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Just How Good is the Fujifilm GFX100S for Monochrome vs the Leica M10 Monochrom and/or Nikon D850 Monochrome?

UPDATE Feb 3: I’ve added a detailed essay on the considerations in using the Leica M10 Monochrom vs Nikon D850 Monochrome vs using the Fujifilm GFX100/100S for monochrome conversions. I’ve also added two more examples.

Several readers have asked whether a Fujifilm GFX100 (Fujifilm GFX100S has the same sensor) might vie with the Leica M10 Monochrom for black and white images. One speculated that the M10M was as sharp as the GFX100. Same question is being asked for the Nikon D850 Monochrome.

If only Fujifilm would release a Fujifilm GFX100M free of PDAF pixels, it would seal the deal on making the Fujifilm platform the only choice for landscape. After all, a 100MP monochrome sensor free of imaging defects would offer detail exceeded only by the Phase One IQ4 Achromatic. Ditto for a Sony A7R IV Monochrome (also without PDAF pixels). Having one system and one set of lenses with both color and monochrome camera bodies would be unbeatable for landscape and similar.

With the Leica M10 Monochrom images fresh in my head, I thought it would be perfect timing to take a look. I tackle the question by showing Fujifilm GFX100 images in both color and black and white, including a size variant that is exactly as wide in pixels as the M10M images.

This is not a head-head-head shootout, but I think that it’s obvious which camera wins out based on sharpness, noise and freedom from artifacts. I render my judgment.

Fujifilm GFX100: Monochrome Conversions, Perspective

Includes four examples at up to full camera resolution.

Important to my B&H loaner support — buy your Fujifilm GFX100 and Sony A1 and lenses via links on this site.

CLICK TO VIEW: Fujifilm GFX100 and Top Lenses

Toggle to compare monochrome to color.

Mining Cabin Interior
f13 @ 2.5 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2020-04-22 17:34:47
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR @ 41mm equiv (50mm)
ENV: old mining cabin NE of Eureka Dunes, altitude 6500 ft / 1981 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, pull 0.1 stops, +25 Shadows, +40 Whites, +20 Clarity, +20 Texture, diffraction mitigating sharpening

[low-res image for bot]
Mt Whitney Drainage, Clearing Storm
f11 @ 1/320 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2020-04-09 16:44:49
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 45-100mm f/4 R LM OIS WR @ 81.9mm equiv (100mm)
ENV: Alabama Hills, altitude 5200 ft / 1585 m, 45°F / 7°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, push 1.3 stops, +100 Shadows, -100 Highlights, +30 Whites, +53 Blacks, +30 Dehaze, +30 Clarity, USM {8,50,0}, diffraction mitigating sharpening

[low-res image for bot]
Aspen Near Small Waterfall
f11 @ 1.3 sec, ISO 100; 2020-04-14 19:25:21
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 250mm f/4 R LM OIS WR @ 204.6mm equiv (250mm)
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, pull 1.45 stops, +100 Shadows, +60 Whites, +20 Dehaze, +20 Clarity, USM {8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]
Red Electric Car
f2.8 @ 30.0 sec, ISO 100; 2019-07-20 21:10:08
Fujifilm GFX100 + Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR @ 90mm equiv (110mm)
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, push 0.2 stops, +50 Shadows, -43 Highlights, +40 Whites, +15 Clarity, +10 Texture, USM {10,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

Ed G writes:

I just read your latest article on GFX100 and Leica M. Given this article are you still considering the D850 Mono from MaxMax? Emotionally I was committed to getting a Leica M10 Mono but “pimples” and so many dead pixels would drive me nuts.

Most of my work is on a tripod in the landscape and long exposures are the norm up to 8 minutes. I’m just wondering would this be an issue with the GFX100 or 100s? Currently I use D850 VL and D850IR 720nm and although I experience dead pixels occasionally it is not a huge problem. The issue was more evident on the IR converted D850 and Ilija of Kolari suggested to do an in camera “ clean sensor” TWICE and that sorted the problem as it remapped and fixed the issue. The quality on the Fuji GFX 100 is outstanding but so too is the quality of the D850 mono images you presented in your article on that mono conversion.

A bit of a quandry.

Nikon D850 Mono or GFX100 for the long exposure photographer? Be well and best wishes and thanks for your great and informative articles.

DIGLLOYD: long exposures get trickier to evaluate—the Fujifilm GFX100 develops a ton of hot pixels within 30 seconds. These go away when long exposure noise reduction is used. LENR requires the mechanical shutter (electronic shutter does not allow LENR). Thus the Nikon D850 and Fujifilm GFX100 sensors both have hot pixels with long exposures; neither is totally 'clean'. Both need long exposure noise reduction to be active for 30+ second exposures (temperature affects things, so it can be shorter or longer, the colder the better).

If you really want the very best, the PhaseOne IQ4 stands head and shoulders above anything else, and without using any dark frame subtraction—some great secret sauce there.

Fujifilm GF 100mm f/2 Aperture Series: Red Electric Cart, with Hot Pixels (GFX100)

For a detailed essay on the questions above see Fujifilm GFX100: Monochrome Conversions, Perspective in diglloyd Medium Format.

Ed G writes about the essay I added:

Really great article Lloyd.

The above article and prior Leica assessments have saved me about $20K, Leica M body plus 2 lenses. That’s one hell of a return on $249.00 😃

DIGLLOYD: that’s what I strive for—informed decision making. I also offer photographic consulting which is really valuable for anyone considering a significant camera system investment.

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