Fujifilm GFX 100S II – Profoundly Better Autofocus

 In Fujifilm, Fujifilm GFX, News

The Fujifilm GFX System Takes Another Step Forward

The Fujifilm GFX System which began shipping in early 2017, and with the just announced GFX 100S II, all in all, 7 camera models have now been introduced in 7 years. Each model of course has improvements over the previous iteration, and the GFX 100S II continues in that vein. But while there are improvements over the original GFX 100S model, the most notable difference for most users, and in fact the primary reason someone might consider upgrading from a GFX 100S to the GFX 100S II, is going to be the capabilities and performance of the auto focus system.

In this regard, the Fujifilm GFX 100S II has taken on at least a significant amount of the brains of the flagship GFX 100 II and instructs the mechanicals with much more nuanced fidelity than the original GFX 100S body. And this is most apparent with the auto focus system. The original GFX 100S offered a Hybrid Contrast + Phase Detect Auto Focus system and Human Face/Eye Detection Subject Modes. The GFX 100 II doubles down on this by also offering Human Face/Eye detection, but offers additional modes that are present in the flagship GFX 100 II body:

  • Animal
  • Bird
  • Automobile
  • Motorcycle & Bike
  • Airplane
  • Train

Some Pretty Hard Core Comparative Testing

In this case, we’re testing for human. Being medium format experts, the notion of advanced auto focus is something that is a bit of a learning curve for our team, but we approached this testing task as a result with an open mind and chose Bianca as our moving model. Bianca is a fitness buff and jumped at the opportunity for a free workout, as we had her running and dancing around the park location we chose for hours and hours. Ok, perhaps just hours.

For the testing we tried various scenarios, including walking away from the camera, running toward the camera, running sideways to the camera (panning). The traditional challenges for an auto focus system are seen most easily in rapidly moving subjects closing distance to the photographer, but also in panning situations as well as… well, even just normal tracking of someone casually walking.

Shots are fired more rapidly and consistently from the new body, although the buffer comes into play at about the same point on both cameras, given the limitation of the speed available to SD media cards. You can more think of this update to the GFX 100S as the GFX 100 II-‘lite’, since only the top-dog gets the massively capable CFexpress card slot as your primary place of storage.

Frame Rate and Autofocus Tracking comparison – 18 Frames vs 30 Frames Fired. Green frames are from the GFX 100s-II.

Given the disparity in shooting speed, for the following comparisons I had to selectively throw out ~1/3rd of the frames from the GFX 100S II body in order to match up the action sequences.

The original GFX 100S has the repeated issue through all of these tests of losing track of the subject and pulsing not just slightly away but out significantly to the back of the scene. Through 800+ frames shot through the GFX 100S II, there was not a single frame that manifested this issue.

GFX 100S vs GFX 100S-II during panning autofocus sequence

The GFX 100S II easily handles the closing distance of a mild sprint from our in-house-powerhouse Bianca where the original body is left lost for most of the images fired:

And yes, even in a casual walking sequence with Bianca’s face turning away from the camera, the GFX 100S II maintains perfect focus where the original body loses it even before she turns away and then later in the sequence mistakes the round business logo in background as a ‘face’ and attempts to focus on it. (I saw the AF green box hop over to it while shooting this sequence)

The CI Take

All said, if you’re looking to move to a medium format camera to be used primarily for action photography, the GFX 100 II should be your clear choice, due to the additional features of the camera, but especially with the fast CFexpress card slot. But if you’re looking for a fantastic jack of trades camera, and a camera that easily surpasses what previously could be achieved with a medium format camera in terms of advanced auto focus, at a lower price point with the same image quality, the GFX 100S II is a clear winner in the medium format realm.

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from Brad Kaye and the Medium Format Experts

Brad Kaye - Capture Integration Technical Service Manager

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Fujifilm GFX 100S II Camera Body

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