Fuji GFX 50R: first impressions

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“A picture is worth a thousand words”.

And as the old English adage goes, the picture above perfectly illustrates my first impressions of the Fujifilm GFX 50R: this camera is a beefed-up, bulkier version of the X-E3.

It feels very similar in terms of operation, but overall slower. Autofocus is slower, FPS rate is lower, frame blackout time is longer. That’s the result of growing larger, from a petite 24 megapixel APS camera to a 51 megapixel medium format monster.

So, as in real life: you gain weight, get bigger, and you lose your agility. But still, for a medium format camera, the GFX 50R is pretty agile.

Is it portable? Yes, I’d say so. Obviously, it depends on what lens you are putting in the body, but last Friday I spent over 10 hours walking around Disneyland with my family and I carried the GFX 50R with the 63mm f/2.8 with me at all times. Weight was not an issue and I did not feel tired.

But the camera is bulky and when queuing for the attractions I lost count of how many times people had accidentally hit the camera with their arms, butt or whatever body part. It was very annoying indeed.

Some reviewers out there will tell you the autofocus is slow. If you ask me, I’d say slow is not the right word to describe the AF performance of the GFX 50R. It hunts a bit sometimes, but it’s very usable. Face / eye recognition works pretty well and so far I’d say I was able to nail focus 8 out of 10 times when shooting my kids who are constantly moving around and unable to stand still.

So objectively I wouldn’t say the AF of the GFX 50R is slow. It’s just that it is not lightning fast as in the X-E3 or other mirrorless cameras. So, while not being slow, it’s definetly not fast by current standards.

One quick note on the AF mode switch: it’s located at the back side of the camera, so it’s easily accessible. Seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of recent cameras have the switch inconveniently located at the front side of the body, adjacent to the camera mount, for whatever reason. It’s the most stupid thing.

With the GFX 50R, I find myself happily switching the AF mode quite often to suit the occasion. I’ve never done this with the X-E3, so definitely a plus.

The EVF is excellent: good resolution and magnification. The image is super large and very pleasant to look at. However, I noticed some flickering and pixelating whenever you achieve focus and keep your shutter button half-pressed. Strange. I need some time to understand this better.

Last but not least: image quality is superb. Colours are pleasant, you get that Fuji signature and everything is crazy sharp. Resolution is insane with the 51 megapixel sensor. To think that the GFX 50R’s latest sibling, the GFX 100, is doubling up at 100 megapixels… I just can’t imagine.

Anyway… These are just a few thoughts. I still need some time and more photo shooting to get a better understanding of the GFX 50R. And then, somewhere down the line, I’ll start writing the full review.

Stay tuned.

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