A Medium for the Masses
One of the most exciting cameras coming to market this year is the Fuji GFX 50S. With its 51.4 million pixels, on a sensor that is nearly 44mm wide, in a 4:3 format with an extended 102400 iso, there are a lot of numbers to drool over. But, why are we excited about all those numbers? To answer that let’s go back just a few years to 2013 just before the Sony’s a7 series was to be released.
Leading upto the full frame glory of the a7, mirrorless cameras were coming into their own. Olympus’ OMD series was producing genuinely high quality images with cameras that could fit into a large trouser pocket. Yet, outside of Olympus, manufacturers were dealing out dull retro inspired bodies and shoe-horning more and more pixels into their aging product lines. Like gumballs in a large glass jug, all we could to do was guess the megapixel count on the next mid-range dslr and hope something bigger would come out at next year’s CES. The industry was stagnating. The a7 and the a7R woke up the industry like a cracked smelling salt. It wasn’t the technological developments that were intriguing. It was the vindication from a major company delivering something that photographers were desperately wanting. Before the camera even hit the streets, we knew that Sony was listening to consumers. And, we knew that other manufactures would have to change their style in order to keep up. With the GFX 50S, Fujifilm is the first to deliver a comparable response.
The downside of the GFX 50S is the price. We are in full professional territory with a near seven thousand dollar price tag for the body alone. Compare that to the a7 ii which comes in under two thousand dollars. Why are we still enthusiastic about a product most of us will never see? This answer is simply Hasselblad. For years, the church of larger format, Hasselblad has been crafting fine, disciplined machines with all the usability of a wooden field camera wrapped in price tags around ten thousand dollars. Dragging its boxer’s physique into their monastery, ready to fight. The 50S’ slr inspired body is dust and water resistant and as tough as it is functional. Physical iso, exposure, and on lense aperture settings are built for quick action. Even with its bulky rear end, balance is reportedly even. But, again the features aren’t what truly excites us. It is the prospect of better things yet to come.
Waiting on the prodigal giants Nikon and Canon to recover from resting on their back heels is not fun. What the 50S does so well is delivering features that are highly wanted alongside the promise of progress. Together innovators like Sony and Fuji are moving the story of photography forward, and what’s a story without some great pictures to go with it?