Fly Away, Fujifilm GFX 50R

Yesterday, I sold my medium-format camera to a fascinating Millennial living in Oceanside, Calif., where we met at his family’s small business to complete the transaction, which included my receiving a 2020 wall calendar with illustrative photos that he had taken (oh, they’re impressive). Yep. My Fujifilm GFX 50R is gone.

I had considered letting go the digicam for some time, reluctantly. While the 50R’s image quality is magnificent, the massive camera and attached Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens often scares off animals or intimidates people (e.g., I get suspicious reactions). Time had long-ago come to go discreet, for the street.

Easiest option: Move along the 50R to a new owner and either return to full-time using Leica Q or purchase the Q2. Foolish me, I clicked on the Steve Huff review of Sigma fp, a diminutive full-frame camera that had previously piqued my attention. But earlier experiences made me cautious, having once owned the Sigma DP1 and DP2s, which design concepts were quirky. Stated differently: Functional limitations negated benefits, such as the wonderful color produced by their Foveon sensors.

The fp is odd, too, by introducing a modular design ethic. The camera essentially is an unassuming black brick, with respect to shape, to which the user can add one of two different grips, cinematographer-style viewfinder, or other accessories. Without an attached lens, the Sigma shooter measures 113 x 70 x 45 mm (4.45 x 2.76 x 1.77 inches) and weighs 422 grams (14.89 ounces). Not only is that tiny, but the manufacturer claims that the fp is the smallest interchangeable lens, full-frame camera. I believe it. By contrast, the 50R is a whopping 160.7 x 96.5 x 66.4 mm (6.33 x 3.8 x 2.62 inches) and weighs 775 grams (27.3 ounces). Again, those figures are body only, no lens attached, and battery inserted.

Sigma dealers are offering a sale on the fp body with 45mm lens; I purchased the kit last week and can return it for refund or exchange within 60 days should the thing disappoint. Enough about that; the 50R is topic of the day.

I will really miss the Fuji monster. Outstanding image quality, rangefinder styling, excellent ergonomics, and fully manual—and customizable—controls made the 50R a great acquisition. I didn’t much mind the bulk when lugging the thing on the street. But as previously expressed, some photographic subjects slunk away whenever I pulled about the shooter slung around my back.

Here’s the thing: I walk far and wide throughout the neighborhood where we reside—about 10 kilometers today, for example. San Diego is increasingly a surveillance society. If homeowners (or renters) don’t purchase Nest or Ring video cameras, Cox cable provides one with Internet and TV bundles. Many of these vidcam folks are quick to post clips on the Nextdoor social network of anyone seemingly suspicious. That could be me, lugging the enormous 50R. Point being: I increasingly felt conspicuous carrying the Fuji and, as such, often left it behind.

So for all the reasons stated, I reluctantly parted with what may be the best camera for IQ that my grubby hands will ever caress. The GFX 50R goes to a good place. The buyer clearly has an eye for landscape photography, based on the shots in the calendar. He wants to expand into portraiture, for which the medium-format camera is also immensely well-suited. But I can’t stop from feeling a wee bit glum when looking at portraits taken using the 50R for my “Cats of University Heights” series. The detail is spectacular.

The Featured Image is one of the last three shot, at the same spot, using the camera, while with my wife walking about San Diego Zoo. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 320, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 11:39 a.m. PST, Nov. 7, 2019.

I haven’t posted all the pics shot with the 50R. You will see more, yet.

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