Review: The GF 45-100mm ƒ/4R WR LM OIS is the Best All-Purpose Zoom Lens for Most GFX Owners

If you already own the GF 32-64mm ƒ/4 and don’t use it at its widest end much, you’re not going to enjoy this review. If you do and primarily use it handheld, you’re also not going to like the conclusion. If you are and landscape photographer, you’ll probably end up feeling indifferent, if not vindicated, by the end of this review. If you just like long, detailed but unscientific, product reviews of items that have been on the market for a year or more, as opposed to a tweet-length hot-take of a newly released or pre-release item, you’re both in the minority and may walk away from this review wondering why I’m so damn wordy, if you even get that far.

Skipping the unboxing, because unboxings are stupid, let me just list what comes in the box: lens, lens hood, front and rear lens caps, lens bag and manual. If you’ve ever bought a brand new lens for GFX system cameras, your unboxing experience will be similar, if not identical. Now, on to the relevant shit.

What’s Inside?

Describing the lens, it’s 45-100mm with a constant ƒ/4 aperture that aligns itself with the 32-64mm ƒ/4 and 100-200mm ƒ/5.6 zoom lenses, slotting right between the 2 and covering the 64-100mm gap in the lens range. It has an 82mm front element, is weather sealed and extends in length as you zoom out. Like the 32-64mm the zoomed out length isn’t very significant. However, the closed length of the 45-100mm is; the length splits the difference between the 32-64mm and 100-200mm lenses, as does the weight. Based on the feel of the zoom ring, build quality seems to have taken a step up since the 32-64mm, with a marginally tighter feel and sound reflecting the attention towards improving the weather sealing. The sealing of the 32-64mm isn’t bad; it’s just that the sealing of the 45-100mm is seemingly better, as evidenced. Unlike the 32-64mm, the 45-100mm has OIS built-in, making it especially useful on the GFX 50S and 50R, of which have no IBIS. Finally, the lens, while exceptionally sharp across the field of view and throughout the zoom range, does suffer from some distortion across the frame but is corrected by the optimization algorithm.

You may be thinking, “what an odd focal range,” and you’d be right. It covers approximately 36-80mm in 35mm terms, with a significant overlap with the 32-64mm lens in coverage. Judged purely by the range, it’s obvious this lens is designed for handheld portraits, covering the popular portraiture focal lengths of 35, 50 and 80mm. Judged by what the Fujifilm lineup lacked at the time of its release, it’s also a potential landscape and all-purpose lens as it fills the aforementioned hole in the range, especially at 70mm, a focal length landscapists use often via the wide end of a 70-200mm or the long end of the 24-70mm.

What a Rip… Now I Need to Buy 2 Lenses When I Previously Needed Only One

Priced at $2299 USD, just like the 32-64mm and 80mm ƒ/1.7, it’s like you’re getting stabilization for free. Should you own both lenses? Am I missing out by not owning both the 32-64mm and 45-100mm? That depends. If you deal primarily in portraits, fashion or travel, this could be the ideal, single lens solution. However, if you’re into landscapes, astro or urban photography, it may not be wide enough for many occasions. I own all 3 zoom lenses and for the first 2 weeks of using the 45-100mm, I found myself carrying it with the smaller, lighter 23mm ƒ/4 prime lens rather than in tandem with the 32-64mm. For one, it cuts my filter pack to half as the two lenses share the 82mm filter thread, compared to the 32-64’s 77mm diameter. Another convenience is being able to share the 23mm’s lens hood; while the hood may be shorter, it still offers enough protection from both flaring and impacts to be useful on the 45-100mm, plus it helps to slim down my bag a bit. In the end, what I discovered was that I didn’t miss the 32-64mm one bit by carrying this tandem.

Despite this, the experience I had was limited to urban landscapes, where lenses between 24-35mm tend to go unused by me as they’re neither wide enough to be dramatic or tight enough to be useful. However, despite the advantages of a shared front diameter, I’d probably take both zoom lenses, along with the 100-200mm, for any outdoor excursions to ensure I have the widest range possible for inaccessible locations that limit my position.

OK. If Only One, Which One?

So, does that mean you should own both? Hard to say as both the 32-64mm and 45-100mm lenses both split the traditional 24-70mm in half. Like I said earlier, if you’re into portraiture you’re probably just fine owning the 45-100mm, especially if what you do could benefit from stabilization. If you do a lot of smaller spaces or group work, the 32-64mm would have to be considered as the 23mm and 45-100mm tandem may not work for you due to the 23mm’s ultrawide distortion.

Personally, I feel most GFX owners will be served just fine with either one of the two lenses, depending on their needs. Very few will find the need to own both simultaneously; photographers who photograph people will be drawn to the 45-100mm while outdoors and environmental photographers will be drawn to the 32-64mm, unaffected by the lack of OIS due to familiarity with tripod use.

Tell Me About The Image Stabilization

The OIS in the 45-100mm is really, really good. Fujifilm seems to have taken what they’ve learned with IBIS and applied that prediction algorithm to their OIS. Unlike other lenses with OIS, like the 100-200mm (since I own it, I can make a direct comparison), the 45-100mm’s OIS isn’t nearly as tenacious when holding position with the focus locked. This has multiple benefits, mostly for video: panning becomes less jittery as it breaks from position more smoothly, stabilizing along a single axis for a smooth panning motion. Along with that comes the resetting of the stabilizer as it returns to center without the typical drift as the system recovers from overcorrection, negatively altering your composition. Despite this, the system seems to really grab hold as you press the shutter, offering some of the best stabilization I’ve ever experienced to date and allowing me to take shots at 100mm with a shutter as slow as 1/3 second. Mind you, this is not set to “shutter only.” This is all with the system set to full-time stabilization and it’s impressive. If you’re a GFX 100/100S owner looking to shoot handheld video, this lens will work with you, not against you, and I’m sure you’ll find it to be a superior stabilization algorithm. The 100-200mm’s OIS is an excellent platform for stills but the 45-100mm is clearly tuned for video and they managed to do it without negatively affecting stills performance.

Give It To Me Straight

This is not a lens for everyone. Like I said, professionals and enthusiasts will know which lens they’ll need as their primary, be it the 32-64mm or the 45-100mm. Few will need both. Despite that, if you can afford both, get them both as they both have their strengths and weaknesses, and while there’s significant overlap, there’s still enough differentiation to justify owning, and carrying, both. The wild card is the 23mm lens, or a future ultrawide zoom lens, if they ever get around to making one. If you do own the 23mm already, you may be better served by skipping the 32-64mm altogether.

But what if I own the 32-64mm and the 110mm ƒ/2? Let me be clear: the 45-100mm is in no way a replacement for the 110mm ƒ/2 lens. If you own that lens, you own it for a reason and there’s no way a zoom lens with a 2 stop aperture deficit will be able to replicate, or replace, what the 110mm lens does. In conjunction with the 110mm, the 45-100mm would be a convenient choice over buying, and carrying, the 45mm ƒ/2.8 and 63mm ƒ/2.8 to cover the most common portrait focal lengths, unless you have a personal issue against zoom lenses.

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