Versatility is not a word we associate with a medium format camera. Impressions to most is these wonderful cameras are mostly used in a controlled studio setting.
However as we all know, in recent years the Fujifilm GFX50S and the Hasselblad X1D series have managed to push the envelope in terms of medium format portability.
One of the more anticipated out of the 6 GFX system lenses, the GF45 F2.8 R WR announced almost a year ago at Photokina 2016 is is now also available in the market, bringing the notion of the ‘medium format documentary style’ to the photographer.
Most of us either start with a 35mm or 50mm equivalent, and now there is finally a native 35mm for the GFX. Designed to be compact and lightweight (weighing only 490g), this lens is ideal for street and documentary photography.
Against what most will think , I actually use the GFX50S and GF45 combo like I would with a street camera. Like it or not, for me, the 35mm focal length literally begs itself to be used in a street setting over a studio one, especially when this setup isn’t much bigger than a standard DSLR.
I’ll scrimp on the tech specs as one can easily find them here. Aligned with the high quality we have long associated with Fujion lenses, we have 8 groups and 11 elements, (one aspherical lens and two ED lenses)
We have 9 rounded blades in the aperture, and a physical aperture ring ranging from f/2.8 to f/32 in third stop increments. It has an “A” position for use in shutter priority mode, and it has a “C” mode, where you can control the aperture on the GFX itself using one of the scroll wheels on the GFX50S, standard for the GF lenses.
The GF45 comes with internal focusing (one step up from the GF63F2.8) and thanks to the use of Nano GI coating, is quite able to minimise ghosting and flare. If you want a comparison, I have used the GF23, GF63, GF23-64 and GF110 and it is without a doubt that this lens is the fastest to focus so far.
GFX50S, GF45F2.8 at ISO200, F2.8
TO be honest, I was a tad worried about image quality, especially coming from the GF110 F2 which set a new bar, however these worries soon easily dissolved after putting the GF45 F2.8 through its use. The image quality just works, its excellent – testament to the experience Fujifilm has gathered over the decades designing and making large lenses.
Bringing the setup outside was easy, I use the Thinktank Turnstyle 20 a lot and the setup easily and comfortably fits into the sling. I don’t even use a neck strap for it, just a hand strap to protect against that accidental knock from a passerby. Trust me, few people will bear the trauma of any camera hitting the concrete floor well.
GFX50S, GF45F2.8 at ISO200, F2.8
GFX50S, GF45F2.8 at ISO100, F3.2
One of the cameras that I love for street has always been the Fujifilm X100 series and the Ricoh GR, and using the GF45F2.8 on the GFX50S brings back this warm feeling of shooting moments in life as you walk along with it.
GFX50S, Gf45F2.8 at ISO200, F2.8
Using the GF45 F2.8 has been an exhilarating experience, simply because it simply give me what I expect of a medium format but it provides me the ‘wanting‘ to bring it out and shoot. There’s a total of 6 GF lenses one can have now, with most opting for the GF32-64F4 for the versatility. I opt for a trio of the GF23F4, GF45F2.8 and the GF110F2 and I am glad that the wait have paid off for me.
GFX50S, GF45F2.8 at ISO1250, F2.8
(yes, you are actually not allowed to photography inside train stations and trains in Singapore)