NOTE: I confirm support from Capture One in this post—something that was picked up on a couple of sites. After verification, it appears this is NOT a done deal at all (and has turned into a bit of a saga with a lot of contradictory reports). Apologies for the very unintentional confusion.
I've mentioned my interest in the upcoming GFX 50S camera/system a few times (most recently during my interview on the Hit the Streets with Valerie Jardin podcast). Last week I finally had a chance to spend some quality time with it. Not a review by any means: just quick first impressions (keeping in mind this is still a pre-production unit).
WHY THE GFX?
Short answer: because I've dreamed of owning a medium-format camera for years. Longer version...in 2014 I sat in a New York City space with four other photographers as we were presented with Fujifilm projects in the works: the X-Pro2, X-T2 and a tentative medium-format system. When I say tentative I mean it: the engineers were asking questions, trying to find out what photographers wanted and if the idea was even worth pursuing. They had a few mock-ups that basically looked like smaller variations on existing Phase One or Hasselblad bodies—very square and blocky; eons away from what was revealed at Photokina last Fall. But shortly after the meeting I heard the project was possibly on hold...which really bummed me out. After salivating over the possibilities of a Fuji medium-format system, it was hard to let go and move on. So much so that at some point I came extremely close to pulling the trigger on a used Pentax 645Z. Like, very close.
But why the interest? Why consider a much bulkier kit after extolling the virtues of the X-series, their stealth nature and portability? Two words: different and complementary. Right or wrong, in my mind a medium-format system has always seemed like a logical extension to the X-series' philosophy: a similar deliberate approach, the organic characteristics of the images. Rationalizing G.A.S? Possibly. But it's been an enduring idea.
The key here is that I'm not replacing but adding—and it's a business decision first and foremost. The GFX is the reason I didn't get the X-T2 because for me THIS will become the workhorse camera, replacing how I had used the X-T1 for its battery grip, tilting screen, tethering etc in situations that needed it. Except you know...big ass sensor. No, not as big as Phase or top of the line Hassy but big ass nonetheless. And for my work this is more enticing and a much more important differentiator than the impressive AF tracking advancements found in the X-T2.
LOOKS VS MEGAPIXELS
Image size is good. Megapixels (of this quality) are great. But ultimately it's the look of medium-format sensors that I've always been interested in. Now, let's be clear: there's no magic gear out there. I remember stumbling on cat pictures while researching Phase One cameras a few years back and guess what? They looked like bloody cat pictures. Ultimately it's what we do with our kits that matters. The promise of the GFX is in the control it brings over dynamic range and the precision of the resulting images at much higher resolutions. Yes, sharpness but also a more natural gradation across tones. What I've seen so far looks quite promising.