Fujifilm makes medium format more portable with its GFX 50R


Way back in the day, Fujifilm made a series of fixed-lens medium-format rangefinder cameras that came to be known as "Texas Leicas" for their resemblance to a classic Leica M scaled way up. Now, the company is bringing back some of that magic with its GFX 50R, a mirrorless camera that tries its best to remain compact while housing a larger-than-full-frame 43.8-mm by 32.9-mm sensor with a 51.4-megapixel resolution. 

Medium-format cameras are prized by photographers for the uniquely shallow depth of field and smooth tonal gradations they can afford. The trade-off for that unique rendering tends to be huge bodies that require slow and deliberate shooting. Nobody carrying a GFX 50R is going to be mistaken for someone carrying a Sony RX100 Mark VI, but the body at least isn't something the serious shooter is going to regret tossing over their shoulder. At 1.7 lb (775 grams) and 1.8" (4.6 cm) thick, Fuji says the GFX 50R is significantly more totable than the 3.6"-thick (9.1 cm), two-pound GFX 50S.

In keeping with its heritage, the GFX 50R puts its viewfinder porthole on the upper-left corner of the body so that shooters can keep both eyes open: one on the scene, the other on the viewfinder. That electronic viewfinder is a 3.69-million-dot OLED with a 0.77x magnification—not quite Leica M3 territory, but likely good enough to give users some of that Cartier-Bresson feeling. To heighten the rangefinder experience, the GFX 50R maintains Fuji's typical suite of dedicated exposure controls for shutter speed, exposure compensation, and aperture so that users don't have to remove their eyes from the viewfinder to make crucial adjustments.

The GFX 50R processes each shot with Fuji's older X-Processor Pro guts, which made their debut at least two years ago in the form of the X-T2. Sensitivity ranges from ISO 100 to ISO 12,800, and those values can be expanded down to ISO 50 and all the way up to ISO 102,400 if the shooter desires. The older guts perhaps limit videos to 1920x1080 recordings at up to 29.97 FPS. The GFX 50R can use any of the 11 existing lenses for the GFX system, and the company plans to introduce a compact 50-mm f/3.5 lens for the camera (equivalent to a 40-mm lens on a 35-mm full-frame snapper) to let the deliberate (or crazy) shooter take the GFX 50R along for walk-around use.

Fujifilm didn't provide a list price for the camera, but DPReview says the GFX 50R will be available in November for a body-only price of $4500.

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