FUJIFILM GFX 50S II: Sleek & Fast Mirrorless Medium Format

It has been more than four years since FUJIFILM entered the mirrorless medium format market with the original GFX 50S, and now the company is finally getting around to updating the focal point of this system with the GFX 50S II. Version II of this groundbreaking model sees a revised design, more in line with the recent GFX 100S, along with faster performance and the inclusion of in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The GFX 50S II is a more usable camera, built to make medium format shooting more intuitive while still retaining the distinct image quality benefits of the larger sensor size.

Fujifilm GFX 50S II
FUJIFILM GFX 50S II

When the original GFX 50S came out, it was a remarkable effort from FUJIFILM simply to realize such a medium format system within the relatively sleek, at the time, mirrorless body. This original camera also saw FUJIFILM prioritize a more advanced user and emphasize modularity. Now that the overall GFX system is more mature, FUJIFILM is reeling in this ethos a bit more and focusing on what made the GFX system so special in the first place: medium format for the masses. Rather than complicating the design or catering to specialized applications, the GFX 50S II features a more integrated and simplified design that is also smaller, lighter, and generally more accessible than the original camera.

Getting into specs, the GFX 50S II isn’t going to look remarkably different from the first version, and this is mainly due to carrying over the already impressive sensor and focusing more on usability updates for this version. However, the sensor is still an admirable 51.4MP 44 x 33mm CMOS Bayer-array chip, and the camera does sport an updated X-Processor Pro 4 image processor that contributes to faster readout speeds and quickened AF performance. The updated autofocus algorithm is claimed to be optimized for the newer crop of G-mount lenses, offering improved face- and eye-detection performance, and the contrast-detection system now offers focusing speeds as quick as 0.272 sec when working with the kit zoom.

Other imaging specs carried over from the first version of the camera include the 3 fps continuous shooting rate and Full HD 30p video recording; neither are particularly spectacular, but then again, one must consider this camera’s intended shooting applications. The camera has 19 Film Simulation modes and also retains FUJIFILM’s attention to detail with the inclusion of a PASM dial, top LCD for quick viewing of shooting settings, and easy-to-handle focus controls for intuitive use.

Regarding the differences, two main ones distinguish version II from the original camera: The viewfinder is now built in, and there is sensor-shift image stabilization. Considering the EVF first, the GFX 50S II has an integrated 0.77x 3.69m-dot OLED EVF—the same as the GFX 100S. This affords a more streamlined and simple unit, compared to the removable EVF of the first 50S and the current GFX 100, which are more studio-intended designs. By integrating the EVF into the body, rather than having it be a removable unit, the overall form factor is sleeker and there is less to faff with while shooting. I’m sure this decision won’t appeal to everyone, because it removes some of the viewing flexibility and accessory compatibility, but it certainly simplifies the GFX 50S platform.

The second key change for this second-gen camera is the inclusion of sensor-shift image stabilization, which compensates for up to 6.5 stops of camera shake for sharper handheld shooting. The original 50S relied on lens-based stabilization, which meant that many of the more affordable lenses, slower primes, and wider lenses would never have the benefits of stabilization. Now that this function is camera based, essentially any mounted lens receives the benefits of IS, which greatly improves low-light shooting capabilities and makes this a more user-friendly camera for casual handheld shooting.

When the original GFX 50S was released, it was the sole camera in the GFX lineup and essentially functioned as the flagship for the line. Since more cameras have been released, the 50S has taken a small step down from the top of the podium and is now meant to be an even more approachable medium format mirrorless camera; this is appealing to the same photographers who are looking at flagship full-frame mirrorless bodies, but might be enticed by the upped resolution and larger sensor size of medium format.

Despite this slight change in lineup position, the 50S II still has the same responsibility of shirking the old-fashioned connotations of what a digital medium format camera should be. This camera is even smaller, even more affordable, and even more user-friendly. It’s the medium format camera built to appeal to the travel, landscape, and lifestyle photographer rather than just catering to the needs of professionals.

Fujifilm GFX 50S II with GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6 WR
FUJIFILM GFX 50S II with GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6 WR

Being announced alongside the GFX 50S II body is a new kit zoom lens, the GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6 WR, which will also be available in a kit with the camera body. This lens offers a 28-55mm equivalent focal length range and is billed as the lightest standard zoom for the GFX system. It has the added benefit of having the least amount of focus breathing, to suit video recording needs. Focusing is handled by an STM stepping motor, and the lens is also distinct in that it doesn’t have an aperture ring or physical switch on the barrel, playing into the streamlined appearance of the camera body. Compared to the other standard zoom of the system, the GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR, this new 35-70mm is almost a full pound lighter (0.97 lb vs. 1.93 lb) and noticeably more compact (3.3 x 2.9" vs. 3.7 x 4.6") when collapsed. And even with a slimmed-down exterior, this new lens still maintains weather-resistant characteristics that match the sealed construction of the camera body.

Fujifilm GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6 WR
FUJIFILM GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6 WR

FUJIFILM is clearly looking to make its medium format system even more accessible with the launch of the GFX 50S II, which might seem like a change of pace considering the original GFX 50S used to be the flagship of the system. Consider, though, that when the original camera was first released, its aim was also to make medium format accessible. Version II does the same thing, but to an even greater degree. With a more filled-in system, FUJIFILM can now cater to different ends of the medium format mirrorless spectrum. The company has cameras appealing to studio pros, as well as models like this that are intended for amateurs who prioritize image quality and value what medium format still means, but don’t want to give up on the portability and convenience of an everyday camera.

What are your thoughts on the GFX 50S II and the new GF 35-70mm f/4.5-5.6 WR kit lens? Do you like the new lineup position of this camera? Are you happy with the move to make this camera even more accessible than its predecessor? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.

29 Comments

Scanned 35mm neg is 60MPX.  So a Pentax 645N medium format negative would be more, and a used model with lens under $500

A 35mm neg does not have 60 MPX of usable information.  Flatbed scanners have staggered arrays that create big files without adding additional resolution.  Yes, MF film is nice, but you'll need to buy a good film scanner and settle for a cumbersome workflow.

Looks like a nice addition/progression to the Fuji line-up. However it is still not a :medium format" camera. I only wish Fuji had invested in making these 6v4.5 cm from the beginning, instead of this odd size. Maybe they designed around a smaller form factor for the body (which is a nice, portable size), but then you end up with weird focal lengths for lenses. Too late now...

Because of cost and size reasons, the launch of new mirrorless systems based on 6x4.5cm sensors is just something that most probably won't happen... Which GF lens has a "weird" focal length? I personally like very much the latest GF 80mm f1.7, perfect for indoor shooting, and not having that much space...

The sensor size really is closest in size to 127 format film.  But not many people even know about that format, so what else could they have called it?  Full frame + doesn't have a nice ring to it.

It’s is a medium format just like 127 film camera was considered medium format.Anything above 35 mm was considered medium format too most of us who shot roll of 120,210,127,and 4x5 could care less what you call them.When I was in Germany back in the 50s and the 60s I never heard anyone Referred to 120 as a medium format film or medium format camera, it was just something bigger than the 35 mm which us a bigger negative.

This is the Pentax 645Z Killer. I can't wait to read the reviews, although I know pretty much what's coming.  It's a FUJI, nuff said !

I owned a film Pentax 645, Fuji has done a fantastic job with this system. I hope one day to own one.

I still think the 645Z will draw some people over with its SLR design and optical viewfinder, but there's no denying the GFX 50S II is the more forward-thinking option of the two, especially with the AF updates, IBIS, and just the smaller/lighter mirrorless platform.

I had a Pentax 645Z and loved it, but the system doesn't seem to have a future...

As a current 50s owner there is not enough here to make me upgrade, although the IBIS and faster processor are nice updates. It will be very hard for me to make any move from my current 50s to either the 50s II or 100s without an option to use the evf tilt adapter which I absolutely love. The GFX 100 is a possibility, but it's pretty big and expensive. I still say "well done" Fujifilm, but please don't abandon the option for the evf tilt adapter in future updates.

The viewfinder tilt adapter was one of my favorite features of working with the original 50S, too. It reminded me of shooting with a medium format film camera and a 45-deg prism; it's a really comfortable way to shoot, especially when shooting vertically. Hopefully FUJIFILM will keep working with the idea of a removable viewfinder in their system somewhere- personally I'm glad to see the 50S II become an integrated camera, but I still like the idea of there being a more modular camera somewhere in their lineup.

Thanks for that reply Bjorn. It's funny that you make that comparison because I have always wanted a 45-deg finder and that's exactly the itch that this adapter scratches, except that it can be positioned in so many more angles! I really love it...it is very comfortable in so many shooting positions, whether hand-held or on a tripod. I also appreciate what Fujifilm has been able to squeeze into their latest compact GFX bodies and hope that they keep on pushing the envelope while not writing off the tilting viewfinder (in whatever form that takes). 

I like the idea of a modular camera that’s one of the advantage that the Pentax 6 x 7 have It even had a Polaroid back to go with it. A lot of us were hoping the Pentax  came up with Digital exchange back to make it a digital camera.

Codec of this camera H.264/MPEG-4
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 23.976p/24.00p/25p/29.97p [36 Mb/s]

Is very  similar to 7 years old C100 Mark II. am I correct? 

If you're comparing just the codec, resolution, and frame rates, then yes I think there are a lot of similarities between these two cameras (and many other cameras released in the 7-year interim). I think the actual look of the footage from the GFX 50S II will be pretty different to footage from a C100 Mark II, though, especially considering the sensor size difference alone. It's also worth pointing out that the 50S Mark II isn't primarily intended to be a video camera (it's really more of a photo camera that can shoot video), but the C100 Mark II is 100% a video camera. 

Thanks for reply. The C100 Mark II image quality is very good in lowlight so yes if th sensor of GFX 50S II is bigger it should perform better. Any idea why 120min limit?

The 120-min recording limit is likely because of heat buildup. That said, the GFX 50S II is not going to be many people's go-to choice for video recording considering how many better options there are out there. FUJIFILM's own X-series cameras (like the X-T4) are certainly better suited to video work.

I would pay the same price for the GFX50S11 without any video whatsoever. I don’t use it on any of my Canon cameras, never have and probably never will.

First cost has always been a significant barrier to MF adaption.  This camera and lens kit puts a significant dent in this barrier.   I clicked the order icon.  Thanks for ruining my marriage.  (my story is that I didn't buy the 100s, so I saved money).

Just to make sure I complete the job in style, I might as well get an L-Plate.  Is the Really Right Stuff Fujifilm GFX 100S L-Plate compatible with the GFX 50S II body?

 

We don't have explicit confirmation from Really Right Stuff yet since the camera just came out, but I do know that the GFX 50 S II and the GFX 100S have the exact same body dimensions (150 x 104.2 x 87.2mm) and FUJIFILM lists both cameras as compatible with their own MHG-GFX S Hand Grip (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1618880-REG/fujifilm_16696760_mhg_gfx_s_metal_handgrip.html). It's very likely the RRS L-Plate will fit, but until we get our hands on this new camera to try it or RRS states the 50S II is compatible with the plate, then we can't be 100% certain.

It's amazing the price point is so affordable.

I am a little confused as to how this camera compares to the GFX 50R now, especially given the GFX 50R costs $500 more and lacks killer features such as IBIS in comparison while being much more expensive.

I would have expected them to either update the GFX 50R to be on par or drop the price.

This new camera definitely shakes up their lineup a bit, it will be interesting to see what happens with the 50R and if they keep it around or what they might do in an eventual second-gen model. The 50S II essentially fits where the 50R did when it was first released, but now the key difference the 50R has is really just the viewfinder placement on the camera body (reminds me of the X-T versus the X-E series in their APS-C system) and the overall form factor/physical design- the 50R still has the shutter speed and exposure comp dials, the 50S II has the top LCD, mode dial, and command dials for exposure settings adjustment. Besides the physical differences, there's no denying the 50S II has the better feature-set of the two cameras, especially with the IBIS and faster AF performance.

Yeah, thanks for answering. So it's not just me who wonders what the actual benefit of the 50R is now other than the rangefinder form factor and tactile experience of the body. I actually prefer the rangefinder style. If they updated the 50R to the specs of the 50S II, I'd go for that, even at the higher price point.

I am very tempted by the 50S II though, that new kit lens at $500 is pretty amazing too.

The tilt-shift lens they teased also makes this format VERY interesting to get into.

It's also worth noting that the GFX 50R is nearly 3 years old at this point, so it's to be expected that FUJIFILM's "entry-level" medium format camera would have evolved in that time--the 50R is still a great camera but just showing its age a bit more than the latest and greatest. At the same time, though, it's pretty great to see that the 50R still holds up after 3 years as an imaging platform that's really just lacking IBIS to make it cutting-edge. I'm looking forward to seeing where FUJIFILM goes from here with their medium format cameras since they've streamlined their 50 and 100MP series with the last two camera releases.

I'm also very much looking forward to the tilt-shift lens. It's definitely a niche type of lens but also something that's missing from most mirrorless systems. 

oops meant maximum compactness

This is the most exciting news in a long while . I do not need 100MP files and could not work with any camera  limited to the 3.2 ratio but PLEASE PLEASE convince fuji to also have a kit with the 3.5/50mm for all people who do not like this boring zoom and wants the maximum capacity 

Yes! Basically if Panasonic comes up with a GH6 they better give it away. 

I would love to see the kit, too. I think that 50mm lens and this new 50S II sound like a perfect fit for portable medium format

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