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Fujifilm Medium Format Elbows into 35mm Territory: Fujifilm GFX50S II and Fujifilm GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6

re: Fujifilm medium format

Fujifilm GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6

Imagine if Sony announced a medium format system—the competitive pressure would lead both Sony and Fujifilm to awesome advances in medium format.

CLICK TO VIEW: Fujifilm Medium Format System

But kudos to Fujifilm for its aggressive move forward in medium format in spite of having little market pressure. After all, it has no competition in a de facto sense; Hasselblad has great lenses but no progress on cameras (and it’s owned by DJI, a Chinese drone manufacturer).

We now have a 50-megapixel Fujifilm GFX-50S II priced at only $100 more than pricey 35mm cameras like the Canon EOS R5. Wow!

Also new is the slow but ultra compact FUJIFILM GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6 WR. It is equivalent to a 29-58mm f/3.7-4.6 as compared to a 35mm full frame camera (long dimension of frame). The zoom range is ideal for all sorts of applications, the lens speed not so much.

Let’s hope the zoom lens is up to the challenges of a 100-megapixel sensor, including keeping distortion very low and consistent performance across the frame. Those are reasonable hopes given the very slow lens speed—f/5.6 is already impacted by diffraction and that’s wide open at 70mm! But the MTF charts throw a bucket of cold water on the idea that its performance wil be good for landscape shooting, and it looks very unlikely to provide satisfactory performance on a 100MP sensor for any subject which requires uniform sharpness across the frame at the same distance. Well, after all, it’s a zoom lens and costs the same as the Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 and a lot less than the Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8—you get what you pay for.

So... as appealing as the form factor and range and light weight are, I have doubts that the 35-70 is a lens I could find myself using on even a 50MP sensor. But I”ll get around to testing it against at least one of the 50/3.5 and 45/2.8 and 63/2.8 and let’s see if things are better then they seem. But the piss-poor performance at 70mm is already f/5.6 and going to f/8 immediately hits micro contrast pretty hard from diffraction—there is “nowhere to go” for top performance!

A bundle of the camera and the 35-70 can be had for only $4499. That’s an unprecedented new low list price for medium format, and it might see some discounts six months out. [the GFX-50R body only sold on special for $3499 for some time over the past year]. But I think you will make better pictures aesthetically and technically by sticking with the 45/2.8 or 50/3.5 as an all-around lens.

Order FUJIFILM GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6 WR
Order FUJIFILM GFX 50S II
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Fujifilm GFX50S II

Fujifilm GFX-50S II

The Fujifilm GFX-50R had been selling as low as $3500 in the past year. So the $3999 price of the Fujifilm GFX-50S II should come as no surprise.

The GFX-50S II now has 6.5 stops IBIS (vs none before), plus improved autofocus in a slimmed-down design with a now built-in EVF (good and bad).

Think of the Fujifilm GFX50S II as pretty much a Fujifilm GFX100S with a 50MP sensor instead of 100MP. Is the $2000 price difference worth it? I think so, because the 100MP sensor greatly reduces digital artifacts such as moiré.

Like the Fujifilm GFX100S, the EVF is acceptable but mediocre by present standards. The 0.77x magnification is less than ideal for the eye, and the 3.69m-dot OLED EVF is relatively low resolution, although the Canon EOS R5 is no better. OK... I am spoiled by the gorgeous Sony A1 0.9X magnification 9MP EVF. But the Sony A7R IVa has 0.78X 5.76MP EVF, so I wish Fujifilm could have tried harder on the EVF, because it is the primary user interface of the camera and especialy critical for manual focus. But to be fair to Fujifilm, something has to 'give' given the additional cost of the much larger sensor.

Fujifilm GFX50S II
Fujifilm GFX50S II

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