Another long break but it’s been silent progress

Fujifilm X-T3 versus GFX-50S, APS-C versus Medium Format

Preparing to camp along Second Beach was the last post I made. I have obviously since done that, as well as a trip to Razar State Park and Ranger Creek, the latter being a snow camping trip.

After that came a portrait session with an old friend and his new girlfriend in Japantown and a candid session during a celebration of Smudge Cat’s life before Lori had to have him put down.

The biggest news was the purchase of a Fujifilm GFX 50S, GF 45mm ƒ/2.8 lens and TechArt autofocus EF-GFX lens adapter. It arrived just before Xmas and I was able to use it for parts of both latter shoots. I also gave it a couple of runs, one from Kerry Park that was foiled by fog, another from Rizal Bridge that wasn’t. The increase in resolution is shocking. Shots taken from the bridge could be cropped down to 8mp and were still crystal clear. Also shocking: the size of the uncompressed RAW files at ~140MB each.

Fujifilm GFX-50S, GF 45mm ƒ/2.8 from Rizal Bridge
8MP crop from the above image to demonstrate resolution and detail.

So far, I’ve learned that the GFX 100 has IBIS for very good reason as even the 50S is hypersensitive to hand shake below 1/125s shutter speeds. Also, the current state of imaging sensor tech has spoiled me. Today’s BSI sensors benefit from being underexposed and raised later in post to protect highlight detail. The GFX 50S 51.4mp medium format sensor instead benefits from overexposure, or “exposure to the right” on the histogram, to retain shadow detail, much like shooting film. Not as important when shooting below ISO 3200 but extremely important when at ISO 6400 and up to prevent shadow noise. When obeying the rules, I can pull as much as 14 stops of dynamic range at base ISOs and even 8+ at 12,800 ISO. The comparison is my X-T3’s current APS-C sensor with 12+ stops of DR at base and under 6 at 12,800. Despite the latitude, the GFX is oddly more unforgiving to shoot. Maybe my experience will change the more I get used to it.

Despite the significant increase in size and weight of both body and lenses, my Gitzo Series 1 Mountaineer and Traveler tripods and heads have no issues under the extra weight. There’s no sense of decreases stability, wiggle or flimsiness at all, which is highly fortunate as I’d rather not have to throw another $1200 into a Series 2 or 3 travel tripod.

Fujifilm GFX-50S atop Gitzo Mountaineer Series 1 GT1542 tripod and Arca-Swiss P0 inverted ball head

Now to collect lenses. GF lenses are shockingly expensive and there’s a dearth of them on the used market due to a very small user base. While I’ll probably buy the 100-200mm ƒ/5.6 lens for telephoto landscapes, and possibly the 110mm ƒ/2 for portraits, I’m going to give Sigma’s Art primes a chance. Fujifilm doesn’t make a worthwhile lens that’s either wide enough or bright enough for astrophotography but Sigma does. Plus, they’re built to resolve 50+mp for use on the Canon 5DSR, Nikon D850 and Sony a7R IV and most of their primes are able to cover the cropped medium format sensor on the GFX. The reasonable prices of Sigma lenses, especially on the used market, is also a huge benefit. However, it all hinges on the ability of the TechArt adapter to properly drive them at an acceptable level. I’ll be testing this with Craig’s 50mm ƒ/1.4 long-term, as well as his 35mm ƒ/1.4 on an occasional basis.

Long exposure on GFX-50S from Rizal Park

While I plan to write a post or 2 to sum up my recent projects, I will begin posting in detail about my adoption of medium format digital into my repertoire. Most importantly, at least for this blog, I intend to journal my experiences with adapted lenses on the GFX and may even start vlogging it. Far from technical, the intention is to provide an introductory resource for others considering the GFX for use with an EF mount lens collection. What I’ve discovered so far is there is little in the way of definitive lists and details on lenses compatible with adaptation to GFX. With such a limited line of glass, adapting lenses is the only way to use the GFX for more than just portraits and daylight landscapes. So keep on the lookout for that and I’ll do the SEO necessary so the information is easily found by anyone in need of it.

Oh yeah, this doesn’t mean I’m giving up on APS-C. The X-T3 is still in my bag and is still my primary camera. While I intend for the GFX to become my primary landscape rig, the X-T3 will still be there for things my GFX can’t do for now due to a lack of lenses. And even then, the X-T3 is still far better for candids, action and sports. Once I have glass to cover fast ultra-wide, short telephoto and long telephoto, the GFX will be the only kit in my landscape bag. Bottom line, I really love and appreciate the X-T3 and will only give it up once there’s an X-H2 to buy.

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