March 01, 2017
The much anticipated new 51 MegaPixel Medium Format Fuji Mirrorless Camera has arrived at michaels camera and we think you will be as excited about this game changing camera as we are!
The Fuji GFX 50S sits at approximately the same price point as the top of the line Canon and Nikon Professional Full Frame DSLR Bodies, yet offers a true medium format experience in a body size not much larger than a standard Full Frame DSLR.
The build quality is impressive while the overall weight of the body and lenses is pleasantly lighter than you would expect.
We have barely taken the wraps off the new GFX 50S and we already are amazed at the quality of the Jpg files right out of the camera.
One of key reasons you may want to move to a larger sensor size is to capture a higher dynamic range file that will enable you do more intensive post processing without having to resort to shooting multiple frames and using HDR blending techniques.
The 51 Meg Sony CMOS Sensor that Fuji is using in the new GFX 50S is highly regarded as one of the best in industry and shadow detail is the holy grail of so many shooters these days that this was the first area we wanted to investigate.
After a few minutes looking over the camera and getting familiar with the basics of its menus and operation we were ready to hit the street in front of michaels camera and capture some test shots.
In the late afternoon harsh summer light with the sun about 90 degrees to our shooting left we had some incredibly deep shadows in our test shot of the Melbourne Central Tower from the corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale Streets. The camera was set to ISO 100 and F5.6 which is just a stop down from the max on the FUJINON GF32-64mm F4 R LM WR Lens we used for the test. The camera was in Aperture Priority Mode and metering and all other settings were just at the defaults. The exposure was spot on judging from the histogram. The centre focus point was used and at 32mm (25mm in 35mm terms as the crop factor for this camera is 0.79) the depth of field at this wide setting was perfect for the scene and the resulting file was sharp edge to edge. All in all, exactly what was expected was delivered. But how far can we push this file was the question? Do these deep shadows turn to mush once we dive in or not?
At this stage Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop don't support the RAW files out of the GFX 50S so we only had the out of camera Jpg's to work with. We did shoot RAW files so as soon as LR supports them we can revisit them and reprocess.
After importing the files into LR a quick review and zoom into 100% confirmed the exposure and focus was prefect. In the LR Develop Basic panel, a quick pull to the right of the Shadows slider immediately showed what was available, and the simple answer - lots!!!
However this was not the best way to process this image as the deep shadows are only in the lower areas of the frame. A better approach would be to use LR's Gradient Filter so that any shadow recovery can be limited to only the areas that need it most and to feather it in so that it would be less obvious.
With horizontal Gradient Filter added in on the lower quarter of the image the Shadows were lifted, Highlights retained and a bit of contrast added. The bright white doors of the tram were very close to being blown out in the original file, yet there was still enough data in this Jpg to enable them to be pulled back a bit using LR's Highlight slider. This Jpg file was really behaving like the RAW files out of smaller format camera systems, there was so much latitude in it. How much further could we push this file was the question?
The next stage was to use the LR Paintbrush tool and see if we could open up the deepest shadows even more. The foreground, trees and people on the left hand side of the frame were painted in with a soft brush and the Exposure increased over 1 full stop. This area was also warmed up with an increase in the Temp slider as the shadows were looking very cool.
A second brush was used over the church on the right hand side of the frame and again it was warmed up but this time the exposure was not raised, only another round of aggressive Shadow recovery was used.
The overall finished result was pushed a bit too far, but as an exercise to showcase the amount of detail available in the darkest areas of the GFX 50S's Jpg files, the results are simply incredible!
We can only imagine how good RAW files are going to be once we have a chance to put them through their paces in a top tier convertor.
A few quick observations about usability of the GFX 50S.
If you have used any of Fuji's recent XT series cameras you will feel right at home with the menu system and the physical buttons and dials on the body behave exactly how you would expect. For the most part, you can operate the camera without paying any attention to the software side of things.
Aperture is set on the lens barrel, Shutter Speed on the right top dial and ISO on the left. When something more advanced is required, the back LCD is touch activated and the top LCD is always available and readable in any light and reports key camera settings.
(If you are interested in downloading this sample full resolution Jpg file and testing it out on your own this link will take you to it in Zip format on our michaels camera We Can Help Facebook Group)
UPDATE March 8th, 2017
Abode Camera RAW 9.9 has just been released and brings full RAW support for the Fuji GFX 50S Raw files to both Lightroom and Photoshop.
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