Fujifilm’s GFX100 a Game Changer!

There are quite a few very nice high resolution medium format cameras that offer 80 to 150 megapixel resolution, and they are priced between $29,000 and $52,000. The Fujifilm GFX100 is priced at $10,000 US! In addition to being 3 to 5 times cheaper than any of its competition also brings a number of firsts to Medium Format cameras: 5 axis in-body stabilization, 4k video, spring hung shutter, 5 frames per second, USB C connection, Bluetooth 4.2, USB charging, three way LCD, a 5.76 million dot OEL, 3.76 million phase-detect focus points and 95 point weather seal. Finally the GFX 100 is smaller and lighter than any other 100 megapixel camera by a large margin.

Price Comparison

Currently Phase One has two cameras using 150mp Back Illuminated sensors the IQ4 150 ($51,990 USD) and IQ4 100 Trichromatic ($47,990 USD). These two cameras are price with a 5 year warranty and a blue ring prime lens of the purchasers choice. These are both state of the art cameras, in terms of sensor technology. They are also able to exchange both lenses and digital backs. This means if you own one of these cameras you can upgrade your digital back to a newer version for around $10,000.

The GFX100 mirrorless camera does have a smaller sensor compared to the most of the other medium format cameras, which may make the image quality on the these cameras with larger sensors better. However, instead of having to trade in your luxury car to buy an H6D, or IQ4 you could trade in your used Toyota to buy the GFX100.

Resolution and Image Quality

This is the first 102mp mirrorless full frame medium format camera on the market. Its resolution is 11648 by 8,736 pixels. There is much written about resolution and how important or unimportant it is for large prints and image quality. So as you go from 4/3 sensors, to APSC, to full frame, to medium format more and more light is being captured by increasingly larger lens openings. In this same progress more and more pixels are measuring the light, as more and more pixels can fit on the sensor. So as sensors increase in size, generally speaking, there is an increase in low-light performance, dynamic range and reduced diffraction.
Click here for image samples seen below.

In addition to this the top dial of the camera has three settings Still, Multi and Video. At its release the multi setting will be used for different types of bracketing, but it was curious that they did not use the usual “bkt” abbreviation on the dial. Looking at the H6D-400c Hasselblad, I realized that the selling feature of this camera is its “Mulitshot” capacities. It takes four to six 100mp sequential exposures and blends them into a 400mp shot, the outcome is an image that has no moire, more accurate colour, higher sharpness and greater clarity.

The lenses for the GFX resolve beyond 100mp and it has 5 axis stabilization so it is possible this camera has the capacity to do “multishot” perhaps as a firmware upgrade in the near future. In an interview with the Fujifilm US manager, he appear to imply this as well. Fujifilm of course will not come out and tell you about future firmware upgrades so we done not really know if this camera will in the near future be a 400mp “multishot” camera, but it is fun to speculate. The Hasselblad H6D-400x, which is not mirrorless, does currently have “multishot” capacity and it sells for $48,000. So we know this feature is technically possible.

Sensor and Image Quality

The sensor in the GFX100 is a Back Illuminated Sensor (BSI) with a copper substrate much like the IMX411 should eventually find its way into Hasselblad and already is found in Phase One cameras. BSI sensors with copper substrates give cameras a boost in dynamic range, noise reduction and colour accuracy, allowing for increase in IQ over sensors of the same size that are Front-Illuminated (FI). A good example of this is the A7RIII’s ability to have a similar image quality to the GFX50s, despite the fact that the A7RIII has a smaller sensor than the GFX50s, as this Sony has a BSI sensor and the GFX50s is a FI sensor.

This Sony sensor roadmap

The Hasselblad camera are currently using the IMX211 sensor, as do some Phase One cameras, which is a Front-illuminated sensor (FI). So these cameras do not have the image quality boost that a BSI sensor gives nor the heat or noise suppression advantages of a copper substrate. However, as sensor size increases does the advantage of BSI diminish? It will be interesting in the near future to read the testing comparison.

Medium Format Camera Size Comparison

Currently there is not a size comparison for Medium Format cameras at camerasize.com, so hopefully the images below will give you some concept of how much smaller and less awkward the Fujifilm GFX100 is to both handle and field.

Size Comparison to Full Frame

The GFX100 is about the same size the Canon 1DX or the Nikon D5 so considerabaly smaller than most Medium format cameras. Size wise it is the lightest and smallest of the three.

Comparison with APSC and Compact Full Frame

The diagram below shows how much bigger the GFX100 and the GFX50R to the size of the Nikon’s D850 and the Canon 5D Mark IV. It is interesting to note that the 50R is again the smallest and lightest when compared to these full frame cameras.

Comparison to APSC and FF Compact High Res

The diagram below shows a comparison between three sensor sizes. You can see that the Sony A7RIII a full frame high resolution camera comes out in a very compact form compared to the other cameras only fractionally larger that the APSC camera. I think if Sony was interested in the medium format market they might even be able to produce a camera smaller than the GFX50R, something Fujifilm has indicated they are going to do. However with Sony’s technical edge in the Full Frame market their experimentation with “Multishot” and organic sensor technology emerging Full Frame Sony cameras have enormous potential and at a great price point. This comparison really highlights how much smaller mirrorless cameras have become.

Specification Comparison

This is a comparison between the higher resolution medium format cameras focusing on key specifications and those that differentiate the GFX100.

Camera Lab First Look by Gordon Laing