Three GFX Medium Format Cameras and Capture One

Fujifilm announced this September two new medium format mirrorless cameras, in the midst of a flurry of mirrorless camera announcements from Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, and Zeiss leading up to and at Photokina in Cologne. There was also the significant upgrade by Fuji with the X-T3. No doubt with these announcements there will be an avalanche of competition and further innovation.
A camera is an instrument through which one creates, and that instruments capacity can impact your creations. So every time there is a significant change you are drawn in to see what it might offer, but unlike a painter, it is not a matter of a better pigment, glaze, brush or medium it is a camera is a complex and expensive instrument.
So what follows is an exploration of an instrument that has caught my eye in the middle of all these announcements, the GFX 50R, although the Z7 and X-T3 were also quite interesting.

Fuji Guys – FUJIFILM GFX 50R – First Look

Two Mirrorless Medium Format Cameras

Currently, there are only two medium format cameras on the market, and when you look at them both with their 50mm equivalent lens, you can see the Fujifilm GFX 50s has a more substantial body massing compared to the Hasselblad X1D. The Hasselblad, on the other hand, has a very slim body but with the leaf shutter in the lens a much larger lens. So both are larger in different ways, and both are quite expensive.

Hasselblad X1D with 65mm lens and Fujifilm GFX 50S with 63mm lens.
GFX 50S side view and view of EVF

Fuji GFX 50R 

The GFX 50R, which will be available in November, and the X1D will be at that time the smallest medium format cameras on the market. In the comparison below you can see that the massing of the Fujifilm camera is reduced, and the EVF bump has been removed and placed permanently into the body. What follows are the advantages I now see with this particular.

Ease of Operation

The 50R, unlike the X1D, has the aperture adjustments on its lenses, a speed dial, a compensation dial, and an ISO dial option, whereas the X1D is more of a minimalist camera more dependent on its touchscreen for its operation. Personally shooting with manual dials is more pleasurable and allows me to stay focused on the image in the EVF. So the camera seems to melt more into the background so I can concentrate on what I am trying to capture, this was my experience when I moved from a Nikon full frame camera to a Fujifilm camera.

X1D compared to the GFX 50R
X1D compared to the GFX 50R

One thing that might not be obvious when looking at the dials is the “top command dial.” This dial, located around the shutter button, can be programmed but comes defaulted as an ISO dial a feature I would have loved to have seen on my XPro-2. You may also notice that the “selector” buttons have been removed from the back, making it similar to the more modern touchscreen design of the X-E3. This last change allows the thumb to reset is an area where there are no function buttons that can accidentally be depressed, hopefully making the camera more comfortable to hold and operate. The remaining rear function buttons remain in an easy to reach thumb sweep that I often do while looking through the EVF and composing. The manual focus switch has been moved to the rear of the camera, a useful modification as I would be less likely to forget to return it to my preferred default after using it and it becomes easier to switch while operating the camera.

Street Friendly

Owning both the X-100T and XPro2 I am familiar with how much easier it is to “street” a rangefinder style camera, so I am hoping that this camera even though it is considerably larger might still be less conspicuous than the DSLR. I have personally found that the general public seems to have a more negative reaction to a DSLR style camera. Perhaps the size or for some reason a DSLR looks more commercial or official.

X-Pro 2 compared to the GFX 50R


The price of GFX 50R is considerably less than the Hasselblad X1D and the GFX 50S it now less than flagship DSLR’s from Nikon and Canon but more than the high-resolution cameras such as the Nikon D850 or Sony A7RIII. Previously the price was well above the two flagship cameras. 
The table below compares the pricing of the GRX 50R to the Nikon Z7 the new highest megapixel mirrorless full frame camera on the market. The Z7 with the lowest native ISO has been referred to by reviewers as the most “medium-formatesque” in its signal to noise ratio (image cleanliness), so it makes it a good camera for the comparison.
GF 23mm f/4.0 GF 45mm f/2.8 GF 63mm f/2.8 GF 32-64mm f/4.0
GFX 50r and Bundled Lens ? $6725 $6475 $7775
Subtotal 0 $6725 $6475 $7775
Tax 0 $807 $777 $933
Total 0 $7532 $7252 $8708
GFX 50s $7000 $7000 $7000 $7000
Lens $3250 $2124.99 $1874.99 $2874.99
Subtotal $10250 $9125 $8875 $9875
Tax $1230 $1095 $1065 $1185
Total $11480 $10220 $9940 $11060
Price Comparison to Nikon’s 46mp Z7 (24mm lens estimated)
Nikon Z7 $4399 $4399 $4399 $4399
Lens  $1200 $1086 $799 $1299
Subtotal $5599 $5485 $5198 $5698
Tax $672 $658 $624 $684
Total $6271 $6143 $5822 $6382
Savings over 50R -6270.88 $1389 $1430 $2326
Savings over 50S $5209 $4077 $4118 $4678
Price Comparison to Sony A7RIII
A7Riii $3800 $3800 $3800 $3800
24mm f1.4 Gmaster $1900
50mm f1.4
35mm f1.4
24-70mm GM
Subtotal $5700 $6000 $5750 $6700
Tax $684 $720 $690 $804
$6384 $6720 $6440 $7504
Savings over 50R -$6384 $812 $812 $1204
Savings over 50S $5096 $3500 $3500 $3556

Although the GFX 50R has had a significant reduction in pricing, it is still considerably more expensive than a high-resolution full frame camera. However, when you look beyond the X1D and Pentax 645D, it is a fantastic bargain, as the remaining medium format cameras with a lens can cost somewhere between a compact car and a Tesla. 

Lens Quality

I am certainly not a lens expert, but I am reasonably sure that Fujifilm’s medium format lenses will be a step up from a full frame camera. First Fujifilm makes excellent lenses, something I notice when shooting both high-end Nikon lenses against Fujifilm lenses. I saw in some cases that the Fujifilm lenses were sharper to the edge with less other issues than my Nikon lenses, this seems to be corroborated by some lens testing sites that I reviewed. Second a larger lens I believe is easier to manufacture to a higher standard and all of Fujifilm’s lenses are designed to resolve images at 100 megapixels. I am guessing that standard is likely greater than the norm for most full frame lenses with the possible exception of Sony’s G master lenses. However, this is not an area where I am an expert so this could be a misleading conclusion.
Third, the field of view is wider so the look of a 62mm lens (50mm equivalent) is slightly more compressed and the look of the 44mm lens (35mm equivalent) should have a less exaggerated perspective. These are subtle differences, but I believe they do contribute to a better result.
There are two key differences when comparing these medium format lenses against full frame lenses there is a conversion multiplier of .79. In other words, to compare a 65mm medium format lens to a full frame lens, you have to multiply 65 by .79. Also, an f-stop of 4.0 on these medium format lenses has to be translated as well to a 35mm equivalent using a multiplier of .8. The comparison table below shows these differences.
Lens Cost Equivalent FF f-Stop (x .8) 35mm FF Equivalent (x .79)
GF 23mm f/4.0 CA$3250 f/3.2 18mm
GF 32-64mm f/4.0 CA$2875 f/3.2 25-51mm
GF 45mm f/2.8 CA$2125 f/2.2 36mm
GF 63mm f/2.8 CA$1875 f/2.2 50mm
GF 110mm f/2.0 CA$3500 f/1.6 87mm
GF 120mm f/4.0 OIS Macro CA$3375 f/3.2 95mm
GF 250mm f/4.0 OIS CA$4125 f/3.2 198mm
GF 250mm f/4.0 OIS + 1.4x extender CA$1060 f/3.2 277mm
Lens adaptor for H Mount CA$627
4 x 5 Camera Adaptor CA$378
GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR  in 2019 f/2.8 40mm
GF 45-100mm f4 LM OIS WR in 2020 f3.2 36-79mm

As I am a prime shooter my “go to” lenses are, in (35mm equivalents) 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 80mm, and at the moment primarily the 24mm and 50mm. When I was shooting with a full frame camera, I was more inclined to use a 20mm wide angle but found this field of view on an APS-C camera was too distorted for my liking. So in looking through the current lens, both available and on the lens map that one lens that appears missing is the 24mm equivalent, which is only available on the 32-64mm zoom lens. I have to wonder if the 18mm equivalent might be similar to what I was experiencing with the 20mm full frame lens and the 24mm equivalent lens on my APS-C camera. Given the price of the GFX 50R, it is likely I would only be able to afford one prime lens for some time, so the possible choices for me are the 63mm, 45mm, 50mm, and the 120mm, or do I move from shooting primes to the 36-64mm zoom lens?
My initial reaction was to select the 45mm (35mm equivalent) a focal length, well known as the most versatile lens, but I worry that the resulting images won’t be as dynamic as a 23mm (18mm equivalent) or as elegant as a 63mm (50mm equivalent). A second consideration that causes me to consider these two lenses is the f/2.8 aperture. Now if I was to abandon the prime lenses and opt for the larger more massive 32-64mm zoom lens, it covers most of the range that interests me.

Lens Size

Street photography is one of my interests so blending into the environment is important and the larger the camera, the more difficult this becomes. So it is essential to look at the impact different lense have on the camera profile, especially in the Medium Format range where the lenses become more intrusive, more awkward to maneuver and more difficult to conceal. This perhaps is one of the arguments against fielding a medium format camera in the street. Currently, Fujifilm is developing a 50mm pancake lens (40mm, 35mm equivalent) which is considerably smaller than the 63mm shown in the diagram below. Having no experience with a 40mm lens, I am unfamiliar with this field of view. It also makes me wonder if this field of view on a medium format sensor would have the distortion or compression to a 50mm lens on a full frame camera? A pancake lens may help address some of these street photograph concerns. However, at the moment the 63mm lens appears the most compact of the available lenses and therefore the most “streetable.”
23mm, 63mm, 120mm, and 32-64mm
Fujifilm’s G Lens Road Map

Pixel Pitch and Resolution

Given the pixel pitch on the GFX 50R is better than any of the full frame high-resolution cameras, and given that its resolution is also higher than these cameras some reviewers calling it a “super full frame;” wouldn’t these two factors result in an image quality that could never be achieved in a full frame camera.
Having shot with various resolutions both on APS-C and Full Frame cameras, as the cameras increase in resolution I noticed a subtle change in quality. To me, it seems the files “thin out” and have less “juice.” There does seem to be an image quality difference between an image file from 24-megapixel full-frame cameras and a 42-megapixel full frame camera, but it is subtle and hard to describe.  So I have concluded that files which had a pixel pitch over 5 µm are more desirable or  “juicer.” I always thought if I could get a resolution of around 36 to 42 with a pixel pitch of a 24-megapixel camera this would be the best of both worlds, and the GFX camera seems to deliver in this respect.
The table below is a comparison between various camera’s pixel pitch, resolution, sensor size, and price.

Mirrorless Camera
Pixel Pitch Resolution MP Sensor
3.74 µm 24 APSC
GFX 100 S
3.76 µm 100 MF
Sony A6500
3.89 µm 24 APSC
4.35µm 46 FF
4.5µm 42 FF
Zeiss ZX1
4.81 µm 37.4 FF
Hasselblad X1D
5.3 µm 50 MF
Hasselblad H6D-50C
5.3 µm 50 MF
Pentax 645Z
5.32 µm 50 MF
5.3µm 50 MF
5.91 µm 24 FF
Sony A9
5.91µm 24 FF
5.92µm 24 FF
Leica M10
6 µm 24 FF
Nikon Df
7.28 µm 16.2 FF
Sony A7sII
8.40 µm 12.2 FF

Depth of Field

Moving from either APS-C or full frame to medium format is going to result in working with a different depth of field, and here I am unclear as to how this might impact the various things I photograph. I can see two possible outcomes. It could be problematic for me and get in the way of what I am capturing, or it could introduce me to a whole new experience and aesthetic that will be thoroughly enjoyable. In this area, I am unclear whether or not this will be an advantage. One reviewer has suggested that if f/4 to f/5.6 gives you a depth of field you enjoy in APS-C on a GFX camera the equivalent depth of field is at f/11 or f/16.

Some Pros and Cons.

It seems you can not get away from a personal review of the “pros and cons,” so here is my take with the following caveats: I don’t shoot video, primarily manual focus, shy away from IBIS, and don’t often use studio lighting. 


  1. Smaller and lighter than the GFX 50S and all other medium format cameras except the Hasselblad X1D.
  2. Cheapest medium format camera on the market
  3. It has shutter speed, and exposure compensation dials, aperture rings on lenses and a programmable dial near the shutter defaulted to ISO.
  4. USB-C is good
  5. Dual type 2 SD card slots
  6. Weather sealed 
  7. Bluetooth which will include the ability to provide GPS locations directly into the metadata. 
  8. Bayer sensor eliminates XTrans issues with processing software.
  9. Announced 40mm equivalent pancake lens might be a good match if the IQ is there. 
  10. 420 contrast focus points
  11. Capture One full integrated support through a joint agreement.


  1. Three frames per second is a real limitation for exposure bracketing add works against exposure merging practices and panorama creation.
  2. Video no 4K, soft, single mic port, no headphone port so not a video camera
  3. No phase detect focus.
  4. No IBIS or image stabilization
  5. The grip is small, but with the four-way, controller removed this may be ok.
  6. 1/125 flash sync limits its value somewhat for use with studio lighting.
  7. It has an ageing sensor this sensor is now almost five years old so not state-of-the-art anymore, and in four more years it will be closing in on a decade.
  8. The Fuji GFX 100 MPx a much newer sensor will be available in less than a year, with IBIS, phase detection, 4k video and likely more.
  9. Lack of IBIS means no possibility of pixel shift.

Unanswered Questions

All this on-line examination still leaves me with some questions. Will I be able to live with three frames per second? Is the increase in image quality worth the price? Should one be waiting for the GRF 100S now in development with its more modern sensor and better camera technology? Will the GFX 100S’s price point be too steep? What will the pixel pitch of 100mp sensor identical to that of the X-T3 do to image quality? Will Fujifilm be successful in processing this pixel pitch as well as it does in the X-T3? Is the new Nikon Z7, as they say, “medium-formatesque” enough to make it a better buy than the GFX 50R? Does the vastly improved X-T3 provide a better solution at the moment? When I hold the GFX 50R in my hand will it feel like I can street it?

Resolution and Aspect Ratio

The resolution of the GFX 50R is 50 mp compared to the Nikon Z7 at 46mp and the Sony A7RIII at 42mp, but you have to keep in mind that the aspect ratio of the GFX is 4 to 3 and the aspect ration of the Z7 and A7RIII is 3 to 2. So if you are not happy with the squarish look of 4 to 3, which I am not, you are likely to crop it to a more rectangular form. There are good reasons to do this, as a 3 to 2 ratio is much closer to the golden ratio as are 5/3, 8/5 or 2/1. However, to crop an image into such a ratio, you would need to enter 1.618 by one into your Lightroom cropping tool, and such a crop would result in a 42mp file giving you the same resolution as the A7RIII and 4mp less than the Nikon Z7.

Golden Ratio
Phi Grid Example, courtesy of Mihir Patkar

So why would you crop like this? Compositionally the Golden Ratio is more appealing to the eye, and when using the golden lines to compose the image, this should result in a more pleasing composition. You can see from the above example of that this ratio produces a Phi Grid, much different from the rule of thirds often used by photographers when considering the framing compositional elements into a 3/2 ratio. The image below shows this composition has been cropped to a 1 x 6.18 ratio. I think that it is a more pleasing aspect ratio.

The Previous Image Cropped to 1 x 1.618

Capture One

Capture one is now compatible all Fujifilm and Sony cameras, including the GFX the first medium format camera other than Phase One to be included in this professional photograph processing program. There is also an Express version made explicitly for Fujifilm as well as Sony. Unfortunately, the Express version is subscription based. The Pro version is the only one where you can either buy a subscription or a perpetual license.
Capture one has many advantages over Lightroom, and the two key ones are the more sophisticated tethering method and highlights and shadow recovers better dynamic range recovery than Lightroom. Bin Putney’s article in SLR Lounge suggest one can attempt to approximate Capture One’s adjustments to highlights and shadows in Lightroom but doing so adversely affects the rest of the image.
Lightroom, of course, has a broader consumer base making it more accessible, and there are far more tutorials and people around who can help one understand its nuances. Lightroom has also done a better job integrating the program with mobile devices, cloud services, and third-party plugins. Capture One is even less intuitive than Lightroom and harder to master, despite the basic adjustments being much the same.
Capture One lists many other advantages on their website: levels where you can set black point for each channel colour, dynamic range adjustments for mid-tones, masking, layers, curves in each layer, Luma curve which only affects lumination, the ability make specific colour adjustments (for example a variety of reds can be isolated and adjusted), their editable colour profiles and remote camera controls during tethering.

Example of colour isolation editing in Capture One, courtesy of Alexander Svet

Size Comparison with other Cameras

High-Resolution Camera Comparison

When you compare the size of the Fuji GFX against the size of the full frame DSLRs, with a similar resolution, you can see it has a slightly larger lens size, but the camera body size is similar. However, the lack of an EVF bump on the GFX does make the height less pronounced. The resolution on these cameras ranges from 42mp to 51mp. So if one wants a high-resolution camera, these should be considered.
Fujifilm GFX 50R, 50mp; Canon 5DSR, 51mp; Sony A99 II 42mp, and Nikon D850, 45mp,596.305,687.49,718.353,da,b

High-Resolution Mirrorless Camera Comparison

A more appropriate high-resolution comparison would be to compare the GFX to other mirrorless high-resolution cameras like the Nikon Z7 and the Sony A7RIII, here the lenses may be somewhat similar, but the body mass of the GFX is more significant. Interestingly enough if you include the viewfinder bump in measuring the height measurement all three cameras are similar in height.

Fujifilm GFX 50R, Sony A7RIII, and Nikon Z7

High Pixel Pitch Camera Comparison

Pixel pitch influences the sensor’s ability to accurately recreate colour, reduce noise, and operate effectively in low light. So this comparison is between full frame cameras with the highest pixel pitch. I have excluded older models and the D5 and 1DX, from and select. The best three cameras with high pixel pitches are the Sony A7sII with a pixel pitch of 8.40 µm, the Nikon Df at 7.28 µm, and the Leica 10 at 6 µm. Here the GFX lags with a pixel pitch of 5.3 µm. The GFX is a compromise between these two cameras in a similar size package. In other words, the GFX has a much better pixel pitch than the low-resolution cameras and a much better dynamic range than the high pixel pitch cameras, without creating a camera and lens package that is much bigger. A very nice compromise.

When you look at the size of the GFX 50R, you can see how it is now much easier to fit into a smaller shoulder back, making it more comfortable to field than the older traditional medium format cameras. The image below shows the more massive GFX 50S in Think Tanks Series 13 bag designed for a standard size DSLR with the mid-range zoom attached plus 2-3 lenses.

Think Tank Signature 13 bag 

TGFX 50S Kit with three lenses

GFX 100S

This camera is scheduled to be produced in the early months of 2019 and will likely sell for $10,000 US.