On the Ground - Walking NYC with the Fujifilm GFX
Despite my best efforts I could not spend my entire time in New York City flying around in a helicopter (Above & Beyond - Flight Over Manhattan with the Fuji GFX). I had to get my feet back onto the ground.
On the interwebs some have been criticizing reviewers saying in the comments that “the Fujifilm GFX50s is not a street camera”. Frankly, they sounded like they belong in the dreadful comment section of Petapixel.
If I want to shoot street with a 4x5 camera then it is a street camera. If I want to shoot sports with a Rolleiflex then it is a sports camera. There may be better options with advantages over those slow cameras but it all comes down to what the photographer wants to do and the concessions they want to make to do it.
While in NYC walking around I only carried the Fujfilm GFX. In fact, it was the only camera I brought with me. This trip wasn't photo-centric, though. It was a vacation first and the photography came second or third. This wasn't the typical street photography I have done where I am out purposefully walking around with a camera at the ready. It was definitely more casual.
The Fujifilm GFX is my all-time favourite digital camera. The files look gorgeous and have a tonne of latitude in post. Additionally, the characteristics of medium format (even cropped sensor MF) have me addicted. Photographs on a screen cannot really do it justice. But there is something about how the point of focus transitions to the out of focus areas that is downright dreamy.
The only drawback I found while using the GFX as a street/travel camera was it's size. While in NYC every tourist seems to have a full size dSLR so I didn't stand out too much. But here in Calgary people do take notice when you raise the GFX up to make a photo. And while the GFX is similar in size & weight to a full frame dSLR it is more weighty than my X-Pro2 & it's compact lenses.
Photography is always a series of trade-offs it seems.
So who is the Fuji GFX for? Well, simply put it is for any photographer that a) wants the very best in image quality from the GFX sensor and amazing GF lenses; and b) can afford it without burying themselves in crippling credit card debt.
Do I fit the description above? I do want the very best quality for my photographs. And if I sold off some gear and dipped into my photo-savings I would be able to enter the dream world that is digital medium format. I constantly hear the siren call for the GFX, but I must resist. I have to look at my X-Pro2 system and ask myself if I am getting the results I want. And that answer is largely "Yes!". The only exception is how terrible Lightroom is with the Fuji RAF files. The lack of the x-trans array on the GFX is a plus when it comes to image quality for us X-series LR users.
As photo commissions continue to come to me I will be reevaluating each time I send out an invoice if it makes good business sense to jump to the GFX, and when it does I will be carrying a big bag of cash to my local camera store.
And when that time comes I will be a bit ahead as I already bought a GFX battery because my loaner only came with one and I was nervous about battery life. But I am happy to report that I never seemed to need the second battery. Not in NYC, not on the other portions of my trip and not on some recent commission work.
During my time with the GFX I had a bag of 3 GF lenses. I'll give my quick thoughts on each.
Fujinon GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR - It is my favourite lens of the 3. It very much reminds me of my XF 35mm f/1.4 on my X-Pro2. The focus is noisy, the barrel extends when focusing but it is compact and light. It gets the job done well with a really magical rendering. I am also very fond of the 50mm field of view. The 63mm was my most used lens.
Fujinon GF 23mm f/4 R WR - This was the least used lens of the bunch. While I don't get on with it I know it is a stunning piece of glass. The 18mm field of view is too wide for my tastes, f/4 is a bit slow and it weighs almost 2lbs. It is a beast. But very little distortion which is quite impressive and the focus is quite quick for how much glass is moving.
Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4 R WR - This, like all zooms in my opinion, is just utilitarian. Not a lens that gets me excited but it comes in very handy for when you don't want to tote around a bag of glass but want options. It very much reminded me of the XF 16-55 f/2.8 lens except on steroids. I mostly used it for the wide end. 25mm field of view is preferable to me than 18mm.
If I was to buy my own kit I would pair the GFX with the 63/2.8 & the newly announced 45/2.8. That would definitely serve me well for the vast majority of my photography.
Thank you for taking the time to read and enjoy these photographs. I should note that although I am an official Fujifilm X-Photographer they did not pay (or even ask) for me to make any posts regarding the GFX. But if anyone from Fuji is read this I would gladly accept payment in the form of my own GFX.
I have a few more photo stories not involving NYC that I will be posting here in the very near future. Follow me on my social media to be notified when I hit publish on them.
If you're looking for NYC photographs to commercially license, I invite you to peruse my gallery on Stocksy United.