Fujifilm GFX50S II review

Fujifilm GFX50S II review

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Epblogs verdict

Fujifilm’s upgrade to its relatively affordable 50MP GFX camera doesn’t look very impressive on paper – no 4K video, only 3fps continuous shooting speed – but some significant changes both inside and out have made this the first 50MP stabilized shooter from Fujifilm, with the cheapest price tag for a medium format camera. Along with its impeccable image quality, it’s easy to fall in love with this camera. However, its relatively sluggish autofocus (as compared to other mirrorless cameras), meager 3fps burst rate and lack of 4K video could deter some users.

Fujifilm GFX50S II price and availability

At launch, Fujifilm slapped a price tag of $3,999 / £3,499 / AU$6,499 for the body alone. A kit bundled with the GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6 WR lens will also be available for $4,499  / £3,899 / AU$7,299 – a package that offers very good value if you’re a first-time GFX user.

While those prices aren’t what we’d call ‘cheap’, the camera is remarkably affordable for a medium format model, and is cheaper at launch as compared to the GFX 50S at $6,500 / £6,199 back in early 2017. If you take into account the other 50MP medium format cameras like the Hasselblads, you’ll be shelling out something like $6,500 / £6000 / AU$11,500 for the 907X 50C or X1D II 50C.

Fujifilm GFX50S II (Black) at Amazon for $3,849

While the lack of 4K video and a meager continuous shooting speed is a little disappointing, Fujifilm has made up for it by improving the in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The 5-axis IBIS system – which wasn’t available on the older GFX 50S – is rated for a whopping 6.5 stops of correction for camera shake, a half stop improvement over the GFX 100S and the best IBIS rating of any GFX camera to date.

Thanks to the addition of the IBIS module, the GFX50S II can now boast a Pixel Shift Multi-shot function. This produces 200MP images by capturing 16 RAW images as the sensor shifts by 0.5 of a pixel – the final composite image isn’t produced in-camera though, and needs to be done in post using Fujifilm’s Pixel Shift Combiner software.

While the IBIS and the multi-shot mode are the biggest gains the GFX50S II has over its predecessor, there are a few other smaller features that have been added to the Mark II – mostly upgrades that Fujifilm has added to its arsenal in the years since the launch of the GFX 50S.  For example, a lossy RAW compression option is now available in addition to the existing lossless compression, as well as focus bracketing added to the existing list of bracketing options – both brought over from the GFX100S.

Rounding up the feature set for the GFX50S II is the collection of 19 Film Simulations presets, including the Nostalgic Neg that debuted in the GFX100S earlier this year.

Fujifilm GFX50S II build and handling

  • Traditional DSLR-like styling
  • More compact than before
  • Lower magnification EVF

Physically, the original GFX 50S and the Mark II are very different. Fujifilm has used the GFX 100S body for the new GFX50S II, giving it a more DSLR-style control layout. This would make it easy for anyone moving away from a different system to adapt to the GFX50S II quite quickly.

Unlike the original GFX 50S, which has slightly cramped dials on the top plate, there’s just the traditional mode dial and the electronic viewfinder (EVF) on the Mark II, with a 1.8-inch LCD display to the right of the viewfinder. The display can be set to show virtual dials, a histogram or a full set of shooting parameters. There’s even a little light button to illuminate the display.

Speaking of the EVF: the older GFX 50S had a removable eye-level viewfinder that could be replaced with an optional tilting EVF. However, the EVF on the Mark II is fixed, like in the GFX 100S and has the same 3.69 million dot resolution as before. Despite the shared resolution, Fujifilm has opted to use a different OLED panel in the Mark II that drops the magnification from the 0.85x on the GFX 50S to 0.77x in the new body. While it would have been nice to have higher magnification, the EVF is sharp and you can have a lot of shooting information displayed on there if you wish.

Complementing the EVF on the rear is the 3.2-inch 3-way tilting touchscreen – the same used in the GFX 50S and GFX 100S – that’s very responsive with full functionality available on that panel. The button layout on the rear of the Mark II is a lot more intuitive – the exact same setup as in the 102MP sibling. This makes it easy to come to grips with the interface, even for anyone who’s never used a medium format or Fujifilm camera before. Practically every button can be customized, even the Quick Menu. If you’ve ever been daunted by the idea of using a medium format camera, Fujifilm has now made it a lot more user friendly with its last two offerings.

However, the Quick Menu button on the Mark II still sits on the ridge of the thumb rest (as in the GFX 100S) and may cause accidental presses if you aren’t too careful. During our time testing the camera, though, we had no issues with accidental presses on the Q button.

Like the GFX 100S body, the GFX50S II also sits in the hand comfortably, with a beefy grip that distributes the weight well, even when a hefty lens has been attached. At 900g, it’s no lightweight, and the camera can feel heavy after prolonged handheld use, but it’s a far cry from the larger bodies such as the GFX 100. Like the GFX 100S, there’s an index finger indent to make the grip more ergonomic and the thumb rest on the rear is deep too.

Having inherited the body from the GFX 100S, the GFX50S II also inherits the same NP-W235 battery that’s rated for about 460 shots per full charge. Dual SD card slots, 3.5mm jacks for mic and headphones, a USB-C port for charging and transferring files, a mini HDMI port and a PC sync port round up the camera body.

Fujifilm GFX50S II autofocus

  • Accurate but relatively sluggish AF
  • Contrast-detect AF only
  • Eye detection in S-AF

The GFX50S II performs remarkably well for a medium format camera. It’s easy to compare with other mirrorless cameras on the market, most of which offer speedier performance at lower prices, but it is important to keep in mind that medium format cameras are very different beasts.

They’re not really known for topnotch autofocus performance, but Fujifilm has harnessed the power of the X-Processor 4 engine, while also updating the AF algorithm, to speed things up a little. Because it still uses the same contrast-detect AF as before, however, AF acquisition is a little slower as compared to the 102MP GFX cameras that have the advantage of the hybrid AF with phase detection. And that also means it’s slower than most other modern mirrorless cameras. Despite that, the GFX50S II is no slouch. Autofocus is still relatively snappy and very accurate.

Face and eye detection are on board and work quite well, provided your subject is squarely facing you or at least one eye is well lit. However, eye detection works effectively only on S-AF mode, and suffers a lot when trying to track in continuous shooting mode.

Fujifilm GFX50S II performance

  • No 4K video
  • Low burst rate
  • Impressive IBIS

It’s again very tempting to compare the performance of the GFX50S II with that of other mirrorless cameras, but that would be an unfair comparison. That said, it is disappointing that the GFX50S II misses out on a 4K video upgrade, despite inheriting the latest image processor from its 102MP sibling. Footage is still captured at 1080p resolution at a maximum frame rate of 30fps. You can’t fault the quality though.

You’re also stuck with the same 3fps continuous shooting speed as its predecessor, so it won’t be winning any medals in the sports or wildlife photography arena. However, Fujifilm has adjusted the buffer memory on the camera, which has gone from 25 JPEGs in the 50S to ‘unlimited’ in the Mark II, and up to 31 compressed RAW files (up from just 13). Moreover, the camera stays fully operational while saving images, allowing you to continue shooting if necessary.

The low burst rate, however, contributes to a lot of rolling shutter effect (where lines appear at angles) when using the electronic shutter.

A battery rated at 460 shots is quite competitive for a mirrorless camera, but this number is conservative. Depending on the shooting conditions and duration, you can easily squeeze upwards of 550 shots from a single charge.

What’s really impressive about the GFX50S II, though, is its image stabilization system. The IBIS is rated at 6.5 stops of shutter speed advantage, but in real-world shooting conditions you are likely to get more like 5 stops – this is because IBIS ratings are measured for just pitch and yaw and the number is a best-case scenario. Even then, 5 stops is remarkable. Handheld shooting with the GFX50S II is a joy, despite it feeling heavy after long use. We were able to capture some great results at 2 seconds shutter speed at base ISO handheld with the GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR lens (as you can see from the image above).

Fujifilm GFX50S II image quality

  • ISO 100-12,800, expandable to 50-102,400
  • Great noise control
  • Superb dynamic range

It’s extremely difficult to find fault with the results produced by a medium format body. Because of its slightly slower AF performance, the GFX50S II is going to be the remit of portrait, still life, architecture and landscape photographers. That’s because of the advantages that a medium format sensor offers.

Click <a href=”https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/82XFemFssNFXag8fpcztdT.jpg” target=”_blank”>here </a>for the full-size image

Combined with Fujifilm’s excellent quality GF optics, the level of detail you get from the large sensor is very high, and tonality is sensational. The bigger photocells on the sensor means great light-capturing capabilities, which in turn translates into superb low-light performance and excellent dynamic range. We took a few underexposed test shots and there was a huge latitude to play with. It was extremely easy to bring out details in shadows and highlights without impacting the image quality.

The low-light performance of the camera means noise control is also really quite good here. Even at high sensitivity like ISO 3200, noise is very well controlled, with not a trace of grain. Even images captured at ISO 6400 are clean. Step up to ISO 8000 and you will start to see a bit of grain creep in, but the images are still usable, as long as you don’t intend to enlarge and print or crop too much.

With Fujifilm’s Film Simulations on board, there’s plenty of in-camera creativity to play with. Colors are excellent, even in the standard preset, but you can opt for brighter colors and more saturation by using the Velvia/Vivid (which is what we used for most of our sample images). Its lack of video and speed aside, the GFX50S II scores big in our books on picture quality alone.

You want to get into the world of medium format photography

As the most affordable and well designed 50MP medium format camera, the GFX50S II is a no-brainer for anyone looking to move to a larger sensor. Not only is it priced really well – particularly if you opt for the kit with the new 35-70mm lens – it’s also designed for ease of use. It handles remarkably well and opens the doors to a lot of handheld photography thanks to its impressive image stabilization system.

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