GFX50R: Very First Impressions and Initial Settings

Here is my first post, and let’s get straight to the point. I am a very recent “lucky” owner of the Fujifilm GFX50R + GF 45 mm f/2.8 + GF 63 mm f/2.8 (thanks to the very special bundle “deal of the decade” that was offered by B&H Photo Video early this October), and I am here to post my very first impressions about the camera, as well as some details about the settings I am/will be using with this camera.

Behind (2018) - GFX 50R - 63 mm - f/2.8 - 1/125s - ISO 6400 - this image has been processed - One of my first capture taken with the GFX (click to enlarge)

Center - 100% crop (click to enlarge)

bottom left corner - 100% Crop (click to enlarge)

Let’s start with the pluses (+) and minuses (-) of the GFX50R, aka the brick:

The ergonomics seem to be a good fit for my hands. The camera is wide (wider than my Canon 5Div), and the extensive size allows to hold the camera with two hands comfortably. The left side of the camera allows the thumb to slide comfortably, and can be easily used to change the aperture of the lens via the aperture ring. The camera is relatively heavy (775g including battery and SD cards) but it is all relative as it is as heavy as a pro Full Frame dSLR, but significantly lighter comparatively to many other Medium Format cameras. Some people have criticized the lack of grip on the front right side of the camera, but I have not experienced any issues. Personally, I have found the hump to be prominent enough to hold the camera well without any sort of fatigue.

(+) Paired with either the GF 45 mm f/2.8 or the GF 63 mm f/2.8, the weight distribution appears to be well balanced (not leaning too forward). However, it might be a bit more tricky with another heavier/longer lens (e.g., GF 110, 200 or 250 mm). Sadly I cannot comment on the latter.

(+) The EVF (0.77x 3.69M-dot organic EL electronic viewfinder, 100% view) is a joy to use, it is bright, large and for the most part very responsive (the eye sensor is very fast). The degree of customization allows you to design your EVF settings in accordance to your preferences. The Large Indicator Mode is very useful, highly recommended! Under normal light conditions, it operates smoothly and flawlessly. Under poor light conditions, the EVF starts to be a bit more sluggish (slower refreshing rate), but that’s not unexpected and you can still see better than a regular optical viewfinder.

(+) Let’s face it I do not like menus (no matter which brand it is), they seem to be always sluggish, and remains a slow approach to photography. The GFX50R offers a high degree of customization due to the abundance of customizable Fn buttons. The easy-access Q menu is also helpful to recall quickly the customs settings Cn (n = 1, 2, 3, etc.). I will provide a detailed list of what I have assigned for the Fn functions on my initial settings hereafter.

(-) I was hesitant to list the relatively slow autofocus (AF) system in the minus as it may not be necessarily fair considering the larger format of the sensor. But yes, the GFX50R is clearly no speed demon compared to my Canon 5Div. If you are shooting a lot with moving subjects, you might easily get frustrated as this is not the right tool for the job. However, as long as you are aware of its limitations, then you should be fine. I do not think the AF is slow per se, but expect the contrast detect AF to hunt slightly before acquisition/confirmation (it does it with both my GF 45 and 63mm, though the AF is faster with the former lens). On the plus side, the AF is always dead on regardless of the chosen aperture.

(-) The LCD screen (3.2’) could and should have been bigger. Considering the size of the camera, I feel there was room (specially on the left side) to place the screen more efficiently and make it larger. It is by no means a bad LCD screen but a 3.5-3.7’ LCD screen would have probably been a decent step up. Yes I know, that means faster battery drain.

(-) The size of the joystick (upper right corner of the LCD screen) is too small. Again, there was plenty of space available to to make it bigger. For comparisons, check the joystick on the Canon 5Div, it is perfect!

My Initial Settings (from the IQ Shooting Menus):

Image Size: L 4:3, this is the maximum resolution and uses 51 effective MP (8256 x 6192 pixels). Why would anyone bother using smaller resolution with the GFX, I do not know ;-).

Image Quality: S + Raw, S stands for Super Fine for the jpg. I do not care much for the jpg except for viewing the files quickly on the computer.

Raw Recording: Lossless Compresssed, the files remain large (ranging from 40 to 65 MB depending on the ISO settings).

Film Simulation: Classic Chrome (applied to jpg, but information can be preserved with the raw as long as the raw converter supports it), one reason to move to Fuji in my opinion as Fuji color science is top notch (along with Canon). The classic chrome does not necessarily reproduce the most realistic colors (soft and slightly saturated with decent amount of contrast), but it has style and is pleasing to my eyes.

Grain Effect: OFF, if necessary it could be added during post-processing.

Color Chrome effect: OFF, by default it is off, but I chose to assign the Color Chrome effect to one of the Fn buttons to activate the effect if necessary.

Dynamic Range: DR100, this is the default value. The sensor of the GFX50R has one of the best dynamic range at low ISO. I see no need to mess around with this value.

White Balance: AUTO, I shoot raw so the WB can be set at any time during post-processing.

Highlight Tone: -1, this value softens the amount of the highlights, so white is less white (slightly grey).

Shadow Tone: -2, this value lowers the contrast in the shadow areas, and thus preserves the details in the blacks. Overall setting negative values for both the highlights and shadows will allow a less contrasty (flat) image. This is what I prefer when I shoot raw.

Color: 0 (default value)

Sharpness: 0 (default value)

Noise Reduction: 0 (default value)
Color, Sharpness and Noise Reduction can be controlled during the post-processing stage.

Long Exposure NR: ON

Lens Modulation Optimizer: ON, it allows the camera to apply some corrections for diffraction and for the slight loss of details found near the edges of the frame.

Color Space: Adobe RGB, I typically do the Adobe RGB > sRGB conversion via Photoshop.

Pixel Mapping: I will refer to the GFX50R manual here: “Use this option if you notice bright spots in your pictures.” I have not used this feature yet.

Select Custom Setting: You can go there to change your custom setting (if you have any) but I would not bother to get into the menu to change those. Instead, use the Q button (Quick menu) to change the custom settings as it is much more efficient that way. This is useful for me as I created three different Custom Settings (C1, C2 and C3) depending on which lenses and which shooting conditions (handheld vs. tripod/rest) I am using. This is an important step as shooting with the larger sensor implies some careful considerations. See below for further details.

Edit/Save Custom Setting: There are up to seven available custom settings. Thus far I created three customs settings:

C1: CC45AISO stands for Color Chrome with GF 45mm and with Auto ISO. This is my routine setting when the GF 45 mm is mounted on the camera and for handheld shooting conditions. The custom settings are identical to what has been provided above but the following AutoISO setting: ISO range 100-12800 + minimum shutter speed of 1/100s. The latter is very important as I found the rule of thumb of shooting at a minimum shutter speed of 1/(2*focal length) quite accurate with the GFX. Probably shooting at 1/(2.5*focal length) is even safer.

C2: CC63AISO stands for Color Chrome with GF 63mm and with Auto ISO. This is my routine setting when the GF 63 mm is mounted on the camera and for handheld shooting conditions. The custom settings are identical to what has been provided above but the following AutoISO setting: ISO range 100-12800 + minimum shutter speed of 1/125s.

C3: CCBASE100 stands for Color Chrome with ISO set at its minimum native sensitivity. This is mostly for stationary subjects and/or for tripod usage (or at least with some sort of support to avoid camera shake).

Fn & other buttons/dials: My Assignments

The GFX50R features no less than five Fn buttons:

Fn1 is found on the top of the camera located between the shutter speed and the exposure compensation dials. I set mine for the Color Chrome Effect which is off by default, but if necessary I can change this pretty quickly using Fn1. Some additional information here: the shutter speed dial is locked all the time on the A position. However, the exposure compensation dial is used all the time (to favor Expose to the Right “EETR” whenever I can) when paired with the live histogram. What the camera sees is what you get is one major benefit of any mirrorless cameras. and the exposure compensation dial is one of the most important feature of the camera.

Fn2 is found on the front of the camera. I set mine to AE-L, allowing to lock the exposure setting using the middle finger of my right hand. Very easy and very useful. I prefer this setting as opposed to using my thumb with one of the other Fn buttons found on the camera back.

Fn3, Fn4 and Fn5 are located on the back of the camera. Fn3 is found between the focus mode selector and the rear command dial. For now, I set mine to AF-ON, allowing the camera to autofocus. Fn4 is found right below the exposure compensation dial, and I set mine to the Large Indicators Mode, which I found it to be very useful while using the EVF. The fonts, symbols and rulers are set larger, which makes it easier to check the current setting in the EVF. Finally, Fn5 is found right below Fn4, and I set mine for the Face / Eye Detection Setting.

The Drive Button (located above the shutter speed dial): This is another customizable button, and I set mine to Self-Timer, which should be very useful when using the camera on a tripod or at least on a steady area (vibration free).

The Q menu (located below Fn5): the Quick menu allows the user to get access to the current settings. This is the place to go to if I want to change my Custom Settings C1, C2, C3 pretty quickly. I do not touch the other settings though.

T-Fn1-4: There are four Touch Functions that can be assigned using flick gestures. I have not used them yet so I can’t comment.

Read Command Dial: I set mine with the Focus Check option. When pressing the read dial, I am able to quickly check the focus on playback mode or during live view.

Front Command Dial: For now, it is set to ISO setting, so spinning the dial will either decrease or increase the ISO settings.

Well, I think that’s it for now. I will post more about other settings soon.