For my annual trip to Lofoten, I had the opportunity to shoot with the Fujifilm GFX 100. Prior to the trip, I had just a few weeks to get acquainted with the camera. Here are my thoughts on this 102-megapixel camera for landscape photography.
I am not unfamiliar with Fujifilm cameras. I have an old Fujifilm X100T for myself, as it's an easy camera to have with me. I also reviewed the X-Pro2, and although I love these cameras, I did not want to give up my Canon equipment.
I was tempted, though, when I got my hands on the GFX 50S and used it for over a month or so. The images produced by this medium format size sensor were superb. But for me, the camera wasn’t that comfortable to hold. And it lacked speed, which made it unsuitable for some kinds of photography. Concerning the GFX 50R, I didn't like it at all, and I found it to handle worse than the GFX 50S. I didn't spend much time with it.
I do love the physical dials of the Fujifilm cameras. The large shutter speed dial, the convenient exposure compensation dial, and the aperture ring on the lenses. After all the different cameras I have used, I still think this is one of the best decisions Fujifilm made. I know, it is a personal preference. Some of you may not like it at all.
My First Feelings About the Fujifilm GFX100
When I received the Fujifilm GFX 100, I truly missed the physical dials that I had grown accustomed to when shooting with this camera brand. This one is all about buttons and only a few small dials that are sticking out of the body. But, holding the camera felt good. It is well in balance, despite the size and weight. As a matter of fact, it is quite similar to the Canon EOS 1D X I owned for a couple of years or the Nikon D5.
In the first few weeks, I customized the camera to my own needs. I did a few shoots and fine-tuned the settings as needed. Besides the camera itself, I choose the GF23mm f/4 lens, the GF63mm f/2.8 lens, and the huge GF 250mm f/4 lens. These would be my companions on the trip to Lofoten. With these three lenses, and the 102 MP sensor, I could crop where needed without losing too much resolution.
I had a few issues with the buttons and dials. I found the dials to be too small and flimsy, especially the dial on the back, which I used for the ISO setting. This dial can also be pressed, and it happened too often while changing the ISO value. Because the dial is so small, I used too much pressure while rotating it, pressing the dial by mistake and thus activating another feature.
Another issue that happened to me quite often was pressing the Q button by mistake. It is located on the thumb grip, which is a terrible location for me. There should be no button on that grip at all. Many times, prior to the trip to Lofoten, and even more often when using the camera on tripod, I noticed an unwanted change in setting on the Q menu, because I had accidentally pressed that Q button again.
The Fujifilm GFX 100 has a built-in vertical grip, making it easier for shooting in portrait orientation. On any other camera with a built-in vertical grip, the main controls are duplicated, so you can use the controls in the same way regardless the orientation of the camera. Except for the Fujifilm GFX 100, where strangely enough, the location of the buttons is different between the vertical orientation and the horizontal orientation. Although it is a matter of getting used to, it is not the ideal situation.
Shooting in Winter Conditions at Lofoten
During our trip to Lofoten we had some challenging weather conditions. There were clear skies, snowstorms, and rain showers. We had some fierce winds from a polar low, making it almost impossible to shoot at some beaches at Lofoten. It was fun all the same, while keeping safety at first.
I found the Fujfilm GFX 100 to be a great camera to use. The size made it easy to shoot with gloves on, and despite the weight and size, I had no issues using it for hours and hours. The camera is powered by two batteries in the vertical grip, which allowed me to shoot for a day and a half without problems. The in-body stabilization does wonders, and I don’t think it would be possible to shoot as easily without a tripod and still have sharp images. Remember, 102 MP is not that forgiving concerning camera movement and camera shake.
The camera is equipped with three screens. One is a square monochrome LCD screen on top, with three views to choose from. There is a graphic illustration of physical dials, a standard information screen with all the settings, and a histogram. The second screen is the well-known color LCD screen on the back that also incorporates some touchscreen functionalities. And, there is a narrow monochrome OLED screen on the bottom that can be configured to your liking. I had it set to a real-time rendered histogram, which I found very convenient. I still don't know why Fujfilm choose to have three different screen types on one camera.
As mentioned, I wasn’t fond of the buttons and dials. Some of the buttons are too easy to press accidentally, while others do not stick out enough, making them hard to find when having the eye against the EVF. The joystick is very small, just like the dials on the front and back of the camera. Using these is not comfortable, and too often, these get pressed by accident when trying to rotate the dial, especially when wearing gloves.
Another issue I learned along the way was the lack of grip when holding the camera in vertical orientation. For aesthetic reasons, Fujifilm decided to have no rubber lining on the grip. I had to hold the camera in vertical orientation very firmly if I was wearing gloves. And I needed the gloves very much, because under freezing conditions, the bare metal of the vertical grip becomes very cold.
The Results of the Fujifilm GFX100
Although I never had any idea why I would need 102 MP, I did like the flexibility it gave me. It was very easy using three primes, and still have enough room for cropping the image without a lot of resolution loss. With the GF 250mm lens, which has about the same angle of view as a 200mm on a full frame sensor, I had no trouble cropping up to a 400mm full frame equivalent angle of view.
I did not have any complains concerning the quality of the images. The amount of detail is amazing, although you won’t see that when using these images for normal use. The dynamic range is amazing, as expected. Still, you have to be careful not to correct the shadows too much. An extreme correction will cause some nasty banding. But if you expose your images correctly, you won’t be running into this issue often.
My Feelings About the Fujifilm GFX100 After a Month of Shooting
I have some mixed feelings about this camera. First of all, I really liked photographing with this camera. It is a great machine, and I like the design a lot, although it lacks physical dials. The results are great, and the 102 MP give a lot of room for cropping. I found the three primes to be a great choice.
On the other hand, I have some issues concerning the layout of dials, buttons, and the way these are designed. I think Fujifilm can make a great improvement with these things. The camera is user friendly, and you can customize everything to your liking, but if Fujifilm would improve on the dials and buttons, it would be a perfect camera, I think.
What I Liked
- Wonderful design (very personal)
- Feels not large and heavy
- In-Body stabilization with 5.5 EV of stabilization
- EVF with very high resolution
- EVF is removable
- Three screens for all the information you need
- Vertical grip
- Very high resolution
- High dynamic range
- Two card slots for SD
- Autofocus reasonably fast
- Eye AF and face AF
- Very customizable
- Articulated touchscreen
- Good battery capacity
- Shutter speed can be set up to 60 minutes
What I Didn’t Like
- Thumb grip is not that great
- Buttons on the thumb grip
- Buttons are not that great concerning design and feel
- Joystick and dials are too small and flimsy
- Vertical grip is too narrow, has no rubber lining
- Different button layout between vertical and horizontal orientation
- Touchscreen functionality is very limited
- Banding can occur when the limits of the dynamic range are reached
Is This a Good Camera for Landscape Photography?
This is the question I asked myself, and I think the answer is yes. It is mainly because of the resolution and dynamic range of course. On the other hand, this amount of resolution takes a large toll on the memory being used and your computer, of course. For many photographers, this resolution may never be needed. It is not a camera to buy without thought, because it is quite expensive. A set like I used at Lofoten is almost $20,000.
But if you need this amount of resolution, and you have the money, it is a good investment. I think Fujifilm has made an amazing camera.
What do you think of this camera? Would you consider buying it for your photography? Please let me know in the comments below.