The Fujifilm GFX 50S II Review | Should You Buy This?
A striking camera tool at an affordable price, this camera deserves a spot in the Fujifilm lineup. But is it the right camera for you?
With an incredibly accurate autofocus system, in-body image stabilization that provides up to 6.5 stops, stability for complete handheld freedom, and 19 Film Simulation modes – the GFX 50S II is sure to produce outstanding results for creatives of every level.
The Fujifilm GFX 50s II is a formidable camera that houses a medium format sensor with striking color reproduction at an affordable price. However, behind the modern body sits an older, dated sensor. This reality might shift consumers into two tribes — those that see it as an incredible value and those left wanting more.
What We Love
RESPONSIVE AUTOFOCUS FOR ULTIMATE CREATIVITY
Incredibly rapid autofocus for every creative need.
THE FREEDOM TO CREATE
A stellar IBIS system that’s lighter, and more accessible for the working and traveling creative.
Similar in size to other full-frame cameras, which makes the ergonomically contoured handgrip and PASM dial - used to access the camera’s main exposure functions - feel wonderfully familiar and accessible.
Product Type: Mirrorless Large Format
Best For: Professional photographers needing that perfect camera for high-quality projects at a semi-affordable price point.
GFX 50S II Medium Format Mirrorless Camera
Looking for a Medium Format camera surpassing its counterparts? Fujifilm GFX 50S II has a sensor 17x bigger than the average and incredible image stabilizationBuy for $3,359.00
A Deserving Spot in the Fujifilm Lineup
After months of testing this camera across varying conditions, I was able to see where this camera excels and, more than any other tool before, experience the walls that narrow the reach of this product. We're so used to technology hurdling forward and in the imaging space, this unrelenting expectation of one camera that can do everything and all times. But — this is dumb thinking.
There are valuable sacrifices made in specific flagship cameras for maximization. They serve many creators, but it'd be foolish to have this as the sole strategy for creative technology. Specialization is necessary because it helps underrepresented creators in varying spaces and provides a different entry point in sharing their vision. This is the sh*t that gets lost in reviews when products are dissolved to speeds and feeds. We can all agree that context matters, right? The Fujifilm GFX 50s II deserves context. With one camp championing this as an incredibly affordable pro imaging solution, while another is prematurely calling it a flop, it's easy to get caught in the noise and forget that it's just a specialized tool for creating.
Design & Features
A few months ago, I got brought on to shoot the cover for NOW! Magazine in Toronto, and the timing couldn't have been better. My Fujifilm GFX 100s had arrived, and I still had my review copy of the GFX 50s II from Fujifilm. This would be the perfect opportunity to test these cameras side-by-side and see how far behind the 50s II lags behind or if that gap is inconsequential in professional hands.
Adopting the exact shape and dimensions of the GFX 100s was an excellent move on Fujifilm's part. You don't have the garish LCD bump of the first GFX camera, and more importantly, the entire piece has a footprint of traditional DSLR solutions. It's big, but not too big. At 900g, the body felt very manageable in the studio and balanced nicely with higher-end GF glass. While it might vary for some photographers, I prefer this size for a lot of my commercial studio work, where you can quickly grasp onto the camera for optimal manipulation. On 8+ hour shoot days, not once did it feel laborious to pick up this camera.
Here's the thing, though, this could be different from person to person as some may find this trickier to wield where you might have a bit of the camera shakes at odd angles. Thankfully, the 50s II inherits 6.5 in-body image stabilization stops that work incredibly well for photography. Fujifilm may have shoddy results with image stabilization for video, but they're nailing it for photography. Time and time again, I was able to rely on this camera for sharp results at 1/30th of a second. I could even go as low as 1/10th of a second and get a great result with greater intention. Admittedly, you may not go that low in many situations, but it means that the shutter range you find yourself working in most often gets that much more reliable. If you plan on doing a lot of handheld portrait work, the stabilization in this camera will help you achieve the results you want.
Let's talk about the camera's use-case experience. The viewfinder is not removable or adjustable; it's a 3.69M OLED display. It doesn't give you that looking-through-a-window feeling that some premium, full-frame cameras adopt, but it's plenty good for the working professional. You can also use the back LCD to compose your shots, which I did numerous times. It's a traditional three-way tilting display that makes it easier to capture low-angle photography. You don't have to perform these mental and physical gymnastics to line up the shot as you want with an LCD that flips to the side. I'm sure a bunch of passionate YouTubers will disagree with me, but I believe this system is the best solution for professional photographers.
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The 51.4-megapixel files are rich with detail with plenty of latitude for a professional creator. You can capture in various compressed and uncompressed modes. The 14-bit RAW files preserve a good amount of shadow detail though I wouldn't say it has the night-vision level recovery that some other modern solutions provide. It may not offer the dynamic range as the GFX 100s, but it isn't a slouch by any means. I could comfortably shoot up to ISO 6400 without hesitation concerning noise performance. Noise is perfectly manageable, and the sharpness doesn't suffer in any significant way. You can go to 12,800 ISO in extreme situations and still get usable results, but this may vary based on your threshold. While the sensor may be older, the results feel anything but old. These files are very robust and give a lot of room for you to direct your creativity.
With the addition of Nostalgic Negative and Eterna Bleach Bypass, you have 19 film simulations to take advantage of this camera. Still, I think most users may gravitate to Across, Astia, or Provia for most work. Regardless of where you plant your flag, it's nice to see that you have every option available to curate into six custom modes. Being able to switch from my black and white recipe to color quickly has been huge in the field, where it helps me capture in the best way for the environment. And as with any modern Fujifilm camera, the RAW file still has all the information. Your custom recipe is baked into the JPEG with the RAW file showing a representation of your film simulation before any changes are applied. All in all, these color options marry nicely to a medium format solution meant for pros where it gives you a way to build a unique workflow.
The top LCD is excellent to have where you can view critical settings or a histogram at a glance. Though I would've preferred at least one higher performing card slot, having two UHS-II SD card slots ultimately may be best for the ecosystem where users only need one type of card and reader for their workflow. And using the same battery as the X-T4 and GFX 100s has led to a rating of over 400 shots per charge. In my workflow, I found that we could get through a full day of work with some juice left on a second battery. It's also worth noting that this camera supports USB-C charging, so if you're capturing tethered, that battery will charge while you catch. In one environment, I was momentarily shocked how this camera still had plenty of life after nearly 2000 shots until I realized it had been charging via the tether cable. OOF!
In any case, all of these items make for a great professional imaging solution that should impress a lot of photographers. However, there are still some areas where this camera underperforms, and these are the items that'll ultimately dictate if this camera is right for you.
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Drawbacks & Challenges
If you're asking me, the decision on whether this camera is right for you has to do with what it can't do, not what it can do. Including an older sensor that isn't back-side illuminated and relies on contrast-based focusing means that a camera like this is challenging to use in fast-paced environments. If you rely on accurate and fast autofocus for your work, this may be the primary reason you skip this camera altogether. There's also a bit of this shutter lag that is common in the medium format world, and sure this is faster than the solutions you'd historically find in this space, but at three frames per second combined with that lag, you have to be honest with your skillset. Can you nail the shot on command, or will you need something faster to give you more latitude to get the picture and succeed?
The menu system isn't the most complex you'll find on a modern camera, but it isn't the easiest to navigate either. I've mentioned this in the past, and I'll repeat it, Fujifilm needs to revisit the UI for their camera menus. I want to use this opportunity to mention that as the feature set grows, the menu system on Fujifilm is beginning to feel crowded and can use a refresh.
Next, the flash sync speed of 1/125th second is good but might be a challenge to workaround if you don't have compelling light conditions. The lower the quality of lights you're using, the trickier this can become. Whether or not this is an issue for you will ultimately come down to what lights you rely on for your work.
Lastly, this camera can capture full HD video but don't look at this camera for video work. I'm sure someone out there will fight for recognition of GFX solutions in video workflows, but at this time, I'm taking the opposite argument. These cameras are phenomenal photography tools that don't take them seriously for video production. And you know what, that's perfectly fine! As I alluded to earlier, specialization helps solve specific problems and improve accessibility across the board. In any case, these are the essential items that you should consider before pulling the trigger on the GFX 50s II for your work. None of these make this camera a failure in any way, especially when you consider the asking price. All it does is narrow the scope of the potential audience. Our job as creators is to find out if we see ourselves in that audience.
The CompetitionThe Fujifilm GFX 50s II boldly drives the cost of digital medium format photography down even further where photographers into architecture, travel, portraits, still life, fine art — to name a few — can consider this as a serious upgrade. Making a decision here is easier when you know the speed of your working environment. This format gives you a powerful stance with stunning image quality so long as you're not finding yourself in fast-paced environments. If you're shooting action, sports, or street, this camera is not something I'd recommend.I look at this camera, and it feels like a win-win between the engineering and operations team at Fujifilm. They've brought together a series of available parts to create an even more affordable imaging solution that provides value for a specific group of photographers. With that in mind, many of you may be wondering how this compares to the GFX 100s? That's a more extended conversation, and I made an entire video to answer that question that you can find here. In short, it comes back to looking at where you capture your images.The50s II is a welcome addition to the camera market, but it enters it with more splash than a bang. The price tag and sensor will pique the interest of those looking to upgrade their current solution, but one must manage expectations. Whether it was a nighttime fashion shoot or daytime stroll, there were several instances where the camera couldn't execute other solutions. If you often find yourself in challenging environments, this may be a camera that leaves you wanting more.
I've gone back and forth with this camera, and ultimately, I am impressed. In this climate, to have these specs, in this package, at this price is an impressive feat and creators finally win out. I've primarily referenced professional creators in this review, but the offering here is something that enthusiasts will consider as well. It's a product that deserves its spot in the Fujifilm lineup.
I've been able to create some remarkable work with this sensor and files that feel future-proof in a way. It's an empowering feeling that many photographers strive to have. A camera like a Fujifilm GFX 50s II is fascinating because it addresses the concerns around accessibility and professional creative tools.
Suppose you're in a space where you are creating images for a living, and the environment you're capturing allows you to slow down and control the process. In that case, the Fujifilm GFX 50s II will elevate your experience while being rewarding through the process. Ultimately, it comes down to knowing your craft and creative process. The better you understand those, the easier it'll be to decide whether this camera is the right one for you.
What It Has:
51.4 Megapixel Large Format CMOS Image Sensor
X-Processor 4 Image Processor
3.0 Frames per second
Updated Autofocus (AF) algorithm for optimized performance with G Mount lenses
Up to 6.5 stops of Internal Body Image Stabilization (IBIS)
Compact, weather resistant body
What It Does:
Feels incredibly good in the hands
Delivers images with minimal noise and an incredibly wide dynamic range
Offer 19 Fujifilm Simulations
Boasts a powerful X-Processor 4 imaging engine
features a redesigned in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system that is 20% smaller, and 10% lighter, than the version found in GFX100
The camera body is finished with a top-plate LCD to display key settings, a redesigned focus lever, and a feather-touch shutter release to turn that familiar feeling into an intuitive image-making experience.
Packaged Width - 11.3 inches
Packaged Height - 9.4 inches
Packaged Depth - 5.9 inches
Packaged Weight - 5.5 inches
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