Up until now, Canon is still the only full-frame manufacturer that offers a 50-megapixel camera. The Canon 5DS R is still very much my favorite full-frame camera to use for any professional work. The usability and image quality are what appeals so much to me. Medium format, however, has always been seen as something that's a little out of reach for many photographers, but with releases from Pentax and Fuji the price has really come down and they're much more viable now than they have ever been. In my latest video, I decided to compare the Canon 5DS R, The Fujifilm GFX, and the Pentax 645Z to see how they perform against one another.
To keep things simple I also decided to only use their respective standard lenses. The lenses used for this comparison were the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art, The Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8, and the Pentax 55mm f/2.8. The angle of views between all three lenses do vary slightly, but they are close enough.
Usability and Ergonomics
The Pentax is hands down the best in this regard. You can tell it's been made for the working professional. It may not be the best looking camera and it may quite possibly be the ugliest camera ever made, but you can tell it's been made with a lot of thought. The grip is extremely comfortable, and the viewfinder is much bigger than the other two cameras which gives a great spacious view of the world. Also, the flip-out screen is very useful for those awkward angles, although the focusing system does prevent full use of this feature. The fact that this camera has two tripod mounts, one on the bottom and one on the side, shows the care and effort. The button placement made using it feel almost second nature and the menu system was very intuitive.
Between the Fuji and the Canon, it was difficult deciding for a number of reasons. For one, the ergonomics on the Fuji aren't great due to the smaller grip. I found it a little front heavy and uncomfortable, especially when shooting with larger lenses. Having said that, the Fuji offers a flip-out touchscreen which can be very useful except for the fact that touch-to-focus is mostly ineffective and the menu is still the old design and not optimized for touch. Canon, on the other hand, is very straightforward and simple to use. If you know Canon then you'll know the ease of use. The EVF on the Fuji also suffered from some noticeable lag which always seemed to throw me a little which wasn't great, however, the viewfinder itself was very useful and offers a great quality screen. Button placement is very good in my view, however, menu options have always been a struggle for me with my Fuji cameras; far too many useful features are buried deep in the menu. Custom buttons do make up a little for this issue. Lastly, focus by wire isn't great but Fuji does it make it easier with a physical switch on the camera to change between focus systems. Battery life on the Fuji was OK at best, but the other two cameras were noticeably better. Essentially, for everything that Fuji gets right, there's something it gets wrong.
Unsurprisingly, the 63mm from Fuji performs the best. Wide open and even when stopped down, this lens is simply incredible. Even in the corners the lens simply cannot disappoint. The detail is extremely precise and the images don't look oversharpened but have a natural clarity. The Pentax comes in second, with the Sigma performing the worst from the bunch when it comes to sharpness.
There are, however, a number of shots where the Canon and Sigma combination outperforms the other two medium format systems. For one, Canon's color sciences seem to be much more pleasing and more accurate across a number of scenes and different lighting conditions. Both of these medium-format cameras only produce 14-bit raw files, therefore they don't have any advantage when it comes to colors. It may be worth mentioning that the Hasselblad X1D is also a 14-bit sensor based on the hardware and does not offer any real advantage. Software upscaling isn't the same as the actual 16-bit larger medium-format sensors.
The Sigma also offers a much wider aperture, and the advantages due to this become very apparent in lower light scenarios. Although larger sensors may gather more light, they also require more light, therefore the Sigma does still hold a significant advantage in this area.
Check out the full video for the comparison and conclusions.