Let me call it as it is and slightly contradict the title. Also, this will be a continuation of exploring the digital medium format arena. The contradiction is that I have gotten amazing results with a small 6 megapixel camera; the proof being a huge 40 x 60” print of a mural of a dancing Anthony Quinn doing his Zorba dance in downtown Los Angeles. This is framed and in the lobby of the Samy’s Camera Playa Vista location. The camera was smaller than a pack of cigarettes; but, had an amazing Foveon sensor array. The problem was that it is not easy to use and best for stationary subjects.

Fast forward to yesterday at The Palm Springs Photo Festival 2017, put on by Jeff Dunas. Many camera manufacturers and people in the industry, including great people from Samy’s Camera who help sponsor the event, were present. Fujifilm was there with their incredible camera offerings including the new and unbelievably popular medium format camera the FUJIFILM GFX 50S!

Credit: FujiFilm

This new offering was so popular at the time of this writing that I had to use what is left of my charm to borrow the camera in order to wander around the hotel area where the Festival was taking place. I told them 15 minutes; I guess I lied. It was 30 minutes.

Let me tell you, I had that camera wired in less than 5 minutes of instruction from longtime Fuji Rep and great human being Barney. It is just that simple and logical and, I might add, “Old School” with it’s visible and physical settings such as the aperture ring, ISO dial and I chose to use manual focus with the high Peaking setting of my choice of red color for super accurate focus. As I wandered from very low light conditions of the hotel (let’s call it street shooting) to the brightness of the desert sun outside (architectural/landscape/travel) the hotel, I could effortlessly dial in the ISO and aperture depending on the situation. In those 30 minutes, I encountered a range of conditions I had no problem working in. I first chose the Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens…

Hyatt Hotel Palm Springs – Palm Springs Photo Festival 2017 | Fujifilm GFX 50S | 63mm (50mm) Lens | 1/30 F/2.8 ISO 100 Standard Color | Credit: Ralph Elliott Starkweather
Portfolio Review- Palm Springs Photo Festival 2017 | Fujifilm GFX 50S | 63mm (50mm) Lens 1/140 F/2.8 ISO 800 Standard Color | Credit: Ralph Elliott Starkweather

 then went back for the GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR

Mac Holbert (Mac Started Nash Editions, the first ink jet printers) |Fujifilm GFX 50S | 32-64mm @54mm (42mm) | F/8 ISO 800 Standard Color | Credit: Ralph Elliott Starkweather

 and finally the GF120mmF4 R LM OIS WR Macro for the headshots.

David Fahey of Fahey/Klein Gallery Los Angeles | NIK Silver EFEX Pro BW | 120mm (95mm) Lens 1/370 F/4 F/4 ISO 3200 | Credit: Ralph Elliott Starkweather

Outside the hotel I also played around with the different film looks including the black and white range with different filters.

Palm Springs | Fujifilm GFX 50S | 32-64mm @32mm (25mm) | 1/170 F/11 ISO 100 Standard Color | Credit: Ralph Elliott Starkweather
Palm Springs | Fujifilm GFX 50S | 32-64mm @32mm (25mm) |1/170 F/11 ISO 100 Black and White Mode Yellow Filter |  Credit: Ralph Elliott Starkweather

I do find it quite fun to have those choices available.

I filled up a borrowed 8 GB  SD card (the camera has 2 SD card slots) in no time with files of 146.3 megabytes from the 51.4 megapixel files. I ended up using the jpeg files, which were more than exceptional.

Yes, sensor size does matter, especially if one can easily dance around with a lightweight and robust medium format camera like it’s nothing and reap the rewards with great detail always assured with Fuji because of their large sensor and incredible glass. And, with more glass coming soon, this is one to consider for whatever type of business or passion you may have with photography.

Go to Samy’s website and check out all the features available with this camera. Too numerous for me to report:

  • 43.8×32.9mm 51.4MP CMOS medium format sensor
  • X-Processor Pro
  • Detachable 3.69M-dot EVF
  • 2.36M-dot touchscreen LCD back panel
  • Compact and lightweight body
  • Weather resistant structure
  • FUJINON GF Lenses

The FUJINON GF63mmF2.8 R WR is a standard lens specifically designed for the new G Mount and 43.8 x 32.9mm sensor. The GF lens range, which can cope with resolutions up to 100MP, combines the latest technologies with extensive knowledge accumulated from making XF lenses to deliver the best possible image quality and realize the full potential of the new GFX 50S medium format mirrorless camera. The intuitive controls include a C position on the aperture ring, which allows you to adjust the aperture value with the command dial on the camera body. The A (Auto) and C positions are now lockable and all the lenses are weather and dust resistant, plus they can work in temperatures as low as -10°C for worry-free shooting outdoors. Brass mount has been adopted for the strength. This new lens series is set to become a professional workhorse.

The FUJINON GF 32-64mmF4 R LM WR is a standard zoom lens specifically designed for the new G Mount and 43.8 x 32.9mm sensor. The GF lens range, which can cope with resolutions up to 100MP, combines the latest technologies with extensive knowledge accumulated from making XF lenses to deliver the best possible image quality and realize the full potential of the new GFX 50S medium format mirrorless camera. The intuitive controls include a C position on the aperture ring, which allows you to adjust the aperture value with the command dial on the camera body. The A (Auto) and C positions are now lockable and all the lenses are weather and dust resistant, plus they can work in temperatures as low as -10°C for worry-free shooting outdoors. Brass mount has been adopted for the strength. This new lens series is set to become a professional workhorse.

The GF120mmF4 R LM OIS WR Macro is a mid-telephoto macro lens specifically designed for the new G Mount and 43.8 x 32.9mm sensor. The GF lens range, which can cope with resolutions up to 100MP, combines the latest technologies with extensive knowledge accumulated from making XF lenses to deliver the best possible image quality and realize the full potential of the new GFX 50S medium format mirrorless camera. The intuitive controls include a C position on the aperture ring, which allows you to adjust the aperture value with the command dial on the camera body. The A (Auto) and C positions are now lockable and all the lenses are weather and dust resistant, plus they can work in temperatures as low as -10°C for worry-free shooting outdoors. Brass mount has been adopted for the strength.

This new lens series is set to become a professional workhorse.

Purchase the FujiFilm GFX 50S here

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Ralph Elliott Starkweather
Originating from Santa Monica, California, Ralph Elliott Starkweather is a professional photographer with over 40 years experience. His photographs have featured in LIFE Magazine, Gourmet, Food and Wine, Smithsonian, Cheshire Life and many more. He's had a great number of amazing life experiences including haveing traveled to Australia with Muhammad Ali and photographed some of the Royals in Great Britain.