With the GFX 50S II, Fujifilm presents the successor to its first digital medium format camera, which is over four years old. However, the previous model was not developed further, but instead, the GFX100S was “slimmed down”. Basically, the GFX 50S II is a GFX100S, but it was equipped with an old sensor. The resolution is correspondingly lower, but the phase autofocus and the 4K video function are also missing. But the price is also significantly lower than that of the GFX100S.
Due to the lack of 4K video functionality, Fujifilm calls the GFX 50S II a medium format camera for photographers. But they also have to get used to the lack of phase autofocus and be content with pure contrast autofocus, even if this should be very good according to Fujifilm.
But the really good news is that with the GFX 50S II you really don’t have to do without anything except for the functions that depend on the image sensor. The compact housing is made of a lightweight magnesium alloy and has been designed to be so robust that it can easily carry future, heavier telephoto lenses. Of course, the housing is completely sealed against splash water and dust. In addition, the operation is completely identical to the GFX100S, because it was very well received by most photographers. Fujifilm moves away from the classic operation with dedicated setting wheels and instead relies on modern operation with multi-function wheels.
Thanks to the very large 1.8 inches (4.5 cm) diagonal top display, the analog operation can also be simulated by displaying virtual control wheels whose values correspond to the multifunction wheels. The battery, the viewfinder, and the touchscreen are also completely identical. The viewfinder, which is 0.76x magnification in 35mm film equivalent, has a resolution of 3.7 million pixels with its OLED. The screen measures 8.1 centimeters diagonally, has a fine 2.36 million pixels, and can be swiveled 90 degrees upwards, 45 degrees downwards, and 60 degrees to the side.
The biggest difference to the GFX100S is actually the image sensor. The GFX 50S II uses a normal, 43.8 by 32.9 millimeter CMOS with 51-megapixel resolution and 5.3 µm pixels, which means there is no rear exposure and no phase autofocus. The series image speed is also rather modest at three frames per second and the videos have a maximum resolution of Full HD. With the image processor, the GFX 50S II with the quad-core processor X-Processor 4 is up-to-date and thus the latest autofocus algorithms including face and eye recognition as well as subject tracking are used, which last for up to 0.27 seconds fast contrast autofocus (depending on the lens).
Fujifilm has also not cut back on the sensor-shift mechanism for image stabilization. On the contrary, it has been optimized so that the GFX 50S II should allow exposure times up to 6.5 f-stops longer, which is half an f-stop more than the GFX100S. The latter should also benefit from this improvement in the near future by means of firmware updates. Last but not least, the image stabilizer contributes a good part to the autofocus acceleration, because the contrasts of blurred subjects are much more difficult to detect than with a stabilized, blurred image. In addition, thanks to the sensor-shift, multi-shot shots with a resolution of 200 megapixels are possible from a tripod.
The GFX 50S II is also on par with the GFX100S when it comes to film simulation modes. A total of 19 different modes are on board, including the new “Nostalgic Negative”, which was introduced with the GFX100S in spring 2021. Also on board are all interfaces of the GFX100S (micro-HDMI, USB-C 3.2 Gen 1×1 with charging function, microphone input and headphone output, the remote release connection as well as the flash sync socket and the TTL hot shoe) as well as the wireless standards Bluetooth 4.2 and WiFi 802.11 b/g /n.
A highlight of the Fujifilm GFX 50S II, however, is likely to be the price, which is just under 4,000 euros. That doesn’t make it easy to pick up the twice as high resolution, 4K video-capable GFX100S, which is equipped with phase autofocus and higher readout and series image speeds, after all, it costs 2,000 euros more. The Fujifilm GFX 50S II should be available from the end of September 2021.
To make the entry into the GF medium format system from Fujifilm even more attractive, there is a new “budget” zoom, which should not be compared with a cheap kit lens from other camera systems, but rather with the XF 18-55 mm F2.8, for example, -4 R LM OIS. The new medium format lens from Fujifilm goes by the name of Fujinon GF 35-70 mm F4.5-5.6 WR. It is a double zoom with a small picture equivalent angle of view of a 28-56mm lens.
Thanks to a mechanical pull-in mechanism, it measures only 7.4 centimeters in length, the diameter is 8.5 centimeters, and the filter thread measures 62 millimeters. In the wide-angle and telephoto position, the operational length is then 9.57 to 9.64 centimeters. The filter diameter is 62 millimeters. The weight of 390 grams is also relatively low, together with a GFX100S or GFX 50S II the total weight is only around 1.3 kilograms. Nevertheless, like all GF lenses, the lens has dust and splash protection as well as frost protection down to -10 ° C. The optical structure consists of eleven elements that are arranged in nine groups. An aspherical lens and two ED elements are designed to minimize image errors.
The GF 35-70 mm F4.5-5.6 WR should also meet the high requirements of the 100-megapixel cameras from Fujifilm, although a moderate drop-off is to be expected, which is slightly above the more expensive GF 32-64 mm zoom target. The aperture consists of nine rounded slats and the closest focusing distance is 35 centimeters, which enables a maximum image scale of 1: 3.6 with a working distance of 25 centimeters. The autofocus should work quietly and with minimal breathing.
The Fujifilm GF 35-70 mm F4.5-5.6 WR should be available from the end of November 2021 at a price of just under 1,000 euros. In the set with the new GFX 50S II, however, the surcharge is only 450 euros compared to the “bare” case, which means the total price is a good 4,450 euros. The set will even be available from the end of September 2021.
In addition, Fujifilm is presenting a new roadmap for additional GF lenses. In 2022, a GF 20-35 mm wide-angle zoom is expected to come onto the market, which will cover a small image equivalent focal length of 16-28 mm. Two lenses are planned for 2023. The first of these is the GF 55 mm F1.7 with a small image equivalent focal length of 44 millimeters. As a fast lens, it complements the GF 80 mm F1.7 R WR downwards. The second lens is a much sought-after tilt-shift lens. It will have a focal length of around 30 millimeters, which corresponds to a 35 mm film equivalent of 24 millimeters.