Riley J.B. - Photographer


Calgary photographer, Riley JB, writes essays, photo stories, reviews & tutorials in his photographic Journal.

Fujifilm GFX - Very First Impressions

4 years ago I brought a Fuji X-Pro1 & X100S to use on my first trip to New York City. During that trip I was contacted by Billy of the 'Fuji Guys' and asked if I wanted to join the X-Photographers program. It was an easy yes. 2 months later I traded-in my full frame dSLR and went 100% Fuji.

2017.. my wife & I are once again heading to the Big Apple. I had fond memories of that first trip because it jump-started my photography. I know I will get along well with my X-Pro2 on the streets of Manhattan, but why not swing for the fences?

I sent a note to Billy and very politely asked if there would happen to be a Fujifilm GFX 50s that I could borrow for the trip. I knew it was a popular camera among tech bloggers and other X-Photographers so I wasn't too hopeful. But like they always have, Fujifilm Canada came through in a big way.

A few days after my request I had a Fujifilm GFX 50s, GF 63mm f/2.8, GF 23mm f/4 & a GF 32-54mm f/4 on my doorstep.

That is $16,800(CND) of photo gear on my coffee table. Yikes.

That is $16,800(CND) of photo gear on my coffee table. Yikes.

First Impressions - Handling

I have only had the GFX system for a few days but I have found myself just carrying it around the house and holding it in my hand while I sit and watch TV. The grip is the best I have had on any of my cameras. It just seems to fit perfectly in my hand. Very secure without being too bulky.

The body is definitely lighter than it looks like it is going to be, but still feels quite solid. The 63mm lens is also lighter than I anticipated. The 32-64mm & 23mm weigh as much as they look. I definitely notice them on the camera compared to the 63mm. Still we aren't talking ridiculously heavy. They would be comparable to full frame lenses for a dSLR.

Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8 prime lens

Fujinon GF 23mm f/4 prime lens

Fujinon 32-64mm f/4 zoom lens

62mm filter thread just like the XF 56 f/1.2 & 23mm f/1.4.

A big 82mm filter thread

A pretty standard 77mm filter thread

All of the lenses have the very familiar aperture ring. I will occasionally put the ISO or the shutter to one of the command dials, but I only change the aperture using in the ring on the lens. They added a lock for when the ring is in the 'A' position or 'C' position. I mostly shoot in full manual or aperture priority so that lock won't be used much by me.

The viewfinder is very big at 0.85x magnification. In good light everything looks so, so crisp in it. In low crappy light it gets pretty grainy. But that is not uncommon with electronic viewfinders. The viewfinder is removable but I have no plans to just use the rear LCD as pretty as it is. I now appreciate having a touch screen. It is great to swipe through photos and pinch to zoom in. In the past I thought a touch screen (and tilty screen) were for lower end cameras. What was I thinking??

First Impressions - Image Quality 

The GFX creates the greatest digital photographs that I have ever experienced. Seriously. I can't get enough of zooming all the way in on each image to see the little details. I find the lenses to be quite sharp even when wide open and they of course get better stopped down to f/5.6 or f/8. 

There is no watercolour effect as sometimes can be seen in x-trans files that Lightroom does a pretty bad job with. The x-trans array is absent on the GFX sensor so Lightroom definitely does a better job with the RAW files. The JPGS are really awesome as I expected since Fuji has a fantastic JPG engine on their cameras.

The RAW files have a LOT of latitude when playing around with them in Lightroom. Medium format is amazing!

First Impressions - Auto Focus 

I have been mostly using the GF63mm lens so I can't fully form an opinion on the other two lenses. The GF63 reminds me a lot of the XF35/1.4 lens with how it sounds and moves when focusing. 

The GFX only uses contrast detect for auto focus but I have been happy with it. Even in a room lit only by a small table lamp it had minimal hunting and eventually locked on. This definitely isn't an action camera. I tried some tracking of my pup running in a field and it couldn't really handle the sporadic movements of Ruby the Cockapoo.

First Conclusions

I am very excited to be able to shoot digital medium format in one my my favourite cities in the world. Additionally, I have booked a doorless helicopter ride over Manhattan during sunset to see how it goes. Some of my best selling images on Stocksy are from my last morning flight over the city with the X-T1. I am looking forward to adding some huge files to my portfolio over there.

It is the only camera I am bringing on my trip so I will see how it handles as an everyday camera as well as a workhorse for my aerial & lifestyle stock photography.

Follow me on Instagram as I will be doing some stories and uploading some snaps during my trip (thanks to the built in WIFI). And when I get back to Canada I'll write out a full review of how my trip was with the GFX. If you have any questions about it hit me up on Twitter and I'll try to answer them to be best of my photographic ability.


GFX + 63mm/2.8 | 1/125 | f/2.8 | ISO 400 | Classic Chrome

GFX + 63mm/2.8 | 1/125 | f/2.8 | ISO 400 | Classic Chrome

GFX + 63mm/2.8 | 1/60 | f/2.8 | ISO 400 | Classic Chrome

GFX + 63mm/2.8 | 1/60 | f/2.8 | ISO 400 | Classic Chrome

GFX + 63mm/2.8 | 1/250 | f/2.8 | ISO 400 | Provia

GFX + 63mm/2.8 | 1/250 | f/2.8 | ISO 400 | Provia

GFX + 63mm/2.8 | 1/320 | f/2.8 | ISO 100 | Classic Chrome

GFX + 63mm/2.8 | 1/320 | f/2.8 | ISO 100 | Classic Chrome

GFX + 63mm/2.8 | 1/500 | f/2.8 | ISO 100 | Acros

GFX + 63mm/2.8 | 1/500 | f/2.8 | ISO 100 | Acros