Pushing the Medium Format Envelope: the FUJIFILM GFX 100S and GF 80mm f/1.7 Lens01/21/2021
Breaking the status quo of medium format, FUJIFILM has announced the GFX 100S. This mirrorless medium format camera ups the resolution to 100MP, shrinks the body size to something highly portable, and packs in a full suite of multimedia recording features to suit both photo and video needs. Alongside the camera body, FUJIFILM has also introduced the fastest autofocus-enabled medium format lens to date: the GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR. Combined, the new camera and lens make medium format approachable and viable for the contemporary image maker, together bringing more speed, more resolution, and more versatility.
When FUJIFILM entered the medium format realm in 2017, the company changed the genre with the GFX 50S. This was one of the smallest medium format cameras to date, as well as being one of the more affordable cameras relative to the category. Four years later, FUJIFILM is once again shaking things up with the GFX 100S. Stated simply, this camera is putting 100MP and medium format within reach (and physical grasp) of many photographers. Besides coming in at an impressive price point, this camera is also among the smallest, lightest, and most portable medium format cameras around, feeling more like a full-frame camera than something containing a large 44 x 33mm BSI CMOS sensor.
Up until this camera, FUJIFILM’s medium format lineup has consisted of three separate models that were distinct due to physical traits and sensor details. This GFX 100S feels like it’s picking the best features of all three models—the 102MP sensor of the GFX 100, the sleekness of the GFX 50R, and the forethought and presence of the original GFX 50S—and combining them into something truly useful.
Statement piece aside, the GFX 100S is, undoubtedly, characterized by its huge, high-res sensor along with its X-Processor 4 image processor, which help to achieve up to 5 fps continuous stills shooting at full-res, along with expandable sensitivity from ISO 50 to 102,400. The slimmed-down body design required an updated 5-axis in-body image stabilization mechanism, which successfully reduces the appearance of camera shake by up to 6 stops when combined with an OIS-enabled GF lens. The new body design also required a new shutter design, which offers increased accuracy and reduced vibration to suit the sensor’s resolution. Both of these elements help facilitate the Pixel Shift Multi-Shot mode, which can be used to create 400MP composited shots in-camera. Beyond stills, the GFX 100S uses its huge sensor area to provide a unique look when recording video, with DCI/UHD 4K recording possible up to 30p with 10-bit F-log or 12-bit ProRes RAW output supported. Complementing stills and video, FUJIFILM has also released a new Film Simulation mode with this camera: Nostalgic Neg, which further emphasizes the filmic look achievable with this camera.
The sensor’s design also offers a hybrid autofocus system, which employs 425 selectable points to achieve focus in as little as 0.16 of a second, with AF sensitivity down to -5.5 EV. Phase-detection points cover the full width of the sensor, for high accuracy across the frame, and the processing capabilities afford responsive subject tracking and Face and Eye-Detection AF.
Equally as impressive as the high resolution is the compact body, which looks and feels decidedly smaller than your typical medium format body—weighing just about 2 lb for the body and measuring 5.9 x 4.1 x 3.4". Despite the attention given to portability, FUJIFILM has still ensured durability by featuring a magnesium-alloy chassis and full weather sealing around the body, making it suitable for working in inclement weather and freezing temperatures down to 14°F. The body also features a fixed, built-in 3.69m-dot OLED EVF, which offers 0.77x magnification, along with a three-way tilting 3.2" 2.36m-dot touchscreen LCD. A top settings LCD is featured, too, along with a control set that feels like a balance between the GFX 50S and the original GFX 100. The single adjustable mode dial gives quick access to six custom modes, while the top LCD offers immediate confirmation of shooting and exposure settings.
Finally, announced alongside this compact beast of a camera, FUJIFILM is also announcing the GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR lens, the fastest autofocus lens available for medium format. Historically, medium format lenses have never been known as being “fast,” and one of the most frequently heard requests from shooters, especially since medium format’s recent bump in popularity, has been to make brighter lenses that are akin to the focal length and aperture combos we’re familiar with in the 35mm format world. FUJIFILM is taking on this challenge with this 80mm f/1.7—a short portrait-length prime that should feel like a 63mm lens on full frame. It’s wide enough to give some context to the scene, tight enough to home in on your subjects, and the bright f/1.7 design will certainly contribute to shallow depth of field to help blur away busy backgrounds.
Beyond getting the bright maximum aperture right, FUJIFILM has also made sure to limit the physical size of the lens so as not to be too unwieldy. It weighs 1.75 lb and measures 3.7 x 3.9", making it suitable for location-based jobs and all-day handheld shooting sessions. Optically, the lens features one aspherical element and a pair of ED elements, which boost sharpness and color accuracy, and the lens has a rounded nine-blade diaphragm that further contributes to smooth, round bokeh. And, complementing the camera body, the lens is also weather sealed, capable of performing in freezing temps, and has a protective fluorine coating on the front lens element.
FUJIFILM is certainly making big moves with the announcement of the GFX 100S and the GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR. It definitely feels like the company is making a pointed attempt at blurring certain barriers between full-frame and medium format while relying on medium format’s inherent strengths to keep the two formats distinct and separate. It’s exciting to see an attainable 100MP medium format mirrorless camera out in the world, as well as relatively compact and impressively fast lens for the system.
What are your thoughts on FUJIFILM’s latest splash in the medium format realm? Do you think the GFX 100S is helping to bridge the gap between full-frame and medium format? What about the fast lens? Let us know your thoughts on FUJIFILM’s announcement in the Comments section, below.