It’s the golden age of photography that such considerations even come up!
These are not the only thoughts I’ve heard on whether a Fujifilm GFX100S is worth it over the 35mm full-frame format. And I’m sure not the last. Surely it will remain a decision of particulars.
Dr S writes:
Interesting topic. There are so many parameters and I have some observations.
From the description in the blog it is clear the A1, unless the 24-70 is a complete dud, is the winner from many points of view. Superior AF, responsiveness, size, haptics, etc.
Some relevant issues are the number of megapixels, available lenses and their ability to make those megapixels, "shine," and the intended use by the photographer. For some of these reasons I may have made a one on one comparison of the GFx100s to a Sony A7R4/24-70. Similarly I may have considered a Sony A1 vs Fuji GFx50S II for comparable number of megapixels. Price points are a factor as well. Pro vs Advanced amateur use. Notwithstanding there may be some "almost" conclusions one can arrive at:
Moving objects? Sony A1, Nikon Z9, if you like Canon, the R5.
Stationery objects? Kind of a toss up but fashion may lean towards the GFx100s and other high end MF alternatives.
Video? Your site is mostly concerned with single image, imagery but this one goes to the Sony, Nikon, or Canon, and even Panasonic.
Personally I am privileged (yes I will use that word) to own a few of the current flagships and lenses. I see it as horses for courses. If I am in studio, I will reach for the GFx 100s. If I want a monster poster on a side of a building, the GFX or maybe the A7r4.
If I am on a paid shoot now (not in the past 2 months) for a motorcycle, bicycle race, sporting event, I will reach for the Nikon Z9 1st. If I don't know what I am going to be in for and don't want to drag along a heavy kit, then the Sony all-rounder is the one to have. Put on a 35mm prime or a 12-24 and no problem. The only fly in the ointment is the Fujifilm 35-70 zoom is so light the combo is light enough to carry almost anywhere. That's where some consternation sets in.
We are in a time where there are a number of choices where one cam can do it all. Break your back with a Z9 carrying it all day or lighten it up with an A1. Careful technique will yield great results as will most flagship offerings. Good time for digital photography and its ability to deplete one's bank account!
What follows is just my 2 cents on what you've found with the GFX system, and what you are planning on doing re future comparisons with Sony. My time horizon in the comments is out further than yours perhaps - I'm sticking with GFX until at least 2023, but after that it is up in the air. My findings and feelings are similar to yours, although I've made different trade-offs in equipment preferences. I'm not sending you my thoughts for the purpose of you publishing them, and I haven't wordsmithed them, although you can publish them if you like - but I did it just because we've traded messages before and I feel like communicating my thoughts to you.
My primary interest is landscape, and secondarily more general type shooting, using 35mm equivalent focal lengths from 24 to 85mm, but mostly from 35 to 50mm. Currently, even with the GFX system shortcomings I am able to get better image quality than I did with the Sony a7RIV used with top notch lenses such as the Voigtlander 50/2. e.g even though the V 50/2 is a much better lens than the GF 63, same size prints from the GFX 100S and GF 63 were better than from the A7RIV & V 50/2. But getting there with the GFX requires more work on my part, because of AF-S inconsistency and the difficulty of getting pinpoint accurate manual focus even with stopped-down focusing (or maybe because of needing to stopped down MF in order to overcome focus shift). Also, I prefer the 4:3 aspect ratio over the 3:2, so combined with the IQ advantage I’ve continued to stick with the GFX for now.
GF 35-70 lens - has more consistent sharpness across the field than the 45 and 63mm at f8 and f11 (but not at 5.6). But there is some type of subtle flare or slight lack of contrast as compared to the primes. I prefer the contrast / color / tonality rendering of the primes a bit more than the zoom. The AF-S consistency of the zoom may be better than the 45, and is certainly better than the 63, the 63 being really poor. But I’m staying with the primes, and returned the zoom. The AF-S consistency of the 80mm copy I had was much better than the 63, and the optical quality was better also overall, but the focal length is not a favorite of mine, and it was heavy and somewhat bulky, so I didn’t keep it.
I’m hoping that GF 55/1.7, planned for 2023, has an optical quality a bit better than the 80 - less color fringing, more sharpness across the field at wide apertures, and less field curvature than the 45, better sharpness and contrast at f/2.8 than the 45 at 2.8, and truly consistent, accurate, non-problematic AF-S.
If not, then I may ditch the GFX system, and go to perhaps a successor model of the Sony A7RIV, or something else, as getting top notch results from GFX is difficult and time-consuming work, and I thinking that the advantage in IQ may not be worth it for me. I’ve had enough frustration during my working years, and now I feel the desire for more purely enjoyable pursuits.
DIGLLOYD: I’ve also had a nagging feeling that the Fujifilm GF 35-70mm f/4,.5-5.6 doesn’t have the “snap” to its contrast that the primes do. Just an impression, not claiming it as a fact. Perhaps because wide open it has a slight veiling haze and stopped-down to f/8 diffraction is dulling things. But I have a sneaking suspicion that what passes for diffraction with some lenses is in fact a lens flare effect from increasingly collimated rays at f/8 and beyond. I think the 35-70mm suffers from this. I first reported such effect to Zeiss years ago with the Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4, and they confirmed my findings, and added a test to their qualification suite for all future testing!
I don’t think there should be any argument on image quality—you’re always going to have a significant edge from a 44X33mm sensor of 100MP vs a 36X24mm sensor of 50MP. Just downsample any GFX100S image from 100MP to 50MP and see what I mean! But when you take into account lens performance and depth of field and diffraction, that gap is much less than you might assume.
I would not hold out hope that a GF 55mm f/1.7 is going to avoid field curvature or focus shift very well, or that its secondary color will improve much. But it might well be better at f/2.8 than the 45/2.8 and 63/2.8. But it will be big and heavy and that’s no fun carrying around. Will the 55/1.7 be better than the Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5? Almost certainly at f/3.5 and f/4, but at f/5.6 I’d bet the 50/3.5 will have a flatter field and lower distortion too. It’s just far too difficult to keep those things in check with an f/1.7 lens for the sensor size.
I’m not a fan of lenses faster than f/2.8 on the GFX100S—too heavy and bulky and expensive—a lot of money goes into a lousy 1+ stop of brightness which is worthless for landscape. I’d rather have an 80/2.8 vs 80/1.7, a 110/2.8 vs a 110/2, and a low-distortionn flat-field 55/2.8 instead of 55/1.7.