I’ve been enjoying Fuji X series cameras since the X-T1 was released. Fuji does a good job of releasing newer cameras at regular intervals, ongoing firmware updates of older cameras, creating sharp lenses, and producing pleasing colors. For crop sensor cameras, they are my go to brand, as well as the first brand I recommend if someone wants a midrange priced crop sensor camera.

Originally when the GFX 50S came out, I was curious about medium format, but didn’t like the size of the camera. When the 50R came out, I was interested, but didn’t want to pay full price. Also, I wasn’t quite sure if it was worth using medium format vs 35mm full frame bodies.

I saw a used 50R and 45mm f/2.8 on the Glazer’s Camera website. I drove up to the store to check them out and test them. While in the store and looking at the back of the camera LCD, I really didn’t see that big of a difference between full frame and medium format. Furthermore, the focus didn’t seem that accurate while I had the camera in hand. Thus, I didn’t purchase it, and drove home.

After returning home and looking at the images on my computer, I realized that I made a mistake. The focus seemed fine, and there was definitely something special about this combo. I contacted the store via telephone, ordered the camera and lens through the website, and had it delivered the next day.

Now after using the camera and lens for the last three or four days, I’m prepared to make an initial evaluation of this combo. Fortunately, the Fuji experience from their cropped sensor cameras carries over to the medium format cameras as well:

Cons:

  1. Still expensive used, but way cheaper than other medium format options.
  2. Does terrible in low light. ISO 5000 and 6400 are quite grainy. They are useable and work, but my full frame and modern crop sensor cameras, with more modern components, actually do better in low light. I’ve read that GFX 50R/50S sensor is many years old and was used in other cameras like the Pentaz 645Z. That might explain why there is poor low light performance not present in modern cameras.
  3. Focus – it is slow. I’d compare it to the initial X-T1. Also, the eye / face detection isn’t the best. I quite often relied on single point autofocus manually moved to subject’s eye. UPDATE 2021-03-08 I didn’t realize that there is an option for “Rapid AF.” I’ll need to retest the focus on my next outing – stay tuned…
  4. The 50R isn’t weather sealed (from what I can tell) by reading online.
  5. The EVF seems to flicker when looking right at the sky, but not any other time. I tried changing settings, and for whatever reason, pointed straight up seemed to have an issue. Other than that – no problem.
  6. Can’t charge the battery in camera via USB like modern cameras.
  7. Video mode is 1080P and not even worth using.
  8. There is a firmware bug while the Chrome effect enabled. It makes it so after you capture the shot, the image preview flashes – duration cannot be changed, and it cannot be disabled. Turn the Chrome effect off, and everything works as it should.
  9. Continuous autofocus and multiple shots in a row – laughable.

Pros:

  1. The image bokeh / depth of medium format is definitely different than shooting with a 35mm f/1.4 on full frame. I dare say that I think this Fuji 45mm f/2.8 might be the best 35mm field of view lens that I’ve ever used – sharp, clear, and bright. Really, no complaints.
  2. Nice construction of the lens, hood, aperture ring, and feel of the lens.
  3. 50R is light. I like the weight, it’s not too light, and doesn’t feel cheap. It’s definitely carryable.
  4. Form factor – I like the brick look and I like the controls. It also fits in my Ona Bowery leather bag (on it’s back with the lens pointed up).
  5. Image quality at lower ISOs is great, and it handles dynamic range excellently as well.
  6. The autofocus is OK – it works, but you need to be patient with it.
  7. Price used is decent.
  8. Great entry step into the Fuji medium format system.
  9. Image dimensions of 4×5 are nice, I actually prefer them to 2:3 of other systems / mounts.
  10. 3D realism – it’s not viewable in all shots, but when close to the subject, with the aperture opened up, it has a unique aesthetic that I cannot get with my other gear.

On to the images! All of these were edited using Lightroom – without any presets or LUTs. Even compressed for this blog, the files are still quite large in size. This gallery weighs in at 20MB and might take some time to download, but I wanted to show these photos in as high as quality as possible.

2021-03-08 Update. The GFX 50R is now $1,000 off on a new one! I called Glazer’s and spoke with Mike. Since I was still in my return period, he offered me a couple of hundred dollars back on the used one that I bought, or I could return it and buy the new one. I actually paid the same price for the used GFX 50R as a new one is with the instant rebate. Well, after using and really enjoying this camera, I decided to buy new. Compared to the new GFX 100S, it’s almost (well almost) half the price! Here’s the math:

  • GFX 50R: $3,500 + Tax of approximately 10% of full retail or $450 = $3,950
  • GFX 100S: $6,000 + Tax of approximately 10% or $700 = $6,600
  • $6,600 – $3,950 = $2,650 difference. Almost enough to buy two 50Rs in camera math.

About the Author

Noah Bershatsky

Photography | Blogging | Karate | Family Man | My Cat is 21 Years Old

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