TL:DR This is 100% a tool and not a toy and a tool for a very niche number of users. For us we’ll stick to our minuscule super 35 video cameras, for now at least.
As hybrid bodies have surged in popularity for video shooters, so has the desire for shooting in full frame. But as medium and large format photographers will tell you, the world of frame sizes gets much, much bigger as does the creative options this can bring. So when we got the chance to briefly get hands on with the Fujifilm GFX100S and test it’s filmmaking credentials we got more than a little excited!!
Fujifilm have really pushed hard recently for this video shooter market, the releases and leaps forward with bodies like the X-T4 and X-S10 all represent awesome and cutting edge choices for video and hybrid shooters. The thing I love about their leaps forward in video tech is that a lot of the greatest features are borrowed from one body to the next. Things like their F-Log or the Eterna Profiles or even the insanely good IBIS systems are all making there ways into each respective video shooter from them that hits the market. The GFX100S is thankfully no exception to this, capturing 4k 10bit 4.2.0 internally onto UHS2 SD cards or even 12bit Pro Res if you record out via the HDMI.
But I’m not here to bog down in specs, we’re not that channel, I’m here just to give a balanced opinion from my experiences and show you the test footage where possible. I will say that we were massively time limited with this camera, unfortunately Fujifilm only trusted us to have it for a couple of days, during the end of winter and lockdown, so we captured what we could and even made a little cooking video for them! But enough of the waffle and lame excuses lets just get to the good and bad bits of this medium format heavyweight!
We were lucky enough to get this body with the brand new GF 80mm F/1.7 lens and the first thing you notice is just how incredibley shallow the depth of field is from this larger sensor and fast lens combo. It is literally wafer thin when wide open. It’s at this point I wish we had more time with this camera because I would desperately love to have tested this out with shooting interviews or portrait style video, as I know this is where this camera would really come into it’s own.
The beauty of that bokehlicious depth of field is the ability to stop your lens down even further than you normally would, achieving even greater sharpness whilst still having that creamy bokeh filled background.
Shooting video with a medium format sensor is a totally new experience, it really brings some interesting advantages and creative options it also has it’s own unique set of challenges and that brings me nicely onto the bad bits of the Fujifilm GFX100S.
So straight up in the bad bits are the ergonomics, this is a medium format camera after all. By it’s very nature it’s big, heavy and really not suited to the handheld run n gun shooting I personally tend to love. As mentioned earlier we also had this paired with the beautiful GF 80mm F/1.7 which beyond it’s beauty is a fairly cumbersome and heavy lens for filming with. In short you’ll be reaching for the tripod very quickly when using this body and lens combo.
Also that super wafer thin depth of field you get from the larger sensor and that very fast lens do take a fair amount of working with. This, like all medium format cameras, isn’t a pick and play affair. This is a specialist tool that requires a large amount of input from the user to get results from. But with perseverance it can really click and when it does, the results are totally worth the work.
So in truth this ins’t a camera for everyone, or really even for the casual creator. Fujifilm have much better offerings for those filmmakers in the X-S10 and X-T4. But I can totally see this camera being an incredible investment for photographers that want Medium format but also have a need or desire for shooting really high quality video. This is 100% a tool and not a toy and a tool for a very niche number of users. For us we’ll stick to our minuscule super 35 video cameras, for now at least.
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