Image Quality

Raw file lightly processed through Adobe Camera Raw.
ISO 100 | 1/1600 sec | F5.6 | GF 45mm F2.8 R WR
Photo by Dan Bracaglia

The GFX 50R comes with a medium-format digital sensor measuring 44x33mm, or around 68% larger than 'full frame.' As you might expect, the Fujifilm is capable of some absolutely outstanding image quality, and we remain big fans of the JPEG engine.

Key takeaways:

  • Image quality is essentially identical to the GFX 50S
  • Excellent resolution and high ISO noise performance
  • JPEG engine pumps out pleasing colors, manages good detail retention at high ISO
  • Dynamic range is excellent, but not as far ahead of some full frame competitors as you might expect due to sensor technology differences
  • You may find moiré to be a problem

In depth

Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you'll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

Fujifilm's GFX 50R is, for all intents and purposes, a re-packaged GFX 50S at a nice discount. That means that the 50R's image quality will be essentially identical to its older sibling with one minor exception. When we first got the GFX 50S, we had only the (optically excellent) GF 63mm F2.8 lens to work with. Now that the system is more fleshed out, we've chosen to use the GF 120mm F4 Macro lens on the 50R, and this will now be our standard studio test lens.

As you can see at the outset, resolution is highly impressive. But the Nikon and Sony full-frame cameras shown here also perform admirably, and all of these samples are showing plenty of moire. But thanks in part to Fujifilm's excellent GF lens lineup, the GFX twins can edge out the full-framers in terms of detail capture in some spots ever-so-slightly.

As ISO values climb, all four cameras perform similarly - despite the GFXs having larger sensors, the Sony and Nikon have more modern and efficient BSI designs, allowing them to close the gap somewhat.

As we'd expect from Fujifilm, color response is bright and punchy. Rich greens are a particular strong point, and skin tones look pleasing as well. As with the GFX 50S, sharpening on the 50R is strong but does a really nice job overall, with little haloing. JPEG noise reduction does a good job as well balancing noise and detail retention as ISO values climb.

Dynamic Range

Looking at our ISO Invariance tests, we can see that - just as was the case with the GFX 50S - an image shot at ISO 100 and pushed six stops looks noisier than one with the same exposure, shot at ISO 6400. Thus, the big sensor is still contributing a bit of noise to its images. However, the 5EV push of an ISO 200 shot looks a lot like the ISO 6400 image, which suggests it's a very good performer.

The exposure latitude test, where we lift the shadows in images shot at progressively lower exposures shows that the 50R's performance is really quite similar to - and perhaps slightly behind - the D850, despite receiving more total light (double the exposure time and half the light per square cm, captured on a sensor with more square cm of area). Now consider the fact that the D850 has an ISO 64 mode, which would allow you to use a 2/3EV brighter exposure before the sensor clips.

We should note, though, that pitting the GFX against Nikon's Z7 shows a different story. Even though the Z7 has a very similar sensor to the D850 (complete with ISO 64), we suspect that the banding visible here is thanks to on-sensor phase detection pixels, and therefore slightly limits the malleability of its files.

Recoverable highlights and moiré

Usually we wouldn't talk about highlight recovery since on most cameras there isn't very much (or, at least, not without taking big chances in terms of color accuracy). However, at higher ISOs on the GFX cameras you will find reliably recoverable highlight data.

ISO 6400 | 1/250 sec | F4 |

The above scene is a tricky one to properly expose. The photographer should have exposed for the highlights, and pushed the shadows in post.
Thankfully, above ISO 1600, the GFX 50S applies no additional amplification, retaining highlight info. The above image was processed in Adobe Camera RAW. Using the Exposure and Highlights slider, the background was recovered.

Like the GFX 50S (which was used to photograph the two images above), the 50R will have a considerable amount of recoverable highlights thanks to the way it shoots at high ISO values. Above ISO 1600, the camera stops applying any additional amplification and instead leaves a metadata tag telling the Raw converter to brighten the image by whatever is necessary to reach the displayed ISO value. You can read more about this in detail in our GFX 50S review.

In terms of moiré, there's been an ever-growing trend towards removing AA filters from Bayer sensors once their pixel count is high enough. But as you can see in our studio scene, under the right circumstances, you may see substantial moiré patterning with the GFX 50R. Again, more this is discussed in detail in our GFX 50S review, as they both share the same sensor, the same lens system and therefore the same moiré tendencies.

Shutter modes

The GFX has three shutter options: mechanical, electronic first curtain and fully electronic. For most applications, electronic first curtain is the best option: it starts the exposure electronically but in a way that syncs with the mechanical second shutter. This reduces the risk of shake being induced by the mechanical shutter opening. The downside of electronic first curtain shutter is that it can have a detrimental impact on bokeh.

On the GFX the electronic first curtain operates at shutter speeds up to 1/640 sec, with the fully mechanical shutter kicking-in above that. We'd recommend using this mode most of the time (unless you're really concerned about your bokeh quality and are confident that your shutter speed is high enough to avoid shake).

The fully electronic shutter mode is completely silent and allows the maximum shutter speed to be extended from 1/4000 sec to 1/16,000 sec. However, the slow readout speed of the sensor defines the shutter rate in e-shutter mode and in this instance means the shutter takes around 300ms (1/3.3 sec) to open or close. This makes it prone to extremely high levels of rolling shutter and distortion of moving subjects, as well as exhibiting a large number of horizontal bands across images shot under most artificial lights.