What a Value! Fujifilm GFX50s II Review

Fujifilm’s quest of making medium format accessible has revolutionized the industry. And now, they continue their pursuit of making quality medium format systems more attainable than ever with the Fujifilm GFX50s II. It will make its debut as a bundled kit with the Fujifilm 35-70 f4-5-5.6 lens or as a body only option. The competitive price is on par with many Full-Frame offerings and is sure to entice photographers looking for more real estate. If the optics are what we’ve come to expect and love from Fujifilm, this will be a great camera to make the switch. Spoiler alert, they are. Keep reading to find out why.

Too Long Didn’t Read

The Fujifilm GFX50s II offers beautiful image quality. The film simulations and in-camera skin smoothing transfer to the RAW file, significantly reducing editing time. The dynamic range ability makes it difficult to capture an unusable frame. Autofocus isn’t always the fastest, although it rarely misses once it’s achieved. Its price is sure to entice anyone looking to get their feet wet with medium format.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Beautiful image quality
  • Colors and film simulations
  • In-camera skin smoothing transfers to raw file
  • It cuts down on editing time
  • Dynamic Range
  • Addition of IBIS
  • Small camera body for medium format

Cons

  • Autofocus can be sluggish
  • Although it’s improved, face detection can still be improved upon
  • Quick AF mode quickly drains the battery
  • Not a lot of fast lens options in the current lens lineup

Gear Used

I tested the Fujifilm GFX50s II with the Fujifilm GF 63mm f2.8 R WR Lens, Fujifilm GF 110mm f2 R WR Lens, and Broncolor Siros L 800ws monolight.

Innovations

Fujifilm isn’t completely redesigning the medium format system. They’re building upon what has worked well for them. The sensor is pretty great, but it isn’t new. It is paired with the newer X-processor 4 for improved performance. In-camera skin-softening within the GFX50s II is very usable and drastically cuts down on editing time in post. The second iteration of the camera has also gained an impressive 6.5 stops of IBIS. That’s an extra 1/2 stop better than the flagship GFX100s. For medium format, that’s the best on the market.

Tech Specs

For a complete list of technical specifications, visit the Fujifilm website

  • 54.1MP CMOS Sensor Large Format (44x33mm)
  • Quad-core CPU X-Processor 4 with Latest FW
  • Mode Dial Controls
  • Weather Resistant
  • 3.0fps Continuous Shooting
  • Full HD/30P, 4:2:0 8-bit (SD/HDMI)
  • Contrast Rapid AF of .272s
  • Lowlight Priority AF -3.5EV / 14 Stop Dynamic Range
  • New Nostalgic Neg. Film Simulation
  • IBIS with 6.5 Stops of Stabilization, more than GFX100S
  • Fixed 3.9M-dot EVF (0.77x Mag. 50fps refresh)
  • NP-W234 (440 frame) battery. Same as “X-T4 Battery”
  • 205MP Multi-Shot Pixel Shift / Drone-Gimbal Support
  • New 35-70mm f4.5-5.6 WR kit lens

Ergonomics

Upon first glance, you might mistake the GFX50s II for the GFX100s. The two bodies are identical, with only the model badge distinguishing the two. It is comparable to the size of a DSLR, slightly heavier, and is very comfortable to hold.

The top panel of the camera has a large LCD display and two programmable exposure buttons. I prefer to set these to resemble the ISO and shutter speed dials found on the X-series. Above, you will find the on/off switch and the shutter button. The electronic viewfinder is in the middle. The mode dial is on the left with plenty of customization options and the movie/still switch.

On the back panel of the GFX50s II is a large LCD panel that tilts and flips down. This is handy for those lower angles. There are five buttons along the top and an additional five controls on the right. Among these are a joystick and the Q Button, which brings up its quick menu. It’s a very clean and straightforward interface.

The left side of the GFX50s II houses the connections. Underneath the panels, you will find USB-C and HDMI connections as well as a PC sync port. You can charge the camera via the USB-C cord. There is also a headphone jack and microphone jack.

The Fujifilm GFX50s II has two SD card slots on the right of the camera. The battery is located on the bottom right.

Build Quality

Unsurprisingly, the Fujifilm GFX50s II is what we’ve come to enjoy and expect. Rain and misty conditions are no match for this tank. Dust is also a non-issue. I took this for a test run up north in the windy central Montana plains, where it was raining off and on. It performed like a champ, and I did not have any dust on the sensor. In addition to being built to withstand the elements, the GFX50s II also has a premium feel.

Ease of Use

The GFX50s II will be very familiar with Fujifilm users. If you are brand new to the system, the menus are simple, clean, and functional. It won’t take very long to become acquainted with the camera. The main menus require using the analog joystick to navigate through. The Q button accesses a quick menu that is accessible through the touch screen.

The LCD screen is nice and bright, and you will appreciate the tilt when approaching low angles. The EVF is not great and could be better. Lines in the viewfinder tend to look pixelated and appear as if they’re moving. Regardless, it is more than adequate to capture your frame as intended.

This isn’t a camera to shoot a lot of images in succession quickly. It shoots 3fps when shooting continuously. I got about 10-15 RAW images before it buffered. If you need to shoot a lot of images in rapid fire style, I recommend changing to JPEG as you will get about three times the amount of frames before the buffer fills.

Battery life is rated at approximately 440 images, and I’d say this was pretty accurate with my experience. If you’re shooting for a demanding job like e-commerce, you’ll probably want at least one extra fully charged battery. The battery drains much quicker in Quick AF mode. On the other hand, it’s enough to last all day with sporadic shooting.

The addition of IBIS is a notable upgrade and is even a ½ stop better than the GFX100s. I was able to photograph with the GFX100s at 1/25th of a second earlier this summer. The usability of the image was impressive.

The addition of the extra ½ stop of IBIS comes in very handy for long shoot days. It more than compensates for tired and shaky limbs. I was able to photograph fashion and portraiture at less than 1/100th of a second with the 110mm lens with minor shake at the end of the day. The hit rate is very high, and I had very few frames that weren’t usable. If you have a steady hand, photographing with longer shutter speeds is entirely possible. It’s even more achievable with a lighter lens like the 63mm. This is a huge selling point for fashion and portrait photographers.

Fujifilm has a bracketing system that increases the chances of near-perfect exposure. They also allow you to bracket film simulations. Truthfully, they’re making it more and more challenging to capture a bad image.

One of the most user-friendly features of the Fujifilm GFX50s II is its film simulations. As a portrait photographer, I really appreciate the weak in-camera skin-softening setting. The above image took less than a minute to edit. It does apply the effect to the eyes, but it isn’t so drastic that I’d care. If you find it bothersome, it’s easy to add the sharpness back in post with a layer mask.

The strong effect is too much for portraits in my opinion, although it would be ideal for boudoir photographers. These settings conveniently transfer to the RAW file in Lightroom. Fujifilm confirmed that it will also be available in Capture One.

Autofocus

Autofocus is slower than some Full-Frame competitors, but not too slow in terms of medium format. It is fast enough and very accurate. Fujifilm has opted to implement contrast AF to boost performance which is excellent in well-lit environments. It is sluggish when your subject is backlit or when the overall image tonality is a bit flat and one-note. It took several seconds to achieve focus in very low light situations, even with a key light. The overall image was worth waiting for.

Face detection didn’t always work when photographing portraits–meaning that it didn’t always detect faces. It’s not terrible; the camera detected a face maybe around 80% of the time. Still, that’s behind both Canon and Sony though ahead of the L-mount alliance. The designated focal point did more than enough in these instances, and the portraits were beautiful. This might be more of an issue if you are photographing larger groups of people. The tracking is also nice for when your subject is moving throughout your frame. The same can’t be said for attempting to capture an image of my rambunxious cat. I would love to see Fujifilm add animal AF for pet portraits.

The GFX50s II is not a camera meant for extreme action; it’s a camera of specificity. And what it captures, it captures very well. The autofocus can take time to hunt in poorly lit scenes, but rarely does it miss. Real estate, portrait, landscape, product, and street photographers will appreciate this camera.

Metering

The Fujifilm GFX50s II performed quite well throughout the Sunny 16 tests. Most of the images were pretty spot on, with only a few discrepancies. The imperfect images were off by ⅓ of a stop or less. The metering is very trustworthy.

Image Quality

The Fujifilm GFX50s II feels like a very typical medium format camera when it comes to image quality. Specifically, the raw file versatility and color depth are incredible. Seriously, we’re in love. The high ISO output is also pretty darn good. However, full-frame cameras can outdo the GFX 50s II here in some ways.

High ISO Images

The Fujifilm GFX50s II makes very usable images up to ISO 6400. I was able to capture many usable portrait images at ISO 3200. Image quality does begin to noticeably decline from ISO 6400 and beyond. One of the perks of living in a digital age is that most people won’t even notice. At least, that’s what happens when you look at screens.

Editor in Chief Chris Gampat and I conducted print tests using the Canon Prograf 1000 and Pro Luster paper. Our standard high ISO tests print photos at 6400 to 17×22 inch prints, or 12,800 on 13×19 inch prints. We compared a photo at ISO 6400 from the GFX 50s II to full-frame competitors. Specifically, we look at the Canon EOS R5, Sony a7r IV, Leica SL2, Panasonic S1r, and the Fujifilm GFX 100. Our prints aren’t shot in exact situations, but they’re close enough to give us an idea of what to expect.

With all this said, the GFX50s II performs worse than full-frame cameras at ISO 6400. Is it bad? Not at all. And if you didn’t know any better, you’d say it’s very good. But Fuji can do better here. If you look at the images on a screen, Fujifilm can embrace grain and image noise better than any other brand on the market. But in a print? Not so much.

Additional reporting for this section was done by Chris Gampat.

Raw File Versatility

In addition to the bracketing, Fujifilm’s dynamic range is very impressive. Underexposed or overexposed by two stops? It’s a non-issue. The RAW files are full of data and are very malleable.

I underexposed this image to see what details could be recovered from the near blacks.

As you can see, the shadows were easily recovered. They could probably be pushed a little further before digital noise became apparent.

Here I played with overexposing an image and blown highlight details.

This is the same image after some basic editing. There are still some areas of the white that are missing detail. However, they could be cloned in. The photo itself is very usable.

JPEG Quality

Another thing Fujifilm does extraordinarily well is producing JPEG images. Their film simulations are as impressive as ever. I’d feel comfortable delivering JPEG images as a contact sheet or as proofs to my clients. As with the GFX100s, the GFX50s II also includes the new Nostalgic Neg film simulation as pictured above.

Extra Image Samples

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

Edited

Unedited

Conclusions of the Fujifilm GFX50s II

Likes

  • Simulations and in-camera skin smoothing cut my post-processing time in half, if not more
  • Impressive dynamic range
  • IBIS is wonderful for shooting handheld without a tripod
  • I love the ergonomics of this camera
  • The price is very right

Dislikes

  • The autofocus can be sluggish in poor light or scenes that lack contrast, and it’s always worth the wait
  • The buffer can slow down fast-paced shooting streaks
  • Fujifilm could use some faster GF lenses

There’s a lot to love about Fujifilm’s newest GFX50s II and not a lot to gripe about, especially for the price. One of the things I love most about shooting with Fujifilm is the lack of post-processing. Color adjustments and skin corrections are minimal, meaning I can get back out shooting. Being able to shift previously allocated computer time for the joy of shooting is priceless. 

It is priced to compete with Full-Frame systems, and there’s a bit of give and take involved. Autofocus is naturally slower with medium format, and the pace is more methodical. It pays dividends with picture quality. The impressive dynamic range, IBIS functionality, and bracketing features make it nearly impossible to take a bad picture. 

In the future, we might rate the GFX50s II higher. But the camera needs firmware updates to make that happen. We will also be anxiously awaiting the new lenses as they become available. Until then, the 35-70mm f4-5-5.6 lens bundle will sell for $4,499.

We are giving the GFX50s II four out of five stars for image quality and overall value. Want one? They’re available on Amazon. 

Brittany Smith

Brittany is a commercial fashion and portrait photographer working in Montana and NYC. When not behind a camera she can usually be found at a local artisan coffeeshop, writing for photography education sites and publications, teaching fitness classes, or baking something fabulous.