THE FUJI GFX 100S
Where to begin. Well I guess right here. This is my very first post and yes I know I’m about 15 years or more behind, but hey maybe I’m a late bloomer!
Starting they say is the first step and these are definitely my first into the realm of social posting and my recent purchase of fujifilm’s new GFX 100s camera has a part to play in many changes I’m making in my photographic career, direction, and future.
But I’m sure your not here to hear about me, you may be here reading this to find out more about this camera whether it is right for you or to learn from my experience so together we can create amazing images. Let me define that statement right off the bat: Cameras don’t take photographs, Photographers do! Cameras are tools we use to help in the interpreting process of what we see and say in images. Great tools can make that process fun, easier, and the GFX seems so far to fit that profile for me.
At the time of writing I’ve had my GFX 100s for about 2 weeks and my first lens purchase was the FUJINON GF63mm F2.8 R WR which only arrived about 5 days ago. Since then I have been becoming familiar with the camera, the menu system, and its features.
Incorporating the GFX into my workflow that has been solely Sony full frame for many many years means I have to try and find a balance between the two systems that keep the overall usability and button function layout similar - so I can pick up either and not miss photographs because my finger memory cannot find the right button options to record the best quality image.
One thing that becomes obvious quickly is that dread camera lingo that camera manufacturer seems to use that defy my poor mind's comprehension. Both Sony and Fujifilm writers for their camera manuals make many viewpoint assumptions and bury the actual explanation of what menu features actually do in to me meaningless mumbo jumbo of techno lingo. Thankfully there are individuals in cyberspace who can explain many of these into a concept I can grasp.
So with all that said the following is how I have configured my GFX 100s. (just remember my reasoning for some of the settings stems back to how I have set up my Sony Cameras to maintain finger memory across both systems). At the end I will share what I have learnt in comparing the GFX 100s to the Sony A7rIII which is the latest camera I have from Sony and why I opted to move to Fuji instead of the Sony A7rIV.
Image Quality - I have this set to Raw only. Being a commercial, portrait and fine art photographer recording jpgs is irrelevant. I would never use them as all my work is heavily worked to create the images I see in my head as I look at my subject. The camera is only one step in that process to the final image. This then means that much of the IQ menu becomes redundant for me as unless settings have an impact on the Raw file then they have no effect.
From my current understanding the following are menu settings that do impact the recording of the Raw file by the camera or how the demosaicing software will open the image. (Currently I am exploring both Capture One and Lightroom for this part of the process. But more on that in another post.): Film Simulation, White balance, Long Exposure NR, Lens Modulation Optimizer, and Pixel Mapping. The first two are fully editable options in both of the mentioned Raw processors and there effects only apply to how they are initially opened in your preferred editing software. That last three will actually have an impact on pixel recording so let's take a closer look at these.
Long Exposure NR. During exposures that last longer than a few seconds increased heat build up across the sensor begins to introduce digital signal noise that maybe considered as having a negative impact on the clarity of the image. This heat noise impacts on the details and evenness of tone over the recorded raw file, much like how ISO's above the cameras default base ISO introduces noise from signal amplification. This is like that static hissing sound heard when volume is amplified on a microphone to hear a soft speaker. Heat creates its own digital recording on the image sensor and what Long Exposure Noise Reduction attempts to do is remove that overlaying ghost image of digital noise from the recorded light from the long exposure that the sensor captures. One of the downs sides to this process is the need for the camera to take an additional image of the same length, but this time with the sensor closed off to the light so it can only record the ghost image that is almost identical to the original captures ghost image generated by heat. I say almost identical as temperatures will fluctuate slightly between the two captures. But it does serve its purpose to reduce the effects from this noise at least theoretically. Now whether that ghost noise has a negative visual impact on the image is pure subjective. From my tests I saw very little pixel benefit from using this feature to the 30 second exposure times I used to test. Further testing would be needed to see what the results are for longer than this.
Lens Modulation Optimizer. This feature is reported to attempt to correct the effects of diffraction that occurs as the lens is stopped down to achieve greater depth of field. There's a whole science on this subject but to keep it simple in terms of the GFX 100s, apertures that exceed f/9 will begin to show the effects of diffraction within the image. As light waves pass though the narrowering aperture blades these waves begin to modulate with the edges and an interference ripple is caused. This slight bending of the light path thus causing these ripples to hit the sensor over more and more pixels as the aperture is extended towards f/16-f/32 and creates soft edges or as we know it in photography terms blur. So there is a trade off between a smaller aperture and diffraction. This is what Lens Modulation Optimizer corrects but sadly this feature is only applied to JPGs and not to Raw files. Fuji has not made this mathematical formula available outside of their cameras
Pixel Mapping. As the name suggests, this feature will take a snapshot of the sensor and map out any dead pixels and eliminate them by supplanting the dead pixel with a near neighbouring pixel and fill the bright pixel that would otherwise be present in the images using the camera software. This map is stored until the camera is reset or the function is reapplied.
More to Come...