GFX System: short guide to the lenses - Part 1

Categoria: Prova sul campo obiettivi Pubblicato: Venerdì, 19 Marzo 2021 Scritto da Max Angeloni

When a new photographic system is brought forth a Hamletic doubt always crosses our mind: will this system have a bright future or will it, in a short time, dissolve like ice under the sun? Cases in which many brands, even famous ones, introduce a new “revolutionary” system and simply abandon it with a kit lens and a couple of prime lenses of dubious quality, are not rare. In reality, the introduction of a new system should represent a great opportunity for photographers. We should leave aside eventual youthful indiscretions of the system, as a new system mainly means new Lenses. New and modern lenses that are destined to last within our collection of photographic equipment many, many years.  This strategy is very clear for Fujifilm and, as done with the “X” system, has introduced the “GFX” system on the market with very clear and articulated planning.
Specifically, the lenses produced have been designed for resolutions well above the 50 MP with which this system made its debut. In this first part of the lens guide for the GFX system, I will report my views on the lenses in my possession. Lenses with which I have worked with over the years and in the various photographic situations that, professionally, have presented themselves to me. As usual, do not expect to find tables, diagrams, schemes, and harangues
I gladly leave them to those who, not having decent topics and photos with which to fill an article, make extensive use of them. I will limit myself to reporting impressions and accompanying images to what is described in words.
As my pool of lenses expands, I will add comments regarding the new lenses as well. Let's begin.
Rather... not.

On second thought... Some premises may be necessary.
For those who have never had experiences with formats superior to the canonical APSc and Full Frame it is quite understandable that they have found themselves a bit confused with the equivalence of the angle of view covered by some zoom lenses.
For example... for smaller systems we have rarely seen zooms that cover the equivalent angle in the Full Frame of 25-51mm (approximately).
In reality, the reason is very simple. Without going into exasperated technicalities, let's keep one thing in mind. As the size of the light-sensitive support increases (in our case the sensor), to cover an angle equivalent to that of the Full Frame format, one needs an entrance pupil (from where the light enters a lens) and an exit pupil (where light comes out from a lens) that are larger.
In short, to have an angle of view equal to that covered by a 50mm focal length on a Full Frame format, the “GFX” system we will have to use (approximately) a 63mm. Therefore, a larger focal length corresponds (with equal brightness) to a larger entrance pupil.
Moreover, as the size of the sensor increases, the beam of light that comes out of the lens and hits the sensitive element must greater, therefore we must have a larger exit pupil. The combination of these elements entails numerous and complex design constraints if you want to create a relatively space-saving zoom lens, with constant brightness and, above all, extremely high-performance.
This explains the reason (in very broad lines) for which on larger formats we find zoom lenses that cover apparently unusual focal lengths.

Fujinon GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR

Fujifilm 50s, GF32-64mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 100, f/5.6, 1/320


The first lens of the system. Almost all those who approached this system used it with this zoom. For those coming from the X system, a change of photographic habits will not be necessary. The rings are exactly where we are used to finding them with our fingertips.
Perhaps the generous size, compared to the APSc format, might leave the user disoriented for a moment, but nothing that can distort our automatisms.
Few shots are enough to understand that the philosophy of the X system was adopted on the GFX system as well. A lens with an excellent build quality that, without highlighting its weak points, offers great performance through the entire excursion of focal lengths already at a maximum aperture. Obviously, we are talking about a zoom.
And as normal as it is, it presents a slight distortion especially at 32 and 64 mm as well as, albeit contained, a light fall off on the edges with some of the greater apertures. In any case, nothing that translates negatively in "real" photography and nothing that has not already been seen in all "normal" professional zooms.
Chromatic aberration is absent even in the most complex shooting situations as well as resistance to backlighting which is impeccable. A sign that lens-sensor optimization has reached levels that we could only dream of just a few years ago.
I've heard some complaints about the autofocus. Honestly, these criticisms just make me think about how many people type on the keyboard without having the least bit of analytical skills, experience, and professionalism that would allow them to express a sensible and proven judgment from constant use in the field.
My judgment regarding the autofocus is based on the behavior of this function in critical situations such as the backlight in a dark environment of a bride and groom entering a church and on the focusing on the eyes of a model that is moving on the catwalk. And personally, I really have no criticisms that can be leveled on this point.
Of course, if you find the autofocus disappointing while trying to photograph a tyrannosaurus that's chasing you while riding a jeep... well, you were wrong in choosing your equipment as well as the itinerary of your off-road excursion.
The GFX system is not born with such ambitions. Perhaps one day it will undergo a transformation that will make it sufficiently suitable for use in "dynamic" photography genres.
But for now, the intended use is for photographic genres in which the priority is to obtain the highest possible image quality. And in this perspective (which basically represents the synthesis of my opinion on this lens) the Fujinon GF 32-64mm F4 R LM WR, represents the ideal starting point of the lenses to be placed in your bag.


Fujifilm 50s, GF32-64mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 640, f/8, 1/125


Fujifilm 50s, GF32-64mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 100, f/7.1, 1/180


Fujifilm 50s, GF32-64mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 200, f/13, 1/125


Fujifilm 50s, GF32-64mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 6400, f/4, 1/18


Fujifilm 50s, GF32-64mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 5000, f/4, 1/125


Fujifilm 50s, GF32-64mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 160, f/4, 1/125


Fujifilm 50s, GF32-64mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 160, f/4, 1/125


Fujifilm 50s, GF32-64mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 200, f/13, 1/125


Fujifilm 50s, GF32-64mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 100, f/9, 1/125

Fujinon GF 23mm F4 R LM WR

Fujifilm 50R, GF23mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 100, f/4, 1/1100

I have to be honest. I cannot and will never be objective in judging this lens.
I love it viscerally. It's part of the very restricted group of those lenes with which one wonders how we were able to photograph when they still did not exist.
Oh well... it may be a bit big and heavy. But hey, if you love the 18mm angle of view on the Full Frame format, you can't help but fall in love with what the "GFX" system can offer paired up with this lens.
Those who have a minimum of photographic culture are fully aware of how difficult it is to make a wide-angle lens and how it gets exponentially more complicated as the size of the sensor increases.
Yet the Fujinon GF 23mm F4 R LM WR shows no weak sides. It is geometrically correct, almost completely insensitive to chromatic aberrations, and only slightly to the light fall off at the edges at a full aperture, it's already very sharp with a wide-open diaphragm and resistant to backlit photography situations.
Of course… an optical scheme as complex as that of a wide-angle lens requires “space” and this inevitably translates into a lens of generous size and weight.
It's rather curious to read here and there that some complain about the size but at the same time would have wanted a bright lens. This means that one does not have the slightest idea of how much greater brightness would translate in terms of weight and size while maintaining its performance unchanged.
But oh well… this is the state of things of modern “keyboard” photography.
To wrap things up, my opinion is that this lens is a must-have at all costs... naturally as long you know how to use this focal length with benefit and (why not) with fun.


Fujifilm 50s, GF23mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 100, f/14, 25"


Fujifilm 50s, GF23mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 100, f/14, 40"


Fujifilm 50s, GF23mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 100, f/5.6, 1/500


Fujifilm 50s, GF23mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 100, f/8, 1/250


Fujifilm 50s, GF23mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 100, f/5.6, 1/280


Fujifilm 50s, GF23mm F4 R LM WR - Iso 100, f/14, 1/125


Fujinon GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR

Fujifilm 50s, Fujifilm GF 45mm F/2.8 R WR - Iso 640, f/5, 1/400

With this lens, we enter the realm of the "normals".
In other words, those focal lengths in which, in relation to the flange focal distance and the angle of view, the design becomes relatively simpler. It is no coincidence that we are starting to find more compact, brighter, and less expensive lenses within the GFX system.
With this, I absolutely do not want to affirm that constructing such lenses is banal. On the contrary, it's precisely for this reason that maximum performance is expected.
The Fujinon GF 45mm is exactly what one would expect. Relatively compact and bright (as far as the GFX system format is concerned) without any notable weaknesses in real photography.
It's immediately very sharp with wide-open apertures, this lens is also able to deliver a pleasant and progressive bokeh.
In consideration of the angle (35mm equivalent in Full Frame format), the Fujinon GF 45mm can be indicated as an excellent lens for those who love genres such as reportage, especially in combination with the GFX50r.
The almost total absence of distortion allows you to shoot situations set in an architectural context without any compromise. In addition, the speed of the autofocus allows you to capture "fleeting moments" in a rather fluid manner.
In conclusion, there is very little to add to the Fujinon GF 45mm. The bottom line is that it's a lens that covers a legendary focal length in the field of photography and is in perfect sync with the philosophy of the brand and with the yield that is expected from Fujifilm's GFX system.

Fujifilm 50s, Fujifilm GF 45mm F/2.8 R WR - Iso 100, f/4, 1/950


Fujifilm 50s, Fujifilm GF 45mm F/2.8 R WR - Iso 100, f/6.4, 1/550


Fujifilm 50s, Fujifilm GF 45mm F/2.8 R WR - Iso 100, f/4, 1/125


Fujifilm 50s, Fujifilm GF 45mm F/2.8 R WR - Iso 100, f/5, 1/600


Fujifilm 50s, Fujifilm GF 45mm F/2.8 R WR - Iso 6400, f/2.8, 1/125 - my dog Ottaviano Augusto

Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

Fujifilm 50s, GF110mm F2 R LM WR - Iso 800 , f/2, 1/800

Having reached this point... I don't know what to write to avoid being banal and repetitive.

But let's start with this... years ago I wrote a review regarding the Zeiss Otus 85mm (Link).
My conclusions were that despite it being big, without autofocus and very expensive, in my opinion it was the best 85mm ever produced.
The year was 2014 and for the test, I used the Nikon D800 and D810.
Having abandoned the world of reflex cameras for years now, as a consequence of this I now long for this lens.

I love the angle of view of the equivalent 85mm on Full Frame. Together with the 35mm, I find that these lenses are perfect all-around tools for various types of photographic genres: portrait, environmental portrait, reportage, weddings, photoshoots, fashion, and more.
The bright 85mm wide aperture allows you to shoot full-length figures from a distance and still maintain an impressive three-dimensional feeling.
And not, as some think, to focus only on the pupil of one's eye and make the rest of the face blurred… that is, unless you are an ophthalmologist.
If, on the other hand, we want the maximum resolution over the entire frame, we simply close the aperture, and here we find the perfect lens for studio shooting.
I repeat, 85mm millimeters together with 35mm represent the wildcards of focal lengths for me. Those that must never be missing in my bag.
Its for these reasons that as soon as I took the first shots with the Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 I thought: “Finally… I can finally stop thinking about the performance of my beloved Otus 85mm”.
And yes, because the GF 110 (equivalent to an angle of view of approximately 88mm on a Full Frame format) has everything I want from this type of lens.
I won't add anything else, I let the images speak for themselves… as always.
The synthesis is… perfection.

Fujifilm 50s, GF110mm F2 R LM WR - Iso 12.800, f/2.2, 1/125


Fujifilm 50s, GF110mm F2 R LM WR - Iso 3.200, f/2, 1/60


Fujifilm 50s, GF110mm F2 R LM WR - Iso 100, f/5.6, 1/125


Fujifilm 50s, GF110mm F2 R LM WR - Iso 100, f/9, 1/125


Fujifilm 50s, GF110mm F2 R LM WR - Iso 800, f/2.8, 1/320


Fujifilm 50s, GF110mm F2 R LM WR - Iso 200, f/8, 1/125


Fujifilm 50s, GF110mm F2 R LM WR - Iso 1250, f/2, 1/1250


When choosing photographic equipment, I always try to be rather pragmatic.
This obviously has not impeded me, over the years, from buying a lot of equipment whose acquisition was driven more by emotions than by real professional necessity.
On the other hand, passion is also impulsive buying.
While for the GFX system, on the other hand, I was extremely rational. I consider it my work system par excellence, while for certain photographic situations I still prefer more discreet and lighter photographic systems.
In any case, a new way of interpreting photography is taking place around the size of this sensor. A new way, a new world to explore and an experience to further expand the possibilities offered to us photographers. Technological possibilities of course. 
For the rest, the difference will be, as always, a technical eye, sensitivity, and talent. And the more high-performance resources are at our disposal, the more opportunities we will get to express all our qualities.