An Excellent Medium Format Swiss Army Knife: Fujifilm GFX100S Review

The Fujifilm GFX100S can do a little of everything at a price that will please.

Let me start by saying that $5,999 is a lot of money for a camera, so it may not please everyone. However, there are many cameras around this price point that can do one thing really well, and that’s it. The Fujifilm GFX100S is different. Fujifilm has been innovating in the ‘larger than Full-Frame’ space for a while now. The Fujifilm GFX100S is a continuation of the fine work they have done thus far. If you’re deciding between high megapixel cameras and have around $6,000 to spend, you owe it to yourself to read our full review. Go on. You know you want to.

Too Long, Didn’t Read

The Fujifilm GFX100S is a fantastic camera loaded with features, including a 102 Megapixel sensor. With a new IBIS system, this Medium Format camera is just as comfortable on the streets as it is in a studio. Images are gorgeous, the ergonomics are great, and build quality is much improved over older models. It’s well priced at $5,999 and will appeal to many photographers.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The build quality is much better than the GFX100
  • Weather sealing
  • The new IBIS system is excellent
  • Good autofocus in good light
  • More detail in images than anyone could ever want
  • Great performance up to ISO 6400
  • The film sims are great as always. Nostalgic Neg is a nice inclusion
  • Nice grip and a well-placed thumb rest round out great ergonomics
  • Excellent price point for a ‘more than Full-frame’ camera (it’s $5,999)

Cons

  • Still no touchscreen menu system
  • Mediocre battery life
  • 400MP Hi-Res image mode is meh
  • While the EVF is nice, it’s a step back from the GFX100

Gear Used

We used the Fujifilm GFX 100S with the Fujifilm GF80mm f1.7 R WR.

Tech Specs

All technical specifications have been taken directly from the official Fujifilm website:

  • 102 megapixels 43.8×32.9mm CMOS Sensor
  • X processor 4 (4:2:0 10bit / 12bit ProRes Raw 4K/30p)
  • 5.0fps Continuous Shooting with AF-C / 64Gb DRAM
  • New Smaller Shutter & IBIS in smaller & Lighter weight body
  • Up to 6.0 stops Sync. Lens/IBIS / 4K30p non-crop recording
  • 100% Phase Detection AF up to -5.5EV @ F1.7/ F13~16
  • All of the features from X-T4 and GFX100
  • DIS for Movie / ProRes Raw 12bit Output
  • 400 Megapixel Multiple Shot, Drone & Gimbal support
  • GFX S (shooting) style Body H150 x V104 x D44mm
  • New Battery NP-W235 in grip makes the body thinner
  • Weather and Dust resistant, Freeze Proof to -10°C
  • Initial Shipment: Feb/Mar 2021
  • Launch Price: US $5,999

FujiFilm GFX100S – Innovations

The Fujifilm GFX100s surprisingly doesn’t have many innovations to talk about. The sensor is great, but it’s not new. The new IBIS system is a leap forward for Medium Format cameras for sure; it’s much better than the IBIS in the GFX100. The GFX100S is smaller than the GFX100, but it’s about as big as a late model DSLR and roughly the same size as the GFX50S. Is it impressive? Yes, of course. New innovations over other models? Not so much. It doesn’t do anything differently other than having a ‘more than full-frame’ sensor with improved IBIS.

Fujifilm GFX100S – Ergonomics

Parts of the Ergonomics section have been taken from our First Impressions article.

This is the Fujifilm GFX100S in all its beautiful glory. Here’s the front of the camera. The grip is nice and pronounced. There is also a custom function button and the lens release here. Of course, most of this area is dominated by the giant mount.

Top Panel

First up on our journey is the top of the camera. There is a giant LCD screen on the right side. Along here are two programmable buttons, the exposure controls, the on/off switch, the shutter button, and an illumination button. On the other side is a mode dial. The latter will be welcome to many a photographer. In the middle of all this is the viewfinder. It doesn’t flip up, and it’s not removable.

Back Panel

Turn to the back of the camera, and you’ll find buttons and dials. Fujifilm kept the back very clean. You’ll find five controls in total along the back of the top panel and another five, including the joystick down the right-hand side of the screen. Nestled in the thumb rest is the Q button, which brings up the quick menu. The LCD is a tilt-type. It flips out and folds down to work a waist lever viewfinder. It also tilts out from the side to help while shooting in portrait mode.

Connections

As far as ports go, Fujifilm isn’t playing around this time. Both the headphone jack and the microphone jack are useful slots. Then there’s a PC Sync port. Plus, there’s HDMI and USB-C. Best of all, it charges via USB-C.

Overall the Fujifilm GFX100S feels great in hand. It reminds me of cameras like the Nikon D850 and the Pentax K1 II in terms of weight and weight distribution. The grip and rear thumb rest make holding this camera easy and comfortable. The button layout makes the GFX100S easy to use too. If you don’t mind shifting back to a Mirrorless camera that feels like an older top-tier DSLR, you’ll have no problems here.

FujiFilm GFX100S – Build Quality

Fujifilm GFX100S

The Fujifilm GFX100S is built like a tank. This is no less than we expected. After all, this is one of Fujifilm’s flagship cameras. Still, up to this point, I have not been impressed with Fujifilm GFX build quality. In fact, shortly after I wrote the GFX 100 review and called Fujifilm out on a substandard build, they issued a recall for GFX100 bodies that were starting to break. The GFX100S is different, though. This GFX camera finally has a premium feel to it. The top panel feels solid, the dials and buttons don’t feel cheap and actually offer feedback when turned or pressed. The body covering feels nice. It’s all a step up from where GFX cameras in the past have been, and Fujifilm needs to be commended for that.

The Fujifilm GFX 100 is also dust and moisture resistant. While I haven’t personally been able to take it out into the rain during our First Impressions, Chris Gampat did. The camera held up well, and there were no issues with it when getting a NYC shower. During my review period, the camera has held up well in the situations I have put it in. It’s a well-built body that will surely last.

“I listed the new IBIS system as an innovation, and truly, it is. Handholding this camera with the GF80mm f1.7 R WR was easy, even at shutter speeds of 1/6the sec.”

Brett Day – Gear Editor

FujiFilm GFX100S – Ease of Use

If you’ve used any Fujifilm camera in the past few years, you’ll feel right at home with the Fujifilm GFX100S. Even if you’re coming from another platform, you’ll be fine. Fujifilm cameras are pretty intuitive and are easy to navigate thanks to clear markings and good button placement. The menu system, while now dated and not touch compatible, still gets the job done. The menus are clean and well laid out. The top OLED panel is bright and easy to read. It contains all of the info you could ever need. You can also make it display a histogram. Virtual dials for those that miss the retro controls from cameras like the X-T4 can also be shown. To make the camera easier to use, you can go through the menu and designate your most-used menu settings to the My Menu feature.

A Couple of Small Gripes

The EVF at 3.69 million dots is nice. However, it’s a far cry from the 9 million dot EVF on the Sony a1, and it’s worse than the 5.76 million dot EVF on the GFX 100. Still, it’s fine. There’s enough detail in the EVF for you to get by. It’s large and also easy to read. The same can be said about the LCD panel too. It’s large, bright, and easy to see, even in bright conditions. The tilt functionality is great, and it will make your life easier when getting shots at weird or low angles. You can get upwards of 30 JPEGS and 10+ RAW images before the buffer fills.

Fujifilm GFX100S

Battery life isn’t the best, though. After a few hours of shooting and roughly 300 images, the battery icon was flashing. The 400MP shot feature. Like other Hi-Res image modes on other cameras, your results will be hit or miss. Also, The GFX100S doesn’t build your image in-camera. You’ll have to merge your files at home and hope that they turned out. More often than not, they didn’t.

I wish this camera had a jog dial on the back of the camera. Placed down to the bottom right of the screen, a jog dial would be perfect. As it stands, you have to use the joystick to navigate the menus. While it works, it’s not perfect. It would also be nice to assign it to aperture control if you want to change that via the body. If you put a lens into A mode, you have to press in on the dial at the top of the grip to switch between aperture and ISO. It’s a small gripe, but it would make a world of difference.

New IBIS

Fujifilm GFX100S
1/6th of a second handheld

I listed the new IBIS system as an innovation, and truly, it is. Handholding this camera with the GF80mm f1.7 R WR was easy, even at shutter speeds of 1/6the sec. Holding at reciprocal focal length shutter speeds poses no problems. Dropping the shutter speed slower than the focal length of the lens you’re using is also no problem.

Shooting in the 1/10th to the 1-second range can be done with good technique. I was getting useable images at 1/6th sec. Down past that, getting sharp shots was a challenge. This is all fine and dandy, but really, you’re not going to be making the most of the 102 Megapixel sensor doing this. It’s great that it can be done, and kudos has to go to Fujifilm for making the IBIS this good. Realistically, not many photographers will be dropping this camera’s shutter speed down that low to shoot. Still, you can if you have good technique and want to.

“It’s light years ahead of the contrast-based AF system Hasselblad uses. It’s actually on par with some Full-Frame offerings too.”

Brett Day – Gear Editor

FujiFilm GFX100S – Autofocus

Fujifilm GFX100S

The autofocus system is pretty impressive, especially for a Medium Format camera. It’s light years ahead of the contrast-based AF system Hasselblad uses. It’s actually on par with some Full-Frame offerings too. Still, it’s not the fastest autofocus, but it’s fast enough, and it’s accurate. This is fine. You have to remember that this is a Medium Format camera. They’ve never been known for lightning-quick autofocus, but this is definitely impressive.

I had no issues with this camera in great to good light. Half-press the shutter, and the camera finds focus quickly. This applies to both single point and tracking modes. The only Issues I have found come when the light dims. The autofocus speeds do drop. Not significantly, but hunting becomes noticeable. You can select a low-light performance boost mode, which does help, but it comes at the expense of battery life.

Fujifilm GFX100S

I will say that I only tried the camera with the GF80mm f1.7 R WR, so the experience might differ with other lenses. I used the Fujifilm GFX100S camera for impromptu wildlife photography, street photography, event and concert photography, and some candid portraits. Overall, roughly 85% of my shots were keepers. Again, the lens could also have played a role in this. This camera isn’t designed to capture fast action, but it still does a fine job when called upon.

FujiFilm GFX100S – Metering

Fujifilm GFX100S

The Fujifilm GFX100S performed well during our sunny 16 tests. I haven’t observed any big discrepancies in metering. At most, there may have been a discrepancy of 1/3 a stop here or there. You’re not going to have any major issues with the metering system in the GFX 100S.

“The dynamic range of the Fujifilm GFX100S is impressive. No matter how bad you might mess up your exposure, chances are you’ll be able to recover your images in post.”

Brett Day – Gear Editor

FujiFilm GFX100S – Image Quality

Fujifilm GFX100S

The Fujifilm GFX100S is capable of producing jaw-dropping images in the right hands. If you need an insane amount of detail and dynamic range, this might be the camera for you. RAW files are great to work with. JPEGS, well, we all know how great Fujifilm JPEGS are. The camera is even great up to ISO 6400. Let’s break it down further.

RAW File Versatility

Fujifilm GFX100S

The dynamic range of the Fujifilm GFX100S is impressive. No matter how bad you might mess up your exposure, chances are you’ll be able to recover your images in post. I performed some pretty extreme tests here. Above is an image I shot overexposed to see how much detail could be brought back during processing.

Fujifilm GFX100S

Here is the same image after being played with. There are still a few tiny areas with blown-out highlights, but wow. The fact that I was able to bring back as much I did is incredibly impressive.

Fujifilm GFX100S

Here I underexposed an image to see how much detail could be brought back to life from the shadows.

Fujifilm GFX100S

Again, it’s impressive. There’s a ton of data for the end-user to play with. The RAW files from the Fujifilm GFX100S are very pliable and are nice to work with.

JPEG Quality

Fujifilm GFX100S

If there is one thing Fujifilm knows how to do, it’s making nice JPEG files. Despite this camera using a Bayer sensor instead of X-Trans, the Fujifilm simulations look as good as ever. Playing with RAW files is nice, but sometimes just shooting JPEG is fun. If you want to do that, just know that you’ll get great images, with stunning colors all the time. The GFX100S also comes with a new film simulation; Nostalgic Negative. This film sim tries to recreate a look from 70s film stocks. Oranges, yellows, and reds take on a unique look, and overall images become much warmer. It’s a nice look that many will enjoy. Of course, this is all subjective as everyone has different tastes. Still, it’s nice that you have these options baked right into the camera.

High ISO

Fujifilm GFX100S
ISO 6400

High Megapixel cameras and high ISO generally don’t do too well. However, given the extra amount of pixel sites on this larger sensor, the Fujifilm GFX100S does a nice job up to ISO 6400. The image above has no noise reduction applied, and only general changes have been made to the overall exposure. You can see that this file is more than usable.

I printed this image at 17×22 on Epson Premium Luster Paper with the excellent Epson SureColor P900 (read our review here). The result was impressive. As you would expect, there was a lot of detail, and the noise structure was really nice. At ISO 6400, your prints will be pretty darn clean. Push past ISO 6400, and images start to fall apart. Color noise starts to become an issue too. In a pinch, I will say you can go up to ISO 8000 and get acceptable images.

FujiFilm GFX100S – Extra Image Samples

From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency with our audience. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. You’re not showing what the lens can do. So we have a whole section in our Extra Image Samples area to show edited and unedited photos. From this, you can make a decision for yourself.

Unedited

Edited

JPEGS

Acros
Velvia
Classic Chrome
Nostalgic Negative
Acros

“It’s a swiss army knife of a camera that has a huge sensor. The camera, though, is small enough and light enough to easily live life outside of a studio setting.”

Brett Day – Gear Editor

Fujifilm GFX100S – Conclusions

Likes

  • All the megapixels! ALL OF THEM!
  • Great ergonomics and build quality
  • The IBIS is fantastic
  • It’s easy to use
  • Well priced for a tricked out Medium Format camera

Dislikes

  • Battery life could be better
  • Fujifilm, listen, it’s time to use touchscreen menus
  • I want it, and my wife hates me for it

The Fujifilm GFX100S is the culmination of many years worth of work from Fujifilm. The GFX50S and the 50R paved the way for mainstream Medium Format cameras. The GFX100 took things up notch or ten by introducing the 102 Megapixel sensor. Now, the GFX100S crams all of the best parts from each of those cameras into one easy manage camera. They gave it a ridiculously competitive price point as well. The ergonomics are great, and build quality is much improved over previous models. The sensor is fantastic and captures tons of detail, and has oodles of dynamic range. The IBIS system beats most found in smaller Full-Frame camera bodies. Even the autofocus system is good. It’s not as fast as Full-Frame systems, but it’s plenty fast for a Medium Format camera.

Fujifilm GFX100S

The only gripes I have concern the battery life, and the still usable, but now showing their age menu systems. So, who’s this camera for? It’s for those who want or need to capture incredible amounts of detail. Product photographers, fashion photographers, landscape photographers, and portrait photographers come to mind. However, this Medium Format camera performs well enough for some action photography, street photography, light wildlife work, documentary, and even photojournalism. It’s a swiss army knife of a camera that has a huge sensor. The camera, though, is small enough and light enough to easily live life outside of a studio setting.

The Fujifilm GFX100S receives our Editors Choice Award and five out of five stars. Want one? Head on over to Amazon to see the latest prices.

Brett Day

Brett Day is the Gear Editor at The Phoblographer and has been a photographer for as long as he can remember. Brett has his own photography business that focuses on corporate events and portraiture. In his spare time, Brett loves to practice landscape and wildlife photography. When he's not behind a camera, he's enjoying life with his wife and two kids, or he's playing video games, drinking coffee, and eating Cheetos.