This is the 44th in a series of posts on the Fujifilm GFX-50S. The series starts here.
After using the GFX for about a month, and having finished most of the technical testing that I’m going to be doing, it’s time to take stock of the experience of using the camera.
The camera feels good in my hands. It is a bit larger than a D810, but no heavier. I was surprised by how light it is when I first picked it up. Most of the buttons are readily accessible. The one you use to display the histogram is a bit hard to get to, so I moved that function to another button and put a lesser-used one in its place.
If you use an L-bracket it may interfere with the battery door on the left side of the camera. I understand that RRS is working on this. Some people are saying this is a big deal. It is not for me. I rarely shoot in portrait mode when the camera is on a tripod, and use the rotating collars on long lenses and the (sadly, now discontinued) RRS camera rotation device with short ones.
The eye cup on the EVF works well for glasses-wearers like me. The eye relief is generous. The resolution is adequate.
The LCD scree is bright, densely populated, and clear. The gamut is excellent.
The top-of-camera display is the best I’ve seen, and I like the default white on black mode. It consumes no power when the camera is off, and can thus display static information even then. It is my go-tool visual interface for setting aperture and shutter speeds with the body wheels, as well as exposure compensation.
On balance, I am quite happy with the shooting experience. The camera’s user interface was quite unfamiliar to me, coming from mostly Nikon, Sony, and Leica gear. I understand that if you’re a Fuji APS-C photographer, you’ll pick right up on it, but I had a few points of absolute confusion. For example, I couldn’t figure out how to set the shutter speed in third-stop increments. There was a nice shutter speed dial on top of the camera, with shutter speeds in one-stop steps, but curiously, no times longer than a second. In addition, the were the usual B and T settings. I knew what they did, from long experience with non-electronic cameras, or I thought I did. Turns out I was wrong. The T setting is nothing like the T setting on a Leica M3. What the T setting on the GFX does is let you control the shutter speed with the front fingerwheel like a Sony, a Canon, or a Nikon. When you start to do that, you see the missing third-stop speeds, and also the ones longer than a second. This is marvelously logical, but was for me also opaque. Once I got it, my reaction was that this is a great have-it-your-way user interface setup. Once I figured that out, I immediately knew what the C position on the aperture ring of the native Fuji lenses had to do: the analogous function of the T position on the shutter speed dial. It was no surprise to find out that that’s exactly how it works.
The menus are organized much more logically than Sony’s, which is an extremely low bar. In fact, I think they are more logical than Nikon’s. The video functions are separated out into their own tab, which I’ve never looked at – and that is a good thing.
Assigning functions to buttons is done with absolutely the best user interface I’ve seen for that job. Go to a menu item, or just hold the Back button for a while, and you get a picture of the camera with all the buttons labeled with icons for the function currently assigned. Click on one to change it. Hit Back. You’re done.
There’s a button right on the EVF to control whether it’s automatic or not. Sony, are you listening? Or, if you use the tilting/swiveling bracket for the EVF, you can just swing the EVF out of the way when your face or hat causes unwanted blackout of the LCD. Two great ways of dealing with one of the main mirrorless camera annoyances.
If you use the Fuji adapter for H-mount lenses, there’s a button right on the adapter to access the menu for that adapter. Unfortunately, at least for me, changing the shutter mode to the lens’ internal leaf shutter doesn’t work.
For every function controllable by the user, the camera manufacturer has to decide if it should be “sticky” – survive turning the camera off and on again – or not. There are some functions that some users would want to be sticky and some wouldn’t. The self-timer setting in one of these. Fuji lets you choose whether that one sticks or not.
Direct focus-point selection via joystick works well. It took me a while to figure it out, but double-tapping the joystick straight down centers the selection, which is a nice feature. Direct focus-point selection via the touchscreen also works well, but for me it sometimes functions as direct focus point selection by inadvertent nose contact. Fortunately, you can turn it off.
I love the cropping options, and they don’t affect raw files in raw only mode. That’s fine. But they don’t affect the finder image, either. That’s not fine. Workaround is to select raw + something. Then it works the way you’d like. Pick Normal + Raw for least impact on memory occupied by images and write speed.
Unlike Sony, but like Nikon, you can change the first three characters of the file name.
A few things I’d like changed:
- The swiveling camera strap mounts interfere with the door to the SD card slots.
- The door that covers the SD card slots is release by pushing the latch away from you, but the latch is set up so you can’t do that with your thumb as you hold the camera normally.
Those are the two worst ones. The rest:
- The framing guidelines are only set up for 3:4 aspect ratio. When you use other aspect ratios, they’re not where you’d like them.
- The locating dots on the bayonet mount of the lenses are too small to see well, and they are not raised so you can feel them with your fingers.
- The focal length numbers on the lenses are kind of small. This is not a problem if you don’t use an assistant, since you presumably know what the lens you’re looking for looks like. This is by no means a problem unique to Fuji. I would like all lenses to have the focal length in big numbers like cine lenses.
- I’d like to be able to control the shutter speed at which the camera switches from EFCS to all-mechanical shutter.
- I would like it if the set focus distance survived powering the camera of an then on, but I’ve never seen that on a focus-by-wire lens, and doubt that it’s possible without severely increasing standby power drain.
- The 63 mm lens moves a lot when you’re in autofocus mode, and you have to be careful to kep you fingers away from it.
All in all, I think the ergonomics of the camera are pretty close to a home run.