A trip down to New Orleans gave me the perfect opportunity to use the Fujifilm GFX-50S camera along with the 32-64mm lens in a street setting. This post will give my general impressions of the camera with some photos illustrating my thoughts and the trip. The bottom line is that this camera is incredibly versatile, fun to use, and provides sharp, high resolution files with beautiful color, high dynamic range, and low noise. It is now my main shooting camera, although I am still holding onto my Sony A7RII for the time being in order to use wider angle and tilt-shift lenses when needed.
I did not have a car in New Orleans, so I spent all of my time walking or riding a bike, carrying the camera and lenses in a Lowepro Slingshot Edge 250 backpack. This sling backpack was perfect - the camera fit snugly in the quick access area with the 32-64mm lens on, with the 63mm lens underneath it. I could swing the backpack around to the front and take the camera out very quickly, and this bag now has top billing in my camera closet (and like many of you photographers, I've got a lot of camera bags in that closet!).
I arrived just after Mardi Gras, and beads were everywhere - in the streets, on the trees, and in front yards...
I generally shot in RAW mode, which allowed me to later try all of the different Fujifilm film settings in the Lightroom Calibration tab to see what profile worked best for a particular photo. The standard Provia setting was my most frequent choice, but sometimes I would use Velvia for more saturated colors, or the standard Acros setting for beautiful black and white tones:
Another option I love is to try different crop settings in the camera as I am shooting - sometimes the 65:24 "panorama" or "XPAN" crop worked best:
I am still getting used to shooting with the 4:5 crop of the GFX, which I generally prefer to the 2:3 crop of full frame cameras like the A7RII and others. I also love the 1:1 square crop shooting mode and plan to use that feature a lot with this camera:
The high resolution sensor of the GFX still provides very high resolution files even after cropping, which is very important to me since customers often ask me for large size prints. The Sony A7RII is also excellent in this respect, although the larger pixels and higher megapixel count in the GFX makes blowing up files while maintaining good quality even easier.
I also used the GFX indoors, and had no problem pushing the ISO all the way up to 12,800 when needed:
When it was really dark, however, I went with my Leica Q, which has a much faster lens for low light shooting, and is much smaller and quieter for more surreptitious shooting:
I love the colors coming out of the Fuji compared to the Sony A7RII, although in some cases I still resort to my favorite software plug-in, Alien Skin Exposure X2, whose film simulations always seem to give me just the right tone I am looking for. The Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods in particular were full of colorful buildings, people and things to photograph. I also took a very interesting bicycle tour of the lower ninth ward from ninth ward rebirth bike tours, which gave me a glimpse of the long-term effects of Hurricane Katrina on that area of the city.
I couldn't miss two classic Tulane area watering holes - The Boot, and Cooter Brown's:
More color output from the GFX-50S:
For those interested in the GFX-50S, I have a few observations to make with respect to the Cafe Du Monde photo taken above in the late afternoon light, as it relates to dynamic range and depth of field. First, as you would expect and as has been reported, GFX-50S files have a huge amount of latitude in terms of how they can be manipulated. The sky was almost white in the RAW file so I brought down the highlights which resulted in a more realistic and attractive blue color. I also boosted the shadows a little bit to show more detail inside the restaurant. My preliminary impression is that the GFX files are a little more forgiving when boosting the shadows than when taming highlights, i.e., I am always amazed how much I can boost the shadows without introducing a ton of noise, but sometimes I find blown highlights that are unrecoverable that I thought I might be able to recover. Please keep in mind, however, that I am coming from the Sony A7RII, which is no slouch in this area, so I had really, really high expectations of the GFX-50S that were probably unrealistic. And I certainly don't mean to imply you can blow highlights easily with this camera - the dynamic range is excellent.
Regarding depth of field, I shot this photo at f/5, and part of the roof is out of focus. This is not that surprising given the size of the sensor. I had to remind myself to stop down more than I was used to get everything I wanted in focus. Luckily the GFX-50S and Fuji lenses don't suffer from diffraction as much as many smaller sensor systems do, so I didn't worry about stopping down to, say f/16 and even smaller, at all (the GFX also has a lens optimization setting in the camera which is said to help reduce diffraction effects). Of course stopping down would sometimes require shooting at a higher ISO to maintain an adequate shutter speed, but the noise levels at high ISO are so good I didn't worry about that either.
In sum, the Fujifilm GFX-50S and New Orleans make a fantastic combo!
I hope this post is helpful to those who are curious about the GFX-50S or New Orleans.
Thanks for visiting.