FUJIFILM just announced its new medium format flagship camera, the GFX100 II, and I had a chance to play with a preproduction unit for a very short time. This is more of an initial impression review rather than a comprehensive one, but I’m determined to get the camera again and further explore its filming capabilities, particularly in combination with some anamorphic lenses.
So, a new day, a new camera, or are we witnessing something special here?
Well, in all honesty, my hat is off to FUJIFILM for emphasizing and enhancing the video capabilities of this new camera.
True, this is still a hybrid device, which led to certain compromises such as the lack of an articulated LCD screen, but all in all, FUJIFILM did a great job here and I’m extremely curious to see how the market will react in adopting it.
GFX100 II – what’s new
So let’s start by saying that the GFX100 II has an entirely new sensor, although it kept the same 102 megapixel count as its predecessor.
Where there is a sensor, there is a processor, and the one found in the GFX100 II is the same X-Processor 5 that drives all the other latest cameras from FUJIFILM.
So let’s start by saying that this camera has a huge selection of formats in up to 8K resolution, with different image circle coverage and recording codecs.
Out of the box Best Settings
If you are looking for the best internal recording codec, simply use ProRes HQ. Uncompressed 12-bit external recording output via the large HDMI connector is supported as well, of course, but for the first time ever in a FUJIFILM camera, ProRes can also be recorded externally via USB-C to an external SSD drive.
If you are looking for the fastest sensor readout to minimize the rolling shutter effect, choose 4K/60p, which is thankfully NOT cropped.
If resolution is your top priority, then choose the 5.8K recording option. Horizontally, the camera will use the full sensor width and will crop vertically a bit so the end result will look like a 2:35:1 CINE aspect ratio.
Now, if absolute resolution is the thing you are after, you can of course use the 8K resolution that this camera offers, but take into account that the image will be cropped by 1.24x.
From my experience, the image still looks nice and crispy even with this method of cropping into the sensor.
By the way, if you take a close look at the menu, you will find a 3×2 recording option, but mind you that this is NOT a true “open gate”, but rather another recording format choice.
With this camera, FUJIFILM created a new menu option to choose between four filming formats: GF, Premista, 35mm (which is equivalent to full frame), and anamorphic. Depending on the format you choose, the camera will adapt itself to automatically adjust to the sensor portion that can be recorded.
Speaking of which, it is the first time FUJIFILM has taken anamorphic filmmaking seriously and enabled two crucial features.
The first is simply to de-squeeze the image for viewing purposes like many other cameras do.
The second is truly a breakthrough, as the camera will allow recording in 8K (cropped) with 2x anamorphic lens, and de-squeeze the image while filming! After checking with FUJIFILM, I can confirm that this option will give the best anamorphic recording quality, and I’m looking forward to trying it out in the near future.
If different squeeze factors are required, it will have to be manipulated on your favorite NLE.
OK, let’s tackle other features. Let me start with the new “Autofocus Wide Tracking”, which I find extremely useful for documentary work. Simply place the focus square on the object you want to track and the camera will do the rest, most of the time successfully.
Another improvement is the ability to connect the FUJIFILM fan to the camera in order to combat the possibility of overheating. Personally, I did not encounter any issues, but for those who are working professionally, I recommend considering this device.
I also find the camera works very well in low light conditions, so using higher ISO values is not an issue.
For those who are filming in F-Log-2, please be advised that the minimum ISO can be set to 800. By the way, in the menu, there is one very interesting feature – “F-Log 2 D Range Priority”. Apparently, it is supposed to improve the camera’s Dynamic Range, but at the expense of a greater rolling shutter. This option won’t be available in all recording formats and frame rates.
We will, of course, test this option in our lab test when we get the camera with the final firmware installed.
The EVF is large and clear, but what FUJIFILM wisely added is the possibility to control the magnification ratio and reduce it to a manageable size so that the entire frame is visible at once.
For control freaks, the SUB menu is now very customizable between the photo and video modes. I really appreciate the level of choosing functions for viewing that FUJIFILM allows here.
If you haven’t noticed, the new GFX100 II is much smaller than the original GFX100 camera as FUJIFILM managed to shave off the built-in battery grip. Not only that but there is no need to buy an additional transmission grip for sending material to the cloud as FUJIFILM managed to squeeze it all into the body, keeping the camera size and weight as low as possible.
All those high-resolution formats deserve a more advanced recording media, so now one recording slot is dedicated to accommodate CFexpress Type B cards.
For those who a seeking a Timecode solution, jam sync via ULTRASYNC Blue can be obtained.
Last but not least, a new film simulation setting was added, the REALA ACE. At the time of writing this review, I was not able to test it.
So, no camera is perfect and maybe the two main concerns I have are the following:
I’ll start with the camera grip. For people with a small hand like mine, the camera is a little uncomfortable to hold. The grip is simply too big.
But more importantly, I would like to mention the image quality. It is really beautiful, BUT, in my opinion, it is “too clean”. It seems as if the noise reduction is working hard to “smooth things”. True, you can dial down the noise reduction to minus 3, but I wish that the results could be more visible.
Not all types of noise are harmful, and in my opinion, a bit more “picture texture” is missing.
In addition to that, regarding future GFX offerings, I hope FUJIFILM will consider the following:
- Implementing a higher frame rate in 4K resolution, as currently it is limited to up to 120 frames per second in full HD
- Having a fully articulated LCD screen
- And unlike the modestly priced X-S20, in this camera, subject detection cannot be set to “Auto”. In my opinion, this option is sorely missed
- The in-body stabilization system is generally fine, although I wish it could be even more prominent.
But maybe the biggest request that I have is to take the inner bit of this camera with all of its functionality and try and implement it in a dedicated cinema camera body.
I’m sure that FUJIFILM can only gain from finally having an “A camera” on the market.
Last but not least, the new GFX100 II will set you back $7,499/€6,789 which is way less than the original GFX100 and $1500 USD more than the GFX100S, but at the end of the day, it is a different beast altogether with much higher and more refined video capabilities.
Now, I’ll be interested to hear what you guys are thinking about the new GFX100 II. Is medium format something that you’ve been considering in the past, and is this new camera piquing your curiosity to finally try one? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.