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Fujifilm GFX100S: Which Mid-Range Lenses?

After much patience, I secured a great deal on the Fujifilm GFX100S, and I hope to have it within a week. I had previously purchased and sold it for specific reasons.

But to test the lenses, there might be a delay due to availability: several of them are out of stock for 2-4 weeks. I would want to compare the primes to at least two of the zooms:

Of interest to me and many: can you get away with a zoom like the ultra-compact Fujifilm GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6 or relatively compact Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 or the relatively large and and heavy Fujifilm GF 45-100mm f/4?

Or better to go with prime (fixed focal length) lenses, such as my favorite Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5, which is unrivaled in the system for its combination of compactness, high performance, low distortion.

But also I have not used the 45mm or the 32-64mm on the 100 megapixels sensor much or at all, so I’d like a refresher on what they can deliver.

However, the troubling thing is that sample variation can easily outweigh the lens differences, so short of lots of samples of each and huge tedium, comparisons require some allowance not only for things like lens skew (sample specific), but also focus shift and field curvature and whether center focus can reliably deliver the ideal zone of focus across the frame. And then there is hoping for a camera whose lens mount/ sensor parallelism is held to tight tolerances. It’s no trivial task. Already I hear of sample variation among 35-70 samples, which is just restating a rule of all lenses.

CLICK TO VIEW: Fujifilm Medium Format System

The Fujifilm GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6 has very slow lens speed, which in my experience makes it problematic for dusk and dawn shooting (let alone night shooting), if only for AF headaches. But if its lens performance can rival the 50/3.5 or 45/2.8 and/or 63/2.8 at f/8, it might make a compelling case for itself as a great all-arounder with IBIS enabled. OTOH, it might flop when put to real-world usage, as per its not so enticing MTF charts, which are already “stopped down” wide open and look less good than its 45/2.8, 63/2.8, 50/3.5 siblings—but that falloff could also be mostly field curvature or mostly lens performance and field shots have to say which.

UPDATE: while the 35-70mm indeed has compromised performance wide open, it improves dramatically one stop down (f/6.4 to f/8 from 35mm to 70mm).

The Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 has the ideal zoom range for all-around, and a bit more lens speed. It never excited me, and I don’t like its mandatory distortion correction, which makes it less than ideal for the outer zones for landscape.

The Fujifilm GF 45-100mm f/4 is a fine lens, but large and heavy and it’s a lot better match for the Fujifilm GFX100, in terms of balance and size/weight.

Dr S writes:

Notwithstanding the Phase One has all those megapixels.  

 And yes there may be some distortion correction that the Fujifilm GFX100 S overlays into images but there are 100 beautiful megapixels.  And they are packed into a larger sensor and small body with IBIS!  Look what has evolved in 10 to 20 years!  I thought my D3x was the cat's meow when I bought it.  It yielded great images to print...

But now...  I look at images from the Sony A7R4, the Sony A1, the Nikon Z7, and all I can think is I need to grab that GFx100S.... not for fast moving objects. Even with mildly compromised eyes, the IQ is hard to leave....even though the Sony's do pixel shift to get higher res photos there seems to be something about the single images of a larger sensor, higher res camera that is more appealing.

I'm pleased you are getting one so you can find numerous faults with it 😁.  The question is whether or not its IQ and DR benefits outweigh its drawbacks.  I have been a prime shooter for awhile.  But I will admit to using the 32-64 and 45-100 more often than the primes......I even used the 35-70 a few times in brightly lit situations at f/7.1.  My perceptions are changing just for this cam.  I will be curious what you find.

DIGLLOYD: yes, we are in the golden age of photography indeed!

I’ve presented a ton of work with the Fujifilm GFX100/Fujifilm GFX100S, so I think I’ve covered pretty much what its faults are.

I won’t say that its per pixel quality is any better than a Sony A1, indeed the A1 is at the least no less good. However, when you have 100MP vs 50MP, that is a huge difference in total imaging quality. Pixel shift... is not usable in any practical sense. It’s pretty much dead to me as a useful tool except perhaps as a convenient way of making 4 captures for frame averaging.

Also I feel like I make better compositions with a 4:3 aspect ratio. No idea why, but it feels that way to me both on Micro Four Thirds as well as medium format, so it’s purely an aspect ratio thing.

Finally, the longer focal length for the same field of view in theory should not matter, but it feels that way; it might have to do with the lens design goals more than anything.

David W writes:

I see from your blog that you are reacquiring a GFX100S and I look forward to your further comments and suggestions on this system.

When I no longer could justify owning medium format system (H6D100C) as we had sold the business within which it was used I down-sized to a Hasselblad XCD with a few lenses. It is a nice camera and I like the way that Hasselblad renders colours however I missed the bigger sensor. Having read your original reviews of the GFX100S I decided to abandon Hasselblad and go for this camera. This decision was based on the trust I have built up in your reviews.

I chose three lenses - 30mm, 50mm and 100-200 partly on practical grounds and partly on your praise for the 50mm. The 50mm has not disappointed in any way. You have covered the idiosyncratic nature of some aspects of the camera and I have found that I can live with them in order to get a portable camera with IBIS and 100MP.

Thank you for your skilled online reviews which saved me a lot of time and helped avoid making another equipment mistake.

DIGLLOYD: the still-available Fujifilm GFX100 was an earthquake in the medium format market over and above pre-shock of the Fujifilm GFX-50S. Then the Fujifilm GFX100S cut $4000 of the $10K price of the GFX100 and brought compactness and lighter weight to bear as well. Here in early 2022, there is no value proposition that competes with the Fujifilm medium format offerings. Hasselblad mirrorless is stuck at 50MP, and for half the price of the Hasselblad X1D II 50C you can get a 50MP Fujifilm GFX-50S. Moreover Hasselblad is owned by DJI, a Chinese drone company.

What will drive the next wave of innovation in the medium format market? While Fujifilm is an aggressive player, having locked-up the bulk of the medium format market, they can relax with their dominant position. As I see it, only Sony could roil the waters enough to drive the next wave of innovation. Nikon doesn’t have the R&D budget. Canon has the resources, but is already lagging Sony in the 35mm-format market.

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