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Some Impressions, after adapting Lenses to the Fujifilm GFX50S

I have had a Fuji GFX camera since the beginning of this [?] year, so this is still a relatively new experience

Since I had used Pentax 67 lenses for as long as I can remember on film cameras, when I purchased my first serious digital camera in 2008 – an EOS 1Ds Mark III with 21MP, which used to cost the price of a GFX-100S with two premium GF lenses (sigh)

I adapted those lenses, and also some Mamiya 645 lenses, on it with a variety of shift devices.


As film walks out, digital takes over

The aim was to have a relatively affordable way to get out of the medium format film chemistry, as services were quickly disappearing at the time while the digital medium format systems were reserved to heavy investors.

Software was coming up, but was still relatively basic.

I used a program called PT Guy, which probably many of us know. The images had to be taken with lots of care with a shift lens, and then you had to anchor intersection points manually in the software window. When all was good, this technique allowed to simulate a larger sensor by producing files made from several frames stitched together.

Later, as Adobe Lightroom, the software I use now, gained in capabilities, we were no longer limited to flat stitching, that is to crop from the image circle produced by a non moving lens, but we could also incrementally pan the camera around the lens nodal point, which gave far more latitude for image stitching.

So, I adapted my gear

and the taking techniques along the way. An unbridled Vizelex Rhinocam for Sony, pictured above, with the Pentax 6x7 zoom lenses, could reproduce from an average of 10 or more frames, a virtual sensor size exceeding the 6x7 film size.

But as camera sensors got more defined, and software evolved to the point that they are now amazingly capable in full automation, obtaining a large and well defined image took fewer frames.

No longer tied to exploiting the very large image circle of the Pentax 67 lenses, I used smaller and lighter Pentax 645, and Mamiya 645 lenses. With the longer focal lengths, it now just takes a few shots taken with a sharp Full Frame lens like the EF100-400 IS (slightly modified for the GFX), panned with enough overlap, to produce a very natural looking panorama.

The stitching technique I would use for compositing wide field views with trees with some intricate details, and even for buildings, is a hybrid process of lens shift and camera panning, with a medium format lens. 


After using Sony cameras for years

– a Sony A7R, which needed a steel weight affixed to the body to damper the shutter vibration or else a ND filter to skip the sensible speeds, and later the wonderful A7RII on which the crippling shutter shake issue had been solved with the implementation of an electronic shutter, I decided to try a Fujifilm GFX 50s, whose larger sensor would eliminate the need for taking two rows of images, and therefore be far more productive.

Well, the GFX sensor certainly outperforms many of these older lenses, and in fact, it pushes the photographer's skills to their limit.

I was amazed however to see how sharp some of my old film lenses were when I used them with the larger 50MP sensor. Others were less convincing, but I still liked some of their qualities, like the large image circle which allows for ample image shift with dedicated adapters – very useful for seamlessly compositing images with intricate details –, or for their good contrast, their small size and sometimes for their particular out of focus rendering.

But this was not a straightforward adaptation at all.

Some lenses that were fine on the camera they are intended for, became prone to flaring or ghosting due to mechanical interferences or inner reflections.

Some Pentax AF lenses have a fast throw, and are actually difficult to focus precisely manually on the LCD screen, and that's where the GFX electronic focusing aids come to the rescue. Experiments have led me to narrow my choice to only a handful that I would use on a regular basis, and to three lenses that I routinely carry in my bag for a half day hike.


Testing the new Fotodiox Vertex for GFX

Abbey church and old town of Romainmôtier, Vaud, Switzerland
[click for a little larger version]


It took me just 10x GFX 50s frames to build this image

The new Vertex for GFX produces an image of 65 x 65mm from 4 frames. The square crop produced is within the actual image circle of the lens, to which I added more crops by panning the camera incrementally on each side.

This was taken at 140 mm f 19, with Pentax 6x7 SMC 90-180 mm adapted on Vertex P645 for GFX. Original file size: 26,772 x 12,689 px, resolution: 340 MP.

Would a composite panorama taken with the Fujifilm Fujinon GF 100-200 mm simply panned, be geometrically as good with much less hassle and work? It would have to be tested. But it would surely be even sharper.



But why use other lenses?

The aim with that experimentation is by no means to substitute older lenses for the lenses designed and produced by Fuji for their medium format cameras.

These lenses are as a whole, superior in optics and sharpness, in electronics, AF performance, and overall user experience.

I have the Fujinon GF 110 mm ƒ2, a lens that produces amazingly sharp portraits with a shallow depth of field. I recently acquired the versatile Fujinon GF 35-70 zoom lens – an outstanding lens for its size and price.


Fuji has a long tradition

of producing some of the best lenses there is. I have used four of those marvels years ago on a large format view camera. [Me, too :-) ] But, sometimes you just wish you could give to some lenses you own, a new life, either because you want to rekindle some of the feel and the image character from the film era, or else, just for the fun of experimenting.


Modern lenses - surgically sharp...

Modern high grade digital lenses all tend towards a surgically sharp, aberration controlled, smooth in the out of focus areas quality – the bokeh as the Japanese call it.

This is certainly a gain in most instances. But resulting images are sometimes characterless, and older lenses can help you bring back that “dirty rough hand made film look”, reminiscent of images of character we have seen in the past, which is sometimes sought.

Another practical reason for wanting to adapt lenses is that, due to their obsolescence, some great lenses are now very affordable.

You can harvest a full crate of them for less than the price of a Fujinon GF lens, making them a good alternate option for budget aware photographers who would use a special focal length only once in a while.

There are also some domains where Fujinon GF lens are not available yet, such as in ultra-wides, or for skyscapes and night photography, or long and luminous lenses used to separate the subject from the background, autofocus zoom lenses for wildlife, or slide copying lenses.


A few fullframe lenses - are good
Most are however not (when used on larger Fuji GFX 50 cameras)

Incidentally, some lenses designed for digital full frame cameras have an image circle that covers the larger 33x44 mm GFX sensor, sometimes flawlessly like the Tamron SP 45mm f1.8, sometimes barely like the still incredible Canon EF 40mm f2.8 STM, sometimes with vignetting or sharpness decrease in the corners. Mounted on an adapter such as the Fringer Pro EF to GFX, some of those lenses can be godsend, especially if you already own them.

Something that is not often mentioned is that, due to it's weight and form factor, a GFX camera gives you more steadiness than a small full frame camera.

I am amazed at how sharp images taken at low speeds even without the image stabilization can be. Lenses for Canon which have IS can also be used on the 50S with the Fringer Pro which provides additional stabilization.


Added Note / Ralf:

Nowadays, Fujifilm GFX 50s, GFX 100, GFX 100s, GFX 100s II - all have IBIS, which means built-in image stabilization between 6.5 to 7 stops. It also works with non-Fuji lenses, but you have to enable a setting deeper buried in the camera menus. (Kind of the same like you can do with Canon R, and Canon R6, too when using other brand lenses, or vintage glass. But you have to select and enable it - and set the proper focal length, so that the IBIS can compensate correctly and accordingly.


7x GFX 50S vertical frames, panned with Tamron SP 45mm 1.8 at f11. Original file resolution: 200 MP

[click for a little larger version]


Does it make sense ?

Of course, there is always this question: Does it make sense to use a larger camera sensor if the lens is not up to it's resolving power? Why not use a cheaper high definition Full Frame camera, with high grade lenses and better AF performance?

This view stands of course, even though I'm sure that some of the older lenses I tested are no slough, even on a larger digital format. In fact, many photographers use two complementary systems, each destined to a particular field.

Those who need by contract to produce an important body of images in a short and sometimes stressful period of time, like in wedding photography, will generally be constraint to using a tool that they know to use by instinct, and which will produce exactly what they and their customers are expecting. In a wedding or sport context, a fast full frame camera with a reliable AF, yields far more keepers than a Fuji GFX system, and with minimal trade off in image quality.

In the same context, using a Fuji GFX or whatever medium format system, might give you the impression that all goes well while you are shooting, but then the smaller number of images that are really sharp where it matters might appear frustrating when you'll check the results on your computer screen.

However, when you are photographing people who are posing for you, either outdoor or in a studio context where everything is controlled, and any situations where you can afford to be slow and use a tripod, like in landscape photography where trees don't shy away from the camera, then the qualities of a medium format system will be obvious.


The medium format look

– for I believe that there is something tangible to it —, is not just about image resolution. Those who have used large and medium format film cameras know it : there is something addictive to watching big slides on the light table, or to viewing digital files that have a high modulation in hues and contrast on your screen.



Good point !

This is where a medium format digital sensor stands out, regardless of MP counts. For instance, you have probably noticed that a high MP pocket camera doesn't yield near as good images as a lower MP full frame camera.

I was told that this is due to the laws of physics, but if you get me into that you will soon be confronted to my ignorance. I'm rather a practical guy who simply enjoy beauty. The more acutely and intimately those tools allow us to grasp nature's designs and harmony, which are also part of God's essence, the happier we are !

20x GFX 50S vertical frames, 2 rows in rise/fall and pan, focus stack for the tree on the left, from Pentax 645 FA 45-85mm, 45mm f16, on Kipon T&S. Original file resolution: 390 MP.
[click for a little larger version]

Download zip file compressed:

LONG LENSES (for the most):  Part 1 – Part 2 [very large files each, 850 MP]

This series was taken on tripod with the electronic shutter to minimize vibrations, albeit sometimes in windy conditions.

Image samples include: 

• Canon EF 100-400 IS II
• Pentax 645 FA 80-160 mm
• Pentax 645 FA 150-300 mm,
• Pentax 645 FA 150-300 mm + 1.4x
• Pentax 645 FA 200 mm f4
• Pentax 645 FA 200 mm f4 + 1.4x
• Mamiya 645 A120 mm f4 Macro
• Mamiya 645 A150 mm f2.8
• Mamiya 645 300mm f5.6 ULD N late MF version
• Mamiya 645 300mm f5.6 ULD N + 1.4x

The Tele Converter used for Pentax is the Pentax X + 1.4x for 300 mm, and a modified mount of the same for the Mamiya 300mm ULD. 


Canon EF 100-400 mm IS II

Some images were taken with Canon EF 100-400 IS II hand-held, taking benefit of the lens' IS and AF, which work extremely well on the Fringer Pro.

Images of the same subject were not all taken on the same day, which explains why there are colours discrepancies throughout the series. Some lenses have more contrast to them, like the Canon EF 100-400 mm, compared to the very sharp Pentax FA 200mm f4 which shows a slight loss of contrast when it is on an adapter – it can be corrected in post.

The Pentax 645 lenses have sharp corners while the Canon EF 100-400 is very sharp in the middle but corners run into jumble passed 370 mm. This is not a problem when you don't need to have the corners in perfect focus. I have taken the rear lens baffle off, to be able to use the Canon EF 100-400 without mechanical vignetting.

3x GFX 50S horizontal frames, panned, from Pentax 645 FA 150-300mm, 150mm f 11. Original resolution: 104 MP.
[click for a little larger version]

Zoom lenses - Pentax 645

645 format lenses do sometimes show some fogging at intermediate focal lengths. This is the case with the Pentax 645 FA 80-160 mm – a sharp lens otherwise. This lens has a much larger sharp image circle than the Pentax 645 FA 150-300 mm for instance and can be shifted.

The later on the other hand is more resistant to fogging. The Mamiya 645 300 mm ƒ 5.6 ULD New, has proven to be excellent, and it is the smallest 300mm you can pack. But my first choice for it's versatility, remains the Canon EF 100-400mm IS II.

The adapters I used are a Fringer Pro EF to GFX for the Canon lenses, a K&F EF to GFX and a P645 to EF dual adapter, an other Tilt & Shift device for Pentax 645 to GFX made by Kipon, a Mirex T&S for Mamiya to Canon and another simpler straight adapter for the same purpose.

Adapters can be a source of flare, and each adapter + lens and even zoom position combination, works differently.



More original download files & examples

When you go to the link of Paul Schillinger - in the end you can download many, many other original files, with adapted lenses on Fujifilm GFX 50s,

I will not list them with examples all here - go to his homepage article instead, towards the end, you find more downloads, examples, etc. For the geek and those interested in adapted lenses to Fuji GFX medium format camera - it is a treasure Peter Schillinger has provided. So that you too, can get a clear view of what to expect.

Who does that these days ?!

I thank you very much, for all the effort you have done and shared to others, Mr Schillinger.

Original link to his article


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