Ever since Fujifilm announced the development of its new 100-megapixel medium format camera at Photokina 2018, there’s been a constant buzz of excitement and speculation about this new camera – so we were especially excited to be given the opportunity to handle and discuss this new camera in a private meeting with Fujifilm at The Photography Show 2019.
We were about to gather more information about the GFX 100, its specifications and design and to pick up and handle the new camera in the flesh – on the strict understanding that it was a physical prototype only and not in a state when it could be powered up and used.
Fujifilm GFX 100 key features
Fujifilm’s new medium format camera will have a 102-megapixel sensor with twice the resolution of the existing GFX 50S and GFX 50R models. The sensor is the same size, however, measuring 44 x 33mm, so all of the existing Fujinon GF lenses will fit without restriction.
This is an important point, as while there are 100-megapixel medium format sensors out there already, they use a larger format which would have been incompatible with the GF system.
We have limited information about the sensor in the GFX 100 so far, but we have been told it will be a regular CMOS sensor (not X-Trans) and it uses a back-illuminated design for more efficient light gathering.
Even more significant is the fact that it will incorporate phase detection AF, unlike the GFX 50S and GFX 50R, so its autofocus will be both faster and more sensitive in low light. This could mark a big step forward for the GF camera – the AF in the current models is accurate, but not fast.
The two biggest stories, however, are the inclusion of 5-axis in-body stabilisation, offering what Fujifilm claims will be a 5-stop shutter speed advantage. This could be crucial in maximising this camera’s exceptional resolving power.
There’s plenty to excite videographers too, as the GFX 100 will be able to capture uncrossed 4K video at 30fps – the larger medium format sensor has the potential to deliver a more ‘cinematic’ shallow depth of field effect than current full frame cameras.
Fujifilm GFX build and handling
The new GFX 100 will have a distinctive two-tone finish quite different to the black finish of the current GFX 50S and GFX 50R. It also has a much taller shape, partly to allow for a slide-out battery tray underneath the body. This houses two NP-T125 batteries of the same type used by the GFX 50S, making side by side use as convenient as possible.
This design offers duplicated horizontal and vertical controls as standard, so there’s no need to get an additional grip for extended vertical shooting. The top layout is quite different to the GFX 50S’s, though, and indeed other Fujifilm cameras. The shutter speed and ISO dials are gone, replaced by a single ‘Drive’ button and outer dial cryptically labelled ‘Movie’, ‘Multi’, and ‘Still’.
The reasoning behind the design change is that Fujifilm expects the GFX 100 to be used principally in the studio where it was felt a control layout based around function buttons rather than dials was the right way to go.
On the back of the camera is a tilting display which has an additional sideways tilt that we’ve seen before on the X-T3. It doesn’t offer the full range of movement of a true vari-angle display, but it’s potentially more robust and it keeps the live view image close the the optical axis of the lens rather than way off to one side.
On the top of the camera is the same slide-out/replaceable viewfinder we’ve seen on the GFX 50S, and on the side the memory card door reveals two SD card slots. We asked Fujifilm if it had been tempted by the newer and faster XQD or CFexpress formats but were told that the extra speed wasn’t necessary and that SD was considered the best storage medium for this camera.
The GFX 100 is significantly larger than the GFX 50S, but we were surprised at how comfortable it was to hold and it does feel as if it offers a very secure and stable grip. It wasn’t as heavy as we were expecting either, so although many users might prefer to mount it on a tripod, it doesn’t feel as if it would be tiring to use handheld, even for extended periods of time.
We weren’t about to try the camera out for real as this was simply a physical prototype, but the controls were working and it did represent the final camera’s handling and operational controls.
Fujifilm is clearly well advanced with the design of the GFX 100 and we were told the expected delivery date is now June 2019. The bad news is the price – the GFX 100 is expected to arrive with a price tag of $10,000, with prices in other territories yet to be confirmed.
This is approximately twice the price of the GFX 50S, but you are getting a camera with twice the resolution, in-body-stabilisation, phase-detection AF and 4K video, so you could argue it’s more than twice the camera! We were certainly impressed by its physical handling.