12th November 2017

About 12 weeks ago I bought a medium format Fuji GFX 50S and three lenses (23mm/f4, 32/64mm/f4 and the 110mm/f2). This is the first of a number of Hocking Photographic Blog posts about my reasoning, my journey and my experience with the new camera.

A totally meaningless way of mapping my photographic journey is to list the camera raw profiles that have passed through my hands; it goes something like CR2, 3FR, IIQ, CR2, NEF, ARW and finally, according to my wife, RAF. 

It should be noted that none of the these, in and of themselves, represent any improvement in my photographic skills, creativity etc. 

However, they do represent a dabbling with Medium Format in the past and, as a result, a smaller bank balance and a broken back carrying the big, lumpy bodies and lenses.

So, why Fuji and the GFX 50S?

I would like to say that it was a decision made with a lot of analysis culminating in a business plan with a justification based on a payback in weeks! But I can't. I stumbled into it whilst trying to help a friend, Martin Smith, who was straddling the worlds of SONY and Fuji and trying to decide if the GFX should be the next stage in his collection of RAW acronyms.

Paul Sanders, a Fujifilm X Ambassador, is a good friend and I asked him if he would spend a day with the two of us to show us round the GFX. With the day fixed I figured I should at least try and learn a little about the camera rather than play wallflower to the pair of them. And that's where the trouble started. 

I entered into the superficial research as a dedicated SONY guy and safe in the knowledge that my investment and liking for the SONY Alpha cameras and the IQ produced would keep me safe from temptation.

Soooo wrong! The superficial research became a full-on review of the camera and lenses. The more I researched the more I wanted to learn about the GFX camera system and it’s capabilities.

What did I find? Below is a summary of the things that are important to me. All the detailed specs about the camera, lenses, service, support etc can be found in many websites/forums and, frankly, I have neither the time nor inclination to bore the pants off anyone taking the trouble to read this.

For me it boils down to:

SYSTEM: A body and 5 lenses does not a system make BUT there is an amazing sensor, amazing glass and a relatively clear and published roadmap. 

IMAGE QUALITY: From a purely subjective, and initially cynical perspective, the files are amazing.

PRICE: A substantial investment (Note: INVESTMENT not COST) but a fraction of what it costs to enter the MF digital market via the competition.

WEIGHT: Weight of a camera system is an issue for me as my ageing body creaks under the load and, from time to time, fails. The body of the GFX is approximately the same weight as a Nikon D810 but, complete with the EVF, about 45% heavier than my A7R2. The lenses are heavier but the difference compared to the current generation of GM lenses from SONY is negligible. 

USER INTERFACE: It’s a lump of technology and, like all lumps of technology, it takes a while to become familiar to the point that it becomes subservient to creativity.

PRO SUPPORT: Already established by FujiFilm and comes bundled with the purchase of the GFX.

CUSTOMER SERVICE: I have been blown away by the support and advice I have received from Sarah Jones at CAMBRIAN PHOTOGRAPHY and Paul Sanders, a Fujifilm X Ambassador. 

Was the decision taken on the back of sound business reasons? No….it was an emotional one and only time will tell if that emotion is transferred to the pictures captured.

Will it make me a better photographer? I doubt it.

Will it make me a different photographer? Maybe.

Will I sell all my SONY kit? No…maybe.....tempted.....XT2 as backup.....watch this space for another story!

Will I enjoy the experience? Read future Hocking Photographic Blog updates to find out!

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