The Fujifilm GFX100 ($9,999.95, body only) is unlike any medium format camera that’s come before. It’s the first we’ve seen with on-sensor phase detection focus, a feature that puts it on par with full-frame systems for capturing moving subjects, along with in-body stabilization to curb blur. Its imaging and video capabilities both qualify as incredible—you get 100MP images and 4K using the entire frame width. If you’re in the market for a medium format camera, the GFX100 should be at the top of your list, and earns our Editors’ Choice.
The Medium Format Landscape
Medium format has always had a rather nebulous definition, dating back to the film days. The 35mm format was pretty stringent—a 24-by-36mm frame for the most part, panoramic models notwithstanding. But medium format can refer to anything larger than 35mm and smaller than a 4-by-5-inch large format negative; most use 120 format roll film.
In the digital world, medium format has settled into two main sensor sizes. There’s the 33-by-44mm chip used by the GFX100 and other bodies that sell for $10,000 or less, and the larger 54-by-40mm format offered by high-end models like the $50,000 Phase One XF IQ4 150MP.
The difference between the two sensor sizes is akin to the split between APS-C and full-frame cameras at the lower end of the market. But there’s a much larger gap in price between the GFX100 and equipment from Phase One, while you can get a full-frame 35mm camera for not much more than one with an APS-C sensor.
Sensor size isn’t the only thing that separates the GFX100 from its pricier competition. The Phase One XF system is made up of two discrete components—an SLR camera and a modular back that houses the image sensor and processing engine. Leaf shutter lenses are also available, which can sync with off-camera flashes at much shorter speeds than the GFX100’s focal plane shutter. Are those worth a $40,000 delta?
The GFX100 makes a compelling argument for spending less on your medium format camera. Its sensor may not be as large as the IQ4 150MP, but it handles much better. Likewise, the short distance between sensor and mount allows you to attach any number of lenses.
Fujifilm markets an official adapter for Hasselblad H glass, and another to use the GFX as a digital back for large format cameras. And with third-party adapters, like the ones I used from Fotodiox for my vintage Hasselblad V lenses, you can attach practically any manual lens to the GFX100.
The GFX100 is about the same size and shape as a 35mm SLR with an integrated vertical shooting grip, like the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5. It measures 6.4 by 6.2 by 4.1 inches (HWD) and weighs 3.1 pounds.
It’s finished with a two-tone look. The exposed metal is steel gray with a bit of texture, with the bulk of the body wrapped in black leatherette. The body itself is magnesium alloy, standard fare for pro cameras, and offers full protection against dust and splashes. Fujifilm’s weather protection is top-notch, so you should feel free to use the GFX100 in practically any condition. It’s not waterproof, of course, so you shouldn’t submerge it, and as with any camera, take care to clean its exterior well after any exposure to salt water.
The GFX sports two shooting grips—one that’s decent and a second that is downright disappointing. When you work with the body in landscape orientation, your right hand wraps around a modest, but comfortable grip with a leatherette covering. It’s mostly straight, with an indentation for your index finger, but no natural rests for your other digits. I don’t find it as comfortable as the grip on the 50MP GFX 50S, which is still available for around $5,500.
The vertical grip, which you use when holding the camera in portrait orientation, is less than good. It’s not covered in the leatherette, is too narrow, and is just uncomfortable to use, especially if you’ve got a bigger lens attached. Typically, vertical grips are built to mirror the ergonomics of their horizontal counterpart exactly, which makes Fujifilm’s design choice here even more puzzling.
Controls and Ergonomics
Fujifilm may have missed the target with the vertical grip, but overall the camera’s physical controls are well thought-out. Dual function buttons on the front serve the same function by default. They’re placed so you can reach them comfortably with your middle finger via either orientation. They’re programmable, with loads of functions—seven pages worth—assignable to either. I set them both to activate magnification as a manual focus aid; you can split the buttons to perform different functions if you want to.
The Drive button is on the left side of the top plate. It’s surrounded by a locking control dial—you need to hold down the button next to it to turn it—which changes the capture mode between stills, multi-shot bracketing (more on that later), and movies.
The right of the top plate is dominated by an OLED display. It’s backlit for better visibility in dim light—a button to its left activates the light. You can cycle through different display settings using the small unmarked button to its right—there’s an engraved line between it and the display, the only visual indication that the two are tied together.
Display options include an information screen that shows exposure data, the shooting mode, white balance, file format, and the film emulation mode, along with number of shots left on your memory card and battery life. You can switch to an alternative view that is limited to exposure data, but shown as virtual control dials that turn as you adjust the shutter speed, ISO, aperture, or EV. The third view is a live histogram.
The other unmarked top button sits ahead of the display toggle. It’s slightly larger, and flatter, so you can feel it out by touch. It toggles the shooting mode by default, via the standard P, A, S, and M options. You will need to set your on-lens aperture control ring to its A position to access Shutter Priority in the camera, though. A long press of the control button locks your shutter speed so it can’t be changed, with a second long press disengaging the lock.
The EV compensation button is farther ahead and is set at the same slight angle as the shutter release button. The release is a two-stage design, with a half-press activating autofocus and a full press firing the shutter. The On/Off switch surrounds it. These controls, along with front and rear dials, are mirrored on the vertical grip.
The Delete button is off by itself, on the rear plate, right below the Still/Multi/Movie wheel. When it’s attached, the EVF eyecup juts out right next to it, so it’s a little bit difficult to reach, but you don’t want to hit Delete by accident.
The focus control switch is at the right of the EVF, with settings for Single, Continuous, or Manual focus. The rear control wheel is a little farther to the right. An unmarked function button (it turns Face and Eye Detection on and off by default) and the Q button sit all the way to right, but aren’t flush with other rear controls. They’re on the raised nub that forms the rear thumb rest.
There’s an AF-ON button on the rear, at the top of a column just to the right of the LCD. It’s a little closer to the right than others in the column. There’s an eight-way focus joystick below it, along with AE-L, Menu/OK, Disp/Back, and Play buttons. AF-ON, AE-L, and the focus joystick are mirrored as vertical controls, but the others aren’t.
That leaves just one button unaccounted for, the unmarked control to the left of the vertical orientation AE-L button. It toggles the camera’s Boost Mode, which can improve the refresh rate of the EVF or autofocus performance speed, but at the cost of battery life.
I’m generally favorable to the layout of the buttons. My thumb struggles a bit to reach AF-ON, though photographers with bigger paws won’t have an issue. But despite liking the layout, the feel of the buttons is disappointing. They’re generally a little small, with a mushier touch than what I’m used to on a camera that is decidedly professional.
The focus joysticks, in particular, are uncomfortable to use, especially when compared with the flatter designs used on high-resolution 35mm cameras like the 60MP Sony a7R IV and 45MP Nikon Z 7. For all the technology that Fujifilm has managed to include, it could have done a bit better job with the basics here.
The largely unmarked control scheme may turn off some photographers. I struggled to get a handle on it at first, but I did get used to it after a couple of weeks with the GFX in my hands. With a little bit of time, muscle memory will kick in, assuming the GFX100 ends up being your primary imaging tool.
You may struggle a bit if you’re thinking about adding the GFX to your kit, but don’t want to give up your 50S or 50R. The previous entries in the GF family use physical dials, a different control philosophy than what we see at work here with the GFX100. This is likely a pro photographer problem—not a lot of enthusiasts are in the financial position to own multiple medium format bodies.
Viewfinder and LCD
The GFX100 includes a removable viewfinder and an articulating LCD in its design. The EVF is one of the best around. It’s an OLED, so you don’t have to worry about color tearing effects when panning to follow action. It’s big, with a 0.86x magnification rating, and exceedingly crisp thanks to its 5.76-million-dot resolution. It’s also removable, which can make the big camera a bit easier to squeeze into a camera bag, or to give you a better view of the tilting rear display from above. The EVF doesn’t articulate on its own, but you can add the $560 EVF Tilt Adapter to give it horizontal and vertical articulation.
The LCD is a 3.2-inch panel with touch support. It’s bright, with quick access to adjust its backlight available via the Q menu screen. And with 2.36 million dots of resolution, it’s sharper than similar displays on other cameras, helpful for manual focus and image playback.
The screen is mounted on a dual-axis hinge. It tilts to face up or down, and can also swing to face toward the right. I found it useful for both handheld and tripod use. When working at waist level I, preferred to remove the EVF as it obscures the view from above, but doing so only takes a couple of seconds. The sideways articulation comes in handy when working at low angles in portrait orientation.
There’s a second rear display, a narrow monochrome OLED, positioned below the LCD. It shows the set mode, shutter speed, ISO, EV value, film simulation setting, and white balance by default. You can dive into the menu and set it to show other information, with discrete display options for stills and video if you’d like.
Most photographers who think about buying the GFX100 are going to take advantage of its Raw imaging capabilities, but you shouldn’t discount its JPG output. Fujifilm offers a number of built-in looks inspired by classic film stocks—Acros, Astia, Classic Chrome, Eterna, ProH, Provia, and Velvia are all included.
Even if you work in Raw, you can process any image using in-camera tools. This allows you to try out several different looks for an image, just as you would in Capture One or Lightroom. You’re able to save images to memory in your choice of JPG or TIFF format, the latter of which will preserve more color detail and tonality.
There are a number of automated bracketing options. You can rattle off shots with varied exposure—useful for HDR processing and scenes with vast changes in illumination. You can also vary ISO, film looks, white balance, dynamic range, and focus points. An intervalometer is included for time-lapse capture.
GF Lens System
The GFX system debuted in 2016, and currently has nine native lens options—seven primes and two zooms. You can go as wide as 23mm and as long as 250mm, with a 1.4x teleconverter available to extend the reach of the latter to 350mm. All of the native lenses support autofocus and offer weather protection.
On the whole, they’re larger and heavier than options for 35mm systems—you do need more glass to cover a larger sensor—but there are exceptions like the svelte 50mm F3.5, and the GF 32-64mm F4 zoom isn’t that far off from most full-frame 24-70mm F2.8 designs in size, weight, and function.
Third-party options are starting to appear, like the recent Venus Laowa 17mm F4 GFX Zero-D, and you can certainly use other manual focus lenses via an adapter. But you should be content with a medium format lens system if you’re thinking about buying the GFX100. It may focus and handle like a full-frame camera, but lens options simply aren’t as vast.
You can use 35mm format lenses too. If you opt to use the entire sensor with one attached, you’ll be greeted with a vignette in most cases—the image above was shot using a vintage Canon 50mm f/1.2, sold in the 1960s along with the Canon 7 camera, and is uncropped. There is a 35mm crop mode, which limits the sensor area to that of a full-frame camera, so you won’t get a vignette, but resolution drops to about 60MP.
Power and Connectivity
Instead of designing a new battery, Fujifilm decided to use the same NP-T125 battery as the GFX 50R and 50S. The GFX100 is powered by two of them, which load in a removable tray. In-camera charging is supported via USB-C, and there is a single external charger included in the box if you want to charge the battery outside of the body.
The GFX100 is rated for 800 shots per charge by CIPA standards. After some time in the field with the camera, I feel the estimate is on the low side, especially if you mix in some video recording. Spare batteries are an absolute must for all-day use; they’re priced at $120 each.
There are two memory card slots, each supporting the fastest SDXC UHS-II cards. Tethered capture is an option too, via the USB-C port. The GFX100 can be controlled using Capture One Pro and Lightroom Classic CC.
In addition to USB-C, the GFX100 includes a micro HDMI port for use with an external recorder. There are 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks for audio, a 2.5mm remote connector, hot shoes on both the body and EVF, and a legacy PC Sync flash connector.
The focal plane shutter syncs with lights at speeds as short as 1/125-second, which will disappoint photographers used to working with leaf shutters and their very quick sync speeds. There are workarounds, of course—you can add a neutral density filter to a lens, so you’ll still be able to shoot at f/2 or f/2.8 with flash sync without blowing out the exposure. You can also use the High Speed Sync option, available with many flashes, for shots where you absolutely need a shorter exposure. This comes at the cost of some flash power, and continued use may cause the strobe to overheat.
Wireless communication is included as well. The GFX100 sports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It pairs with the Fujifilm Cam Remote app, a free download for Android and iOS, so you can transfer photos to your phone or tablet for editing, or use your handheld device as a remote control.
Class-Leading Focus and Speed
Fujifilm doesn’t hold anything back when it comes to speed. The GFX100 powers on, fires, and focuses in about 1.7 seconds, similar to what we see in mirrorless full-frame models. The continuous drive frame rate is 5fps, with a buffer that holds 15 Raw or 45 JPG images before filling up. It clears to a Sony Tough 300MBps memory card in about 20 seconds, so you can start capturing another burst after a modest duration.
The GFX100’s autofocus is, bar none, the best available on any medium format camera. Focus is performed using the image sensor, using a hybrid system that incorporates both the phase and contrast detection points. Focus is available over most of the sensor’s area, with only the very outer edges and a narrow strip at the top and bottom left without coverage. Face and eye detection are available, so you can more reliably nail focus on your subject’s eyes, even when working with a shallow depth of field.
The focus system behaves just like the one included in the company’s best APS-C models. You have the option of selecting a specific point, with varying levels of size, including very small ones for precision; with the smallest focus point, I was able to target a bee’s compound eye in the photo above. And when you combine precision like this with the camera’s tracking capabilities, you can reliably recompose the shot or track a moving subject. You can see the tracking system in action in the screen recording embedded below, recorded using an Atomos Ninja V.
Focus is acquired almost instantly—I clocked it at 0.05-second in bright light, although it slows to around 0.2-second in dim conditions. It’s on par with the best APS-C and full-frame systems. There’s no comparison with the Phase One IQ4 150MP, which shows a 0.35-second delay between pressing the shutter and making an image, and only offers a rudimentary autofocus system with coverage at the center of the frame.
It’s not fair to compare the two in terms of capturing the action. The GFX100 outclasses medium format SLRs in just about every conceivable way when it comes to autofocus. It does better than other mirrorless options too—the GFX 50S and Hasselblad X1D II 50C are limited to contrast detection only, which is not quick enough for action photography.
That’s not to say that the GFX100 is the ideal choice for disciplines associated with fast, unexpected action—sports and wildlife are the obvious examples. Really long glass isn’t available, although you have loads of room to crop if you want.
When working with images shot at my local wetlands, I was worried that perhaps I was cropping down a bit too much to get a usable shot—but then I checked the dimensions. The image of the egret flying across the water above is a 60MP crop, and I pushed all the way down to 24MP for the shot of another egret wading, below.
If you’re cropping that much, you can save some money, and some weight, by opting for a full-frame system. But you’ll lose the other things a medium format camera brings to the table. Landscape specialists who enjoy capturing images of wildlife during their travels will certainly enjoy using the GFX100 for the task. Its autofocus gets shots other medium format systems won’t.
Stabilized 100MP Sensor
The freedom to crop comes easy when you start with more than 100MP. The sensor is a BSI CMOS design, with a Bayer color filter array; Fujifilm doesn’t use its X-Trans array in the GFX series. Its 3.76um pixel pitch lines up with some others we’ve seen recently, including the 26.2MP X-Trans chip used in the APS-C Fujifilm X-T3, as well as the 60MP Bayer sensor offered in the Sony a7R IV, and the larger chip in the Phase One IQ4 150MP.
This is a decidedly good thing. We’ve been impressed by all of these cameras, which offer image quality that leads their respective classes. Lab tests show the GFX100 to be just as good. It delivers Raw output with crisp detail and no visible grain through about ISO 800. You can push to ISO 3200 with a little bit of grain, but without other compromise.
Noise starts to detract at ISO 6400. It’s a little stronger at ISO 12800, but I’d not hesitate to use either setting. You can push further, but grain is strong at ISO 25600 and 51200. It wipes away most fine detail at the top ISO 102400 setting. We’ve included crops from our test scene, both from Raw output (converted in Lightroom) and camera default JPG, in the slideshow that accompanies this review.
If you do opt for JPG capture, be aware that in-camera noise reduction does a disservice to photos shot above ISO 1600. There’s some softening at ISO 3200, and it increases steadily as you move to higher sensitivities.
Raw capture isn’t just about getting the most detail at high ISOs. It also gives you incredible flexibility when it comes to adjusting exposure and color. There’s an incredible amount of dynamic range with which to work. Take a look at the unprocessed Raw image of a sunrise landscape above. Shooting into the sun, my main scene is extremely backlit. But with a little bit of work in Lightroom, I was able to produce the finished photo below.
The GFX100 supports 16-bit capture in single drive, but does drop to 14-bit when working in continuous drive. File sizes are the same if you shoot in uncompressed Raw, about 210MB per image. Compressed Raw will vary based on the scene content, but expect about 150MB for 16-bit and 120MB for 14-bit. JPGs vary as well, but figure between 33MB and 55MB per photo.
With file sizes like these, it’s not hard to fill up a memory card. I always shoot Raw+JPG when testing cameras, which made it much too easy to fill a 64GB card during a morning outing to the local zoo. You may want to budget for a big external RAID drive along with your camera.
And we can’t forget to talk about stabilization. If you want a medium format camera with in-body stabilization for imaging and video, your options start and end with the GFX100. You can get crisp results when working handheld, even if you need a slightly longer shutter speed than you’d use without the feature.
Some lenses include stabilization, which works in conjunction with the sensor for crisp results. The system supports correction along five axes, more than is capable by in-lens correction alone, and is strong enough for 5.5 stops of correction—comparable with what Sony offers in its full-frame a7 family.
The sensor aspect ratio is worth noting as well—it’s a 4:3 design, a bit squarer than the 3:2 chips used in 35mm full-frame cameras. If you cut your teeth on 645 medium format film systems, you may find the 4:3 ratio a more comfortable one. I like it when working in portrait orientation—it’s not quite as unnaturally tall as 35mm—but I typically like compositions better at 3:2 in landscape. With all these pixels, you have plenty of room to crop to taste.
The GFX100 is a much more capable video camera than any medium format model has the right to be. The stabilization plays a part—it smooths out jitters from handheld footage very effectively—but there’s more to it than just that.
There are a wealth of recording options, but quality tops out at 4K (in DCI or UHD) at up to 30fps with 10-bit 4:2:0 sampling when using H.265 or 8-bit 4:2:0 with H.264. You can connect an Atomos Ninja V or similar external recorder via HDMI to record 10-bit 4:2:2.
All of the same film looks available for stills are included for video. There is also a flat profile (F-Log) so you can grade manually or apply different LUTs for different looks, and for scenes with tough lighting you can record in HDR using the HLG profile.
The video control interface carries over from Fujifilm’s first stab at a serious mirrorless video camera, the X-H1. The Movie Silent Control (MSC) system keeps video and still exposure settings separate, and opens up shutter speed options that better match up with video frame rates—the 1/48-second speed for 24fps capture, for example.
The GFX100 shouldn’t be your first choice when shopping for a video camera. There are much more affordable choices that deliver as good or better video. But in the medium format world, many models don’t support video at all, and others only have basic 1080p. The GFX delivers video quality that’s more in line with a full-frame mirrorless system.
A Huge Leap in Performance
Someone forgot to tell Fujifilm that medium format cameras are supposed to be slow. They’re supposed to be a little clunky to use. Oh, and they’re supposed to cost a bundle, somewhere between a Volkswagen and a Mercedes, depending on how much resolution you want.
The GFX100 shatters these expectations. It focuses fast, with stabilization and tracking that make it a viable tool for photographing action. It doesn’t have the cobbled-together feel and bulk of a modular SLR system, and costs much less than your average sedan, while still offering a 100MP sensor.
You may still have reasons for opting for a higher-end Phase One or Hasselblad system. The larger sensor size, access to leaf shutter lenses, or simple familiarity. I’d trade those comforts for the GFX100 in a heartbeat. It’s more enjoyable to use, and while it may not have a 150MP sensor, the stabilization and autofocus make up for it.
The camera isn’t perfect. The ergonomics could be a bit better, especially the vertical shooting grip. The controls buttons are a little mushy and the focus sticks a little too small and pointy. I wouldn’t call them deficient, but for $10,000, I expected them to feel just a little better, and include backlighting. The camera chews through batteries too, so I recommend buying some spares and a power bank for recharging in the field.
The GFX100 also faces competition from full-frame cameras, notably the 60MP Sony a7R IV, and, looking ahead, rumors point to Canon working on an 83MP full-frame sensor, though those are just that—rumors. Sony’s high-resolution full-frame marvel has a sensor with the same pixel pitch, so it will offer comparable image quality on a pixel-by-pixel level. It costs less, $3,500, and has a wider range of lenses—some more affordable than Fujifilm, and some high-end options.
Because of this, how good the GFX100 looks as a purchase depends largely on your perspective. If you’re used to Hasselblad and Phase One, the GFX is an incredible value, with responsiveness that you just don’t expect in medium format. On the other hand, if you’re looking at the camera versus full-frame systems, the performance advantages aren’t there. The news is that there are far fewer drawbacks, especially when it comes to autofocus and video.
That we can discuss the capabilities of an APS-C model like the Fujifilm X-T3, a full-frame camera like the Sony a7R IV, and the medium format GFX100 in the same breath marks a huge leap forward for medium format. And it earns the GFX100 our Editors’ Choice among its medium format peers.