Fujifilm GFX 100S Review

Fujifilm GFX 100S Review

Fujifilm GFX 100S Review

A recent poll on Fujirumors revealed an interesting answer. Only 10% of Fujifilm users participating in the poll have bought into the GFX system as of April 2021. The other 90% are Fujifilm X Series users utilizing the smaller APS-C sensor and the more affordable cameras.

Whether the GFX user percentage will increase with the release of the GFX 100S, remains to be seen but after testing the camera over an Easter long weekend I think it is safe to say, Fujifilm is on the right path to attracting more users to the GFX Series and larger than full-frame format.

The Fujifilm GFX 100s shown with a Fujifilm GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR lens

In This Review

Fujifilm GFX 100S – Introduction

Fujifilm made quite a splash with the release of the Fujifilm GFX 100S in January of 2021. With the same 102-megapixel back side illuminated CMOS sensor as in the GFX 100, $9,999.00, Fujifilm has created a smaller camera while retaining in-body stabilization at a much lower price point of $5,999.00.

This puts the GFX 100S in direct competition with top-end full-frame camera options and I am sure many Fujifilm GFX 50S and Fujifilm GFX 50R owners are eying out the GFX 100S as a viable upgrade option.

An old Volvo station car is parked in Kitsilano, Vancouver. Sample image from a Fujifilm GFX 100s

Is the Fujifilm GFX 100S Expensive?

For new users, I still find the cost of entry to the GFX Series steep. I tested the Fujifilm GFX 100S with a GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR and GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR which would set me back roughly $9,300.00 + taxes.

Over the winter of 2019/20, my wife and I did a round-the-world trip for four and a half months, visiting 20 countries, and the budget was roughly equivalent to the above-mentioned setup.

For some, of course, one does not exclude the other and you may have worked hard and saved your pennies for GFX setup. For others, paying rent or getting a nice used vehicle may be a priority.

A woman stand on the edge of the water at Wreck Beach in Vancouver. Sample image from a Fujifilm GFX 100s and GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR

Handling the Fujifilm GFX 100S

The new Fujifilm GFX 100S looks better in real life than it does in photos. Not that it should matter but to me it does. The edges of the camera give it a strong appearance like a muscle car if you will. The body is made of magnesium alloy, is weather-sealed and the grip is just superb.

The texture and hardness of the rubber material on the grip and back of the camera feel excellent and give you a firm grip without your hand slipping and sliding and it feels as if it will stand the test of time.

Buttons are well laid out and with minimal adjustment of muscle memory, it should be easy to get used to, especially if you have used other Fujifilm cameras. Buttons are nicely recessed and of a good size and should be easy to find and operate even in winter wearing gloves.

The Fujifilm GFX 100S will not have the impressive removable 5.76m dot OLED EVF from the GFX 100 but instead sports a fixed 3.69m dot OLED EVF. For my needs, the 3.69m dot version worked just fine.

Stanley Park at Cherry Blossom with the north shore mountain and the Lions in Vancouver. Sample Photo from a Fujifilm GFX100s and GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR

Button Issues

I had a few issues with the exposure compensation button by the shutter button and found it a bit hard to find. I set the rear control dial as my exposure compensation dial, Fn custom, but as far as I could see you have to press it also to make adjustments.

This felt a bit strange and there may be a way to work around this. If you use the exposure compensation button you do not have to press the rear command dial also. Update – I solved this issue later on when I reviewed the Fujifilm GFX 50S II which has an identical button layout.

The joystick is a joy 🙂 to use for making deliberate adjustments but perhaps due to the weight of the camera, it would also inadvertently adjust my focus point when carrying the camera on my side or around my neck.

This means, that when putting the camera up to my eye often the focus point would be on the edge of the frame instead of the center where I had left it.

It is easy to reset the AF point to the center position with a quick double click on the joystick but it will delay things when shooting. I am sure some of these issues would be ironed out as I would get to know the camera better.

I am not a fan of the PASM dial, probably as it reminds me of older budget SLRs, but in the same breath, I cannot say that it bothered me when using this camera as nothing feels ‘budget’ about the GFX 100S.

The 1.8″ sub LCD monitor is drop-dead gorgeous and gives you a wealth of information at a quick glance. See the photos above and below.

Access to the dual UHS-II SD memory card slots has a nice feel and the indents make it easy to insert and remove cards quickly. The articulating three-way tilting 3.2″ 2.36m dot touchscreen LCD feels sturdy.

The new NP-W235 battery is good for 460 shots and I had the Fujifilm BC-W235 dual battery charger with the LED display and percentage indicators showing how far along your charge is. This battery charger is very sleek and I highly recommend it.

Fujifilm GFX 100S In Action

The first thing that popped into mind while shooting the Fujifilm GFX 100S, was how much it reminded me of the Fujifilm X-H1.

Unfortunately, I have not tried the GFX 100 and cannot make comparisons to this camera. The way the shutter is dampened, the way it sounds, and how the IBIS, in-body stabilization, is activated reminds me of a grown-up Fujifilm X-H1.

With the X-H1, you knew measures had been taken to ensure a nicely stabilized image and you feel the same sensation with the Fujifilm GFX 100S.

A car drives under the viaduct by Stanley Park in Vancouver. Sample image from a Fujifilm GFX 100s and GF 45mm f/3.5 R LM WR

Autofocus in single-shot mode locks quickly with adequate precision and while the operation of the GFX 100S is not lightning-fast as with some of the X Series cameras it felt sufficient for my style of shooting, which is street, landscape, and portrait photography.

Fujifilm GFX 100S for Sports Photography

At the Vancouver Art Gallery, I tried the GFX 100S for skateboard action photography. First, I set the camera to continuous autofocus, wide tracking, and 3 frames per second. This did not pan out well.

I am not sure if it was the AF or higher frame rate but I had a hard time nailing any shots as the camera struggled to lock onto the topic and when hitting the shutter button I would experience a considerable delay.

I changed to single-shot mode, then tracked the skateboarders as they approached me, and this way I got several keepers. Mind you I had to time my shutter release for just one shot per jump.

I still came away with usable photos. Below are two examples of the same shot, one for the entire frame, and then cropped. This is where the beauty of having 102 megapixels shines through. The photo was taken with the GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR at f/2.2.

Fujifilm GFX 100S Weight

While many now are excited by the fact that you can get a Fujifilm GFX camera with IBIS weighing under 1 kg, I have to admit lugging the Fujifilm GFX 100S around felt like a strain at times.

Especially when coupled with the Fujifilm GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR we are looking at 31.7 oz / 900 g for the camera and 28 oz / 795 g for the lens adding up to 59.8 oz / 1,695 g.

Please see the above weight comment in context to the following. I looked up the weight of the Canon 5D Mark III that I used to carry around and was surprised to see it is 50 g heavier at 950 g. So from that perspective, yes, the GFX 100S is indeed impressive.

A woman walk beneath the Granville Bridge in Vancouver. Sample image from a Fujifilm GFX 100s with the GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR

But the fact is, I sold my Canon gear with the goal of having a light kit and now mainly use a Fujifilm X-Pro3 and have also shot the featherweight Fujifilm X-E4 lately. So in testing the Fujifilm GFX 100S I heard an inner voice saying; “Here we go again – this stuff is heavy”!

Switching the lens to the GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR made a significant difference. At 11.8 oz. / 335 g the GF 50mm is the lightest lens in the GF lens lineup and while it still felt on the heavy end of the scale combined, I could now comfortably cycle or walk around with the camera around my neck.

If you plan to mainly shoot the Fujifilm GFX 100S on a tripod or in the studio the weight will be of less importance and you may breathe a sigh of relief knowing you have a bigger sensor at the same weight as a full-frame camera.

Vancouver skyline. Sample photo from a Fujifilm GFX 100s and GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR

Fujifilm GFX 100S for Portrait Photography

I met Joel over the weekend for a quick half-hour portrait session with the Fujifilm GFX 100S. Due to the Covid health situation, we decided to shoot outside with a white reflector instead of inside using strobes.

In post-processing, I did notice a few shots out of focus but will blame the user. I used a small focus area placed on the eye and did not venture into using eye-detect focusing. All photos are captured with the Fujifilm GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR.

Fujifilm GFX 100S – Workflow

I was afraid my aging 2012 MacBook Pro would completely bog down under the pressure of the 102-megapixel files coming out of the Fujifilm GFX 100S but things were better than expected in the workflow department.

Importing and editing the files in Capture One went flawlessly. The only issue occurred when exporting the files. This process took considerably longer than usual and the fan was on the entire time in order to cool down the MacBook Pro.

Hard disk space should be taken into consideration also. You will be needing more external drives or cloud storage before long. For each outing with the GFX 100S, I had to clear the project from my laptop before importing the next.

With proper file management, I could adjust to the GFX 100S, even with my current computer setup, for a while at least. But eventually a computer upgrade would become a pressing matter.

Size comparison between a Fujifilm X-Pro2 with an XF 90mm f/2 and a Fujifilm GFX 100s and GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR

Fujifilm GFX 100S vs. GFX 50R

I was quite impressed with the Fujifilm GFX 50R and the rangefinder-style body with a dedicated exposure compensation dial suits me well after shooting X-Pro cameras for years.

I have contemplated getting the Fujifilm GFX 50R several times and as used prices are starting to dip below $3,000.00 it is becoming more and more tempting.

Personally, I think I would be happy with 50-megapixels as my topics rarely if ever would demand 100-megapixels. The IBIS from the GFX 100S would be nice to have as I almost always shoot handheld and the overall image quality appears to be better on the GFX 100S.

When I reviewed the Fujifilm GFX 50R about 18 months ago I went to great length asking the question: Is medium format the way to go and is it for everyone? If you are interested you may want to check out my GFX 50R review as well.

The Fujifilm GFX 100S shown with a Fujifilm GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR

Fujifilm GFX 100S Image Quality

The sample images in this review were shot handheld with the IBIS on. In many cases, I was flirting with slow shutter speeds down to 1/40th of a second. In my IBIS test, I was able to hand-hold steady images down to 1/8th of a second with the GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR.

I was excited to try the new Nostalgic Negative film simulation and was pleasantly surprised by the results. I have used it widely for the sample images in this review.

It gives your images a very pleasing warm look and I found that it resembles results I often have tried to emulate by trying various film simulations and then tweaking white balance and color saturation.

The 102-megapixels give you so much detail and dynamic range, and I cannot help but think that dedicated landscape photographers will be lining up for the Fujifilm GFX 100S for these reasons alone.

The sample images in this review can be viewed up to 2500 pixels wide depending on your monitor size. Please make sure to click to view larger images.

A man sits by the lion statue at the Art Gallery in Vancouver. Sample image from a Fujifilm GFX 100S and GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR

What Is Medium Format?

Lately, I have been dabbling more and more with film photography and my journey has included a review of the Hasselblad 503 CX and my father’s old Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex. The reason I bring it up is; sensor size and terminology.

Fujifilm calls the GFX 100S medium format or large format in an attempt to distinguish their product from the vast full-frame market, and understandably so. The sensor of the GFX 100S is 44 x 33mm compared to 36 x 24mm for full-frame.

If, however, you want to explore true medium format photography, I encourage you to try any medium format film camera with a film size of either 60 x 60mm or 60 x 45mm. You can go even bigger with 6×7 or 6×9.

While I enjoy and can appreciate the larger 44 x 33mm GFX sensor at times it also feels as if you are a bit short-changed and you may not achieve quite the same look as with the larger formats.

I do of course understand that Fujifilm has tried to strike a balance between weight, size, and cost and for a realistic digital camera option 44 x 33mm is probably as big as I would want to go.

Fujifilm is now calling the GFX line “larger than full-frame” which perhaps is a better and more correct statement.

A woman takes in the sunset in spring at Wreck Beach in Vancouver. Sample image from a Fujifilm GFX 100S and GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR

Fujifilm GFX100S – Conclusion

The Fujifilm GFX 100S is not likely to be a camera you rush out and buy spontaneously. You will be in the 10% group and most likely know what you are looking for. As I read my above comments I have pros and cons for the GFX 100S which may or may not apply to you. I have reservations in regards to the GFX systems but for the most part, it boils down to price and weight concerns.

I am excited to see the GFX system age and evolve. As new cameras are introduced used cameras become available at a lower cost and more photographers get to enjoy the system and larger format sensors.

In the hands of skilled photographers, the Fujifilm GFX 100S will be able to produce stunning results. I have no doubt about this and it is now available in a package similar in size to cameras such as a Canon 5D Mark IV or Nikon D850.

According to Fujirumors, a GFX 50S II will be released in 2021 with the current 50-megapixel sensor. Whether it is true remains to be seen. If Fujifilm keeps the shutter speed and ISO dials in place, drops the hump on the back of the camera, and prices it aggressively, it will open the door for even more GFX photographers.

I am lucky to live in a city where I can rent the GFX 100S and may very well do so if I have a project coming up where I can see the benefit.

In the meantime, I will stay in the 90% group, at least for a while longer.

See more sample images from the GFX 100S in my review of the GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR and GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR here:

Update: January 2022

The Fujifilm GFX 50S II was indeed released in September of 2021 as predicted and you can find my review here:

Price / Availability

Fujifilm GFX 100S – Sample Images

Below are sample images from Vancouver. Images are processed with Capture One. Some images may be slightly cropped and I used Fujifilms’s film simulations, such as Nostalgic Negative and Acros.