so you don’t necessarily have to use a tripod all the time. The IBIS unit also enables a 205MP multi-shot mode, although as usual, this will only really be usable with completely static subjects. You also get the benefit of Fujifilm’s industry-leading colour science, with a full set of Film Simulation modes to provide a wide range of attractive colour looks for your images.
Fujifilm GFX50S II: Build and handling
In terms of design, the body is about the same size and shape as a high-end full-frame DSLR, and is built for pro use, with magnesium alloy construction and extensive weather-sealing. A large, deep handgrip makes it very comfortable and secure to hold, even with the larger lenses in the GF line-up. With lightweight lenses, it’s entirely possible to shoot one-handed, which isn’t something you’d normally associate with medium format.
Operationally, the camera behaves much like a conventional DSLR, with electronic dials under your finger and thumb, and a joystick for positioning the focus point. There’s also a large status panel on top that shows all your exposure settings at a glance.
A conventional exposure mode dial on the left has no fewer than six custom positions for saving camera set-ups for specific purposes. The controls are all large and well-spaced, and as I found on the GFX100S, easy to use when shooting with gloves in cold weather.
Unfortunately, Fujifilm has persisted with the same tiny, awkwardly placed exposure compensation button as the GFX100S. But by changing a couple of menu settings you can move this onto the rear dial, which makes the camera much nicer to use.
Both dials can be clicked inwards like buttons, which allows you to toggle between controlling the aperture and ISO on the front dial, and shutter speed or exposure compensation on the rear one, depending on the exposure mode you’re using. Once you get used to it, this control scheme works pretty well.
Historically, medium format cameras were relatively clunky and awkward. But Fujifilm has worked very hard on making the GFX system as easy to shoot with and get good results as any other modern camera. In particular, the effective in-body stabilisation and soft, discreet low-vibration shutter help you get the best results from the high-resolution sensor when shooting hand-held.
Thanks to the compact form-factor, this is also a camera that can substitute a full-frame system without requiring you to change everything else too. It’ll fit into the same bags and sit happily on the same tripods. The lenses are relatively large, but the ones that I’ve used in the past have been uniformly stellar – especially the primes.
New GF 35-70mm F4.5-5.6 WR zoom
To complement the GFX50S II, Fujifilm has also launched a new kit zoom, the GF 35-70mm F4.5-5.6 WR, which equates to a 28-56mm equivalent range. This lens has a retracting design to take up less space in your bag and is also the first GF lens without an aperture ring. Instead, you set the aperture using the camera’s front dial, and then click it inwards to set the ISO.
However, like the rest of the system it features weather-resistant construction, and Fujifilm claims the optics should match up to the demands of the GFX100S’s 102MP chip, let alone the GFX50S II’s 51.4MP unit. The bigger compromises compared to the existing GF 32-64mm F4 R WR are the small maximum aperture and the slightly uninspiring zoom range. The lens is due to go on sale in November as a standalone product for £849.
Fujifilm GFX50S II: First Impressions
In a way, the GFX50S II is about as predictable as a new camera could be, given that both the sensor and body design are entirely known quantities. But this isn’t in any way a bad thing, because both are very good indeed, meaning that this camera makes a huge amount of sense for Fujifilm to have made.
Thanks to the former, we can expect superb image quality that surpasses almost anything you might get from a full-frame camera, though its advantage over the very best high-resolution models such as the Sony Alpha 7R IV or the Nikon Z 7II is nowhere near as clear cut as its 102MP siblings. Meanwhile the proven body design borrowed from the GFX100S makes it a joy to shoot with. It’s another bold step in Fujifilm’s mission to make medium format accessible to wide range of users, and I’m really looking forward to trying it out properly. Look out for our upcoming full review.
Fujifilm GFX50S II: Full specifications
- Sensor : 51.4MP CMOS, 43.8 x 32.9mm
- Output size : 8256 x 6192
- Focal length mag : 0.8x
- Lens mount : Fujifilm G
- Shutter speeds : 60min – 1/4000sec (mechanical); 60min – 1/16000 sec (electronic)
- Sensitivity : ISO 100-12,800 (standard), ISO 50-102,400 (extended)
- Exposure modes : PASM, 6x custom
- Metering : Multi, spot, average, centre-weighted
- Exposure comp : +/- 5EV in 0.3EV steps
- Continuous shooting : 3fps
- Screen : 3.2in, 2.35m-dot tilting touchscreen
- Viewfinder : 3.69m-dot OLED, 0.77x magnification
- AF points : 117 or 425
- Video : Full HD up to 30 fps
- External mic : 3.5mm stereo
- Memory card : 2x UHS-II SD/SDHC/SDXC
- Power : NP-W235 Li-ion
- Battery life : 455
- Dimensions : 150 x 104.2 x 87.2mm
- Weight : 900g