Body and Handling
While the Fuji GFX 100S body style has obvious similarities to that of the GFX 50S, it also very closely resembles the Fuji X-H1. I want to say that it is the bigger brother to the X-H1, but honestly, the size difference between the two is so much less than you might expect. It’s more like the larger twin than the older brother!
I have had the X-H1 and the GFX 100S sitting out in my living room for the last week, and I keep having to check twice to make sure I grab the correct camera – they look that much alike. The GFX sensor is almost 4 times larger than the APS-C sensor in the X-H1, but the camera is only about 15% larger (using an imprecise L×W×H comparison) and 30% heavier. That is some impressive engineering!
Keep in mind, though, that G-mount lenses are much larger than the X-mount lenses, so the size and weight differences do increase when you add lenses. The body design, button placement, and so on, are similar, however. One of the things I appreciate about the GFX system is that it is clearly styled after the X-series, making it very easy to move between the two systems.
With its DSLR-style body and rubber hand grip, I found the GFX 100S very easy to hold. While my 50R is a little bit lighter, the grip and body shape on the 100S make it much easier to hold and the weight of the G-series lenses is very well balanced. The 100S fit well in my small hands, although my husband commented that in his larger hands he could have used about an extra 1/2-inch in height for it to sit perfectly. Fortunately, if you agree with my husband, Fuji has just released a hand grip that will extend the height just that last fraction of an inch so it sits more comfortably in your hand. (I have not tried it, as I find the camera to be comfortable the way it is.)
Buttons and Dials
The Fuji GFX 100S has a top dial and also a top LCD screen. In a departure from most of the Fujifilm cameras, the top dial is a PSAM (program, shutter, aperture, manual mode) dial rather than a settings dial. Personally, I prefer the settings dial, and thought that the system Fuji used in the past for accessing those modes was preferable (setting either or both shutter and aperture to automatic right on their respective dials). That said, I simply set the front and back command dials to control shutter speed and ISO and it works fine. This is actually how I have my X-H1 setup even though it does have physical top dials for each of those functions, so it isn’t a huge loss.
The top LCD screen is customizable, allowing you to see either 2 virtual dials, the histogram, or any number of other settings customizable within the settings menu. When shooting hand-held, the location of this screen wasn’t especially accessible, but I found it invaluable when shooting on a tripod, and I regularly alternated between viewing my settings and viewing a live histogram of the scene in front of me.
The GFX 100S does not have the D-Pad that has been traditionally found on Fuji cameras, although it’s not the first to lose it either, so I don’t know if this is something Fuji is trending away from in general or if it is just in some models. There are several function buttons, all of which are fully customizable which when combined with the programmable swipe gestures available on the touchscreen LCD, gave me ample room for my most-used settings. While I still prefer the D-pad, probably because I’m used to it, once you get used to not having it, it isn’t a huge deal.
The joystick button is now an 8 directional instead of a 4, something that I think will be useful. Though, at this point, I’m so used to the 4 that I forget I can move it in the “X” positions as well. This button works to navigate Fuji’s menu system and also to select focus points. Like past Fuji cameras, double-clicking on the joystick returns you to the center focus point, which is a handy little trick.
The shutter button on the Fujifilm GFX 100S looks exactly like the shutter on the X-H1 (the larger flat circle rather than the smaller raised circle on many other Fuji models) and while it feels the same to the touch (when resting your finger on it) it feels completely different when you press it. The X-H1 uses a feather-touch shutter, which requires a very light touch to activate it. While the Fuji GFX 100S shutter looks the same, it requires a much firmer press to use. While it isn’t hard to press, it feels slow to press somehow. Not in shutter lag – the shutter is perfectly responsive – but I kept checking my settings thinking that I had mistakenly set my shutter speed too slow, when in reality it was just fine.
The weather sealing on the GFX 100S appears to function very well in wet conditions. While it is spring here which means that I didn’t have the opportunity to take the camera out in extreme temperature or weather conditions, we had plenty of spring rain showers and it performed just fine. I had the 100S sitting on a tripod in the pouring rain for quite a while and had no issues. I have a bad habit of drenching my cameras, either accidentally or just from staying out too long in the rain shooting, and I have owned cameras that despite their weather sealing have shown signs of condensation around the dials forming after too much wet-weather exposure. The GFX 100S showed none of this. The weather sealing felt very solid, and I had no qualms about using this camera in very wet conditions.
In what I am assuming is a much-appreciated effort to save space, the 100S is the first GFX camera to use the NP-W235 batteries that debuted in the Fujifilm X-T4. Despite their smaller size, the NP-W235 batteries should last slightly longer than the NP-T125 batteries in the other GFX models (460 vs. 400 frames according to Fuji).
That said, they definitely don’t last as long in the Fuji GFX 100S as they do in the X-T4. Fuji estimates 500-600 frames in the X-T4 (depending on settings) vs. 460 in the GFX 100S. This should come as no surprise considering the sensor size difference, but it was still noticeable when out shooting.
Like the X-T4, the GFX 100S does not come with a battery charger. Instead, it comes with a cable and a power adapter which you can use to charge the battery while it is in the camera. I don’t know many photographers who are ok with their camera being unusable while the battery charges, and I’m not thrilled about the idea of leaving my GFX 100S sitting around on the kitchen counter (my normal batter charging spot) every time it needs a recharge, so you will want to plan on spending the extra $70 to order the BC-W235 dual battery charger from Fuji
Something that is likely in the documentation that comes with the battery charger, but just in case there is anyone out there that also doesn’t read the documentation, you’ll want to use the cable and power adapter that came with your camera to plug in the dual battery charger (that’s right, the camera doesn’t come with a charger and then the $70 charger doesn’t come with the power brick and cable). Do not make the same mistake I did and grab any random USB-C cable that might be laying around the house and plug your battery charger directly into USB wall ports. Technically, it worked, but it also took an entire day to charge a single battery.
Base Plate Issue
One potential issue with the Fuji GFX 100S build quality that some photographers have reported has to do with the tripod attachment. Specifically, the base plate inside the chassis of the GFX 100S is much smaller than on most cameras (including the GFX 100) and is only connected along the back of the camera (rather than the back and front), with two small screws holding it in place. The bottom cover of the GFX 100S is also relatively thin, which makes the issue worse. It is possible that – when attaching the GFX 100S to a tripod via the camera’s tripod socket – the bottom of the camera could shear off more easily than usual if the GFX 100S is bumped hard or the tripod falls over.
The issue is described in more detail in this video teardown of the GFX 100S. At the end of the day, it’s only something that would come into play if something catastrophic happens to the GFX 100S, like knocking over your tripod when it’s attached. Otherwise, it is not even going to be noticeable. But I wanted to mention it here because it’s something that a few photographers have found – the GFX 100S may be a bit more fragile than the heavy-duty GFX 100 if bumped heavily, which isn’t exactly a surprise given how much attention Fuji gave to minimizing this camera’s weight.
On the next page of this review, let’s take a look at the GFX 100S’s image stabilization and autofocus system.
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