Eloquence and thoughts on the GFX 50S
NB: This is not a review. There are some technical notes at the end of the post. So, if you want to skip the navel gazing, scroll to the bottom.
Striving to be fluent, effective, persuasive, lucid
In a world where articulate communication seems to have been lost, I still see eloquence as worthwhile and commendable. In 2000, I worked in Germany. While struggling to communicate in German, I was keenly aware of not only being inarticulate, but as being perceived as stupid as well. As an adult, if you can’t communicate well, you are effectively dumb. Mind you, this has ceased to be the impediment that it once was. However, I still value eloquence and realize that this is something I strive for in my photography.
A broader vocabulary and exposure to eloquence will help anyone become a more articulate communicator. In the same way, photographers can benefit from constantly looking at great photos, artwork, design and the world around us. Training ourselves to see better, just as one practices to speak or write more expressively. Due to the technical nature of photography, we also need to factor in the equipment necessary to make our images. Here is where shooting with a medium format camera can start to make a difference in what images one creates. Possibly, even the images we see. Almost certainly, the way one works.
I have been intrigued with medium format photography for several years. I love the look of the images produced with 120 film. Unfortunately, I have not successfully integrated a film workflow into my photography practice and nor have I been able to use it for work. Many others do so very successfully. It just hasn’t worked for me.
Enter the Fujifilm GFX 50S medium format camera. As soon as rumours of this camera started, I also started thinking about it in the following terms: nice to have, can I afford it?, will my Mamiya 645 lenses work with it?, etc. Jump to 2017 and the GFX was released. Making a leap of faith, I put in my order. And that leap is that I will somehow integrate it into both my work and personal photography.
How I will integrate it is a work in progress. Since it’s arrival, I have shot a variety of subjects with it. I have yet to really try it for landscape and long exposure, which I will do in the coming weeks. To date, shooting portraits with it has been great. In studio and candid, the GFX produces beautiful results. One might say truly eloquent results. Or at least, that is what I am beginning to see as the possibility with this camera.
As Patrick recently wrote about the GFX, I am still developing how and what I will photograph with the new camera. I need to give myself both the time to explore this and the time to make photos with the GFX. A more deliberate process. Something akin to shooting with film, but with a digital workflow.
Will this new tool help make me a more articulate photographer? Only time will tell. Perhaps the reality is that the time I spend using the GFX is what will make me a better photographer, not the camera itself. Yet, there is no mistaking that the images created with the GFX are tangibly different from those produced with my X-cameras. It’s as if the images have more volume. I know, totally inscrutable artspeak. So, I am not as articulate writing about this as I had hoped. It is all a work in progress…
Will the GFX replace my X-cameras? No. The X-Pro2, X-T2 and the X-lenses produce fantastic results and are ideally suited for my work. They will continue to be the workhorses they have always been. The X-Pro2 is still my camera of choice to have with me always. However, it is fantastic to have the opportunity to expand my photographic vocabulary. Something I hope to do with the new GFX. A few, random samples follow.
Tech notes: All images created with the Fujifilm GFX 50S. Lenses used include the Fujinon GF63mm f/2.8 and GF32-64mm f/4 and a variety of Mamiya 645 lenses adapted with the Fotodiox M645-GFX adaptor. The Fujinon lenses are stellar and sharper than the Mamiya glass. However, the M645 lenses have given me an inexpensive means of expanding my lens lineup until I can afford to purchase more GF lenses. Lightroom loves the GFX files. I recommend shooting for the highlights and then pull, pull, pull all of the detail you want from the shadows. It’s there. I have also made a couple of prints from GFX files with really great results. Need to print more.
Other notes: If you aren’t already, I recommend following Patrick LaRoque and Olaf Sztaba, who have been addressing the more esoteric aspects of image making. And for more, great GFX photography, be sure to read through Spencer Wynn’s recent road trip blog.