Fuji enthusiasts have been asking for a full frame camera to increase their photographic potential for a while now.
Despite that, for several years now, the manufacturer has stayed true only to APS-C sized mirrorless cameras and was very successful at it.
But today, years of fans’ pleading was heard… Or was it?
The newly announced and available in early 2017 GFX 50S is not a full-frame camera.
It’s bigger, literally.
It will be built around 43.8 × 32.9mm image sensor with 51.4MP coupled with X-Processor Pro (the fancy name for the image processing processor). This sensor seems very much identical to the sensor Sony’s used in Pentax 645Z and Hasselblad X1D and the fact that it has traditional Bayer array, and not the company's patented X-Trans, only strengthens this suspicion. By the way, the dimensions of this sensor are 4 times larger than that of APS-C format that Fuji X-T cameras operate with today, and 68% larger than a conventional Full Frame sensor.
So, it definitely will bring up the metrics for ISO and dynamic range to a new level compared to company’s current offerings, but I don’t think it necessarily will be better than the best of the Full-Frames currently available. You can read more about this sensor and my thoughts about it here.
As for the body, it seems to inhabit the same philosophy of rigid and yet compact design found in other Fujifilm cameras. In fact, it GFX 50S looks very much like Fuji X-T2 on steroids, which is rather a good thing. None of the specifications were released yet, but the body seems to have dimensions similar to a typical DSLR, which will make this camera bigger than the recently announced Hasselblad X1D but much smaller than the Pentax 645Z. Needless to say, that the body and all lenses will be weather-sealed.
With the new sized sensor – there’s a new mount. It’s called the G-mount and there will be several lenses available for it: GF 63mm F2.8 WR, GF 32-64mm F4 LM WR, GF 120mm F4 Macro R LM OIS WR, GF 23mm F4 R LM WR and GF 110mm F2 R LM WR. If you want to know what focal length and bokeh will those be equivalent in 35-mm, multiply the values by 0.79. This seems like a good initial set.
The viewfinder is worth mentioning, as it’s of a clip-on construction, so you can always take it off for better portability or when outpouring to an external monitor, so it doesn’t get in the way. There will also be an optional adapter which will allow you to tilt the viewfinder way up, so you can shoot at waist level and other awkward positions.
As for the pricing, Fujifilm didn’t say anything about it yet, except that the camera with the kit lens will cost “well below $10,000”. So, I think we can expect the price to be somewhere around $5,000 for body and $7,000 with the lens which will be cheaper than $9,000 offering from the Hasselblad.
So, in the end, does this announcement mean that Fuji finally listened to their fans and decided to make them happy? Not really. As big of an announcement as this is, I can’t help but wonder what is the target group for this camera? Fujifilm now makes great APS-C mirrorless cameras but they are not exactly cheap, going for about $2,000 – the price of a good full-frame. But customers wanted an even more capable camera for their needs, one they actually would be able to afford. I think they imagined something like the A7R II but without the inherent bugs in usability and user interface that Sony has, with a maximum price tag of $3,500. Fuji decided to go Medium Format instead, so this price definitely will not be achievable. As I mentioned, we’re looking for a price around $6000-7000 and at this level, you can through in additional $2k, get the Hasselblad X1D that has the same sensor but is smaller, sexier and most importantly available now.
Also it’s not like this camera will be very appealing to current Fuji system users as they still will have to get new lenses and accessories for this camera anyway, so the switch to a different manufacturer becomes even easier. Actually, a part of me wishes that all these Medium Format manufacturers (Pentax, Hasselblad and now Fujifilm) came to an agreement and implemented the same Medium Format mount in their cameras and lenses, which would make life for the consumer easier by lessening the shortage of lenses that can be seen for all 3 cameras (645Z, X1D, GFX 50S).
But until this happens (if ever) every manufacturer tries to hook up the consumer to its own ecosystem and it's the end user who suffers the consequences.