Last Updated on 05/03/2017 by Chris Gampat
In my previous review of the Fujifilm GFX 50s, I noted that while it’s a pretty good camera system, there isn’t a enough differentiating it from 35mm full frame systems to give it more of a competitive edge. Flash sync settings aside for professional photographers, there are some features about the camera that just don’t feel medium format in quality. Granted, Fujifilm isn’t flat out saying their system is Medium Format; though in truth there isn’t really much else that we can call it if it’s larger than 35mm full frame. I mean, bigger-than-full-frame-smaller-than-645 doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. But a lot of what makes the image quality isn’t the sensor, it’s the lenses. And that’s where the biggest problem is.
For the uninitiated, and there are a whole ton of you, let’s backtrack here. And before you go on, the offerings from Mitakon simply aren’t enough.
See how much larger the true 645 format is then GFX? It’s pretty darn big. But in the medium format world, 645 is considered the baby of the family with 6×7 considered true medium format and 6×9 being a personal favorite.
So let’s come back to the lenses here. There are f2 lenses on the way as I type this post but nothing faster. Now, if we were talking about true medium format, then that would be tough to do. But this is smaller. In the 645 format, it’s possible to have an 80mm f1.8 lens–it’s been done before. So with that said, it’s also baffling that in 2017, with all the lens innovation that’s come around (we’ve got a 105mm f1.4 lens for Christ’s sake), there isn’t a faster lens.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not really just trying to geek out about gear. It’s partially having to do with a professional limitation. How else are you supposed to have another advantage over 35mm DSLRs and Sony’s full frame offerings? Besides a faster aperture lens there needs to be that much higher quality as an option too. With the way medium format works, an 80mm lens gives us around a 50mm field of view in 645. So you get the distortion quality of a longer lens but the field of view of a wider angle. Before you read more, let that sink in.
Distortion has become so well corrected with modern lenses that it will easily make someone wonder why they should upgrade to medium format as just having a larger sensor at a bigger price point sometimes isn’t enough. So with that, the medium format lenses need some sort of extra magic to increase their quality over standard 35mm lenses in the same way they did during the standard film days.
But arguably, we’ve reached peak lens in the same way that we’ve reached peak camera. So it makes me wonder what Fujifilm can do to outperform the likes of Sigma and Zeiss; unless it means finally opening up their system to more manufacturers.