Five years ago today Fujifilm announced the GFX 50S camera, which launched the GFX medium-format line. The camera’s initial MSRP was $6,500, which was an insanely low price for medium-format, so it is no surprise that Fujifilm quickly became top-dog of the medium-format market.
I remember when Pentax released the 645D in 2010 with a price tag of “only” $10,000. People were shocked that you could get into medium-format so cheaply. Four years later the much improved 645Z was released with an even cheaper cost of $8,500, and people went nuts. Three years later Fujifilm undercut Pentax by $2,000 while delivering a superior camera. Finally, medium-format was affordable!
Of course, Fujifilm didn’t stop there. A year later they released the even cheaper (and much more cool) GFX 50R, with an MSRP of only $4,500! The GFX100 came next, which was the world’s first 100-megapixel mirrorless camera, at a whopping $10,000 price tag (remember when that was shockingly cheap?). Then came the GFX100S, a 100-megapixel model for only $6,000. A few months back Fujifilm released the GFX 50S II, an upgrade to the original GFX camera, with a retail price of only $4,000. Fujifilm has brought medium-format down to the price point of top-tier full-frame. It’s really quite amazing!
Despite the relatively low cost of GFX, it’s still out of my budget. The only time that I was able to shoot with one was last year when Fujifilm kindly loaned me a GFX 50S for a few weeks (read about it here). Maybe someday I’ll own one—that would be a dream come true. In the short time that I had my hands on it, I made three film simulation recipes for GFX: Classic Negative Industrial, Ektachrome, and Provia 400. GFX owners can use X-Trans IV recipes, as the X-T3 and X-T30 recipes are compatible with the “older” GFX models while the recipes for newer X-Trans IV cameras are compatible with newer GFX models. For example, in the video below, I used the Kodak Vision3 250D recipe on the GFX 50S with much success.
A lot of people have questioned Fujifilm’s decision to skip full-frame. When they launched their APS-C X-Trans line, crop sensors were generally regarded as for amateurs and not professionals. That mindset, of course, has changed significantly over the last 10 years as the quality of APS-C cameras has closed the gap on lower-end full-frame cameras, and in some aspects surpassed it. More and more professional and advanced enthusiasts are ditching their bulky full-frame gear for light and nimble APS-C models, like the Fujifilm X-T4. And some cameras, like the X100 and X-Pro series, are just more fun. So sticking with the smaller sensor wasn’t such a mistake after all.
As for GFX, not only has Fujifilm dominated the medium-format market since introducing the GFX 50S five years ago, but they’ve also been able to compete against the high-end full-frame market. People are asking, “Should I spend $6,500 on a Sony Alpha 1 or $6,000 on a GFX100S?” And, “Should I buy the Canon EOS R5 for $3,900 or the GFX 50S II for only $100 more?” So Fujifilm is able to attack the full-frame market from both the bottom and top, while not investing any R&D into launching a new system. Where Fujifilm cannot compete is with mid-range full-frame cameras. I think Fujifilm could do a 40-ish megapixel X100-like full-frame fixed-lens camera, which would be absolutely wonderful, and wouldn’t require investments into a new system—that’s the most practical way for Fujifilm to get into the mid-range full-frame market, and otherwise it’s just not in their cards, which I’m completely alright with.
It’s quite an accomplishment to enter and completely dominate a market segment within such a short period of time, yet that’s exactly what Fujifilm has done with GFX. It all began with the launch of the GFX 50S five years ago today.
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GFX 50S B&H Amazon
GFX 50R B&H Amazon (currently only $3,000!)
GFX100 B&H Amazon
GFX100S B&H Amazon
GFX 50S II B&H
I own a X-T4 with a 8-16 and 16-55 and a Sony A7R4 with 24-70 (yes, don’t say it) a 70-200 and 200-600. Essentially, Fuji for street, landscape and everyday use and the Sony primarily for wildlife.
As I see it, the GTX 100 S can easily replace my XT4 for a price but cannot replace my A7R4. Without replacing both cameras the GTX is not possible.
IF the next GTX specification-wise can replace and combine the best of XT4/A7R4/GTX100S specs then I am down to the weighty financial decision of scrapping two camera systems for the GTX100S successor and buying 4 lenses. Doing quick math this does not seem financially possible.
For now, the GTX will continue to remain my dream camera.
It’s a dream camera for me, too. I appreciate the input!
“I think Fujifilm could do a 40-ish megapixel X100-like full-frame fixed-lens camera, which would be absolutely wonderful, and wouldn’t require investments into a new system—that’s the most practical way for Fujifilm to get into the mid-range full-frame market, and otherwise it’s just not in their cards, which I’m completely alright with.”
A camera I really think someone ought to make is a FF integrated lens camera with a fairly compact Rangefinder style body and a lens that’d be a 50/1.8 or so with a leaf shutter and built-in flash. Nothing else in the large-sensor fixed-lens segment would come close to the shallow depth of field options that such a lens would imply, since everything close to that bright is also rather wide (x100 23/2, Q 28/1.7, RX 35/2, GR 18/2.8, GRx 26/2.8). Leaf shutter and flash would be wicked convenient for portrait shots in varied lighting conditions. Why not take advantage of that larger sensor and lean into the easier shallow depth of field? Meanwhile, 50mm on FF isn’t so tight as to make it an inconvenient walk-around or street shooting camera.
I’d be glad of such a camera from any camera, but add Fuji’s hybrid viewfinder, and it’d be a delight. I’d settle even for 24mp. It’d only need also the ability to natively shoot jpegs with the 65:24 aspect ratio SOOC to exceed my expectations.
Yeah, a fixed-lens, rangefinder-style, full-frame, 40mm-50mm f1/.8, leaf-shutter camera would be incredible, and I think it would do well.