The Fujifilm GFX100S is the medium format camera that a lot have people have been waiting for. It harnesses the benefits of mirrorless technology and a large sensor in a body small enough to blend in with full-frame DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. And while the autofocus system isn’t quite as snappy as the latest from Canon and Sony, it’s still very capable, so you don’t feel limited to motionless subjects and tripod-mounted photography. The GFX100S is a medium format camera for everyday use.
Fujifilm is putting to rest the belief that medium format cameras are big, heavy and slow.
Phase detection autofocus system
Small for medium format
Doesn't have all the traditional exposure controls of the GFX 50S
The eye AF isn't very assured
What is the Fujifilm GFX 100S?
The Fujifilm GFX100s is a medium format mirrorless camera and the replacement for the GFX 50S. Inside it has the same 102MP sensor as the stunningly good Fujifilm GFX 100, but its body is smaller than the GFX 50’s.
That’s good news because while I fell in love the with image quality and autofocusing capability of the GX100, I find it bulky and the vertical grip uncomfortable.
The GFX100S is the fourth camera in Fujifilm’s medium format line and while it’s not quite as affordable as the Fujifilm GFX50R (£3,999/$4,499 at launch), it’s about half the price of the GFX100 and cheaper than the Fujifilm GFX50S(£6,199/$6,499.95). That means that it’s still beyond the purse of most enthusiast photographers, but it’s a step in the right direction and in the mix with flagship DSLRs like the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III and Nikon D6, or the mirrorless Sony A1.
Fujifilm GFX100S price and availability
At launch, the Fujifilm GFX100S price tag was £5,499/$5,999, and it went on sale on 4 March 2021.
Continuous Shooting: 5fps for 42Jpegs, 16 compressed raw, 15 lossless compressed raw or 14 uncompressed raw
Sensitivity range: Standard ISO 100-12,800, expandable to ISO 50-102,400
Image stabilisation: In-body 5-axis giving 6EV compensation, Plus Digital IS and IS Boost for video
Max video resolution: 4K (4096×2160) 29.97p 400Mbps up to 120min recording, Digital IS (1.1x crop), F-Log, HLG, ProRes Raw (12-bit HDMI)
Film Simulation Modes: 19 modes: Provia/Standard, Velvia/Vivid, Astia/Soft, Classic Chrome, Pro Neg.Hi, Pro Neg.Std Classic Neg., Nostalgic Neg., Eterna/Cinema, Eterna Beach Bypass, Acros, Acros + Ye Filter, Acros + R Filter, Acros + G Filter, Black & White, Black & White + Ye Filter, Black & White + R Filter, Black & White + G Filter, Sepia
Storage: SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II
Battery: NP-W325 460 images
Dimensions: 150 x 104 x 44mm
Weight: 900g including battery and card
When film was king, a medium format camera was one that took larger film than the commonplace 35mm format, but smaller than 5×4 and 10x8inch sheet film which is often called large format. The most popular medium format film was 120. There’s also 220 medium format film but it’s just the length of the film on the roll that’s longer, the image frame is the same size – often 6x6cm, 6×4.5cm or 6x7cm.
With digital photography, a camera is generally referred to as being a medium format model if its sensor is larger than the 36x24mm dimensions of a full-frame camera’s. The Fujifilm GFX 100S has a sensor that measures 43.8 x 32.9mm, making it 1.7x the size of a full-frame camera’s. I’ve noticed that Fujifilm has started to refer to it as ‘large format’, which is a bit of a stretch, but understandable in the current era.
Having a large sensor means that there can be more photoreceptors (AKA pixels) without them having to be shrunk dramatically in size and image quality compromised.
As I’ve already mentioned, the Fujifilm GFX 100S has the same 102Mp sensor as the GFX 100 and it’s paired with the same quad-core X-Processor 4 CPU.
It’s a back-illuminated CMOS sensor that produces images that measure 98.62 x 73.96cm or 38.8 x 29.1-inch when printed at 300ppi.
Like the GFX 100, the Fuji GFX 100S has IBIS (in-body image stabilisation). This operates across 5 axes and is claimed to give up to 6EV shutter speed compensation.
Following a firmware upgrade, the GFX 100 can use its IBIS to shift the sensor between each in a sequence of 16 images to create a 400Mp image. This same functionality, Pixel Shift Multi Shot mode, is available on the new Fuji GFX 100S from the outset.
Unsurprisingly, the images are composited on a computer running Fujifilm’s Pixel Shift Combiner software rather than in-camera. Follow the link to read how to use Fujifilm’s Pixel Shift Multi Shot mode.
Traditionally, medium format cameras are either manual-focus only or have a slow AF system. The GFX 100S, however, has on-sensor phase detection pixels that cover almost 100% of the sensor, with a choice of 117 or 425 individually selectable points. It is claimed to enable focus acquisition in 0.18 seconds and it operates at down to -5.5EV.
Thanks to the X-Processor 4 engine, the GFX 100S also has Tracking AF and Face/ Eye AF.
Medium Format Video
As well as stills, the GFX100S is capable of recording 4K/30p video at up to 400Mbps. When recording to an SD card in the camera’s card slot, the GFX100S can capture 10-bit 4:2:0 with F-log internally and when the footage is saved to an external device such as the Atomos Ninja V connected via HDMI, it can capture 12-bit 4:2:2 ProRes raw video.
As well as 16:9 4K video, the GFX100S supports the 17:9 aspect ratio, often seen in cinema. There’s also a selection of codecs including H.264 and H.265 along with professional standards like the REC.2100 supported Hybrid Gamma Log (HLG) and F-Log.
Recording footage in F-Log or HLG gives more scope for editing and grading in comparison with H.264. However, the maximum flexibility is brought by shooting in 12-bit raw, via HDMI and later outputting as ProRes RAW.
It’s even possible to output raw and F-Log or Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) with a Film Simulation mode simultaneously.
Build and Handling
Fujifilm has blended the GFX50S and GFX100 to create the GFX100S. As a result, the GFX100S doesn’t have the GFX50S’s interchangeable viewfinder nor its sensitivity (ISO) and shutter speed dials. Instead, it has a mode dial on the left of its top plate and it has front and rear dials to control the exposure settings.
A black and white screen on the right of the top plate shows all the key shooting information – more on this later.
I find the shape of the GFX100S fits my hand very nicely so it feels comfortable to use either with the camera held to my eye or with the screen tilted for use. It also feels well-made and durable with all of the controls responding promptly to use.
Fujifilm says that the shutter lag has been reduced from 0.09 seconds with the GFX100 to 0.07 seconds, and the response time always seems good. However, the shutter button has a ‘squidgy’ feel and the mechanism feels/sounds like the exposure is longer than the set time. It’s a little quirk that you get used to and it’s connected with the dampening of the shutter which makes it quiet and less prone to creating vibration.
I’m a little disappointed by the lack of traditional exposure controls on the GFX 100S’s body, but it may give the camera more appeal to photographers who aren’t used to Fujifilm’s X-series camera line-up. Also, alongside the usual PASM options, the mode dial has six programmable custom options, which means that anyone who routinely shoots the same subject or in similar conditions can select the settings they need very quickly.
It’s good to see that Fujifilm has rearranged the battery’s location in comparison with the GFX100, and the GFX100S is a single-gripped camera. This helps to keep its size down to a modest 150 x 104 x 44mm. Fujifilm has also plumped for the NP-W235 battery that comes with the Fujifilm X-T4 rather than the larger NP-T125 that comes with other GFX cameras.
For comparison, the full-frame mirrorless Canon EOS R5 measures 135.8 x 97.5 x 88mm and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, which is a full-frame DSLR, measures 150.7 x 116.4 x 75.9mm. So the Fuji GFX100S could easily be mistaken for a full-frame camera rather than a medium format model with a 1.7x larger sensor.
The lenses, however, are on the substantial side.
Enabling those neat camera proportions has required Fujifilm to do some downsizing. It’s worked on the shutter mechanism to reduce its size and applied the lessons learned when shrinking the IBIS unit in the Fujifilm X-T4.
On the back of the GFX100S, there’s a redesigned mini joystick for setting the AF point and navigating the menu. It’s joined by a small selection of buttons and a switch for changing the focus mode.
I find this new 8-direction joystick very nice to use. My thumb seems to find it instinctively and the nobbled surfaces prevents it from slipping.
I was a little concerned to see that the Q button to access the Quick Menu is on the ridge next to the thumbrest. It reminds me of the Fuji X-T30, which is a great little camera apart from the poorly-placed Q button which is prone to accidental pressing.
However, in two weeks of shooting with the GFX100S, I didn’t once press the Q button accidentally. A few times on the first day of shooting, I looked blankly at the back of the camera trying to spot the Q button, before realising that it was hidden by my thumb.
Next to the mode dial, the GFX100S has a switch that photographers can use to change quickly between still and movie mode. I like this arrangement as it’s faster to flick a switch than rotate the mode dial to video mode and then have to set the exposure mode via the menu.
I also like that the Quick Menu options change depending upon which position the switch is in.
There are two control dials on the Fujifilm GFX100S, one on the back of the camera above the thumb rest and the other on the front at the top of the well-shaped grip. This means that you can adjust the camera settings quickly. However, exposure compensation is set by pressing the dedicated button next to the shutter release and rotating the dial. I find this button quite hard to locate while I’m looking in the GFX100S viewfinder, but thankfully, it’s possible to customise a dial to adjust it directly.
Viewfinder and Dual Screens
While the GFX50S has a removable viewfinder, the unit on the GFX100S is fixed. It’s a 0.5-inch 3.69million-dot device that offers 0.77x magnification and has a refresh rate of up to 85fps.
Although there are higher resolution viewfinders, the GFX100 has a 0.5-inch 5.76million-dots EVF for example, a 3.69million-dot unit is still very good and it can display a very clear image. The 0.5-inch size is about optimum, it’s large enough to provide a nice view but it’s not so large that you have to swivel your eyeball around to see the corners of the frame.
On the back of the Fuji GFX100S, there’s a 3.2-inch 2.36-million-dot LCD screen while, as mentioned earlier, there’s a 1.8-inch sub LCD monitor on the top plate.
The smaller of the two screens can be customised to show key setting information such as the shutter speed, aperture, ISO sensitivity and exposure compensation as well as some other status information, or the available capacity of the memory card.
While the 1.8-inch screen is fixed, the 3.2-inch screen on the back of the camera can be tilted in three directions (90° up, 45° down, and 60° right) to aid composing landscape or portrait orientation images when shooting above or below head-height.
This has a robust feel and provides a clear view in all but bright sunlight when the viewfinder is preferable.
When I first used the Fuji GFX50S, I was surrounded by other journalists and photographers who were also shooting with it. Everyone was captivated by the quality of its images and there were lots of ‘ooo’s and ‘wow’s as people reviewed their images and zoomed in to check the detail.
The Fuji GFX100 and GFX100S have double the resolution of the GFX50S and as you’d expect, they capture a staggering amount of detail. They also keep noise under very good control, producing some of the best results I’ve seen at ISO 102,400.
Naturally, the lower ISO settings are likely to be used more often, especially in a studio with access to flash. But the GFX100S is a more portable camera than the GFX100, so it’s likely to be used in a wider range of situations.
The results are terrific at the lower sensitivity (ISO) settings and they stay that way all the way up to ISO 6,400 with very little noise visible when images are checked at 100%. There’s just a hint of luminance noise.
Moving up to ISO 12,800, the top native sensitivity setting sees an increase in the amount of luminance noise, but I wouldn’t break a sweat if I had to use it. Stepping up further to ISO 25,600 sees a slight increase in luminance noise in raw files and a subtle reduction in the amount of detail that’s visible in the Jpegs, but the impact of the larger sensor is clear.
By ISO 102,400 there’s a significant amount of noise visible in the raw files and the impact of its removal is evident in the Jpegs, but that’s at 100% on screen. As you zoom out, the images become more acceptable and with a 100Mp image, there’s further to zoom out than with a 24Mp or 45Mp image, so it’s easier to forgive.
We normally associate medium format cameras with slow, clunky autofocusing but the GFX100S, like the GFX100 and GF50S, is a refreshing change. It gets most subjects sharp quickly and even copes quite well with fast-moving subjects, although tracking isn’t really its forte. It can do it, but you become acutely aware of the focus adjustments going on within the lens and if continuous AF is select, the mechanism fidgets if the subjects stops moving.
The Face and Eye tracking is useful and it’s a helpful feature for portrait photography, but it’s not up to the standard that we’ve now started to experience with some Sony and Canon cameras like the Sony A7R IV, Canon EOS R5 and Canon EOS R6.
With the Fujifilm GFX100, I got a hit rate of around 40% when shooting handheld with the mechanical shutter and a shutter speed of 1/8sec with the GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR lens mounted. This rose to nearly 100% at 1/15sec. That’s an impressive degree of stabilisation for a medium format camera, which many people would consider has to be used on a tripod.
Fujifilm has decreased the size of the IBIS (in-body image stabilisation) unit in the GFX100S and it’s claimed to give up to 6EV shutter speed compensation. With the Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR mounted, I was able to get consistently sharp results at the 64mm end (equivalent to around 51mm on a full-frame camera) at shutter speeds of /6 and 1/7sec, but using the Fujinon GF 120mm F4 R LM OIS WR Macro (equivalent to 95mm) at 1/9sec was a step too far.
Although the Fujifilm GFX100S has a large sensor, it crams in a lot of pixels, which could have implications for its dynamic range. Nevertheless, its low-ISO images capture a wide range of tones and have plenty of scope for post-capture brightening should it be required.
I experimented with underexposing a few scenes with deep shadows and then used Adobe Camera Raw to bring out the detail in the darkest areas. In some cases, the images withstand brightening by as much as 5EV, with only a slight increase in the amount of noise visible in the image at 100% on screen.
Fujifilm GFX100S Video Performance
The combination of the large sensor and Fujifilm’s excellent GF lenses means that the GFX100S has the ability to produce superb-quality video with very limited depth of field and attractive bokeh when you want it.
However, the autofocus system is more suitable for stills than video recording. Also, as small and light as the camera is for a medium format model, it’s best used on a tripod as the stabilisation doesn’t really smooth out the shake of hand-holding.
The video capability is more of a bonus than a real selling point of the GFX100S.
At over £5,000, the Fujifilm GFX100S is beyond the reach of most photographers, but it’s still very exciting. It’s great to see how digital medium format camera prices have fallen and perhaps one day they will be seen in the hands of enthusiast photographers as often as film models used to be?
While I like how Fujifilm uses traditional exposure controls on its X-series cameras, I think the switch to a mode dial on the GFX100S is a sensible move, it will suit a wider range of photographers.
Although I find the GFX100 bulky, I love its responsiveness and, of course, its image quality. The GFX100S offers all that I like about the GFX100 is a smaller body that’s better suited to everyday use out and about.
I took the GFX100S and three of four lenses for a days shoot on a few occasions and it was a delight to use. Some of the lenses are quite big and heavy, but the camera doesn’t feel cumbersome or sluggish, quite the opposite and I was able to capture a wide range of images that are packed with detail and dynamic range.
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