When I first picked up the 50r body it was definitely a wow moment for me, having used the 50s on and off over the last 12 months I thought I had really gotten used to its bulk. So, it was a bit of a shock/nice surprise to immediately feel a lighter medium format body in hand.
Apart from the fact there is a 145gram difference compared to the 50s with standard EVF (minus the tilt adaptor), the balance of the camera I find to be a real blessing…I won’t miss the brick on the back of the 50s!
Being a long-ish term user of the Xt1/2 with a mixed bag of lenses, using the 50s and now 50r has reminded me of the times when you ‘slowed’ down to use medium format film cameras. Using such a high megapixel camera (much like their film MF counterparts) it really does show up poor technique quite brutally!
The inaccuracy of your focus point or dare I say camera shake…. yes, even though I can comfortably get hand held shots with the XT2/35mm F2 at 1/60th with no Ibis it is much more of a challenge with the 50s/r. In part because of the heavier camera, but really when you have that much resolution there is no hiding from camera shake at a respectable slower shutter speed!
Whilst this might present some early challenges, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is some blisteringly sharp hi resolution images. Using one of these cameras really does make you refine some of your techniques, if you do indeed find yourself with some of those shakes or miss-focus shots presenting themselves. By the way, the Fujifilm geniuses are already thinking of us ‘shaky’ folks wanting to shoot handheld with the GFX100 (proposed IBIS in upcoming camera – notwithstanding the fact that movie will benefit significantly with IBIS too!).
Now, I can completely understand the view that the 50r setup is not synonymous with the XT series and fumbling your way through the layout differences might just be too much to overcome. But for me this has also been a bit of a game changer…. I am just not that into the button pad anymore.
This change of heart all started when I begrudgingly set my X100T free, to make way for the super slick XE3/27mm combo. I needed something as a last resort back up to the XT2 and having a camera that could take the lenses but maintained some of the form factor of the X100T appealed to me.
Whilst it meant learning the new layout pretty quickly, this wasn’t something I struggled with, even though I still naturally moved in the way of an XT series Samurai. After 4-5 years of XT use it can be difficult to adapt to the layout differences, but after a couple of days the majority is learnt and when I hold the 50r it really does feel very natural in hand…. a ‘left’ handed blade if you will 🤔.
A really big kudos must be given for the adjustable screen on the 50r. It is small compensation for what I find to be the main reason to invest in the 50s and that is the tilt/swivel adaptor. Some of the paid work I do comes from family and event shooting and for families the tilt adaptor really comes into its own, especially when you’re eye level with a 2-year-old boss!
Chasing my passion as a landscape and aerial shooter however, I’ve also found the adaptor equally useful when you’re strapped into a helicopter with the doors off. My neck can only ‘crane’ around so far, so the swivel part of the adaptor means I can still frame my shots using the viewfinder without my neck performing supernatural feats! The adaptor is a must have if the 50s finds its way into your kit….and is something I will really miss. (Disclaimer…there are many more useful situations not included in this article, also see the image below!).
The 50r tilt screen, (thank you Fujifilm) getting a solid workout before capturing the below image. The camera was rested on my palm whilst my hand was partially in water/sand.
GFX 50r w/63mm f2.8 (ISO 1250 f4 1/900sec).No damage to the camera for this shoot – phew! Oh and the crab was fine/ says hi.
The on-off switch on the 50r is a minor inconvenience for those that are still operating in XT Samurai mode. After approximately half a day’s shooting this quickly dissipates and you will find the ‘new’ switch to be a pretty useful addition. No more accidentally turning the camera on as you ‘place’ the camera into your bag right before a job and draining the batteries!
What was once the on-off switch is now the ISO dial, I have disabled this function for now as I still prefer to manage this via the Q button, although that is likely to change as it is customisable.
Speaking of camera bag injustices who else has had the diopter adjusted against your will? Much like the XT3, the 50r has a lockable/pullout dial to fine tune to your preferred setting. More kudos to Fujifilm for listening to its user base to fix this indignation!
The ‘zoom’ button at the back of the camera feels a lot sturdier, a little more of a push required but feels like it’s made to last the distance of the modern day ‘chimper’.
Those with bigger hands may find the XT w/grip or the 50s’ grip to be far superior and I cannot disagree, my ‘pinkie’ finger struggles to finds its place on the 50r even though I don’t have large hands/fingers. Now I realise a big reason I love the 50r so much is its diminished bulk versus the 50s, but finding a home for my pinkie finger was a must, so I improvised.
I currently have an old Really Right Stuff XT-1 base plate, that once lived on my original XT1 and has now been pried off my XT2 and comfortably resides on the 50r! Whilst it is not a perfect or logical match my ‘pinkie’ is very comfortable resting on this base plate for now. I have contacted RRS to see if/when they will release plates for the 50r and they were kind enough to respond, however they did not confirm or deny if they would proceed but will gauge the success of the 50r before any possible release. http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/X-T2-Plates
The Really Right Stuff plates are for use on their specially designed ball heads, panorama rails and other useful products.
image: courtesy Really Right Stuff Website
It might only be me but I feel the 50r has addressed some of the clunkiness that the 50s has, could it be that the mechanical shutter sounds different? Probably just the over-excitement of using the new camera I think and no it is not the sound of the electronic shutter!
Whilst the box on the back of the 50s has some intended use for engineering, for people actually using the camera it is the single thing that represents this ‘clunkiness’. Also, the buttons on the top of this box provide some quirkiness, understandably there wasn’t really another spot to put them but it still seems so illogical!
And for me that is where my on-off relationship with the 50s ends, I have loved seeing the files it produces but have never truly felt at ease with it in hand. As the 51MP sensor is the same as the 50r it really does come down to ergonomics and I just don’t think the tilt/swivel adaptor is enough to sway me when considering lugging around the bulk that is the 50s. I’ve managed to overcome this initial distaste of having no D-Pad, but I’m now a convert of the new order that is the 50r/XE3 styled cameras.
So, it is with great enthusiasm that I welcome the 50r to the family and with excitement that has been in the making since the GSW690 days (finally they made a digital one!). Make no mistake both GFX cameras are incredible and that is largely due to Fujifilm’s innovation, lens line up, Kaizen Philosophy aka industry leading firmware upgrades and of course the 51.4MP sensor.
So what is it about medium format a-k-a 'Super Full Frame' and why you should or shouldn't buy one? For me it is all in the dynamic range and of course a higher resolution Fujifilm camera. The dynamic range of the sensor, along with Fujifilm's technology has an uncanny ability to produce some remarkable results! Not only are you able to retain excellent detail in both very dark shadows & extreme highlights, it is also all about the colour that you can pull out of the well exposed files.
Below are some terrible images *a-hem Masterpieces, I captured for the sole purpose of representing the above point.
Raw image screen grab from Lightroom – an extreme lighting scenario
Raw image still – with shadow & highlight ‘blow out’ areas (very minor – Auto exposed)image 2/4
Image edited to taste – essentially a recovery of shadows/highlightsimage ¾
200% Zoom: Excellent detail retained throughout image given the harsh lighting.image 4/4
Of course spending more time working on the images may produce better results, especially viewing image 4 (more could be done in the highlight areas). Yet looking back on the 'zoomed' image 4, you can make out 2 yachts even though we are shooting directly into the sun, the retained detail is amazing.
Fujifilm have some 50r JPeg samples you can view here.
For those siting on the fence out there, be sure to at least have a play with either of these cameras, see if you can obtain a RAW file to be really impressed and if you are in the position to buy – you won’t be disappointed.
Thanks for reading and dropping by
*I am not affiliated or paid by/ with any brands, stores or resellers. This is a blog representing my opinion only.
** They were masterpieces!!
Mat Beetson - 2019 AIPP Western Australian Professional Nature Photographer of the Year!