Upsizing.

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Barry Twycross Senior Member • Posts: 2,599
Upsizing.
1

I just got myself a GFX50R, it arrived on Wednesday, and I think I’e just about got it how I want it. It’s a bit of a departure from my recent cameras.

GX9 GFX50R GX850 LF1

Since moving to digital from film, I’ve been looking for small and light cameras. After they stopped making high end small compacts (like the Panasonic LF1 on the right, with a 1/1.7” sensor, and 192g), I decided reluctantly to move to Micro 4/3rds, and got the GX850 (2nd from right, 269g). I’ve been ecstatic with the IQ of the micro-4/3rds, and pretty pleased with the portability. That is even if I end up carrying 4 or 5 lenses with me, everything still weighs in at less than 1.5kg even with my big lenses.

I did however buy a GX9 (left, 407g), partly in the hope that the difference in size wouldn’t bother me too much, but it did. To me it’s a brick, even though it has a reputation as a small camera. I did notice I had taken to using it as my “studio” camera, when it lives at home on a tripod with the “Nocticron” (42.5/1.2, pictured) lens attached. The weight doesn’t bother me as it’s on the tripod. I still take the GX850 whenever I need to take a camera out of the house.

I’ve fancied shooting medium format for a long time, back in the film days I set up to work with it (my enlarger was a 6x7 model, and I had developing tanks for 120), but I never did get a medium format camera. MF digital always seemed to expensive, but I was interested in the GFX100. I did once say if I were after the absolute best IQ, that’s what I’d be going for.

So I had a thought, as the “studio” camera lived on a tripod, and the weight didn’t really matter, why not get that GFX100 as a “studio” camera. The equivalent lens to the Nocticron would be a 107/3 (the sensors are in a 1:2.5 ratio). Not that I tend to use the wider apertures anyway, f/2-f/4 get me a pleasing depth of field. (f/5-f/10 for a GFX.)

After checking, there is the GF 110/2 just about exactly what I’d need. So I looked at the GFX lineup, and decided the GFX50R was more my thing. It’s slightly more svelte, and not overboard on the pixels. I don’t need 20Mpix on a micro-4/3rds and think the megapixel race is the silliest idea ever perpetrated on photographers. The 50Mp sensor is the same density as an 8Mp 4/3rds sensor, which is about what they should be.

The 50R is a hell of a lot cheaper, and a 50R and 110 is just about in sensible territory for money (money is not a particular problem for us, but I want to think I’m getting a good value). Then B&H had a used 50R and a used 110, which brought it down to even more sensible territory, and if I signed up for the B&H “we’ll pay the tax” credit card, that’s an extra 9% off. At that point it’s “under 5k”. The proposition seemed sensible enough to discuss it with my wife. (Who’s very understanding of my enthusiasms, and has said she doesn't mind what lenses I bought.)

After thinking on it for a day, we agreed it was a sensible (enough) idea, and I could go ahead and get the 50R (and 110, and the bargain 50, and a mount adapter for my SLR lenses) . The only problem was after waiting a day, it’s now Saturday, and I can’t buy the thing until after shabbat is over. Then the Monday is memorial day so shipping got delayed an extra day. After some excruciating days waiting, while Amazon delivered several things I ordered later, it finally arrived on Wednesday, just after the tripod I’d ordered from Amazon on Monday evening.

I decided on a new beefier tripod as I wasn’t sure the lightweight, spindly, travel tripod I had would appreciate the 1.7kg of camera and lens, even if it were specced to carry that. (I just weighed it, 1820g).

So I’ve been spending a few days getting used to the 50R, and it is a humongous brick. I’ve been taking it for walks to have something to photograph and compare its output to my other cameras. I picked up the GX9 yesterday after using the 50R for half an hour, and it felt like nothing at all, and really really tiny. The GX850 is even more ridiculous in comparison. I don’t immediately see a yawning gulf in the difference in IQ from my old cameras. The 50R makes really nice pictures, but then so did the old ones. I haven’t run into a situation when the 50R would shine, like deep shadows, or high ISO, I’ll be trying that in due course. Keeping the ISO low as I tend to, the lenses are a bit slow.

In general I like the 50R (except for it being a humongous brick), there’s a few things I wish it’d do better. There’s a few things when I think Panasonic got it really right, and Fuji didn’t. (And I don’t think that’s just me being used to Panasonic.)

I’m somewhat disappointed with the tethered shooting. I’ve got it working with Capture One (demo), but I can’t adjust camera settings while the live view is up. I am totally amazed by this (in a bad way). when shooting, you need to be able to adjust the settings, while getting a preview of what’s going to happen. Also starting any sort of preview by USB disables the controls on the camera. I’m used to being able to adjust things on the camera, while using a remote app. The WiFi connectivity totally sucks as well, and is not worth anything, it’s only slightly better than Panasonic was in 2014 (when it was unusable).

A few things I don’t like:

You can’t have blinkies on review without the histograms obscuring most of your image. I’m used to relying on the blinkies to get the best exposure

The face/eye detection is a separate function, apart from the focus mode. The focus modes are very primitive, no tracking, no pinpoint. The focus is not as reliable as I’m used to, it has a habit of focusing on things which are not in the focus area box, which is somewhat perplexing. The minimum focus on the lenses sucks. I’m used to getting much more magnification with just the lens. I may have to investigate extension tubes.

The USB is somewhat perplexing. I’ve gotten used to charging from USB now, I plug in to down load pics, and just leave it plugged in to charge. Thats very convenient. I never use the spare battery I got for the GX9 because that’s so convenient. I didn’t expect the 50R to not charge over USB, so now I find I need to either get a second battery (that I thought I wouldn’t need) or a power adapter which is just about as expensive. ($90 for a simple 15V adapter ????)

That USB has so many modes is also very perplexing. I have to choose a subset of the capabilities of the camera that USB can use. That’s just silly. All those functions could be available at all times on USB. (I’m a USB professional, so I know what I’m talking about.) I suspect either lack of imagination on the part of Fuji engineers, or Windows compatibility which causes awful hassle to USB devices and forces some really silly compromises.

I also hoped USB would expose a VDC (video device class) interface, so it could be used as a webcam without further ado. I’ve found some software workarounds for that, but they’re between unreliable and useless. The latest Fuji software is Windows only, so no use to me.

The viewfinder’s pretty bad, but I hardly ever use the viewfinder anyway. I needed to use it once so far, when shooting into the sun. For some reason the display started magnifying itself, like for manual focus. I don’t know what that was about, but it was annoying. Finally, the menus suck. The graphics are pretty terrible, and they don’t remember where I was, so I’m constantly scrolling to get back to where I was.

I do like having a dedicated remote release

I’m also finding the 2 card slots handy. I send jpegs to one, and if I unplug the other I can more easily only upload jpegs to Photos.

There are probably other things, but I need to go out and shoot.

 Barry Twycross's gear list:Barry Twycross's gear list
Panasonic GX850 Fujifilm GFX 50R Panasonic Lumix G Vario HD 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 Mega OIS Leica Nocticron 42.5mm Fujifilm GF 110mm F2 +8 more
Fujifilm GFX 50R Panasonic GX850 Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1
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