At a Photokina that’s set to be dominated by mirrorless full-frame cameras that cost thousands of dollars, Fujifilm has announced something even more advanced, opulent, and headline-grabbing: the 51.4-megapixel GFX 50R, which combines a medium format sensor with a rangefinder-style body.
We rightly think of full-frame cameras as the high-end, professional tier of photography gear, but there’s yet another step above them, and that’s medium format. Fujifilm’s mirrorless GFX camera system — which made its debut at Photokina 2016 with the GFX 50S — is built around a sensor that’s 70 percent larger than a full-frame / 35mm format. As of today, you can buy a GFX 50S for $5,850, body only, but Fujifilm’s freshly unveiled and streamlined GFX 50R will be substantially cheaper, costing $4,500 when it launches in late November.
By eliminating the faux pentaprism hump that housed the generously sized electronic viewfinder on the 50S, Fujifilm has shrunken its medium format shooter to its most portable form yet. You still get an OLED EVF on the new 50R, and the body is still weather-sealed, but now it’s 145 grams (5.1oz) lighter. The thickness of the camera has been reduced by a full inch relative to its elder sibling, which does require the sacrifice of the monochrome LCD readout at the top. The trade-off is obvious: smaller and less comfortable controls are the price paid for the vastly more compact dimensions.
Fujifilm isn’t replacing the 50S with the 50R: the company appears confident that it has drawn enough of a differentiating line between the two cameras to find a receptive audience for both. “The GFX 50R is a lighter and more compact model within the medium format mirrorless system,” said Yuji Igarashi, general manager of Fujifilm’s imaging division in North America, adding that it’s ”perfect for professional photographers who specialize in street, documentary or portrait photography.” In a nod to this desire to take medium format shooting to more portable applications, the GFX 50R is also adding Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to transfer pictures to a nearby smartphone or tablet.
There aren’t many spec differences between Fujifilm’s medium format cameras, but it’s neat to see the digital interface in the newer 50R getting an upgrade to USB-C. It’s the least we should expect from such an expensive new product.
The Fujifilm GFX 50R goes on sale in late November for $4,500.