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Fujifilm GFX: Adapting Medium Format Lenses

See my discussion of adapting 35mm lenses to the Fujifilm GFX.

Just prior to receiving this email, I tested the Hartblei 80mm f/2.8 Super Rotator (which uses Zeiss multi-coated medium format optics suitable for 6 X 6 camera) on the Fujifilm GFX.

John G writes:

I'm not yet a subscriber, but I'm very impressed with your work.

I'd like to suggest that some of the best DSLR lenses suited to being adapted to the Fujifilm GFX camera are Tilt-Shift models from Canon and Nikon, and possibly from Hartblei. The old Zeiss 28mm model is probably not as good, but I don't have any experience with it. Perhaps the super-sharp and highly corrected Canon 90mm T-SE lens would be a good candidate, assuming an electronically coupled adapter becomes available.

Please note that quite a few wide angle lenses have been tested for their larger image circle potential with lens hood and/or rear baffle removed, and some have been adapted with custom German-made T-S and double-shift adapters (and shaved or removed hoods) to the Sony E-mount by Stefan Steib of HCam. He is considering building an adapter for the Fujifilm GFX.

Thanks for all your excellent work.

DIGLLOYD: the image circle is a basic check as to whether the frame is fully illuminated, but says nothing about the imaging performance, which for some of the world’s best lenses is hugely disappointing, even in the central 36 X 24mm area.

As for 35mm tilt shift lenses, they might be OK, but if an Otus looks awful, I have little hope for lenses a whole tier lower in performance. Still, there might be some that work OK at f/11 but I have not explored that question. The main thing is that the latest Canon TS-E and Nikon PC-E lenses are all electronic apertures and thus of no practical use until and unless an electronic adapter appears.

I tested the Hartblei 80mm f/2.8 Super-Rotator, a lens picked for me some years ago by Stefan. It has the multicoated Zeiss optics suitable for the 6 X 6 format, which is more than ample coverage. Its main claim to fame is unrivalled bokeh. See Hartblei 40/80/120mm SuperRotators in Advanced DSLR. It needs some stopping down for good sharpness and has some mild field curvature, but is capable of exceptionally pleasing images on the Nikon D810.

I am sorry to report that its performance on the GFX suffers as most lenses do. Something about the GFX sensor (sensor and micro lenses, ray angle, cover glass) makes most lenses unhappy. Even at f/8 I deem it a disappointment, far below the quality I’m after (bokeh aside). The only lens so far out of ten that I deem satisfactory is the Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar.

I cannot make any proper claim as to how other medium format lenses might perform without testing them, but the same things that degrade so many fine lenses would apply to them as well, so I seriously doubt that good performance will result from any lens designed for film. The exception might be lenses designed for digital sensors, e.g., those made by Fujifilm for Hasselblad H over the past years.

Below, ultra low performance on the full frame of the Fujifilm GFX—what if you are after a certain visual rendering having little to do with sharpness?

f1.2 @ 1/550 sec, ISO 100; 2017-04-25 17:43:30
GFX 50S + Olympus Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f/1.2 @ 41.1mm equiv (50mm)

[low-res image for bot]

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