Can You Make APS-C and Medium Format Images Look the Same? Fujifilm X-T4 Versus the GFX 100

Can you get the same look from a 26-megapixel camera as you would from its 100-megapixel counterpart? What features can you expect to give up when you step up from a convenient and compact APS-C camera to a beefy medium format? This short video puts the Fujifilm X-T4 up against the Fujifilm GFX 100 to see just how similar the results can be.

The Fujifilm GFX 100 is a $10,000, 102-megapixel beast of a camera delivering 11,648 x 8,736-pixel files from its 43.8 x 32.9 mm sensor. As a result, you’d expect it to be a little sluggish when shooting out in the field, especially when compared to the nimble X-T4.

By contrast, the X-T4 — Fujifilm’s newest APS-C body — will cost you a mere $1,700 for a meager 26.1 megapixels from a sensor that measures a measly 23.5 x 15.6 mm and delivers files that measure a humble 6,240 x 4,160 pixels. By contrast, the mechanical shutter will give you 15 frames per second, with significantly more if you switch to electronic shutter, making it an excellent choice for fast-moving situations.

This short video from John Branch IV Photography heads out to try and create the same look from both cameras, and many would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the resulting images. If you’re interested in seeing how Branch went about the edit, be sure to check out his live stream.

Would you be able to identify the medium format images when placed side by side? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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Next up: can you tell the difference between a $19M Bugatti and a $21K Volkswagon Beetle by looking at paint chips?

None of which is readily apparent from the images at the top of the article. How the photograph will be viewed is more important. In fact, it's pretty much the whole point.

The thing is, who the hell wants to.

APS-C has its own look anyway, the extra ‘pull’ you get from sky’s when using a 10mm lens on APS-C is unique to the format because of the extra distortion and can add some extra drama to a scene when used correctly, in the same way the equivalent focal length on MF looks more ‘grand’ and also provides a more balanced look on full frame etc.

I understand there is a cost consideration between systems but isn’t it time people with a certain system just started to use that particular sensor size to its advantages to create an effect, or just bought into the different system?

How is the photograph to be used/viewed?

If it's going on a giant advertising hoarding, 35mm film is good enough because it is viewed from tens of metres distance and the pixels are the size of your fist. If it's going in Tatler, medium format will make the picture editor love you because he can crop and manipulate to his heart's content.

People forget that only sad monomaniacs approach a picture at an exhibition with a loupe or pocket microscope. Have you ever got close to a Vermeer and observed the coarseness of the paint? I mean, the "master of light" managed a few hundred kilopixels at best.

I've mentioned it before and I'm sure others have had a similar experience - the average person looking can't tell the difference between 35mm film and 20MP full frame digital, never mind medium format.

On social media, all images are the same, regardless of their parent camera or lens choices

My medium format camera is a Bronica (film) SQ-A. It's not hard to tell the difference between scans of 120 film and 35mm, at least on screen, and with something grainier such as HP5 the difference is very obvious. Similarly between 35mm film and full frame digital. In the past I've shot the same scene on a 1V with Portra and on a 6D, using the same lens - the difference is clear on screen.

BUT - most people who look at your photographs will do so either in printed form or, if you like that sort of thing, on social media. In those forms, it is very difficult to tell the difference, on the assumption the photographer is using reasonable lenses and a decent film (or sensor).

I think too many people obsess about pixels on screens and forget that is NOT how the vast majority will view their photographs. The limitations of any printing process and the error correction and gap-filling ability of the human eye and brain make such distinctions largely academic and often pettifogging.

And when I see mine in print it is clear to me.

But the point is that to the vast majority of people the difference is NOT clear. Most simply can't tell, and to be honest don't care. Obviously if you're selling to a magazine you need to persuade someone who does actually know what he's looking at - or more to the point knows how much latitude for manipulation he needs - but Joe Public can't tell the difference.

Agreed, Joe Public will not tell the difference when viewing their Miller Lite Advertisements. But the company paying you, most likely will notice it. That is why the GFX is geared for paid pros.

Just based off the YT shots, I can't tell the difference. I was somewhat surprised, though. I was expecting, at minimum, the GFX would have more background blur and smoother bokeh.

Technically, the GFX is not medium format. The size of a FF sensor is equivalent to 35mm film, but the GFX is not equivalent to MF film size. Hasselblad's MF sensor is closer in size to MF film, but still comes up significantly short.

Medium format and large format exists in different sizes even during the film days.

I can reproduce a medium format image with my full frame Canon by shooting a three image vertical panorama (RRS Nodal Slide).
I would love to have the Fuji beast but $10K + lenses is a bit much.

To me it's all about the viewing size. For magazines 20/24 MP is good enough. For bulletin boards and cropping small areas that's when more resolution is needed. If I had the cash I'd go as high as possible regardless.

You are correct but just a funny observation I’ve made.. the qty of billboards and different photos adorning such boards doesn’t add up to the amount of people who claim to need that much resolution to have their prints on them.

The answer is an unequivocal "no" unless you have no intention of taking advantage of the MF camera's capabilities and your intended audience has low standards. Given Fstoppers is a blog/site for "photographers", one would hope people reading this article have higher standards.

The larger sensor with higher pixel count will have better tonal gradiation and lower noise. This is indeed moot when the destination is Instagram or Facebook of course, but the modestly educated photographer knows that the sensor size also impacts focal length and therefore depth of field.

Unless you have spectacularly fast/expensive lenses for your APS-C system, for an equivalent field of view, you simply cannot get the same shallow DoF as digital full frame 35mm, digital full frame MF (which really isn't "full frame") or larger such as true full frame medium format like 6x6 or 6x7 film. It's a law of physics. This effect is immediately obvious in the example photos shown at the very beginning of the video. Even the mighty GFX100 isn't really "full frame" by medium format standards; it's 4.4 x 3.3 cm. The smallest common MF size is 6 x 4.5 cm (645).

Even if the viewer doesn't know why, a true MF image will look different. The GFX 100's higher resolution combined with larger sensor renders out of focus parts of the image differently, much smoother with better visual separation between your model and the background along with far better detail.

You created an account to write all this waffle?

There is a lot more to DOF than just aperture and sensor size.

I'm aware of that. I didn't think writing a treatise in the comments made sense. It doesn't change that sensor size impacts the optical system needed to "service" it and that for equivalent FoV, bigger sensor = shallower DoF to state it simplistically. No point talking circle of confusion, magnification factor, compression, etc, here.

Or to reiterate, "no", you can't make APS-C look like MF; there's a different "look" because you can't cheat physics (optics).

Personally I think the real question should be, does anybody really need the amount of DOF given by fast lenses on huge sensors, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.