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What you need to know about the Fujifilm GFX 50S

At Photokina 2016, Fujifilm made what was arguably the most exciting announcement of the year – a brand new digital, mirrorless medium format camera called the GFX 50S. As it arrives for pre-order, we take a closer look at the camera that made the photography press cheer...

It’s a whole new system (with a whole new sensor)

Although it looks a little like Fujifilm’s X-T2, the GFX 50S is an entirely new camera and system. Inside the mirrorless body is a huge, medium format CMOS sensor (which measures 43.8 x 32.9mm – 1.7x bigger than “full-frame” sensors) that boasts an astonishing 51.4 million pixels.

Not only are there more pixels than you’d normally find in a mirrorless or DSLR camera’s sensor, but additionally, these pixels are physically larger – which means less interference and even better picture quality.

Of course, so many pixels also means enormous file size: that’s why medium format is usually the domain of high-end professional photographers requiring the very finest image quality for enlargements, crops and printing their photos. If you’re passionate about picture quality, this could be the camera for you.

Despite the size of the camera’s sensor, the GFX 50S is physically smaller than a DSLR – giving you exceptional picture-detail in a surprisingly portable package.

The X-T20 is available body-only or as part of a kit with the 16-50mm or 18-55mm lenses – and anyone pre-ordering the camera before 23 February will get a free black half-case to keep their stylish camera looking good as new.

You can change your point of view

Anyone who’s been lucky enough to shoot with a medium format camera before will know that there are may ways to approach picture-taking – and Fujifilm’s continued this tradition with the GFX 50S. The electronic viewfinder is removable, and with the addition of an adapter, it becomes adjustable for flexible viewing from different perspectives.

Removing the camera’s electronic viewfinder would be useful in a studio situation (when you’re more likely to use a remote screen or your monitor to review pictures) but it also makes the camera even smaller, lighter and more portable for use on the go – and as the GFX 50S is weatherproof and dustproof, you might just be inclined to hit the hills or the streets with it in hand.

If you prefer framing up your photos on the camera’s rear LCD screen, this tilts as well – and it’s also touchscreen for quick adjustments. An optional battery grip gives you extra power and flexibility when it comes to holding the camera for longer shoots.

The control system gives you choices

On top of the camera you’ll find just two dials: a shutter-speed dial on the right and an ISO dial on the left. Where’s the aperture control? This is found on the camera’s new lenses – each of the lenses has an aperture ring that allows you to make fine adjustments. The aperture rings can also be set to C, which allows you to use the Command dial on the camera’s body if you prefer. In fact, these C modes are also found on the ISO and shutter speed dials: you can choose between a more “classic” approach to photography with the two dials and the aperture ring – or a digital, in-camera way of adjusting settings using the programmable Fn buttons and command dials.

There are three new lenses available at launch

A new system needs new lenses. Arriving alongside the GFX 50S are three optics: the GF 120m f/2 R LM WR telephoto macro, the GF 32-64 f/4 R LM WR wide-angle zoom, and a GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR prime that’s equivalent to a 50mm on a 35mm camera.

All three lenses are designed with a new mount – the G mount – which enables much smaller back focus distance, so the rear lens elements are as close as possible to the camera’s huge sensor. As well as maximising image quality by increasing sharpness and reducing the effects of vignetting, this design also means the overall camera size (when the body and lens are connected) is as compact as possible.

It might just change photography

It’s said that there’s a distinctive look to medium format images – particularly seen in portraits and landscapes – which many photographers just can’t get enough of. That, combined with Fujifilm’s legendary dedication to beautiful tones and colours, is going to make many people extremely excited about the GFX 50S. While the price point may put it out of reach for some, those who take their pictures seriously will be queuing up to take a very close look at this hugely exciting development.