In 2023, photographers and filmmakers are spoilt for choice when it comes to technology platforms. For more than 6 years, our preference as global commercial photographers, has been Fujifilm’s groundbreaking GFX Systems. From the first release, Fujifilm unashamedly placed image quality above all else with the GFX. Far beyond the extraordinary detail of 50, and then 102 megapixels, the true strength of the GFX RAW files lay in the rich, 16-bit, super-clean images with abundant information recoverable in the shadows. Coming from traditional full-frame DSLR systems, it was transformative.
The weather resistant Fujifilm GFX100II is the large format choice for unpredictable conditions
Enter the latest iteration of Fujifilm’s flagship image creator – the GFX100 II. Far from a cosmetic upgrade, this is a transformation of the system that dramatically expands possibilities for creators, as we discovered in our challenging test shoot, “Poetry in Motion”.
The GFX series was always a low light monster, but this update, with its 102megapixel CMOSII HS sensor, allows recovery of shadow detail beyond anything we’ve ever experienced.
So, what’s new? The upgrades, in our opinion, can be classed in two categories; “nice to have” and “game changer”. First, the nice to have. The body has been redesigned, with subtle and substantial improvements that only thousands of hours of use can guide. The shape is now more angular and beautiful. The grip and body surface treatments are more tactile, pleasant in the hand and the top screen is larger with an angle that makes it easier to read. The camera is now modular with a fully functioning battery-grip that can be separated to cut weight and size – perfect for smaller photographers, once put-off by the original GFX100’s imposing size. The batteries have been upgraded, as have small features such as the two-stage gyro/level display.
The AI subject detect autofocus has effectively made the GFX100 II a large format sports camera
Now for the game-changers. This camera is a genuine cross-platform powerhouse with extraordinary video capacity. Thanks to the data capacity and read-write speeds of the new CFexpress* type B card slot (with a second card slot for SD cards), the GFX100 II can now record ProRes* 4:2:2 and HQ video in F-Log2, in both 4K 60p and 8K 30p. Importantly for us, the configuration of 4K and 8K is genius. 4K (in either UHD or DCI) takes advantage of the full-sensor width. This optimizes the use of the phenomenal GF glass, producing the “large format look”, characterized by a field of view and depth of the field that only this massive sensor can provide. 8K, on the other hand, is cropped, which we found very useful. Given the lack of 8K deliverables for most projects, this resolution allowed us to crop for 4K or HD deliverables in post-production. Combined with the sensor crop from the lack of pixel binning, this dramatically extends the range of the currently available macro and telephoto lenses – perfect for extreme detail or wildlife videography. Fujifilm also included a setting to optimize video recording with the legendary FUJINON Premista lenses.
Redefining “hybrid mirrorless” for pros – undeniable image quality and beautiful internally recorded ProRes HQ video with the flick of the switch
The all new, large format, 102MP CMOS II HS sensor is simply outstanding. Ultimately, any camera can take a pleasing image in perfect, controlled conditions. This new sensor exhibited incredible dynamic range and most notably to us, data in the shadows that resets our paradigm of what is possible. We pushed this camera by shooting in dark conditions, substantially underexposing by shooting at high shutter speeds with low ISO settings. While shadow and detail recovery has always been a GFX strong suit, the new GFX100 II is on another level. What does this mean in a practical application? It means that incredible images can be created in almost impossible conditions, where the lack of light would typically result in unacceptable noise while recovering in post-production.
The new 8 stop IBIS allowed us to create an organic, hand-held video, without a gimbal, on all lenses from wide to tele-photo. This means that switching between photo and video capture on location can be almost instantaneous – saving valuable time on critical shoots.
Peerless autofocus tracking in video and photo modes
The intuitive AI autofocus arrogantly appears to break the rules of large format capture. Image quality has always been sacrosanct to Fujifilm’s GFX platform – high performance servo autofocus not so much. The new AI autofocus tracking (customizable for wildlife, motorsport, people etc) is intuitive and extremely accurate and when combined with an (almost) buffer free, 8 frames per second continuous shooting, we now have the worlds first large-format sports camera. The subject detection autofocus with eye tracking helped us create beautiful sequences with dancers, using the new GF55mmF1.7 R WR lens. The razor thin depth of field meant sharp eyes and beautiful fall-off and soft bokeh with accurate eye tracking that would have been almost impossible to achieve by manually pulling focus.
Broadcast quality, large format video has arrived with the GFX100 II
The results of the enhanced sensor performance, AI autofocus, 8-stop IBIS and video codecs made for truly beautiful video sequences. This camera is now a genuine contender for commercial video projects. The large format look is three dimensional and files grade up beautifully and easily in Davinci Resolve.
Equally as impressive is the upgrade to photographic image quality – it was always good, now it’s substantially better. Subjectively, we found this camera fun to use. It’s aesthetic, predictability, and simplicity. This is the camera to bring a smile to the face of a grizzled pro.
Extraordinary latitude and resolution from the massive sensor that is 1.7 times larger than full frame.
When it comes to the latest camera gear, we understand the adage “it’s not the camera, it’s the photographer”. It’s true, the gear won’t automatically make you good, but this camera makes you want to shoot – both photos and video. It gives you confidence to accept challenging assignments, both commercially and self-imposed, knowing that you have in your hand, one of the greatest all-round image makers available.
To Learn More About the Fuji GFX100II Visit Their Website Here
Article written by Zora and Dan Avila
Zora Avila MBA, GAICD
Zora is a producer, brand ambassador, writer and videographer, with a background in commerce, project management and delivery of large scale, complex projects. She is a feature travel and lifestyle writer and produces luxury travel & lifestyle content. Zora is creator, producer and feature talent with Dan of factual content TV series, “Travel Shooters”, shot on location around the world. Zora is photography expedition leader – passionate about chasing the magical sunrise and sunset light in amazing locations around the world.