24.10.2023 Satoshi Minakawa

GF55mmF1.7 R WR: Portraiture x Satoshi Minakawa

The theme of this shoot was “Portrait” photography that was intended for both studio and on-location shooting.
All the shots were taken with the combination of the new “GFX100 II” and “GF55mmF1.7 R WR”.
The subject for this shoot was Kokoro Aoshima, who models but is also a talented actor. I wanted to capture her not only as a beautiful fashion portrait, but also as a portrait that would bring out her strong spirit, as her eyes create a striking impression.

ISO100 1/125 f1.7 REALA

Since we wanted to present the studio shoot as a “beauty photo” with the simplest possible set-up, we added a hard, sharp light with a graphic quality, as well as a very simple styling, using black and white garments for two different looks.
The hair and makeup was not applied to “add” elements, but to “subtract” as much as possible, hoping to present a photo that would emphasize the beauty of her true self.

ISO100 1/125 f1.7 REALA

Regardless of shooting in studio or outdoors, I must be particular when it comes to the contrast between light and shadow. In this studio shoot, I was especially conscious of expressing highlights nearly white but with details, and vice versa, shadows containing details without disappearing into the blacks.

I was quite amazed by the wide dynamic range of the GFX100 II, as I detected zero noise even when I adjusted the RAW data and raised the dark areas that had been under-exposed. Despite the fact that I was shooting in high contrast lighting, I was able to achieve a smoother gradation from white to black than I had anticipated, with no white skipping or blacking out.

  • ISO80 1/125 f2 PROVIA

  • ISO80 1/125 f2 PROVIA

  • ISO80 1/100 f2 REALA

  • ISO80 1/100 f2 REAL

The light in the studio was a mixture of LEDs and strobes, resulting in a darker atmosphere with more contrast than the finished photograph. However, the viewfinder was very easy to read regardless of the dark conditions. Since I had selected “Monitor Exposure Reflect OFF”, I was able to see the atmosphere of the scene through the viewfinder, however, I was able to follow the expressions and movements of the subjects without any sense of discomfort.
I find that camera performance is much more tested under on-site shooting than it is in the studio.
Since we are generally shooting hand-held and in motion, features such as autofocus, face/eye recognition, and image stabilization are all important, and the better the performance, the more reliable it is to shoot.
The lens I used in this project was the new GF55mmF1.7 R WR. I was looking forward to seeing what kind of expression I could achieve by using the maximum aperture of F1.7 through the large sensor of the GFX100 II, which is why I shot almost all of my shots with this aperture.

The combination of face/eye recognition and AF-C was outstanding.
I was especially impressed when shooting in a grassy setting, where despite the fact that there was more grass in front of the subject, the eye recognition tracked the subject in focus so that hardly any of the photos were out of focus.

  • ISO200 1/125 f1.7 REALA

  • ISO200 1/250 f1.7 REALA

Unlike the overly crunchy and sharp focus, the lens seemed to have a “natural” focus.
What I consider “natural” perhaps is the beautiful gradation between the in-focus areas and the smooth blurring out of focus.

It is my impression that the extended dynamic range of the GFX100 II will greatly expand the range of expressiveness when shooting outdoors. The difference between bright and dark areas becomes even greater outdoors than it appears to the eye, and highlights tend to jump out too much while dark areas are often smothered.

The shot of her lying on the grass and the blazing sunset hitting her through the grass, despite the substantial difference in brightness and darkness, turned out to be exactly as I had imagined.
Perhaps the wide dynamic range gives us a sense of being closer to the human eye. I believe that the evolution of camera equipment will certainly expand the range of expression.

ISO100 1/80 f1.7 REALA

I would say that the combination with the GF55mmF1.7 R WR produces the unique expression that only a large sensor can offer. I saw this especially in the full-body shot. The natural and elegant bokeh in the background gives the photo a sense of depth, as if it were taken with a 4×5 camera.
The F1.7 close-up is certainly beautiful, but I would personally like to try taking some more pulled shots using that focal length.

  • ISO100 1/125 f1.7 REALA

  • ISO320 1/125 f1.7 REALA

Only the combination of the GFX100 II and GF55mmF1.7 R WR, with the aperture set at F1.7 for most of the shots, was used both in the studio and on location for this project.
The design of the GFX100 II has changed drastically compared to the former GFX100, with a comfortable grip and hold, I was able to hold the camera for many hours on location without any problems.
The size of the GF55mmF1.7 R WR and the balance between the body are so well matched that I even feel a sense of adoration for carrying it around with me on a daily basis. 44mm on a 35mm equivalent scale, which is slightly wider than a standard lens, is also a pleasant length for snapshots.
This is a combination that I would recommend to both professionals and amateurs, and although it is slightly heavy to carry around your neck, you may want to consider carrying it in a small bag.
It will boost the quality of your snapshots up a number of levels.

ISO100 1/125 f1.7 PROVIA