This is the 41st in a series of posts on the Fujifilm GFX-50S. The series starts here.
I did a series of informal tests comparing the Sony a7RII with the Otus 55 against the Fujifilm GFX 50s and the Otus 85. In highly magnified images, the GFX had better resolution and quality.
But we don’t take pictures to look at tiny sections on computer screens, do we? So, the question on the floor today is how large do you have to print to see much difference?
Here’s the way that the GFX looked at the scene:
Using an Epson 4900 and C-size Exhibition Fiber paper, I printed out square crops using the full image height 15 inches high from both cameras at f/5.6 for the a7RII and f/8 for the GFX, to equalize depth of field. That gave the a7RII a small advantage, since both lenses are sharper at f/5.6 than they are at f/8.
I couldn’t see any material difference.
Then I cropped both images to half their height and made a pair of 15-inch-high prints. That’s what you’d see if you looked at a section of a 30-inch-high print of the full height of the image.
Then there was a difference, in favor of the GFX. Not a huge one, but certainly one that could be of significance to perfectionistic photographers printing that big.
Next, I looked at the f/4 image from the a7RII and the f/4 image from the GFX. There was still virtually no difference between the resolution of the 15-inch-high prints, and the difference between the 30-inch-high ones was larger, although well short of striking.
When I looked at the two f/2.8 images at 30-inch print heights, there was quite a bit of difference towards the edges in favor of the GFX. I’m interpreting this to mean at wide apertures, the advantage gained in the case of the a7RII by not using the very periphery of the image circle was less than that of the GFX ‘s edge in having more coarse sensor pitch and greater resolution. In this case, you can see some differences in even a 15-inch-high print, but you’d never notice it if you weren’t looking for it and had the two shots side by side.
A couple of observations:
- The most important difference between the prints wasn’t that the GFX ones looked sharper, but that they looked somehow more real.
- Inkjet prints are a long, long way from matching the resolution of a silver gelatin contact print or a photographic transparency.
So now you know. If you’re a stickler for quality and print 30x40s, you’re going to like the GFX better than the a7RII, not even considering the relative quality of the native lenses. If you have a 13 inch printer or print C-size and you’re going to shoot with the very best (mostly adapted) lenses, you might as well save your money and buy an a7RII. But this was a sensor test, and you should consider that the native lenses for the a7RII are, as a group, a considerable step down from the native GFX lenses.