Fujifilm’s GFX 50R is essentially a rangefinder-style version of the GFX 50S that was launched in September 2016. Because of its rectangular, flat shape, it’s most suited for use with Fujifilm’s smaller medium format lenses. When paired with the GF50mm f/3.5 R LM WR, for example, it’s the world’s smallest digital medium format camera system. However, it’s actually still pretty bulky.
Its autofocusing is also a bit on the slow side, although it’s not bad for a medium format camera. And there are some modern flourishes to the handling like a touch-screen to gesture control. The most exciting aspect, however, is the quality of the images that it produces. The 51.4Mp sensor ensures there’s lots of detail and the dynamic range is huge.
Inside the Fujifilm GFX 50R is a 43.8×32.9mm CMOS sensor with 51.4million pixels. Unlike most Fuji’s APS-C format camera like the X-T3, the GFX 50R’s sensor has the more common Bayer colour filter array rather than Fuji’s unique X-Trans CMOS design. The official response is that it’s unnecessary to have an X-Trans sensor in a medium format camera, but it seems more likely that the production costs would be prohibitive.
The sensor has an aspect ratio of 4:3 and can output images with 8256 x 6192 pixels. However, like the GFX 50S, there’s a selection of aspect ratios available in camera. In fact, there are seven, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1, 65:24, 5:4 and 7:6. I really enjoyed using 65:24 for some landscapes.
As with the GFX 50S, the 50R’s sensor is paired with a single X-Processor Pro image processing engine. These enable a native sensitivity range of ISO100-12800 and extension settings of ISO50, 25600, 51200 and 102400.
A pixel count in excess of 50million means the processing engine has a lot of data to deal with. Consequently, the GFX 50R has a pretty pedestrian continuous shooting rate of just 3fps (frames per second). Furthermore, that rate can only be maintained for just 8 uncompressed raw files or 13 lossless compressed raw files. If you’re prepared to shoot just Jpegs files, however, the 50R can shoot at 3fps until the card is full.
If the electronic front curtain shutter is in use the maximum frame rate drops to 1.8 fps for just 8 raw files.
Unlike Fuji’s more recent X-series cameras, the GFX 50R doesn’t have phase detection focusing. It relies entirely on contrast detection. However, there are up to 425 AF points available for selection in a 25×17 grid. That means there’s pretty comprehensive coverage of the imaging area.
The size of the points can also be adjusted to one of 6 sizes so you can pin-point small details for focusing.
In addition, there’s Face/Eye Detection is available to help get people shots sharp.
Fuji gives you a choice of three autofocus modes, Single Point, Zone and Wide/Tracking.
According to Fuji, the focal plane shutter has been developed specifically for use on a mirrorless camera. It enables a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 sec. However, switch to the electronic shutter and its possible to shoot at up to 1/16000 sec. with the GFX 50R.
The flash synchronization speed, however, is 1/125 sec.
Meanwhile, the shutter is rated at up to 150,000 shots.
Out of step with the current trend, the maximum video resolution that can be shot with the GFX 50R is Full-HD. This is available at 29.97p / 25p / 24p / 23.98p and 36Mbps for up to 30min. It might be handy on occasion, but this is not a camera designed to appeal to videographers.
The GFX 50R is the first GFX camera to have low energy Bluetooth built-in along with Wi-Fi connectivity. This is provided to ease connecting to smartphones to transfer images via the free Fujifilm Camera Remote app. It also allows you to take remote control of the camera using a connected phone.
Build and Handling
As I mentioned earlier, the Fuji GFX 50R has a rectangular, rangefinder-like design. It doesn’t have a modular design like the GFX 50S, which means it’s less versatile.
The GFX 50R billed as being less bulky than the 50S, but the 50S can be used without a viewfinder to make it smaller. And there’s no getting away from the fact that the GFX 50R is a big camera. It’s like a super-sized Fuji X-Pro2 and measures 160.7 x 96.5mm x 66.4mm (6.33 x 3.80 x 2.62inch).
And at 775g / 27.3oz with a battery and memory card, it’s not especially light. But, it does feel very nicely made. Its metal body has a solidity that gives you confidence in its longevity.
Exposure is control by traditional means. There’s a shutter speed dial on the top plate with settings running from 1 to 1/4000sec plus B (bulb) and T (time). This has a lock mechanism that you can choose to use or not, as you prefer. I left the dial unlocked and it doesn’t seem to move out of place that often.
To the right of the shutter speed is the exposure compensation dial. This is marked in 1/3EV up to +/-3EV but a C setting allows you to set values up to +/-5EV using the top command dial. There’s no lock on this dial, but it doesn’t get knocked out of place easily.
Aperture is set via the aperture ring on the lens.
Fujifilm has given the front of the camera a fairly shallow grip, and the rear small thumb-ridge. A textured coating helps give some purchase, but the Fuji GFX 50R isn’t the natural partner for long, heavy lenses. Smaller primes are the order of the day.
It feels great with a Fujinon GF45mm f/2.8 R WR lens mounted, and even the heavier GF23mm f/4 R LM WR. The balance is good and I find my left hand instinctively supports the lens near the aperture ring so I can quickly adjust the setting.
I found myself checking the shutter speed a few times after taking a shot with the 50R. It sounds like it’s shooting at a much slower shutter speed than it is. That takes a little getting used to.
Viewfinder and Screen
Like the GFX 50S, the GFX 50R has a 0.5-inch 3.69-million-dot organic electronic viewfinder. However, this is built-in so it can’t be removed. Also, rather than being in the middle of the of the top plate, the EVF is off to the left. It provides a nice clear view and it’s very comfortable to use. X-Pro 2 fans may be disappointed to learn that it’s not a hybrid viewfinder so you can’t opt to compose images in an optical viewfinder.
Although the viewfinder is the same size as the one in the X-T3, it still seems huge when you look in it. It’s very comfortable and you feel like you’re getting a proper look at the scene rather than peering at it.
There’s also a 3.2-inch 2,360K-dot tilting screen that is touch-sensitive. The tilting bracket means you can use the screen to compose images from low or high angles when you’re shooting in landscape format.
Although there’s a joystick on the back of the camera for selecting the AF point, it can also be set by touch-control on the screen when you look in the viewfinder. You can specify the area that you want to use. I opted for the bottom right quarter as its furthest from my nose and nearest my right thumb. I prefer to use the joystick, but the screen proved responsive when I used it.
After using Fuji X-Series cameras, the GFX 50R feel very familiar. Apart from the size and the slower autofocusing, it’s easy to forget that it’s a medium format camera.
The main menu has a very similar layout to other Fuji cameras, although it’s actually a little complicated than the X-T3’s as there are fewer options. There are no continuous AF customisation options for a start.
There’s also a Quick menu to give fast access to the most important features. Helpfully, after pressing the Q button to activate the Quick menu, you can use either the navigation controls or tap on the screen to select and adjust features.
Fuji’s new gesture control system is also available if you want to use it. A right-swipe on the screen, for example, accesses the white balance settings while a left swipe lets you select the Film Simulation mode. Swiping up and down toggles the display options.
This, five function buttons and the rear command dial can be customised to give access to the features that you use most often.
While the GFX 50R’s AF system may lack a little in the speed department in comparison with a small format camera, it usually gets the subject sharp. And when it does, you are rewarded with incredible detail-rich images.
I still haven’t got bored of zooming into images on the back of the 50R to check sharpness, the level of detail is superb.
There’s no stabilisation built-in so you need to keep an eye on the shutter speed. As it’s a big, heavy camera you don’t get lots of high-frequency shake, but when your arms tire, there can be a bit of wobble.
It’s tempting to open the aperture to enable faster shutter speeds, but if you do, it’s important to be very careful with the focusing as the depth of field is very shallow with a medium format sensor. Thankfully, the GFX enables very precise location of the focus point, but shallow depth of field doesn’t work with every subject so there are times when a tripod is the answer.
You may need to push the sensitivity up a little to enable hand-holding shutter speeds, but at ISO 1600, you’re hard pushed to find any noise in your images. Even at the native maximum, ISO 12,800, the results look very good. The raw files have a fine texture of noise, but its well within acceptable limits.
I wouldn’t buy a medium format camera like the GFX 50R to shoot at very high sensitivity settings, but it’s handy to have the option if you need it.
After shooting with the Fuji GFX 50S, I knew the 50R would be capable of capturing images with wide dynamic range. As a result, I knew I could underexpose shots quite dramatically and I’d be able to pull detail from the shadows. In fact, I find I can successfully brighten some areas by 5EV, the maximum that’s currently possible with Adobe Camera Raw.
What I had forgotten, however, is how much information can be extracted from highlights that look burned out. Of Course, if you check the histogram you can see there’s some detail there, but when you make an adjustment to reveal it you find that the tonal range is there. You get smooth transitions and no banding.
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There are several reasons why I shouldn’t like the Fuji GFX 50R. It’s big, heavy and expensive for a start. I’m also not usually a fan of rangefinder-style cameras. But I love the 50R.
I like its comparatively simple feature set and slightly more limited menu than most modern high-end cameras. I’m not even concerned about its inability to shoot 4K movies. I can forgive it a lot for its ease of control, its traditional exposure controls, streamlined handling and big-fat viewfinder.
But of course, what I most love it for is its image quality. It produces superb images with bags of detail and huge dynamic range so they can be stretched and pulled to create your vision.