Since the days of film, medium format has been far from reach for many photographers. Even working professionals can have trouble justifying the high price point of these systems: when used, they can be $8,000-10,000. Medium format film bodies, while cheap now, were always several thousand away from even the most exorbitantly priced 35mm bodies. Factor in the inconvenient size of just about every medium format camera ever, and it’s easy to put the idea of working with these monsters far from mind.
The Fuji GFX 50s
The world of digital photography is ever-evolving, however, and just a few short months ago, Hassleblad announced what could be a solution to these issues, the X1D. While certainly intrigued by what that brings to the table, I believe the future of medium format lies with Fuji. Fuji’s new camera has this name for a reason. G refers to their medium format heritage, F for their heritage in film and the popular film simulations offered on the camera, and X because well, it’s a giant X-T2. The GFX 50s has been rumored for quite a while. I recall personally having seen small rumors here and there over a year ago. To much hype, Fuji finally decided to unleash it on the world this year at Photokina. Fuji did not disappoint. The 50s has an impressive list of specifications, many of which will be familiar to current Fuji shooters, some of which are standard in the world of medium format. What has me so excited is how Fuji is marketing this camera directly at DSLR shooters. I say this for several reasons, the first of which is the size. The 50s is nearly identical in size to the D810 and 5D Mark IV, but with a sensor 1.7x larger than full frame. With the vertical grip that Fuji announced, it may be slightly larger, but the point is that the size and feel won’t be foreign to full-frame shooters. The camera can also shoot tethered, which most medium format users are used to, the 50s also has more physical controls on the exterior (like a DSLR), rather than the sparse bodies and extremely menu-driven operation of many current medium format platforms. There is also no X-Trans sensor, which could be good or bad depending on who you are and how you feel about Fuji’s other options. Essentially, the X-Trans sensor uses a randomized pattern for the color pixels rather than the standard RGB order in traditional Bayer array sensors like those found in Nikon, Canon, and Sony cameras. X-Trans is what has always given the Fuji cameras their distinct look and color, but it has also caused many issues with raw converters like Adobe Lightroom, as the information is a little more difficult for the software to decipher. In what seems to be more seamless integration into existing workflows, the 50s has forgone an X-Trans in favor of a traditional Bayer array sensor. Being such a massive sensor, the difference, other than better file-handling in post, is likely negligible.