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Followup: Fujifilm GFX and 120mm f/4 Focus Shift Problems

As per my findings of the damaging focus shift problems with the Fujifilm 120mm f/4, I have a brand-new Fujifilm GFX and brand-new 120mm f/4 that just showed up today.

Review of Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4

I have reproduced the focus shift problems with the 120/4 with a brand new 120mm f/4 and a brand new GFX. This disproves any “bad sample” theory. I suspect an electronic glitch bug between camera and lens, though it is difficult to be sure of the cause.

I cannot yet say if this is only an issue with the 120mm, or a general one, though based on some other unexplained behaviors, I suspect that it is a general one that may manifest more subtly with other lenses (e.g., shorter focal lengths might be less obvious). And/or not manifest when used in single-shot point and shoot mode, that is, refocusing each shot, shooting a frame, repeating that.

The GFX + 120/4 behavior as it stands is unacceptable to me (unusable for the way I like to work), and rules out the GFX as a system I would consider. Consequently I cannot possibly recommend it. However, others might use the camera differently and not encounter this issue (e.g. different lenses and/or single-shot point and shoot usage).

I am still waiting for a Fujifilm followup call from weeks ago when I contacted technical support. Fujifilm can choose to ignore the issue as is their sole choice, but I will say this: the value of any camera system hinges on its commitment to customer service and quality. When a well known reviewer calls in with a camera issue, it might make sense to follow up and engage. But alas, I’ve seen this movie before.

While the X1D has its issues, many are fixable in firmware and it is far more elegant in conception, and a brilliant mind is going to move Hasselblad forward. And its focus is stable. I’d say bet on a winning horse, not a donkey.

I had planned on taking the GFX plus 120/4, 63/2.8 and 32-64/4 zoom with me on my trip to the Eastern Sierra, shooting after I ride the Southern Inyo Double Century. I may still do so, but I fear that if the 32-64mm and 63mm lenses suffer the same type of glitch, that I could return home with degraded results or total garbage in some cases.

It’s terribly difficult in the field to shoot a system that is unstable when I don’t know the root cause, or if I can work around it. I’ll probably have to refocus each frame, hoping for the best, and check images each night (hard to do on a retina display). I feel obligated to at least make some solid example images, even if the camera is unsuited for aperture series. But I do not look forward to using the GFX after using the elegant Hasselblad X1D with its clean conceptual approach*.

* If Fujifilm’s operating principle is to shovel flawed consumer-oriented Fujifilm X firmware into a GFX, it isn’t working operationally or conceptually for me. The GFX was clearly conceived as just one more X camera, one with a bigger sensor. This is true right down deep into its firmware and menus and feature set. It just doesn’t come together for me like the Hasselblad X1D does.

Below, it is hard to get a cat to be still for 2.3 seconds, but here it is (crop). The 120/4 is razor sharp wide open.

f4 @ 2.3 sec, ISO 100; 2017-03-28 19:27:51
GFX 50S + GF120mmF4 R LM OIS WR Macro @ 95mm (120mm)

[low-res image for bot]
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