[Updated on April 14, 2021: Added a link to a sample gallery with 31 images at the end of the review.]
The new Fujifilm GFX 100S has been shipping and we’ve delivered a fair number of cameras as of this writing, although there are still a small number of people waiting. Those orders should be fulfilled very soon! To our surprise, Fujifilm provided us with a demo/rental camera sooner than expected and I have had a few opportunities to shoot with it now. The one key thing that immediately stands out to me, is how unbelievably effective the camera’s in-body image-stabilization (IBIS) actually is. During my first tests of the GFX 100S, I was using both the Fujinon GF 30mm f/3.5 and the brand new Fujinon GF 80mm f/1.7. I was able to successfully handhold shots as long as 0.4 seconds with the Fujinon GF 30mm, and at 100% view the resulting shot was not quite, but surprisingly close, to being tack sharp as far as pixel-level sharpness.
Following is that 0.4 second shot and if you click on it, a larger 4000×3000 pixel version will open in a new window or browser tab. In the caption below the image, there is also a link to a screenshot (2,633 pixels wide) of Adobe Lightroom showing the image at 100% zoom, which will also open in a new window or tab. Throughout this brief review, I’ve added more sample images in the same way, with 100% zoom links, and at the end of the article, there are several more too. Where the on-screen metadata in Lightroom was hard to read due to the image detail, I brushed in a bit of negative exposure adjustment behind the numbers…
GFX 100S w/GF 30mm – ISO 1600, f/5.6, 0.4 seconds – handheld – 100% Zoom
Since my 2009 iMac at work cannot open GFX 100S raw images in Lightroom, I processed all these shots at home in Lightroom, and brought processed PSD files to work. All shots had some degree of sharpening and for high ISO shots, some noise reduction, most had exposure adjustments often with both shadow and highlight recovery (dramatic adjustments on many night shots due to their high dynamic range), most had some added vibrance, and many with some added clarity as well, so despite the screenshot sliders being on zero, they were not that way for the original processing of the raw images of course.
Other shots from 1/7 to 1/9 second were essentially tack sharp at the pixel level, shot after shot. That sort of performance is amazing for a handheld 100 megapixel image! Following is one of those shots…
GFX 100S w/GF 30mm – ISO 1600, f/5.6, 1/7 second – handheld – 100% Zoom
By the way, for a brief introduction to this new camera, see our February News: https://www.beauphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/feb2021.pdf and for a closer look at some 100MP sample shots from the other 100MP Fujifilm body, the original GFX 100, see here: https://www.beauphoto.com/tested-fujifilm-gfx-100-sample-images/
In terms of handling, the new GFX 100S is very compact, even slightly smaller than the “rangefinder style” GFX 50R. The control-layout and ergonomics are spot on, and there are plenty of hard buttons available to customize, so I did not feel the need to activate the “swipe gesture” functionality of the rear touch-screen LCD. Note that the rear LCD tilts up and down and pivots sideways, for very quick and easy access to low angle and high-angle shooting, both vertically and horizontally. If you are familiar with the GFX 100, GFX 50S or Fujifilm’s X-T2 and X-T3 bodies, it has that sort of tilting screen. I much prefer that to the sideways, fully-articulated screens that the X-T4 and X-S10 have, although the GFX 100S’s screen therefore cannot pivot forward in a “selfie” mode, which can be handy if you are recording video of yourself. However for still photography, the rear screen’s tilt articulation is quick to deploy, doesn’t get in the way of holding the camera and is nearly ideal in my view.
Below is a shot taken with the superb new Fujinon GF 80mm f/1.7R WR lens…
GFX 100S w/GF 80mm – ISO 400, f/2.2, 1/90 second – handheld – 100% Zoom
While the EVF is apparently lower resolution than the previous GFX 100, I personally didn’t really notice it. To me the EVF optics are great, sharp with low distortion, with good eye-relief and I personally did not notice any deficiency in resolution. The camera is very responsive, with fast powering up, fast AF and shooting, swift playback of images (but you need fast UHS-II SD cards for the best performance) and so on. It can even shoot at 5 fps! The shutter mechanism is exceptionally quiet, very smooth and well damped, one of the very nicest mechanical shutters I have ever experienced. Its whisper quiet release surely contributes to the tremendous effectiveness of its IBIS at crazy slow shutter speeds.
Here is a shot of your’s truly. Time for a beard trim and a haircut! COVID masks are handy sometimes at hiding an unruly beard when out in public, haha…
GFX 100S w/GF 80mm – ISO 400, f/2.0, 1/150 second – handheld – 100% Zoom
There is literally nothing bad I can say about this camera. It is the most accessible medium format camera I have ever used. My partner, who has never even held a medium format digital camera, was able to shoot essentially razor sharp photos of her cats indoors at 1/12 second (when they weren’t moving) at ISO 3200 with 32-64mm zoom at 63mm. That shot is below. The resulting images are amazingly crisp and detailed with very minimal noise. Shot after shot, she got such great photos with the GFX 100S, that she is now thinking of playing the lottery so she can afford a GFX system for herself! Well, maybe that’s a (slight) exaggeration… but the camera is that easy to get amazing results from. Here is that impromptu photo of one of our cats, mentioned above…
GFX 100S w/GF 32-64mm @ 62mm – ISO 3200, f/4.0, 1/12 second – handheld – 100% Zoom
My main camera is a Fujifilm X-Pro2 and I have to say, the thought had certainly crossed my mind to sell off all my X-system gear (keeping only my wonderful X100V) and get into one of these systems for myself. I too am blown away by how easy it is to get flawless, amazingly detailed shots with the camera, and looking at incredibly detailed 100MP shots makes it a bit hard to go back to my 24MP camera! At least I might be able to fend off the urge a little by using Adobe’s new Super Resolution feature to make near 100MP images from my 24MP X-Pro2 raws! Of course the quality won’t be anywhere near a true 100MP file, but it is actually pretty darn good on some images!
Here is a tripod shot at the White Rock Pier…
GFX 100S w/GF 80mm – ISO 100, f/11, 7.5 seconds – tripod – 100% Zoom
If I had to nitpick, the one thing I will say is that I prefer the controls of the older GFX 50S, which is very much like a big X-T3. The GFX 100S has unmarked scroll wheel controls like pretty much every other modern digital SLR or mirrorless camera, as well as a “PASM” mode dial, not the old-school fully “retro” controls I’ve grown to love on, for example, my own smaller X-system. However for many people moving to a GFX 100S from a completely different brand, the familiarity of that sort of control layout is actually a benefit and the camera will be easier to acclimatize to. The GFX 100S controls are a definite improvement over the GFX 100, which was a little quirky and had a few things that were a bit hard to figure out without a manual. So while I prefer the marked, old-school control dials myself, I did find the overall shooting experience to be pleasant and nothing in the body’s design or functioning felt like it was interfering with a smooth photography workflow.
Another tripod shot below…
GFX 100S w/GF 30mm – ISO 100, f/11, 6 seconds – tripod – 100% Zoom
While it is not a “cheap” camera, at $7,800 the GFX 100S is priced tens of thousands less than 100MP bodies from competing manufacturers, and is even a whopping $5,500 less than Fujifilm’s own GFX 100, their first 100MP body. I was amazed at the price-point when it was announced, and it makes the system easier to justify (and pay off) to far more photographers than ever before. In addition, most GF lenses are comparably priced to pro level lenses for full-frame 35mm digital systems, and substantially less expensive than many lenses from their medium format competitors. Here’s the shortest summary for a review ever: I want one!
When I originally published this review, I hadn’t yet had an opportunity to shoot with the GFX 100S outdoors in the daytime, but I finally did manage to get to the UBC Botanical Gardens and the Nitobe Gardens for some shots of spring flowers and cherry blossoms. The following link will take you to a gallery with some of those shots, some already seen in this review, as well as a few others…
Gallery (31 images): Fujifilm GFX 100S Tests
Following are some more photos that have 100% zoom links, first with one more tripod shot and the rest handheld at slow shutter speeds again…
GFX 100S w/GF 80mm – ISO 100, f/11, 12 seconds – tripod – 100% Zoom
GFX 100S w/GF 30mm – ISO 1600, f/8, 1/6 second – handheld – 100% Zoom
GFX 100S w/GF 30mm – ISO 1600, f/5.6, 1/7 second – handheld – 100% Zoom
GFX 100S w/GF 80mm – ISO 400, f/2, 1/18 second – handheld – 100% Zoom