Last year after a weekend at a Fuji event for the GFX50s, I wrote a short review of the weekend and made a couple of statements about the GFX50s. The first was that I wouldn’t buy one, even though I loved the system, it was just out of my range. Well that one turned out not to be true; a few months after that post, I bought one. The quality of the images and the experience of use wouldn’t let me go, and although it was a stretch, I went out and purchased one. Since then I now have the exact setup of body and lenses that I wanted.
The second statement was about wildlife photography. Not to take it out of context the complete paragraph is below:
“Is this the camera for me? Yes and no. This camera is wonderful for landscape, the image quality is spectacular, the ergonomics are great which leads to the size not being an issue and it is lighter than it looks. I am also told that it is exceptional for portrait and studio work, but these are not subjects that are of interest to me. As you know from my blog, my interests are in landscape and wildlife. This camera is not fast enough and does not have lenses with the reach that are required for wildlife photography and that is fine because it is not meant to. Although on saying that, I wouldn't mind having a little more time with the 250mm and the 1.4x converter.”
I think that I was wrong again, at least to a certain extent. I felt at the time that the amount of auto focus points, speed of auto focus points and the lack of longer native lenses would be a hindrance to wildlife photography, and in some aspects this is still correct, but in other aspects it by far makes up for it. Yes, if I were to try to capture a bird quickly flying by, I would struggle with it. The autofocus points and speed of autofocus are, at least for my level of experience, too slow; my Sony A7III is still superior here.
In which way is it better?
This is obviously my opinion, and based solely on the way in which I approach wildlife photography. I prefer a planed approach, to be at a location where I expect the sub to be and then waiting, or slowly approaching a subject. Either way the subject is generally in a foreseen location. Hidden in the undergrowth with the camera on the tripod fixed on the subject or at least the expected location, the autofocus point and speed have less of an importance, I also often use manual focus in these situations too.
What the system lacks in a native long lens it makes up for in image quality and megapixels. I can crop the hell out of an image and still comes out with something that is pin sharp. This way, I can to some extent get around the need for longer lens.
The two images below were taken with the GF250mm.
The full image from the GFX50s has a resolution of 8256 x 6192, the cropped image from the first pair still has a more than acceptable and usable size of 1904 x 1904 (the images on this page are for the web, so they are set at 1600 x 1600.).
The second pair has a more drastic crop, even with this you can still see an incredible amount of detail on the screen image, but with a resolution of 826 x 826 it has limited usability.
It’s not always necessary to crop the images, if the planning works out of the opportunity arises. This image was one of opportunity, I had planned a sunrise shoot, but stumbled across a herd of chamois. This image was also taken with the 250mm. Luckily it was still quite dark and I was able to slowly approach the herd.
One last image, the one used for the title image, and back to a subject that I mentioned at the start of this post; birds in flight. As you can see from this image, although not a typical wildlife image, it is possible. This was taken in the middle of a city, from a bridge, looking down on to a river. It is a place that I know that gulls perch. I waited at a particular time of day for the light, and then waited for an opportunity.
I’m going to continue to use both cameras, each one has advantages over the other, but I am already using the GFX more. I love the image quality, handling and colours. After seeing the specifications of the GFX 100 (this is really out of my price range) and the auto-focus improvements, I’m really looking forward to see what the next version of the GFX 50s has to offer.