Thank you for coming along to the Little Studio and being such a good photographic model.
And thank you to all the people at Fujifilm Australia for letting me have time to try out the new GFX50s
camera and lenses in the studio environment. It is my preferred milieu because it has controlled lighting and a coffee pot. And once I let the new medium format camera have its head - doing the thing that it does best - it proved to me how good it can be.
The tabletop trial was not the thing - this camera needs more space between itself and the subject. It needs to be photographing fabulous detail in faces. And you need to be careful when you let it go - the detail it captures can be marvellous and terrifying at the same time. Dare I say too detailed for some occasions? If your purpose is to flatter your portrait sitters, and you are addicted to f:16 and smaller apertures, be prepared to be surprised. Also be prepared to have the sitters mad at you.
You see, when you shoot a raw file on a camera this size, and light it harshly, and allow the precise autofocus to get the skin texture dead sharp...and print it out big with plenty of contrast and present it to the client...expect to get a fist in your eye. Everyone is going to look like Morgan Freeman on espresso coffee. There is that much
Oh, you'll love that when you do landscapes or architecture or technical illustration...but you must be a little kinder to the studio sitters. Open up the aperture a little - tone down the lighting. Diffuse the illumination. You'll sell more prints.
Don't believe what it can do? Eyeball this:
With resolution like this I see no need to ever pine again for the days of the 4 x 5 monorail applied to portraiture.
The other thing that fascinated me during the portion of the shoot that I devoted to the GFX50s
was the ease with which it shot. I took off the EVF block and just used the screen on the back to frame and " fly-in " the camera to the face. The eye-recognition circuit nailed it every time. The short burst of light from the Elinchroms combined with the 1:125th exposure seemed to give the thing life.
Portraitists might wonder at the harsh four-light setup, but it was to duplicate a former tabletop lighting scheme. On other days I would use much more flattering soft illumination. At least it worked out in a Hurrell-style with the strong back light.
And, of course, no-one with access to a computer and NIK software ever need be bored at all... Why dont'cha come up and see me sometime...?
The only downsides that I discovered using this marvellous camera for the week were really part of the basic physics of the system...and they would be part of the same physics were they to be seen in other brands:
a. The camera is slow in writing the images into the SD cards. Admittedly I have slow cards...so this might be addressed by getting up off my wallet and buying some fast memory. But it is still going to be a wait while the little red/green writing lamp under your thumb blinks away.
You can, of course, continue shooting, but you just add time to the process.
b. the playback button is in a slightly awkward place on the top of the square MF sensor box. You have to remember where it is and reach for it deliberately. Maybe that is not such a bad thing. Less chimping and more thinking...
c. The files are big - particularly the raw ones. " This here computer's not big enough for all of us " is the phrase that ran though my head. I deliberately limited my raw shooting because of this, but I must say I did not have a dud in all the shots.
d. The big macro lens is a big macro lens. Some of the size and weight advantage we sought by going mirror-less is crimped by this. Wonderful results, though.
e. The price. Well, you gotta look at the elephant in the room eventually, and if the elephant is holding up a sign that says $ 13,000 for a camera and a lens it is going to be a pretty darn visible pachyderm. If someone else's money buys you your gear, go for it, and you'll get a bargain. And remember that medium-format shooters who look at some other brands are looking at bigger elephants anyway.
I have enjoyed the week immensely. I would welcome the opportunity to try out competing systems on the same basis ( and if that isn't the most blatant hint you'll read all week, you're not reading the right column...) but I reckon that I will still stick to Fujifilm for my own personal shooting.
Final Note: If you'd like to see more of Jasmine O'Donoghue she has a Facebook page: