X-Photographer Jamie Stoker is a freelance portrait and fashion photographer based in London. Having used the X Series ever since it was first launched, Jamie loves the combination of the range’s compact design, great image quality and colours. In this article, Jamie shares how he uses the cameras and an insight into how he works as a professional photographer.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Professional photographer and current PPANI Landscape Photographer of the Year 2017, Steven Hanna is from Northern Ireland and specialises in wedding and landscape photography. The FUJIFILM X-T2and FUJIFILM X-Pro2 are his usual weapons of choice, however eager to try out the FUJIFILM GFX 50S, Steven recently put the medium format system through its paces. In this interview, we find out how he got on.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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” – 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.
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.
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:
G – Fujifilm’s Medium Format heritage
F – Film-look image quality
X – Design and operability of X Series
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.
You can attach the Electronic Viewfinder that is included with the camera to shoot in an SLR style.
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.
To allow you to precisely control focusing you can also use an optional external screen.
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
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.