Welcome to my little Fuji GF45mm Review.

Firstly, as stated in my first GFX impressions, then on my last day with a GFX, then again (when I got the GFX back) and started printing from it and also last week when I still had my GFX ….. you’ll understand that I had a GFX 50S on rental.

Then the rental went back.  Then it came back to me.  And I’ll be sad when it goes back again.

But.

The point being, I honestly.  HONESTLY.  Didn’t think the GFX 50S would have any impact on me.  My friends over on the Kage Collective kept telling me how good it was.

So I rented one.  And I did it again, and, well, you get the idea.  And here we are now.

In between all this renting Fujifilm UK asked me if I would like to give the “soon to be announced” GF45mm F2.8 lens a run for its money.

Why did they ask me?  Well, I think it’s down to the fact that the GF 45mm lens is approximately the same focal length as a 35mm Full Frame equivalent (23mm for those of us in the APS-C ecosystem) and they knew that, as a reportage photographer, that focal range is my go to length.

I photograph Weddings mostly, and some family photography too and I think Fujifilm wanted to see if the GF45mm lens could cut it the environments I work in most.

Fujifilm GF45mm Review – The Lens:

fuji gf45mm reviewI’m going to leave it up to Dr. Rask to dazzle you with the product shots (and more amazing images no doubt) but as you can see from my image above, the lens is relatively compact compared to the GFX50S itself.

If you are comparing it to the other lenses currently available in the GF range, it’s a positive tiddler.  And it’s light too.  Again, when you consider the system it’s in.  Of course, it’s not light compared to the XF23mm F2!

Fuji GF45mm Review – Technical Specifications

Type FUJINON LENS GF45mmF2.8 R WR
Lens construction 11 elements 8 groups

(includes 1 aspherical ,2ED elements)

Focal length (35mm format equivalent) f=45mm (36mm)
Angle of view 62.6°
Max. aperture F2.8
Min. aperture F32
Aperture control

Number of blades

Stop size

 

9(rounded diaphragm opening)

1/3EV (22 steps)

Focus range 45cm~∞
Max. magnification 0.14x
External dimensions: Diameter x Length (approx.)

(distance from camera lens mount flange)

Φ84mm x 88mm
Weight (approx.)

(excluding caps, hoods )

490g
Filter size Φ62mm
Accessories included Lens cap FLCP-62

Lens rear cap RLCP-002

Lens hood

Lens pouch

Now, if you’ve read any of my reviews in the past you’ll probably be aware that I’m not a particularly technical person.  I have no idea what a “rounded diaphragm opening” is (sounds painful), nor do I know what the symbol “Φ” means and “11 elements 8 groups” sounds like something from a physics experiment to me.

What I do know though is, compared to the GF 63mm F2.8 lens (which is the only other GF lens I’ve used), the GF45mm is much snappier and appears to focus a lot quicker for my needs…and the images (especially when printed) are sublime.

Maybe this is why Fujifilm are stating on the PR for this lens that:

“Offering excellent portability, with a compact and lightweight design (490g), this new lens will bring street and documentary photography in stunning medium format quality.”

Fuji GF45mm Review – Optics

In terms of rendering of the images, to my eye, the GF45mm F2.8 gives a beautifully clean and crisp image across the whole aperture range.

There is a whole range of images below ranging from f2.8 to f32 which is the aperture range of the lens.

As usual, and especially relevant for files with such details, compressed web JPEGs don’t really do them justice.

I have already printed a few of the images below and they look incredible.  Absolutely incredible.

Fujifilm GF45mm Review – Shooting Reportage at Weddings

It’s important for me to point out here, as I have previously, that I think the GFX 50S can have a place as a wedding camera for some photographers.

Those that shoot editorial, portraits, group shots etc – especially those that print, will find that given the time allowed shooting those types of images – you will get amazing results.  You will get better quality images, with more detail and more dynamic range than if you shoot with the X-Series.

However.

I do not, personally, shoot many groups or editorial style portraits at my weddings.  My go to cameras are the X-Pro2, the X-T2 and the X100F for my wedding work and it will firmly remain that way.

I have yet to decide whether I will actually purchase the GFX 50S.  I believe the camera can make me money, especially in my family documentary business, but for me, I see the GFX as a potential accompaniment to the X-Series.  Certainly not a replacement.

That said, I was tasked with using the GF45mm at some weddings.  The only problem being, I don’t shoot weddings in August, so for the vast majority of the time I’ve had with the lens, I’ve had very little opportunity to use it a wedding.

Couple that with the fact that the lens I have is only a prototype, I couldn’t use it to shoot any of the key elements of the day.  I used it during bridal prep and for some of the drinks receptions to see how it held up.

So, to the wedding.

fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/125th Second, ISO 200gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/125th Second, ISO 200 fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/125th Second, ISO 200

Even back in the day when I shot with a Canon system, I shot almost everything on a 35/85 focal length.  That has remained mostly true whilst working with the Fujifilm systems (though in APS-C, of course, this becomes 23/56).

In the world of the GFX, that 35 full frame length (23 APS-C), becomes 45mm…..keeping up?

The reason I love that focal length so much is that I feel it gives a vision as close to what the human eye sees naturally.

I like to get close and fill the frame with that focal length and when shooting with the GF45mm, especially at f2.8, you can really create beautiful images with glorious depth to them.

The top two images were taken with the camera to my eye, and the third one was taken with the LCD flip screen out.

Even though the GFX system is a lot bigger than the X-Series, it’s still really not that much bigger than my old Canon 1D system….but when you have been used to shooting with an X-Pro camera for six years, it does feel a lot larger.

Fuji GF45mm Review – Focus Speed

The GF45mm F2.8 is relatively quick to focus.  Certainly compared to the 63mm.  However, it’s not going to suit those who shoot in a rapid burst motion.

Even when shooting reportage weddings, you really do need to slow down and shoot accordingly.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and to a certain extent, it reminds me a little of shooting with the X-Pro1 when that was first released.  Neither the original X-Pro1 nor the GFX system is going to compete with the XT-2 or X-Pro2 when it comes to focusing speed.

I have to admit I have never shot with another medium format system, so I can’t compare the GF45mm focusing speed against any other system in that class.  I’m told, however, by others that have shot different medium format systems the ability to hand hold and shoot at relatively low shutter speeds, at three frames per second is something that is unique to the GFX.

When shooting the GF45mm F2.8 on a medium format system, it’s worth remembering that the depth of field (compared to FF or APS-C), for the same aperture will be even narrower.

This means that it will be more difficult, generally, to focus and shoot at the narrower apertures.

I found, however, because the AF mechanism in the GF45mm is very responsive, I could shoot hand held at F2.8 regularly and accurately.

fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/900th Second, ISO 100 fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/800th Second, ISO 100

Fujifilm GF45mm Review – Image Detail & Dynamic Range

I know to an extent the image detail rendering and certainly, the dynamic range are down to the sensor in the GFX 50S but I thought I’d show you a detail shot of a table decoration that really explains how the camera, using the GF45mm F2.8 really does handle tricky lighting and higher dynamic range situations.

The image below, shown in both colour and monochrome, is the type of image I would normally struggle to get.  There is a lot of contrasting light inside and outside of the room but the camera has kept all the detail in both the highlights and shadows.

You can see the amazing clarity and detail, but also, I hope appreciate the overall dynamic range capabilities of the GFX 50S with the GF45mm lens attached.

gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/1,800th Second, ISO 100

fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/1,800th Second, ISO 100

GF45mm Review100% Screen Grab from Lightroom of the above image.

To make it a bit easier to see this, you can see the full-size rendered JPG image if you wish – it’s a 21 MB file, mind.

Fuji GF45mm Review – Focus Tracking

There is a rudimentary AF-C mode in the GFX 50S and whilst I’d never used it before, I wanted to see if could hold up.

The camera will shoot at a maximum burst rate of 3 frames per second, which considering today’s X-series cameras is pretty sluggish.

However, it’s not an X-Series camera, it’s a medium format camera, and being able to focus track, even at just three frames per second, hand held, has to be a good thing in my mind.

As I started shooting more at the wedding with the combination, the more my confidence grew that it was nailing the shots.

In the series below, once the formalities were out of the way, I wanted to try and get some bread and butter “hugging” shots.

For these, I have to get pretty close, I like to fill the frame, I like to shoot at wide apertures and I need to focus track in most cases as the people approach the bride fairly quickly.

fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/950th Second, ISO 100 fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/1,100th Second, ISO 100 fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/1,100th Second, ISO 100

Again, the lighting is pretty tough in the above three images.  The harsh early afternoon sunshine was difficult to work with but I’m more than pleased with the images it created.

Those that once missed the depth of field of full frame systems, can investigate the GFX and 45mm F2.8 lens and get that, plus more in abundance.

I’ve included the full-size rendered JPG image of the first image in the above series – it’s a 21 MB file.

If you load the linked full-size image above, try zooming in to look at the eye lashes.  You’ll see the detail.

As I’ve mentioned throughout, the GF45mm F2.8 on the GFX 50S is certainly an able camera and lens, but it’s not a camera you would likely shoot a whole wedding (certainly in a documentary approach) with.

My intention for the GFX is that it will create amazing prints.  Prints are the key factor here and so I purposefully chose the images above as clients print a lot of images with me from this part of the day.

Those that shoot lots of groups, and especially bridal portraits, which go on to be printed, will be astounded I reckon.

And so to Spain…

I’ve had the GF45mm lens for about six weeks, and five of those weeks I spent in Spain on holiday.

 

Whilst in Spain, for this Fuji GF45mm Review, I really wanted to put the camera and lens combination through its paces.

I’m not a landscape photographer of any merit.  I kind of get the heebie jeebies when I make pictures without people in them, but for the purpose of this Fuji GF45mm Review I thought it might be prudent to share a few images that I took from the grounds of the apartment we were staying in:
fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/10, 1/550th Second, ISO 100 fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/125th Second, ISO 160

This next shot was obviously not taken from the apartment, but taken during an early morning walk along the coast of Andalucia.

It’s not an image that will win me any awards, but if you looked at the full-size image, you would again see the incredible detail I think, especially in the highlighted area of the sea.

fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/13, 40 Seconds, ISO 100

Fuji GF45mm Review – 7 Shot Panorama

This image is a seven shot, hand held panorama.  It’s from a vista point just to the east of Sorbas, near Almeria. We were driving past it and I thought “that might make a good panorama”.

So we simply stopped the car, and without thinking too much I metered for the left-hand image, set the aperture to f32 and shot the seven images.

I’m not sure you could do that with any other medium format system and the GF45mm lens seemed to handle the whole exercise seamlessly (see what I did there? seamlessly…like the seams of a panorama….OK, I’ll get my coat).

fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/32, 1/125th Second, ISO 500

I’ve included the full-size rendered JPG image of the image above – it’s a 64 MB file.

It’s not an image that will win me any awards, but if you look at the full-size image, you can again see the incredible detail – especially considering the seven frames with shot hand held, at f32 and simply stiched in Lightroom

Fujifilm GF45mm Review – Reportage Family Photography

Part of my business is shooting family Day in the Life stories and the clients who have these shoots almost always have purchase prints.  In 90% of the cases, they will order larger 20×16 inches framed images and in some cases much larger images too.

This is where I see the GFX 50S (if I bite the bullet and purchase it) earning most of its keep for me.  I’m a working professional so I have to justify a purchase like this, and it has to be based on the sound business principle that simply states “it needs to pay for itself and earn me money”.  This is probably the reason I don’t have a Leica film camera …!

fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/125th Second, ISO 800

The Pool Shots

Fujifilm is touting the GF45mm F2.8 as a lens capable of relatively decent reactionary shooting and dealing with reportage or story telling situations well.

And I think they’ve nailed it.

As always, the shots below could be captured too using the X-Series but I already have a couple of these images below printed and they are just mind blowing.

Of course, these are family memories, but I can tell you now, having these memories on the wall or in a holiday print book is invaluable and you can easily tell the images shot on the GFX with the 45mm lens.

fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/4,000th Second, ISO 100 fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/3,200th Second, ISO 100

Whilst I didn’t quite make the composition I wanted in the next shot, it is one of my favourites.  Using the GF 45mm lens fully at F2.8 I wanted to get a shot with foreground and background interest.

For this shot, I was actually concentrating on Rosa at the front.  I then saw that Albie had popped his goggles on (which could only mean one thing).

I shoot this camera mostly, as I do with my X-Series, using the AF-L button on the back in a “back button focusing” technique – which is a quicker way to shoot over simple AF using the shutter button.

Watching where he was running, it was really quick and simple to adjust my focus point, lock the exposure, recompose and shoot.

With the exception of the chopped off limbs, this was exactly the shot I was looking for. It was honestly a very simple and quick focus.  And on a medium format system!  This is one of the images we have printed.

fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/1,200th Second, ISO 100

Using Face Detection

The face detection system on the GFX 50S is very similar to that on the X-Series, and works really well too.

The two shots below were shot using the face detection activated.

The second image, especially, I was surprised at how well it worked.  I’m not sure the 63mm lens would have focused as quickly as the 45mm F2.8 did.  Rosa was swimming towards me pretty quickly and face detection picked her out as she bobbed out of the water.

fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/2,200th Second, ISO 100 fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/2,500th Second, ISO 100 fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/2,400th Second, ISO 100
fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/3,500th Second, ISO 100

Detail, detail, detail.

The combination of the fast focusing GF45mm lens and the activities the kids were up to allowed me to sit and just pop off the images I wanted.  It really wasn’t a chore to lift the camera up and shoot quickly.fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/1,700th Second, ISO 100 fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/1,300th Second, ISO 100

I’ve included the full-size rendered JPG image of the first image above – it’s a 32 MB file.

And the full-sized rendered JPG of the second image – it’s a 35 MB file.

If you take a look at the detail in the water, you will see incredible clarity.  Take a look at the water run off on Rosa’s area (second image) specifically.

fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/1,700th Second, ISO 100

fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/11, 1/1,700th Second, ISO 100

Fuji GF45mm Review – Using it on The Streets

I don’t think the GFX system is going to be used by too many street photographers who wander around and look for the “decisive moment”.

I believe there are a lot of amazing street photographers out there who use the rules of light, composition and waiting for a moment really well and for them, budget allowing, the GF45mm F2.8 could be the perfect lens.

That 35mm (FF) field of view, the detail, the depth and the prints….remember the prints.

The GFX 50Sm, whilst larger, is still fairly discreet – especially when using the flip down screen or the angled viewfinder.  It’s very much possible to shoot on the streets with this camera and lens.

fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/5.6, 1/500th Second, ISO 160fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/2.8, 1/1,000th Second, ISO 160 fuji gf45mm reviewFujifilm GFX 50S ~ GF 45mm F2.8 R WR Lens @ f/8, 1/500th Second, ISO 1,600

Fujifilm GF45mm Review – Summary

Does the GF45mm F2.8 lens really open up reportage style photography in a medium format world?

Well, yes, I think it does.  Consideration needs to be given to the necessity for speed and size, versus image quality and dynamic range.

I’m not sure too many war correspondents will be using this on the front line (though they said that about the X-Pro1 and look how that turned out…..), but I can see how the GF45mm lens can fit in the armory of a storytelling photographer who has a requirement for incredible image depth.

Those prints, though.  Those prints….

You can pre-order the GF45mm F2.8 W R today from WEX.

It’s been a busy old day over at Fujifilm HQ today and you may also be interested in the new firmware updates for many of the mainstream X-Series cameras.

And finally, I’m giving workshops at the Fujifilm Festival on the 16th & 17th September in New York City.  Maybe see some of you there.