Fujifilm Launches Second Medium Format Camera

bythom fujifilm 50r

Today Fujifilm announced the GFX 50R, their second medium format camera with the Sony 50mp 33x44mm sensor (0.79x crop). 

Basically, as the X-E3 is to the X-T3, so is the 50R to the 50S. Instead of a viewfinder hump on top ala the DSLR style cameras, the 50R uses an EVF at the top left of the camera (as you face the rear) and has no hump. In other words, just like the X-E3. 

Indeed, the controls seem laid out remarkably similar to the X-E3, too, though the focus selector has moved to the back of the camera (from the front). Other down-scaled things include a simpler tilt LCD mechanism (one axis, not two), and a lower magnification in the EVF.

Price of the new body will be US$4500 (compared to the 50S at US$6500 retail), and it will be available to customers in November. Plus three new lenses have been added to the lens roadmap (bringing the total GF lenses to 11 once released).

Finally, we also learned that Capture One Pro will start supporting the GFX cameras beginning with version 11.3, available today. An express version will be made free to Fujifilm GFX and X users.

Along with the 50S we also got a development announcement for the 100S, which uses a Sony 100mp sensor. That camera won't be officially announced until spring of next year, but will have phase detect AF, 4K video, and sell for about US$8000. 

In other words, Fujifilm will be making three medium format mirrorless cameras. 

I have to ask why.

Fujifilm is sort of following the traditional Japanese CES (consumer electronics) pattern of announcing an early model at a higher price, then eventually bringing out another with some features stripped out or diluted at a lower price. 

Personally, I'm not convinced that the medium format camera marketplace is big enough to make such a strategy work efficiently (if at all). For medium format, the consumers—as opposed to the pros—are likely to just buy in at the lowest price. Meanwhile, we've already got highly competent full frame and mirrorless cameras at 42-45mp that are far less expensive and give the GF output a pretty good run for the money. I'm not convinced that the difference in image quality between, say, a Nikon Z7 and the Fujifilm 50R is enough to pay for. 

On the plus side, Fujifilm is doing one thing right: they've positioned their entries two stops apart (APS-C and small MF). One stop apart—as Canon, Nikon, and Sony have done—forces you to target the products completely differently. For example, totally consumer for the smaller sensor, prosumer/pro for the larger sensor. I think that's too arbitrary, and leaves too much room for people to opt out of a system if their needs actually do jump categories. Fujifilm is doing the right thing, here, having consumer (X-A5/T-100) type cameras with the same sensor size and lens choices as their prosumer cameras (X-E3 through X-Pro2). 

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