Fujifilm GFX 100S Versus Leica M11: Who Has the Best Color?

Fujifilm has been compared to Leica for quite some time. In most cases, it's been comparisons between Fujifilm X-mount cameras and Leica M series and Q series cameras. Many of these comparisons tend to focus on color; however, the sensor size advantage remained on the side of Leica. So, how does a full frame Leica fare against a medium format Fujifilm camera? 

In our latest video, we compare the Fujifilm GFX 100S against the new Leica M11. The lenses we used for the comparison are the Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 and the Leica APO-Summicron-M 35mm f/2.0 lens.

Fujifilm has done remarkable things for the medium format industry. Not only has it brought the price down to relatively affordable levels, but it has also produced what could be described as the best medium format camera system so far. The GFX 100 cameras are the first ever medium format cameras to feature an advanced phase-detect autofocus system, sensor shift technology, and the ability to shoot 16-bit raw files all in one body.

For this particular comparison, we focused on color more than anything else. The fact that the Fujifilm can shoot 16-bit raw files gives the GFX 100s an incredible amount of flexibility and a major advantage over the Leica. Despite this, we found that Leica outperformed the Fujifilm in most of the comparisons. 

Of course, it should be noted that this comparison was done mostly out of fun and not meant to be taken too seriously. Nonetheless, it's still interesting to see how these cameras compare against each other. 

To see the whole comparison, check out the full video linked above.  

Usman Dawood's picture

Usman Dawood is a professional architectural photographer based in the UK.

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I see no reason not to consider the M11 as a professional camera.

And it doesn't have a split image prism. It is a range finder with a mirror or prism that superimposes a secondary image into the viewfinder.

You're absoltuely right, I got that wrong it is a rangefinder silly mistake on my part. Also the point about it not being a pro camera, that's a personal thought.

Appreciate the correction.

Why would you not consider it a professional camera?

What is the thought process behind branding it a "not professional camera", personal or otherwise.

Because Leica has their SL series of cameras which is specifically for "pro" work. Also, the marketing strategy is similar to that of a luxury brand. The company that handles the PR for this company also does PR for several other luxury companies like watchmakers and fashion brands. They handle the M series more than anything.

Leica has started to lean more towards that direction except with its SL series of cameras. They make limited editions of the M series but they don't make limited editions for their S series or SL series.

Generally speaking, luxury brands make limited editions. Think watchmakers, cigars, and so on. Leica is all but telling us it's not a professional camera.

Not to mention the fact that the M series of cameras have virtually no modern day professional features. It quite literally goes out of its way to be a more difficult to use camera. That's countering what many pro cameras are all about.

I love M series cameras and if I had the money I would absolutely buy one. But I wouldn't ever use it for professional work. It's the worst tool to do a job, but the best camera to enjoy photography with.

I like the M system, and you can do professional work with many cameras. but I have to agree with Usman ( now with a hipster beard ).
The lack of lens ranges, EVF or Flash limitation, is slow in some situations. and very hard to focus in the dark.

Thanks for raising this topic, Mike. You are so right to point out that an M11 can be a very professional camera.

Whether a camera is for professional use or not is very subjective and also depends on the circumstances. As I described below, I do fashion/beauty photography for a living. My H6D is not weather-sealed but it doesn't have to be. Accurate colors, easy to grade files, immaculate IQ, flash sync up to 1/2000th and true focus is much more important to me. However for outdoor shoots with fast moving subjects I grab my Z7 or Z9 (or my 5Ds or X-H1 before that).

A Leica M may not seem like a professional camera, but under certain circumstances it has a lot going for it as well. A friend of mine is a war correspondent. He travels the world with his M10 and M10 monochrome. Not the kind of camera you associate with the miserable conditions he's often in. Yet he shoots the most intense and heart-breaking images from a/o Bucha in the Ukraine. The Leica allows him to get close to the people without being 'in between them'. The fact that he can shoot two days with one battery charge is a great bonus. In his hands, the M focuses faster than I can with any AF camera. So, in his mind and hands the M is the best professional camera for his situation. It's no coincidence that Joel Meyerowitz, Elliot Erwitt and Phil Penman use Leica M as well. If that's not 'professional'...what is?

You can also add photographers like Thorsten Overgaard. For what he photographs and how he works, Leica M cameras suit him.

I'm a bit puzzled about your approach to compare the colors of these cameras, but I can buy into your conclusions. I'm a fashion/beauty photographer based in Switzerland. At our studio we have several camera systems. Professionally, I work a lot with Hasselblad (H6D) and Nikon (Z7/Z9), but personally it's mostly Leica and sometimes Fujifilm.

We've used Fujifilm also professionally until about a year ago. Too many reliability issues and our tech editors didn't like the RAF files. It took them much time to color grade the files correctly (if it could be done at all). Like you also noted, the GFX100 (but actually all GFX and X cameras) have a strong tendency towards magenta in shadow parts. It's not just the film simulation in jpeg, but also the raw files when you set Capture One to a linear or auto curve and thus eliminate the film simulation. Like you experienced, it's really hard to correct and makes darker skin tones and shadow parts look unnatural. As for lighter skin tones, the GFX100 showed a preference for a yellow/green cast making the models look like they felt sick. Again, additional work to correct although this is easier to do.

When I compare the GFX100(S) to my H6D, I much prefer the Hasselblad for studio work. Color is so much better and easier to grade. The difference between my associate's iQ4 and the GFX was even bigger. If you can afford a Hasselblad or Phase One these are the better professional cameras for commercial work. As a walk-around or landscape camera, the Fuji might be better to handle. It's certainly less costly.

Occasionally I use my M10-R in the studio and often the art directors love the images coming out of that. The DNG-files are easy to grade and after adding a Style in Capture One, you're usually good to go. It doesn't have the color accuracy that the Hasselblad has, but it feels very natural and pleasing to the eye.

As for your approach, why did you take the detour via PSD and Lightroom? You could have imported the files in C1, set the curve to linear to really see the differences without in-camera profiles and then grade them to see the end result side-by-side in C1...

What puzzles me is why Fujifilm can't give us a raw file without any film profile inserted? You have to select a simulation even in raw-only and they recommend Provia as standard, which isn't neutral at all. Subsequently, the camera, LR and C1 show you the raw file incl. the selected profile until you switch to linear, but even then it doesn't look 'neutral'. Fuji has a very distinct color interpretation that goes back to their film stock. It is certainly a clever marketing trick to name your digital jpeg profiles after film stock but then make sure that you can switch it off (and try to be accurate in simulating film: Astia in GFX doesn't look like Astia on film at all).

Having said all this, I do applaud Fuji for making MF accessible to more people. Both their X and GFX platform contain very nice cameras that produce good images and can show pleasing, albeit consumer-oriented colors...

Are you not comparing the Capture One raw conversion for these two cameras? If you’re getting such an obvious colour cast as the magenta you show, isn’t there something wrong with the raw conversion? Several pro landscape photographers use the Fuji and are very fussy about natural colour, but those who report on their processing are all using Adobe. As I understand the raw conversion process, the software coders have to create a new converter for each new model from the same manufacturer, so this a critical stage in how the camera’s colours will be interpreted before any further post-processing.

Fujifilm partnered with Capture One in 2018. Film profiles are found in-camera and in C1 are virtually identical.

Also, Adobe has show that it's pretty poor at managing some raw files from Fuji cameras. Although there are no issues relaing to GFX series of cameras.