Is 100MP Overkill? Testing the FUJIFILM GFX 100

I've used older digital medium format cameras in the past but the FUJIFILM GFX 100 is the most powerful camera I've ever held in my hand. 

This video is part of a sponsored series. A few different manufacturers are paying us to make video tutorials using their products. In some cases, they are asking us to showcase certain features, but they are not paying us to "review" their products. 

For this shoot I was commissioned to shoot Mike duBois of duBois Metal Works for an editorial story about his business. My goal was to photograph Mike in his element and these pictures would supplement the written story. 

The camera I would be using for this shoot would be the 102MP FUJIFILM GFX 100 medium format camera. I've made a few other videos with other FUJIFILM cameras including their GFX 50S and GFX 50R cameras. I like them, but the GFX 100 felt special. At a price of $10,000, it better be right? But when you actually compare this camera to competing cameras made by Phase One or Hasselblad that cost over $30,000, the GFX 100 looks like a steal.

Most "professional" 35mm DSLRs have incredible features like stabilization, video, advanced autofocus, and weather sealing while high-end medium/large format cameras focus only on image quality. The GFX 100 falls right in the middle giving the user a larger, high-megapixel sensor in a robust camera body while retaining all of the best DSLR features. For 10 grand you are getting a 102MP medium format camera with weather sealing, sensor shifting stabilization, and 4k video recording. No other camera on the market has all of these features, especially at this price. 

I immediately enjoyed the ergonomics and simplicity of the camera. It was comfortable to hold, and I intuitively knew where the major buttons and features were.

For lenses I used the FUJIFILM GF 32-64mm f/4 and 110mm f/2. Both of these lenses performed incredibly well with face detection autofocus enabled. I'm not sure the camera missed focused a single time during the shoot. 

For lighting I used two Profoto B10s. Obviously Profoto was a sponsor of this video but I've always said that this is my favorite light of its kind. It's incredibly small, it can be used with battery or AC power, it has a color shiftable LED light that can be used for video, and it works with Profotos incredibly simple mounting system. As we all know, nothing that Profoto makes is cheap, but if your willing to pay a premium, you're going to get the most convenient strobe on the market. 

For many of the shots I used a simple zoom reflector to contain and direct the light, but for one of the shots I used a white beauty dish to get some interesting lighting. 

The final sponsor for this shoot was Manfrotto who supplied the 190 carbon tripod and XPRO 3-Way, Geared Pan-and-Tilt Head. Geared heads are more common in the product and architectural world but I accidentally left my Manfrotto ballhead back in Puerto Rico and I had to improvise. Luckily the XPRO 3-Way head has a quick release on each axis which makes large movements much faster. 

In 2005, right after I graduated high school, I got my start as a professional photographer shooting editorial jobs for a local magazine. It was fun to get back into it, especially with some of the newest, and most advanced equipment currently on the market. Did I need 100MP? Of course not. Realistically, 12MP is probably more than enough for most photography jobs. But, if resolution is extremely important to you, the FUJIFILM GFX 100 is probably the best camera for the money currently in this category. 

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40 Comments

Very nice work- and excellent job talking us through your thought process on location! One thing that can take away a bit of the strobe look would be to use a 1/2 (+/-) CTO gel on your rim/separation light if you are trying to make it seem like a light from within the shop was the source (and it might give just a bit or warmer color to an otherwise very cool industrial spot). Worth a try ...

Spy Black's picture

There really is no need for such resolutions. Some argue it's beneficial for landscape photography, but how many landscape photographers print 20 foot or larger prints? Where else would anyone justify anything of this nature?

Chase Wilson's picture

My camera is 24mp.
I just went to print two images, and the largest I could print without resizing was 38" wide at 200dpi. (And that's with using an anamorphic lens). More megapixels would have meant making a larger print (at high quality).

There's a reason to have higher resolution. Especially in the fine art space.

Johnny Rico's picture

I'd argue view distance negates it for the most part.

Spy Black's picture

Exactly. Only photographers pixel peep. ;-)

Pete Tapang's picture

exactly, this is why billboards are even printed in low quality. no one is going to sit 1 inch away from the image

at Johnny Rico — totally. The resolution-vs-printsize argument invariably (out of naiveté) ignores the distance business. Whereas, it is critical. For instance, absolutely crisp looking prints on the scale of roadside humungous-format signage usually is printed at 4 to 10 pixels per inch. And it is crispy-crisp. 14 feet by 48 feet ("Bulletin billboard") at 10 dpi is still 1,680 by 5,760 pixels or about 10 megapixels.

Likewise, the smallish 4 by 6 foot subway (BART, The Underground, what-have-you) advertisements are almost always silk screened at 100 dpi. And they're crisp, across the tracks.

MOA (minutes-of-arc) = 287 / (ft • dpi) … where
287 = 360 × 60 / (2π × 12)

to convert from radians to 60ths of a degree. The EYE (young, strong, good light, high contrast) has a resolution limit of about 1 MOA. Therefore you can plug that backwards into the formula, and away you go. Exactly what you surmise.

Just Saying,
GoatGuy ✓

Jim Bolen's picture

I've got an 8 foot wide print hanging at a winery taken on my D750 that looks fantastic. Using a great lab helps a bunch.

Klaus Balzano's picture

@Chase Wilson If you print imagens you know that you will not observe the picture at 1cm of distance. Generally people observes photos at 1 or 2 meters of distance. In this cases the upscaling isn't a problem at all. You don't need print the files in its real size to get the best quality. The same happens with 4 or 8k TV resolution. No ones will watch such TVs kissing them.

David Pavlich's picture

The only justification really needed is this; as long as you want the camera and it fits within your budget, the purchase is justified. It doesn't matter a whit if you want to make 5 foot wide panoramas or take pictures of your kat.

Spy Black's picture

That's a lot of money and R&D into developing sensors we don't really need for the sake of cat pics. ;-)

David Pavlich's picture

Very true, but in the world of the rich and famous, 10K is like you and I 'splurging' for a filet at the grocery instead of hamburger. :-)

Totally disagree, it is a tool and you use the right tool for specific purposes. I have shot images that were for a trade shows where people would walk up close to it. Higher resolution would have allowed a sharper image especially since the client was trying to show the details. And the image was shot on a 36 megapixel camera which was not enough resolution.

Jeremiah Griffin's picture

Bill gates once said that 640KB of ram is all anyone would ever need. Well actually, he didn't, his response to those who claimed he did being as follows:

"I've said some stupid things and some wrong things, but not that. No one involved in computers would ever say that a certain amount of memory is enough for all time"

Almost every time someone claims that "x" advancement in technology is sufficient for the rest of time and anything beyond that is a waste, they're proven wrong. New technological advancements enable new innovations down the line. Nobody "needed" cars. At their inception, they were loud, smelly, uncivilized shambling things only marginally better than horses. And yet, now we can't imagine modern life without them.

Nevermind even that, to assert that there arent applications for high megapixel sensors today is simply ludicrious - very wide and anamorphic landscapes, tight crops, or amateur astrophotography could benefit from the sensor in this fuji. Sure, they may be niche, but they exist. And if applications do exist, the market will be sure to address them.

You seem to have a very narrow minded perspective on photography - as if what you're doing right now (and exactly how you're doing it) is the absolute zenith the art will ever reach. It goes without saying that such a view is beyond ludicrous. Stop trying to predict the future.

Spy Black's picture

Dude, I've been in prepress for 4 decades now. I've seen film images blown up to huge prints. If someone walked up to them, they'd see...film grain...and then walk away.

Nobody needs this shit.

Jeremiah Griffin's picture

You're only proving my point. You have a use case for which a camera with a 100 MP sensor simply isn't necessary. That's fine; don't purchase one. However, there are indeed cases in which such a sensor may well be, and that should be the end of it.

But no, of course it's not - the notion that your own use case isn't representative of every other one in existence is so incomprehensible to you that you rush to the webforums, rhetorical pitchfork in hand, and bash everyone in sight for whom it might be. Your entire argument is a personal incredulity fallacy and you are fundamentally wrong. Give up.

Spy Black's picture

The point is oversized prints have been happenning since before you walked the earth, and lack of resolution has never gotten in the way.

However this tech is here for you now if you want it, so if you're sold on the illusion, you can roll with it.

Jeremiah Griffin's picture

Just...nevermind.

Eric Salas's picture

Everyone says they don’t need 100mp until they do...

Everyone says this camera isn’t for them and it probably isn’t.

Everyone also likes to forget how progression in technology works and bashes the hell out of new tech.

This camera takes photos well and fits the niche for someone looking to print large scale and not up-res their work and it isn’t for me either...

I’m not defending it’s lack of features but as someone that prints large scale all the time, bring on the MPs. I’ll upgrade my computer when need be so my business stays with the times. We all don’t get a celebrity visit to save our ancient/failing business because we chose to stick with the “one-hour photo” gig.

To be fair the supersized file sizes give the editor/client/photographer flexibility to crop different ways for different purposes. Maybe someone decides the shot with the flying sparks is a good full page headshot. A close crop in is no problem with the hi res from this camera. That's what happens sometime with the 42mb files from the the A73 (Don't know if the A74 is too big for me or not) My nice wide horizontal shot becomes a vertical cover or POP shot.

Everytime there is a major step forward (like 35mm, color film, MF Polaroid, zoom lenses, AF, motor drives, digital, IBIS, gian file sizes) many people will say "Who needs that?"

Cropping flexibility from a large file is the key benefit for most users... I shoot a Nikon D850 and I love being able to recompose in post while maintaining image quality. I shoot a lot of live dance and a looser framing allows me to capture leaps etc without ‘amputating’ any ballerina body parts (they hate that!).

vik .'s picture

Wait no 400% zoom in the video?

Gordon Cahill's picture

Great video actually explaining the process from start to finish. Wish there were more reviews like this.

One small correction. The GFX100 isn't the first MF (or mini MF) camera to shoot 4K. The Leica S007 does as well.

Gordon

Wonder Woman's picture

And the results are stunning!

Jan Kruize's picture

You can use every camera for this as long it isn’t a Sony :-)

Eric Salas's picture

You are the most insecure old man I don’t know. You can’t go a single post without attempting to bash Sony.

Jan Kruize's picture

Lolllllll.... yore so funny reacting all the time. Put a clowns nose on man. :-)

Eric Salas's picture

If I got laughed at as much as you, maybe I’d compete for Clown of FStoppers. I’ll let you own that title all by yourself grandpa.

Jan Kruize's picture

Youre old early..... baldie.......

Eric Salas's picture

Keep clicking grandpa. I have a full head of hair in the photo. Let me know if you need someone to walk you across the street later.

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