The Fujifilm GFX 50S and Canon 5DS R face off to find out if all pixels are created equally

Mar 15, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

The Fujifilm GFX 50S and Canon 5DS R face off to find out if all pixels are created equally

Mar 15, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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When the 36MP Nikon D800 was originally released in 2012, it was hailed as the “medium format killer”. Well, medium format has not only survived, but seems to be thriving. It’s even started to make its way into slightly less expensive markets thanks to the introduction of the Hasselblad X1D and Fujifilm GFX 50S. They’re both 50MP cameras, but how do they compare to a 50MP 35mm sized sensor DSLR?

That’s what this brief review of the GFX 50S and comparison with the Canon 5DS R from photographer Daniel Jannes is all about. To see if there really is much of a difference. And, if there is a difference, is it enough to justify almost double the cost?

YouTube video

The video starts off with the review section. And the camera seems as impressive as the price tag would suggest. That being said, it’s certainly not a camera that suits the needs of all photographers. If you want to skip the review part of the video, then go ahead to 4:40 into the video.

It’s only going to give you 3fps at most, which drops to 1.8fps if you’re using the electronic shutter rather than the physical one. So, sports and fast action isn’t likely. Like Hasselblad’s X1D there’s no 4K video, either. It’s limited to 1080p, and it’s AVC/H.264. So it’s not likely to compete with smaller sensor cameras capable of 4K and 10Bit ProRes video, either.

Where it does shine, though, is when you slow the pace down a little. Landscapes, still lifes, macro, portraits and fashion. Which, as it happens, are exactly the genres the 5DS R markets itself to. So, how do the two compare?

On first glance, the differences don’t look that massive, especially on each camera’s LCD. Although, Daniel does say that the 5DS R does present a little warmer than the Fuji. Where you really see the difference, though is when looking at them full resolution on a decent monitor.

For the tests, Daniel uses a Canon 24-105mm f/4L USM on the 5DS R, while the GFX 50S sports the Fuji GF 63mmF2.8 R WR prime lens. Some might say the f/4 zoom vs f/2.8 prime lens already skews the results somewhat in favour of Fuji, but we shall continue.

Daniel’s first test is outdoors, to get some detail on the side of a tree. Not exactly thrilling subject matter, but it does quickly demonstrate some of the differences in tone and detail. The Canon shot is showing noticeably brighter than the Fuji, but the amount of extra detail it records is quite striking.

At ISO3200 and f/4 in an outdoor setting, the differences can become noticeable rather quickly. In the studio, stopped down to f/8 and shooting with flash, the sharpness between the two systems looks pretty close – until you get them up on the big screen.

James notes that where you do immediately see a difference is with the dynamic range and tonal quality. This will help to prevent blowing out of hotspots on your subject’s skin and provide a more natural tone.

He was particularly impressed with the GFX’s autofocus system, which can operate in either 117 or 425 AF point mode. But, it does struggle under low light conditions. This could be a problem in the studio where your room lights are dim to prevent them interfering with the light from the flash during the exposure.

Aside from the tone and dynamic range benefits of shooting medium format, the shallower depth of field over 35mm sized sensors is a big draw. In fact, that shallower depth of field is one of the reasons why I still often shoot medium format for film. But I want that shallower depth of field on a wider shot. For close up head shots, it can get a little too shallow and distracting sometimes.

Overall, the differences shown in the video do seem quite drastic. But I do have to wonder how much of that boils down to lens choice. I wonder if we’d see the same results had Daniel used something like the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art prime on the 5DS R instead of the 24-105mm f/4L zoom.

Whether the difference in price is worth it for the advantages it may offer will boil down to you and your needs. For some it will be very worth it, while others will see no benefit whatsoever.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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5 responses to “The Fujifilm GFX 50S and Canon 5DS R face off to find out if all pixels are created equally”

  1. Viggo Næss Avatar
    Viggo Næss

    Oh come on! He used the softest of all L-lenses… he could at least used the 35 L II or a 24-70 L II.

    1. ReneK Avatar
      ReneK

      +1
      So we know now that the 24-105 can’t compete with a Prime…

      1. Robert W Boyer Avatar
        Robert W Boyer

        So So So funny…
        Here’s what I see:

        1. OBVIOUSLY a wide to tele zoom designed in more than a decade ago (of which he has a VERY unacceptable copy if the tree bark is to be believed as actually in focus, my ancient 24-105 wide open is FAR better than this even on the 5Ds R = in fact I use it a lot for non-critical work or thing where I don’t give a shit about the corners). VS. a premium prime design like right now. Ha Ha Ha. The really funny part is that at f/8 even that particular possibly lousy copy actually gives the Fuji a run for it’s money in the studio. Forget the shitty JPEG’s here. Down load the RAW files and look for yourself.

        2. Gee can’t even get the framing/image size similar in the studio to actually compare.

        3. Either this guy cannot expose properly or AGAIN Fuji is fudging the ISO numbers as usual even at low ISO’s All of the Canon are at least 2/3’s brighter and that’s with the 24-105 very poor T stop numbers.

        Look I am a Fuji customer. I think the GFX is a reasonable good camera and so far the lenses are pretty great for the price (medium format price comparison here). I LOVE my Fuji XPro-2 but that being said the GFX is not a camera for me. I’ve used it more than most people and it does nothing for me where I would use it. I’m also a Canon customer. I latched on to a 5DsR as soon as I possibly could. With even modest glass it’s absolutely outstanding in the contexts I use high-resolution cameras/medium format cameras. Maybe I’ll do a proper comparison at some point when I have time. I love the 5DsR because it handles GREAT, is fast, has absolutely reliable focus (that’s pretty much instant) in a dim studio environment = FAR better than any of the medium format cameras I’ve used and far far faster in terms of shot to shot speed when shooting people. Now wait for it… for a FRACTION of the cost it comes within a hairs-breath of any other 50 megapixel MF camera out there and is FAR “better” in many many ways IQ wise than my previous MF digital. Oh and it’s 2 years older as well.

        Ha Ha Ha. I’m camera agnostic in that I will use anything that does what I need it to do and also that I love shooting with (important when you shoot all day almost every day). The different factions out there are truly funny in terms of camera lore… Most Canon guys have missed the boat on the 5DsR, it’s almost like Canon guys are afraid of this camera when in reality it produces better images than any other Canon ever made (including the IV) if viewed at the same magnification… It has a focus system that is one of the best Canon ever put out and competes VERY well with the IV (both improved compared to the III). And where I use it it does a better job for me than the Nikon D8XX. Don’t know about the 850, only shot a few frames with it but I am sure the only difference I would actually see is that it would take me a little longer to get skin tones the way I’d like to see them on the Nikon. Either will do but I actually prefer the way the Canon’s handle at this point (a minor personal preference).

        As for MF “small sensor” 50 MPix Hmmmm. It’s a harder sell now with a few exceptions and if I were to go for one of the few cameras that have that sensor I’d personally go for the X1D only because of form factor/size. Maybe and that would be a tough call for me to justify in terms of cost vs performance. Yes those MF cams offer a bit more in a very narrow set of circumstances (for studio work) but when you consider handling/speed it tips the other way for very similar quality. If you do a lot of product work I’d argue you MIGHT be better off with Canon considering the now fantastic line-up of TS-E lenses vs the very cumbersome or non-existent solution for X1D/GFX and the focal length multiplying HTS… let’s not talk about specialize cameras or “real” MF sensors = different league/application.

        RB

  2. Skai Avatar
    Skai

    Junk review because, junk Canon lens. Why print this stuff?

  3. FreeWorld Avatar
    FreeWorld

    What a useless test