Fujifilm GFX 100 Review

August 6, 2019 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Fujifilm GFX 100 is a mirrorless camera with a 102 megapixel, 43.8mm x 32.9mm medium-format back illuminated CMOS sensor with phase detection pixels.

This sensor is approximately 1.7x larger than the one found in a 35mm full frame camera, and is the first ever back illuminated sensor with phase detection pixels to appear in a medium format camera. The main benefit is much improved autofocusing speed, claimed to be up to twice as fast as previous GFX models.

The GFX 100 is also the first ever medium format camera to feature in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which delivers five-axis image stabilisation of up to 5.5 stops, and the first to offer 4K 30p video recording (in 10bit 4:2:2 quality).

Other key specifications include an X-Processor 4 image processor, weather-resistant magnesium alloy body with integrated vertical grip, 5.76 million dot removable EVF with 100% coverage and a magnification of 0.86x, 2.36 million dot tilting 3.2-inch LCD display, Face and Eye Detection AF, and an ISO range of 50-102400.

There's also 5fps continuous shooting, shutter speeds from 60 minutes to 1/4000th sec using the mechanical focal plane shutter or up to 1/16000 sec via the electronic shutter, dual UHS-II SD memory card slots, interval shooting and multiple exposure modes, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and a USB-C port.

The recommended retail price of the Fujifilm GFX 100 is £9999 / $9999 body only in the UK and USA respectively.

Ease of Use

Fujifilm GFX 100
Front of the Fujifilm GFX 100

The new GFX 100 is bigger, heavier and a lot more expensive than the 50 megapixel GFX 50S camera that was introduced back in 2016 - it's larger in all three dimensions, 375g heavier, and costs twice as much as the 50S, which at £$5000 isn't exactly cheap.

The extra size and weight is mostly down to the fact that the GFX 100 has a built-in vertical grip, complete with an extra set of controls for use in the portrait orientation. This grip is an integral part of the camera that cannot be removed, especially considering that it houses the two batteries that power the camera in a slide-out tray, so if size is a concern, this is obviously not the camera for you. Battery life is pretty good at around 800 shots from the two batteries.

Fujifilm's design team have really run with this design choice, though, by successfully making the GFX 100 one of the nicest cameras that we've ever used from a hand-grip point of view. In landscape mode, you can comfortably fit three of your fingers around the chunky grip whilst operating the shutter button with your forefinger and gripping the back of the camera with your thumb.

Fujifilm GFX 100
Rear of the Fujifilm GFX 100

The portrait mode isn't quite as comfortable due to the protrusion on the bottom of the camera that acts as the grip being too narrow and smooth in texture rather than rubberised. The control layout is strangely different too, which is a shame given that one of this camera's main uses will be for portraiture. Despite this, the GFX 100 is mostly a veritable pleasure to hold on to.

The front of the Fujifilm GFX 100 is adorned with the Fujifilm logo positioned above the lens when the EVF is fitted. To the left of the lens mount, if viewing the camera front-on, is a small black button that can be customised, which by default accesses the Performance Boost functions. On the bottom-right of the lens is a circular button for releasing the lens and another configurable Fn button. In total, there are a whopping 19 physical and onscreen buttons that can be reconfigured to suit your way of working.

The GFX 100 is quite unlike any Fujifilm X-series camera that has gone before it, eschewing the physical control dials and shared design ethos and making it feel pretty unfamiliar to anyone who's used a recent Fujifilm mirrorless camera before. Instead of dedicated ISO speed and Shutter speed dials, as on the GFX 50R, there's a Shooting Mode dial on the left of the viewfinder and a large LCD screen on the right.

Fujifilm GFX 100
Front of the Fujifilm GFX 100

The Shooting Mode dial has three settings - Still, Multi and Movie - and is activated by simultaneously pressing the small raised button in front of it and turning the dial. At its centre is the Drive button, which as the name suggests accesses all of the camera's various continuous shooting and bracketing modes.

Rather confusingly, you actually need to switch to the Multi mode to be able to choose one of the 6 bracketing options or the Multiple Exposure mode, even though they only apply to stills. In the Still mode, the only two options are the CL and CH burst modes. Pressing the Drive button when Movie mode is selected just opens the Movie menu settings - very confusing.

There's also no handy exposure compensation dial, however, instead replaced by a tiny dedicated button on top of the camera that's awkwardly used in conjunction with the rear control dial.

Over on the right of the top panel, the large LCD screen cleverly replaces the physical ISO and Shutter speed dials by displaying three "virtual" controls instead, with ISO on the left, shutter speed on the right and exposure compensation on the bottom.

Fujifilm GFX 100
Top of the Fujifilm GFX 100

Depending upon which shooting mode you're in, which is activated by the unmarked button to the right of the top LCD screen, as you use the front and rear control dials to change these settings, the virtual display is updated in real-time. It's not quite as convenient as having actual dials, but is a clever idea nonetheless, especially as the LCD screen stays on when the camera is turned off, and because it can also toggle to display a histogram and the camera's current key settings, including shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, sensitivity, shooting mode, white balance and film simulation mode.

In addition to the top-panel LCD, there's also another one built into the vertical grip part of the camera on the rear, which displays fewer key settings in a slightly different, lower-resolution format. So you could setup the camera to show the virtual dials on top and the key settings on the rear, with an uncluttered main LCD screen to aid in composition.

Completing the top of the camera is a small button for illuminating the top LCD panel and the On/Off switch that surrounds the shutter release button - this isn't threaded for a traditional shutter release cable, though, as on some X-series cameras.

The GFX 100 is a very well-built camera, as you'd probably expect for £$10K, with absolutely no flex or movement in its chassis thanks to a die-cast magnesium alloy body and machined control dials. It's also dust-resistant, water-resistant and freeze-resistant down to -10°C, making this a medium format camera that can be used outside as well as indoors, further increasing its versatility.

Fujifilm GFX 100
The Fujifilm GFX 100 In-hand

The Fujifilm GFX 100 is equipped with a brand new 43.8x32.9mm CMOS sensor with a resolution of 102 megapixels and no optical low pass filter that delivers 11648×8736 pixel still images. This chip has an imaging area that's 1.7x greater than that of a 35mm "full-frame" sensor, and over 3.7 times larger than the APS-C sized sensors used in Fujifilm's X-series cameras. Unlike those cameras, though, the Fujifilm GFX 100 has a traditional Bayer colour filter array in front of the sensor.

The newly developed image sensor and the X-Processor 4 processing engine also means that the camera now supports 16-bit RAW mode for the first time in single-shot mode (it drops to 14-bit in the burst shooting modes), producing a whopping 200Mb file size. The GFX 100 also supports 16-bit TIFF in-camera file conversion, which creates 600Mb files!

The Fujifilm GFX 100 now offers a dual phase-detection and contrast-detection type autofocus system, thanks to the 3.76 million phase-detection AF pixels that are embedded in the new sensor. It actually uses the same AF algorithm adopted from the fourth generation X Series cameras (X-T3 and X-T30). This makes the GFX 100 much quicker to auto-focus than the 50S and 50R cameras, taking about 0.20 second to lock on to the subject and proving to be less prone to hunting in dimmer environments.

Pressing one of the two available Focus Lever joysticks allows you to move the AF point to one of the 117 different points that cover most of the frame in a 9x13 configuration. The AF point can be set to one of six different sizes via the rear control dial to achieve more precise focusing, and you can also simply tap on the touchscreen to set the AF point. If you want even more control, you can select the 425 points option which splits the same area of the frame into a 17x25 grid of smaller AF points.

Fujifilm GFX 100
Front of the Fujifilm GFX 100

The GFX 100 also offers Zone and Wide/Tracking modes which utilise the larger 425-point area to capture moving subjects. In Zone mode, you can select a 3x3, 5x5 or 7x7 zone out of the 425-point AF area. During AF-C focus, the camera continually tracks the subject, positioning it at the centre of the zone. The Wide/Tracking mode combines the Wide mode (during AF-S), in which the GFX 100 automatically identifies and tracks the area in focus across the 425 point AF area, and the predictive Tracking mode (during AF-C), which uses the entire 425-point area to continue tracking the subject. This feature enables continuous focusing on a subject that is moving up and down, left and right or towards and away from the camera.

Manual focus is also provided, and very good it is too. As you'd expect, the manual focus rings on all the GFX lenses have a lovely feel, and two different focusing aids are provided - auto magnification and focus peaking. In conjunction with the new, ultra-high-resolution electronic viewfinder, we found it very easy to accurately determine critical sharpness.

We tested the GFX 100 with a wide variety of native GFX lenses, all of which feature a focal-plane shutter, allowing for shutter speeds as fast as 1/4000th of a second. The lenses also have an aperture ring and a C (Command) position on the ring to enable aperture adjustments via a command dial on the camera body, and they all boast the same dust- and weather-resistant construction as the body.

This is first ever GFX and first ever medium format camera to feature in-body image stabilization. The GFX 100 uses a familiar 5-axis system which gives up to 5.5 stops of image stabilization (when using the GF 63mm F2.8 R WR lens). The two previous GFX cameras didn't have IBIS built-in, instead relying on the lens to provide it, which not all GFX lenses do. Now with the GFX 100, any lens that you attach to it will automatically benefit from up to 5.5 stops of compensation. Futhermore, the same ssystem is used to help suppress shutter shock, which given the incredible resolution on offer is a very welcome benefit.

Fujifilm GFX 100
Dual Memory Card Slots

With its focal-plane mechanical shutter, the GFX 100 has a top shutter-speed limit of 1/4000th second in all shooting modes. This allows you to select a faster aperture even in bright conditions or when shooting with flash during the day, although there's no built-in ND filter.

The GFX 100 also has an electronic shutter in addition to the mechanical one, which provides a much faster top shutter speed of 1/16,000th second. This allows you to continue shooting wide-open with fast aperture lenses in the brightest of conditions without having to resort to fitting a glass ND filter or using external flash and lights. There are some important caveats with the electronic shutter - the ISO range is restricted to 100-12800 and you can't use an external flashgun, but overall it's a great feature that makes the GFX 100 more versatile.

Rather than a traditional optical viewfinder, the GFX 100 employs a a brand new 5.76m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder which is 0.5 inch in size and offers 0.86x magnification and 100% scene coverage. This electronic viewfinder is removable, slotting into the flash hotshoe on top of the camera, improving system modularity and enabling the camera to shed some weight if necessary.

It also cleverly has its very own flash hotshoe, so that you can fit the EVF and still use an external flashgun at the same time. In addition, an optional adapter makes it possible to fit the finder at any angle, although we didn't get to test this out. The displayed settings automatically rotate when the camera is held in a portrait orientation and you can also customize the shooting information that's displayed in the viewfinder.

Fujifilm GFX 100
Battery Compartment

The size of the rear LCD screen is 3.2-inches and the resolution is an impressive 2.36m-dots, exactly the same as the screen on the GFX 50S. It can also be usefully tilted up and down by about 90 degrees when in landscape mode and upward when shooting in portrait mode via a simple press of a button on the side.

The Fujifilm GFX 100 has an intuitive touchscreen interface, allowing you to either move the AF point, or simultaneously move the AF point and focus on the subject. On the right hand side of the screen you’ll see a small icon which if you press it allows you to choose between using the screen to set the AF point, or to have it focus as well. If you prefer, you can turn off this functionality altogether, but it is quicker than using the joystick to set the AF point. One drawback to leaving the touchscreen AF on is that we kept inadvertently moving the AF point when changing lenses. In image playback, you can simply drag left and right to go through the sequence of images and pinch/double-tap to zoom in and out, although you can't use the main menu system via the touchscreen.

Two memory card slots are located on the right-hand flank of the camera when viewed from the rear. The GFX 100 offers compatibility with Ultra High Speed UHS-II SDXC memory cards, which has the main benefit of increasing the data writing speed in continuous mode to about twice that of a conventional UHS-1 card.

The GFX 100 offers a continuous shooting rate of 5fps for 41 JPEGs or 14 compressed Raw files if you use a UHS-II SDXC card and the mechanical shutter, surpassing the speed of the GFX 50S making it one of the fastest medium format cameras on the market, impressive given the size of the 102 megapixel files. If you prefer to use the electronic shutter, the fastest shooting rate drops to 2.9fps.

Fujifilm GFX 100
Front of the Fujifilm GFX 100 Without the Electronic Viewfinder Fitted

The GFX 100 now features both built-in wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The latter option creates a constant, low-power connection between the camera and a smartphone/tablet to transfer images and video using the Fujifilm Camera Remote smartphone app, while the former allows you to remotely control the GFX 100 via a 2.4Ghz wi-fi connection using a smartphone or tablet and the Fujifilm app, and transfer images and video from one device to the other.

The Fujifilm GFX 100 has also upped the ante when it comes to video, now supporting DCI 4K quality at 29.97, 25, 24, and 23.98 fps at up to 400Mbps and Full HD up to 60fps in either the H.265 or H.264 formats, a big improvement on the previous GFX cameras. Note that 4:2.2 10bit is only available when recording out via the HDMI port, with 4:2.0 10bit going to the SD cards (in H.265 mode).

The tiny Quick Menu buttons are set into the two rear thumb rests. This provides quick access to lots of frequently used shooting settings including the ISO speed, White Balance, File Size and File Quality, with either the focus joystick or the 4-way controller and the command dial used to quickly change between them. Above the landscape Q button is a unmarked, configurable button that by default switches Face Detection on and off.

The rear panel will also look rather unfamiliar to anyone who has ever handled a Fujifilm X-series camera before. There's a Delte button to the left of the EVF and an AF Mode dial (S/C/M) on the right, with the rear control dial alongside that.

Fujifilm GFX 100
Top of the Fujifilm GFX 100

Instead of a traditional 4-way controller with a centred Menu/OK button, the GFX 100 has a vertical column of buttons, starting with AF-On for handy thumb operation, a small but tactile joystick for primarily setting the AF point, and AE-Lock.

Underneath those controls in the Menu/OK button which accesses the seven different Shooting and Set-up menus, the Disp/Back button which is used for changing the LCD display or going back, and finally the Playback button.

The right hand flank of the GFX 100 features a chunky metal lug for attaching a strap, with a matching one on the left, underneath which are the dual memory card slots housed inside a sturdy weather-proof compartment. Underneath that is the Remote port covered by a weather-proofed rubber flap.

On the left flank are two compartments. The smaller one at the top houses the microphone and headphone ports, while the larger one underneath protects the new USB-C socket so that the camera can be powered and charged through the USB-C connection, the HDMI output and the DC-In port. There's also an X-sync socket on the left-hand side of GFX 100, too. The base of the Fujifilm GFX 100 features a screw tripod thread that's inline with the centre of the lens mount.

In summary, the Fujifilm GFX 100 is both strangely familiar yet disconcertingly different if you've ever used a Fuji X-series camera before, with the removal of the physical dials and large number of unmarked controls initially proving difficult to get to grips with. It also feels both over- and perfectly- sized almost at the same time, with the integrated grip sure to put some people off by unavoidably making the camera larger, but also making it easier to handle at the same time. This is definitely a camera that rewards time, patience and a good look through the user guide.