An Interview with Piet Van den Eynde

1. You are very enthusiastic about the new GFX. Does this mean you will sell your X-T2, X-Pro 2 and X100 and work only with the GFX from now on?

It’s true that when I first got to try an early beta of the GFX (Editor’s note: Piet took the GFX to Varanasi, India and produced this 3 minute GFX Challenges video about his experience)

I was already impressed and after having worked with an almost finalized product this impression has only gotten better. The word ‘game-changer’ is abused by overzealous marketing departments worldwide, but I think it’s well-deserved in this case. This camera will open up the exciting possibilities of medium format to a whole new range of photographers. However, this does not mean that my other X-gear is heading for Ebay any time soon! My X-T2 will still remain my workhorse for lots of everyday shoots or photography where focusing speed is crucial. Not every job needs 50 megapixel files and although the GFX isn’t a slouch, I sometimes need the even faster focusing speed and frame of the X-T2.  In fact, I am writing this article on a plane to India (again!) where I’m about to teach a travel photography workshop with fellow Fujifilm X-shooter Matt Brandon who filmed the video together with… an X-T2. For this workshop I have taken both the X100F and the GFX with me and I look forward to using both! 

The X100F and the GFX: the David and Goliath of Fujifilm: both have a place in my photo bag!

2. What do you like best about the GFX?

It’s all about resolution and dynamic range. With smaller sensors, it’s often a tradeoff. With the GFX, you can have your cake and eat it, too. 

BMX meets GFX. So… what brand of shoes is BMX rider Barre (www.barrebmx.com) wearing?
FUJIFILM GFX 50S | GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR @ 32 mm | 1-125 sec at f - 8,0 | ISO 160
This and the other images in this article was processed in Lightroom using presets from my Lightroom preset packs (www.lightroompresets.be)

A simple 1:1 zoom reveals it immediately. I love having this level of detail in a file!

This is a vertical shot taken during the making of my GFX Challenges video

… and this is a horizontal crop from that image. It’s still over 24 megapixel. If you’re shooting for print magazines, that’s a tremendous advantage: the same image can work both as a two-page spread when used horizontally or as a single page when cropped vertically. This portrait shot can still be printed 20 inches tall by 15 inches wide at 300 dpi without upsampling.
FUJIFILM GFX 50S | GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR @ 44.9 mm | 1/125 sec @ f/7.1 | ISO 320

Another big pro is that it currently is the most affordable medium format system to get into. I have heard several high-end fullframe camera users say that they’re seriously looking at the GFX because it gives them next-level image quality at almost same-level prices. Finally, I love how the designers have not put form over function. This camera has nothing of the generally clunky ergonomics, high weight or slow speed of a typical medium format camera. In fact, it feels and handles more like an X-T2 or a DSLR. This is a camera that can be used not only in difficult lighting situations, but also in challenging locations. From the dust and heat of India to the cold and snow of the Rocky Mountains: a glance at some of the GFX Challenge videos will show you examples of both.

Dutch dancer & photographer Frannie knows her way both in front of the camera as well as behind it…

… and a 1:1 crop of the previous image. 

3. Can you elaborate on the file quality? How do the GFX files handle in Lightroom?

I love postprocessing images almost as much as I love making them. To me, the ‘postprocessability’ of a file is extremely important and the GFX RAW files give tremendous opportunities in that respect. 

Dutch model Rosalinde (www.rosalindekirkstra.com) photographed in Rotterdam during a GFX shootout with fellow GFX ambassador Tom ‘Fotofolio’ Museeuw.
FUJIFILM GFX 50S | GF120mmF4 R LM OIS WR Macro @ 120 mm | 1-125 sec at f - 5,6 | ISO 100

So, I was happy to see that the recently released Lightroom 6.9/CC2015.9 already supports the GFX, including the camera profiles. As long as you don’t blow the highlights - I love the new live highlight clipping warning on the GFX - you can do pretty much anything with a GFX RAW file in Lightroom, as the image below shows.

The dynamic range of the GFX in action: just for demonstration purposes, I increased the Exposure and Shadows sliders in Lightroom way beyond what this particular image needs but it’s reassuring to know that the shadow detail is there when you need it.

4. Do you have any suggestions for new GFX users?

My main suggestion would be to check your focus thoroughly, both before and after capture, because the super sharp resolution of the GFX cuts (no pun intended) both ways. When you nail your focus, the images are gorgeous. But when you miss it even by a bit, it immediately shows. That’s the reason I like the OIS on the GF120mmF4 so much.

I also find myself using a monopod a lot. It helps to steady the camera and get the most out of the files, without taking away your flexibility as much as a tripod does. Another suggestion would be to try out the ‘Tether Plug-in Pro’ for Lightroom. It does a lot more than Lightroom’s basic tethering options do for other cameras: you can completely control the camera from the computer. Architectural and landscape photographers will love the automatic exposure bracketing options (for those instances where the single-image 14 stop dynamic range isn’t enough!) and those into product or macro photography will appreciate the focus stacking option.

Belgium-based dancer Sooraj Subramaniam (www.soorajsubramaniam.com) nearly froze his feet off during this November shoot in an abandoned power plant.
FUJIFILM GFX 50S | GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR @ 32 mm | 1-40 sec at f - 5,6 | ISO 400

About the Author

Piet Van den Eynde is a Belgian freelance photographer specializing in travel portraiture. He also writes books, magazine articles and gives training about digital photography, image editing with Adobe Lightroom, for which he is an Adobe Certified Expert. He' s also a true black & white aficionado.

In 2009, he threw his camera, a flash and an umbrella in his bicycle panniers and cycled 5000 miles through Turkey, Iran, India and Indonesia for a photography project called PortraitsOfAsia. Learn more about Piet on his blog MoreThanWords.

Piets Dutch print books are published with Pearson Education. His English eBooks are published by www.craftandvision.com.

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