See more of the world: Iceland with the GFX 50S

Sunrise at the ice beach at Jökulsárlón, with waves washing around one of the many icebergs. GF23mm f/4, ISO 100, 2 seconds at f/16, LEE 4-stop ND and 3-stop reverse graduated ND.

By Mark Bauer

I’ve been shooting with the medium-format FUJIFILM GFX 50S since early April 2017 and have been more than impressed with its performance as a landscape camera. But for a camera to be truly usable by landscape photographers it has to be able to withstand the elements and, until recently, it would be fair to say that my GFX had had a fairly sheltered life. I was keen to see how it would perform in harsher environments, so took it with me on a recent trip to Iceland; this also gave me the opportunity to test its high ISO performance while shooting the Northern Lights.

Dramatic light at Fjallsárlón, looking towards one of the outlets of the the Vatnajökull glacier. Adapted Mamiya 105-210mm, ISO 100, 1/60 second at f/11, polariser.

I’m lucky enough to have visited Iceland on numerous occasions and it remains one of my favourite destinations for landscape photography; there really is nowhere else like it. On this occasion, I was co-leading a workshop and we were based on the south coast, beginning the tour near the town of Höfn and working our way back west. On this trip, we were able to include the ‘must-see’ locations of the Stokksnes Peninsula, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, the beach at Vik, with its dramatic rock stacks, and many places in between.

The dramatic sea stacks at Vik partially silhouetted against a colourful sky at sunset. Despite the extremes of contrast, the GFX was able to capture the full range of tones without the need for a graduated filter. GF32-64mm f/4 at 60mm, ISO 100, 2.5 seconds at f/22, LEE 4-stop ND.

The weather in Iceland can be harsh, to say the least. On this trip we experienced winds which threatened to knock us off our feet and temperatures which dropped below minus 10. Perfect for finding out how tough the GFX is. Despite the unpredictable weather, winter remains my favourite time for visiting Iceland: changeable weather makes for dramatic conditions and the low winter sun means that there is a permanent ‘golden hour’ during the day.

The good news is that the GFX held up really well under some tough shooting conditions. The environmental sealing was given a severe test on a morning when there were gusts of wind so strong that we had to kneel down and cling on to our tripods to prevent kit from flying off into the distance. The wind whipped up the gritty, volcanic sand from the beach and sea spray coated all our gear. None of this bothered the GFX, which didn’t miss a beat and allowed me to grab some shots in between the gusts.

Early morning light warming the cliffs at Dyrhólaey, from Reynisfjara beach. GF32-64mm f/4 at 63mm, ISO 100, 2 seconds at f/11, LEE 4-stop ND.

On the days when we were able to stand up, we were treated to some exceptionally good light – a fabulous sunrise on the famous ‘ice beach’ at Jökulsárlón and a colourful sunset at Vik. Fujifilm has an excellent reputation for colour and it goes without saying that the GFX captured beautiful colour on these occasions, but the sensor’s wide dynamic range was also a key factor in being able to make the most of the conditions, especially at Vik. Because of the shape of the cliffs there, it wasn’t possible to use a graduated filter to darken the bright sky; however, filtration proved to be unnecessary, as it was possible to capture the full range of tones without a grad.

The ability to set different aspect ratios in-camera is a feature which frequently comes in handy and it did once again on the Iceland trip. Not all scenes will suit the native aspect ratio of your camera, whatever it is, so being able to experiment and see different ratios in the viewfinder, rather than having to try to visualise them, is a real boon. I found, for example, that a square crop or 3:2 ratio made for a better composition at Vik than the GFX’s native 4:3.

Looking towards the sea stacks at Vik, from Dyrhólaey. GF32-64mm f/4 at 57mm, ISO 100, 17 seconds at f/16, LEE 6-stop ND.

Of course, one of the main reasons photographers visit Iceland is the Northern Lights. I’ve been lucky enough to shoot some really good displays over the years, but sadly, that was not to be the case on this trip as we suffered a lot of cloudy skies and low activity on the nights which were clearer. On the one night that we had a reasonable display, strong winds restricted our viewpoint to a sheltered spot where it was hard to get a good composition. However, this didn’t stop me being able to assess the GFX’s technical performance and its suitability for astro work.

Northern lights over Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. GF23mm f/4, ISO 1600, 20 seconds at f/4. The GFX recorded plenty of detail with low noise levels in this low light, high ISO shot.

The main things to be aware of when shooting the Northern Lights are getting enough light on the sensor to record an image while keeping the shutter speed short enough to avoid star trails. Depending on the focal length used, 15-20 seconds is usually a good maximum. This means that in order to get a usable exposure, you will need to use a high ISO and open up your lens to its widest aperture. Having a lens with a fast maximum aperture such as f/2.8 is desirable and as there are no native Fujifilm wide angles faster than f/4, I had considered adapting a third party lens for the trip. In the end, however, I decided to take the GF23mm and trust that the GFX’s high ISO performance would compensate for not being able to shoot wider than f/4.

Northern lights over Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. GF23mm f/4, ISO 1600, 20 seconds at f/4. The GFX recorded plenty of detail with low noise levels in this low light, high ISO shot.

The GFX acquitted itself really well; high ISO noise is impressively low and the nature of the noise fine-grained and therefore easy to deal with in post-production; a fast wide angle lens is certainly desirable but you can live without one and I’d certainly have no reservations about using the GFX + 23mm f/4 combination on my next Iceland trip. Another important point to bear in mind when shooting the night sky, is being able to find true infinity focus – not always straightforward with modern autofocus lenses. Using the distance scale in the EVF meant that this was a simple matter with the GFX and GF23mm – another point in its favour.

The church at Vik, with its dramatic mountain backdrop. The low sun in winter means that you can get golden light throughout the day. Adapted Mamiya 105-210mm, ISO 100, 1/20 second at f/11, polariser.

Iceland is always great fun and I’ve never failed to come back with interesting shots. This trip was no exception and there was the added benefit of my gaining increased confidence in the GFX system.

A frozen rock arch at Dyrhólaey. GF32-64mm f/4 at 64mm. ISO 100, 120 seconds at f/11, LEE 10-stop ND.

More from Mark Bauer

Website: www.markbauerphotography.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MarkBauerPhotography

Twitter: www.twitter.com/markbauerphoto

Instagram: www.instagram.com/markbauerphotography


More about FUJIFILM GFX 50S

SEE MORE OF THE WORLD

The FUJIFILM GFX 50S delivers the world’s best image quality. It combines outstanding resolution of 51.4 megapixels with exceptional tones, advanced color reproduction and high-performance lenses. This level of image quality is purely motivational. The world around you changes the moment you hold this camera in your hand. Appreciate all that can be achieved with Fujifilm’s new medium format mirrorless camera system, GFX.

X100 to GFX Journey: The Evolution of the X Series

By Kevin Mullins

I’ve been using the Fujifilm system since its inception back in 2011. My very first Fujifilm camera was the Fujifilm FinePix X100 (remember when it was still called the FinePix?).

I’ve been honoured to be a part of the X-Photographer community since those early days and even after nine years or so find the X Series range of cameras the tools that I still use for all my work.

As the system has grown from the embryonic MLC that was the X100 to the high-resolution machine that is the GFX 50S, I’ve witnessed a system that has taken its first baby steps to winning platitudes and awards every year.

Going right back to the FinePix X100, this was one of the first images I took with the camera:

FinePix X100, 1/60 F2, ISO 25

I was smitten with the camera, but I think it’s fair to say that the original X100 definitely had some teething problems.

When I was shooting with the FinePix X100 I felt a deep assimilation with the JPEGs that the camera was producing.  However, trying to achieve focus, especially in low light situations, proved challenging.

And then something quite unheard of happened… a firmware update.  Not only did the firmware update fix small bugs, it made the whole camera more responsive and even added a feature or two.

This was the sign of things to come, of course, and I think one of the things that define Fujifilm’s success is their unwavering support for the photographic community via firmware updates.

Ironically, according to my Lightroom Catalog, the last personal photography I took with my FinePix X100 – which I still have (I never sell a classic camera!) is this shot of it’s successor, the X100S (note, FinePix no longer in the name):

FinePix X100, 1/480, F2, ISO 3200

This was the camera that I wrote my first book about, such was my love for it.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trawling through my archives of personal family snaps that I’ve taken with the X100, the X100S, X100T & X100F.

I had over 10,000 images that I considered good enough to keep.

Of course, these are family snaps, nothing particularly arty about them and absolutely the most important thing is the memories for me and my family.

Anyhow, here are the 100 family snaps, taken with my various Fujifilm X100 Cameras and in chronological order. I have a huge debt of gratitude to the original X100. It’s the camera that made me realise photography is fun rather than just for work.  Here is my little homage to the X100 and all its incarnations.

This was really when things started changing with the little X100 format cameras, but before the X100S came out, we were bamboozled by the X-Pro1.

Now, my introduction to this camera was somewhat forced.  I was writing a monthly business column for Professional Photography magazine when the editor asked me to review the camera;

Him:  “Would you like to review the new Fujifilm X-Pro1?”

Me:  “Well, not really, the reason I love the X100 is because it’s fixed lens and I don’t want to invest in another interchangeable lens system as I still have my Canon cameras”.

Him: “We’ll pay you £200 for the review”.

Me:  “Oh, go on then….”

Fast forward five weeks and I have to take the review copy back to Archant House in Cheltenham.  As I hand over the review packages to them, the editor asks me what I thought.  I showed him a copy of my order email from WEX where I’d just pre-ordered the X-Pro1 and the three launch lenses.

Not too long after I took delivery of my X-Pro1, XF35mm, XF60mm and XF18mm lenses I sold off all my Canon gear.

At this point, we were then beginning to see new sensors and later, new Film Simulations too but really, what everybody in the photographic world was realising was that these new breeds of mirrorless cameras from Fujifilm were: smaller, lighter, cheaper and crucially, performed very well compared to what we had been used to using.

Of course, there are still some rare situations where a DSLR might be a better option for a particular shooting style, but with the emergence of the X-H1 I think even that is becoming mitigated and the Fujifilm system is catering more and more for all types of photographers.  It’s not true that Fujifilm cameras are “only for Street Photographers”.

At some point in 2013, I was in Tokyo and I was using another new Fujifilm camera, the X-M1.  The X-M1 used the same X-Trans CMOS sensor as the X-Pro1 and X-E1 but didn’t have a viewfinder.  It had a tilt screen and was actually the first camera to have Wi-Fi too.

To be totally honest, I never really got on with this camera.  It was too fiddley, and I really missed the viewfinder.  I’ve never been a huge lover of tilt screens, and I’m pleased Fujifilm continue to pacify people in both camps with cameras that have tilt screens and cameras that don’t.

The camera did yield me an image on that trip to Tokyo which went on to win SWPP Landscape photographer of the Year award though.

X-M1, 23mm F1.4 lens @ F8, 1/200 ISO 200

When the X-T1 arrived, the game changed for many people.  The X-Pro1, X100S where good cameras, but they were perhaps not quite sharp enough for many to consider for professional work.

However, when the X-T1 came along with its continuous focus and high-speed shooting, this was when I first started seeing a big influx of shooters coming to the Fujifilm stable.

Some of my favourite images to date have come from the X-T1:

X-T1, 56mm F1.2 lens @ f1.2, 1/1,800 ISO 200
X-T1, 23mm F1.4 Lens @ f1.4, 1/2,700 ISO 400

And of course, later came the X-T2 and the X-Pro2 and little curve balls such as the X70.

The X70 remains one of my favourite cameras; despite what I said about the X-M1, the X70 is also an LCD only camera and it has ergonomic issues too, but that camera has so much character and is so small that it is still one of my most use cameras when shooting.  I shoot with my X70 at weddings as well as personally and I really hope there is a future for that line of camera.

X70, F2.8, 1/125, ISO400
X70, F2.8, 1/900, ISO 400

And, as we come to the end of this whistle stop tour of my time with the Fujifilm X Series of cameras, I can’t possibly leave out two of the new guys in the stable; the GFX 50S and the X-E3.

For me, the GFX is all about prints.  I use in mainly in my family photography business which is prints only and I find it incredible that I can shoot with a medium format camera, handheld, in a candid way.

It’s a big camera of course, and that’s why it’s not really suited, for me at least, for fast paced shooting, but anything where the pace is slower, and the images may end up in print, then the GFX is the way forward.  I can’t wait to see how this branch of the series matures.

Here is a little snapshot of my own summer, all shot hand held with the GFX 50S:


More from Kevin Mullins

Website: www.kevinmullinsphotography.co.uk

Blog: https://f16.click/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kevin_mullins

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GloucestershireWeddingPhotography/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kevinmullinsphotography/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/documentaryeye

Springtime at 50 megapixels

GFX 120mm F10 1/280 ISO400

By Ben Cherry

I first moved to the X Series four years ago because I was carrying too much equipment on trips and I wanted to switch to a smaller, lighter alternative. Now with X-T2s and the superb range of lenses available it is often difficult to decide what to take on assignments or trips, making sure it all fits in one backpack. But my kit is still smaller item for item than what it used to be before, its just a question of knowing exactly what you’ll need for each job (not always easy, particularly with nature photography). Continue reading Springtime at 50 megapixels

Now Available: Which X Series Should I Buy – 3rd Edition

FUJIFILM Australia is proud to release the third instalment of the X Series Buying Guide. In this new 140-page magazine edition, you will find real world thoughts, sample images, side by side specifications and recommendations on the full range of XF Lenses, current X Series cameras and the newly announced FUJIFILM GFX 50S Medium Format camera.

If you are interested in the FUJIFILM range but don’t know where to start due to the overwhelming amount of equipment, then this ebook is for you.

To navigate to the download page visit the link here.

Shooting the Captivating Italian Lakes with the GFX

By Mark Bauer

Landscape photographer, Mark Bauer lives near Dorset’s Jurassic coast, which is world renowned for being stunningly beautiful. This part of the country, as well as travelling with photography provides him with a constant source of inspiration. Mark recently visited the captivating Italian lakes. Armed with a FUJIFILM GFX 50S he captured some stunning images. In this blog he talks about his experience with medium format, and how the GFX was the perfect companion for his trip. Continue reading Shooting the Captivating Italian Lakes with the GFX

Announcing GFX 50S Rentals at Australian Retailers

The Fujifilm GFX 50S is now available at selected retail locations Australia wide. If you have been looking to try our new system before making a purchase, great news – you can! There are speciality X Series dealers located around Australia who will now be offering rental GFX equipment at their standard rates.

Residents in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia will be able to rent the following gear:

  • Fujifilm GFX 50S
  • Fujinon GF63mmF2 R WR lens
  • Fujinon GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR lens
  • Fujinon GF120mmF4 R LM OIS WR Macro lens
  • Fujifilm GFX EVF-TL1 Tilt Adaptor
  • Fujifilm VG-GFX1 Vertical Grip
  • H-Mount Adaptor

What’s more, each store will be able to explain the details of the GFX system and answer any questions. So be sure to get your questions answered and try our new GFX today! To find a rental location in Australia visit our find a GFX rental location store locator.

The GFX Challenge – mini documentary series

In November 2016, we gave prototype GFX 50S cameras to 21 different X-Photographers from around the world. They were all asked to try out the cameras in their usual shooting field and we’ve made mini documentary films on each of them talking about their experience.
Now the product has been officially announced, you can watch them all below!

Continue reading The GFX Challenge – mini documentary series

Changing the game at Photokina 2016

Photokina 2016 kicked off with something rather special. We held a press conference to tell the world about a little project we’ve been working on for a few years now.

The world’s press gathered in the Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany in eager anticipation to see what we were planning to bring to the world of photography.

Toru Takahashi, Senior Vice President of Fujifilm Corporation, was welcomed to the stage to talk about our long history of launching amazing products at Photokina.

img_5064

Although Photokina started in 1950, Fujifilm’s first appearance was in 1966 and has attended the show, which runs every two years, for every show since.

  • 1968 saw us launch the FUJICA 690 medium format rangefinder.
  • 1978 was the launch of the “FUJINON W Series” of large format lenses.
  • 1988 saw the world’s first digital camera, the DS-1P.
  • 2010 saw the announcement of the X100 – the launch that combined our analogue legacy expertise with our digital future.

We hope that 2016 will be another historical landmark in our Photokina announcement history, as this was the year that we announced our new format – GFX – which will be available from early 2017.

img_5066

The FUJIFILM X Series is focused on the perfect balance of size, mobility and image quality and has brought back the joy of photography to many people.

GFX, with its large sized sensor, will provide the ultimate image quality, whilst also inheriting a lot of “X DNA”.

These two systems will complement each other perfectly. They are the two answers from Fujifilm for this era of photographic creativity.

Once the video finished playing, Toshi Iida, General Manager for Sales & Marketing was welcomed up onto the stage to explain more about this new camera format.


G FORMAT

“G Format” – the name comes from Fujifilm’s heritage of Medium Format cameras – the G690, GS645, GX680 etc…

The sensor that will be in the first G Format camera will be a huge 43.8 x 32.9mm in size. It’s 1.7x bigger than a standard 35mm sensor and the first generation sensor will record 51.4 million pixels. This means that if you compare it to a 35mm sensor of the same pixel count, each pixel is 70% larger which allows them to capture a larger amount of light.

Toshi went on to explain that the sensor is completely brand new. It has been designed and customised for the G Format. It has specially shaped micro lenses that will collect light very effectively and the silicon process has also been optimised to maximise resolution and widen dynamic range.

This new sensor will sit behind a newly designed mount called the “G Mount”. This mount will have a 4mm thick plate to ensure it is strong and stiff, and will be equipped with a 12-pin terminal to supply power to support the AF speed.

There is no mirror in the G Format system. One reason for this is mirror shock which affects image quality. Additionally, the mirror constrains lens design. The typical flange-back distance on a Medium Format SLR is about 70mm. This will be approximately 26.7mm which will give us more flexibility to design high quality, small lenses.

The back focus can be as short as 10mm so there is less drop-off on the light’s final part of the journey onto the sensor’s surface.

Toshi then spoke about the shutter. The mount is equipped with a focal plane shutter so the maximum shutter speed will be 1/4000th to allow capture of fast moving subjects or shooting in bright scenes with wide aperture settings.


GF LENSES

Moving onto lenses, Toshi introduced our new range – “GF Lenses”. This large sensor is going to need high quality lenses as without excellent glass, there is no point having such a large sensor.

The lenses should last many decades after launch. To ensure they are future proof they have been designed to confidently operate with sensors of up to 100 megapixels in the future.

We set ourselves new standards that the lenses must meet. Normally, MTF of 35mm lenses is measured at 30 and 10 lines per mm. When converted to 33×44 sensor, this would be the equivalent of measuring at 20 and 7 lines per mm. However, the MTF of GF Lenses will be measured at 40 and 20 lines per mm. All GF Lenses will have to exceed this standard.

All lenses will be designed to be sharp regardless of the aperture setting and thanks to a large sized sensor, the image will hardly be affected by diffraction at all..

Our philosophy for lens design has always been to minimise correction of signal processing. Our XF Lenses for X Series are a good example. This philosophy will be applied to the GF Lenses.

img_5069

The system will ideally be launched with the following lenses available:

  • GF63mm F2.8 Prime Standard
  • GF32-64mm F4 Zoom Standard
  • GF120mm F4 Macro

And the following lenses will hopefully be available before the end of 2017:

  • GF45mm F2.8
  • GF23mm F4
  • GF110mm F2

GFX DESIGN

G – Fujifilm’s Medium Format heritage
F – Film-look image quality
X – Design and operability of X Series

img_5073

The first GFX camera body will be the GFX 50S. With the weight of around 800g, it’s incredibly small and light compared to existing Medium Format cameras and even lighter and smaller than most 35mm DSLR cameras. With it’s tilting LCD you will be able to shoot at waist level.

csm_dscf8300c_3a60f6976f

You can attach the Electronic Viewfinder that is included with the camera to shoot in an SLR style.

csm_dscf8302c_f7c8ea923e

You can even add a tilting adaptor between the EVF and the camera and can shoot in any angle with your eye on the viewfinder which helps with low-angle shooting.

csm_dscf8301c_67c6ec67ec

To allow you to precisely control focusing you can also use an optional external screen.

csm_dscf8297_f6b2a840d7

Toshi finished his presentation by saying that GFX is here to re-invent Medium Format.

“We will look back on Photokina 2016 in the future and I believe we will say it was a game changing event.” – Toshi Iida, General Manager for Sales & Marketing

img_5074

Photokina 2016 is on until 25th September 2016 and the GFX camera and GF lenses can be seen behind a glass show case on our booth in Hall 4.2.

Photokina 2016 Microsite
GFX Special Contents