Why I Bought a Fujifilm GFX

I’m obviously not a professional photographer. Now, some may take that to mean an enthusiast has no need for a “professional level” camera, but that is entirely untrue, even on a general level.

What the GFX offers is resolution. 50.1 megapixels of it. What I offer my camera is a crippled body, unable to get the most from any camera body. I can not hike as far, climb as high or go as long as an average photographer. I also cannot drive due to the medications I need to operate from day to day. Because of that, the GFX’s resolution returns to me an ability lost by my inability to drive: repeatability.

While the average person can simply return to a remote location they want to photograph, I rely on those around me to get there in the first place. I’m very fortunate to have good friends who are willing to include me into their adventures into remote locations around the Pacific Northwest. They often ask me where I’d like to go and I try to not repeat locations previously visited out of appreciation for their selflessness. If I miss a great shot due to composition, it’s missed. Of course, conditions aren’t always repeatable, so every visit to the same location can vary wildly, but having more resolution at my disposal gives me the power to recompose a shot later if I didn’t necessarily get it right in camera, or I realize a better composition during post-processing.

Test shot from my roof with Fujifilm GFX-50S and 45mm ƒ/2.8 lens

More than a few shots I’d taken with my X-T3 held within a better composition I didn’t see at first but sometimes those recomposed and cropped images are unsuitable for printing large. I ended up losing far more shots because of this than I’d first expected.

Cropped in area from the above shot

Sure, a Nikon D850 or Sony a7R IV could have produced the above example, but they couldn’t have done it with the Fujifilm’s hipster flair, with its simulation of old-style control knobs and built-in simulations of old film stocks.

I could have saved a lot more money simply by trading in my X-T3 for a 35mm Nikon, Canon or Sony but none would have brought me the same enjoyment while shooting as I originally found with the Fujifilm X-T2. It’s the integration of traditional, tactile controls in a sensible way that blends the nostalgia of film with contemporary digital technology. I briefly considered the Nikon Df, but the aged system with its 16MP sensor doesn’t meet my needs, while the controls somehow fail to fully integrate with the camera in the way Fujifilm has managed to in their X-T series. Any other camera was essentially a non-starter at that point. Add to it all the good faith Fujifilm has managed to build up in my mind and the GFX-50S became the natural choice for me.

Despite being functionally, aesthetically and ergonomically similar in many ways, the GFX is just different enough that I need some time to get used to it. And while that happens, I’ve been taking test shots to get to know just how far I can push it so I can get the most out of it.

Lastly, I will also be adapting Sigma Art primes to it. For one, to reduce the cost of operation as the lenses are very, very expensive. More importantly, the GF line of lenses is lacking in choice; only one truly wide angle lens, only one truly fast lens, and many holes in the focal range. There are no wide and fast lenses for astrophotography, fast normal lenses for portraits or long zooms for telephoto landscapes. The widest is 23mm but with an f/4 max aperture, a 63mm f/2.8 standard, and a 100-200mm telezoom with an f/5.6 aperture that sees through f/8 with the teleconverter. None of these are truly ideal for my use case. Sigma Art lenses are designed to resolve for the 40+ megapixels of the Canon 5DSR, Nikon D850 and Sony a7R and some are able to cover a larger imaging circle… enough to cover the GFX’s cropped medium format sensor. That being said, I will be sure to test as many Sigma Art lenses as I can to create a simplified database of lenses that work properly on the GFX. And for those that don’t, I can still shoot a 31MP photo in “35mm Crop Mode” or 45MP 3:2 format.

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