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Image credit: Steve Dent/Engadget

Fujifilm's GFX-50R is a smaller 'budget' medium format camera

The 51.4-megapixel rangefinder-style model is yours for a mere $4,500.
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Steve Dent/Engadget

Two years ago, Fujifilm made a fateful decision to skip over full-frame mirrorless cameras and go bigger with the medium-format GFX-50S. Now, it's doubling down on that with the 51.4-megapixel GFX-50R, a smaller and cheaper version of the original. As the rumor mill had suggested, it looks a lot like its compact X-E3 mirrorless camera, but don't be thinking you'll slide this into your pocket. It's still a 775 gram camera (without a lens) that outweighs Sony's A7R III and at $4,500, costs a lot more, too.

Still, this is the smallest and cheapest medium-format camera you can get, packing in more resolution and larger pixels than just about any other model on the market. The new magnesium body is weather-sealed and dust resistant, and it has an all-new 0.77X magnification, 3.69 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF) that's built-in, not detachable like on the GFX-50S.

One new feature is Bluetooth capability, which lets you pair the GFX-50R with a smartphone or tablet. While you can use that to destroy your friends on Instagram with 51.4-megapixel selfies, it's aimed at pros who need to quickly transfer studio or field images for viewing or tweaking purposes.

Aside from Bluetooth, the smaller size and a new EVF, it shares most features with its predecessor, including the sensor, dual UHS-II card slots, 2,360K-dot tilt-type touchscreen, ISO 100-12,800 (50-102,400 in extended mode) and 400-shot battery capacity. Shooting speeds are low at 3 fps, and you only get contrast, not phase detection autofocus. So it's clearly not a sports camera, nor is it aimed at videographers, as video is limited to 1080p at 30 fps.

No, this camera is for a very specific market, namely folks that shoot portrait, fashion, landscape, art architectural and other areas where resolution is king. The smaller size makes it more useful for street photography, Fujifilm said, where the super-high resolution gives you more creative options.

You can debate whether Fujifilm should have developed a full-frame camera instead of going with the nichey medium format. However, it must be working well enough for the company to have developed a new model, and it now has a respectable range of seven full-frame lenses, ranging from 23mm to 250mm in length (equivalent to 18mm-198mm). Now that nearly every major camera company has a full-frame mirrorless model, at least Fujifilm is doing its own thing. The GFX-50R arrives in late November for $4,500.

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Steve should have known that civil engineering was not for him when he spent most of his time at university monkeying with his 8086 clone PC. Although he graduated, a lifelong obsession of wanting the Solitaire win animation to go faster had begun. Always seeking a gadget fix, he dabbles in photography, video, 3D animation and is a licensed private pilot. He followed l'amour de sa vie from Vancouver, BC, to France and now lives in Paris.

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