Amy Davies is a journalist and photographer. As well as being a Features Editor for Amateur Photographer magazine, she also writes about cameras and associated technology for a range of publications and websites, including T3, Photography Blog, Stuff, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar, Camera Jabber, ePhotozine, Expert Reviews and our own Fujiholics. Amy is also one of the judges in the Fujiholics Photographer of the Year competition.

Fujifilm’s GFX cameras have done so much to bring medium format to the masses – no longer are these super sized sensors the preserve of the rich professional with money to burn.

Let’s not pretend the GFX cameras are cheap – they’re not – but they are far more within the realms of affordability, and, thanks to both second-hand availability and camera hire services, are something that more and more amateurs and enthusiasts are likely to use with increasing frequency.

Fujifilm announced the GFX 50S at Photokina in 2016 and it was a real highlight of the show. It followed this up two years later in 2018 at Photokina with the GFX 50R, which was smaller and lighter than its predecessor – and crucially, cheaper.

In this post we’ll have a look at some of the key differences and similarities to help you make a decision about which one to use (or if you’re really lucky – buy).

Fujifilm GFX 50S vs 50R: Similarities

There are actually lots of similarities between the two models.  With much of the internals staying the same between the two cameras, image quality and focusing ability should be the same no matter which you decide to go for.

Here are some of the features which the two share:

Sensor & Processor
Both the GFX 50S and the 50R use a medium format 51.4 million pixel sensor. Because the sensor is larger than full-frame, you need to take this into account when thinking about lens focal lengths – for example the 32-64mm f/4.0 “kit lens” equates to roughly 25-51mm in the usual 35mm format thanks to a 0.79x crop factor. Both the cameras use an X Processor Pro engine. Image quality should therefore be the same from both cameras.

AF System & Frame Rates
Here’s another area which the two cameras share – both use a 425-point contrast detection AF system. Focusing is not as amazingly swift as we see in some mirrorless cameras, but it generally gets the job done in a quick enough fashion for still (or reasonably still) subjects. Neither camera is really designed for action photography as such, but you can shoot at 3fps with both.

SD card slots
Both the GFX 50S and the 50R have dual SD memory card slots. You can use the card slots in a number of ways, including back-up, overflow, or separating out file types (i.e. raw on one card, JPEG on the other).

Battery
Both cameras use the NP-T125 lithium ion battery which promises a 400-shot battery life. You can probably eke out more than that if you use careful power management – and should you find yourself in the fortunate position to be using both cameras, being able to swap batteries between the two can be useful.

Video
Movie recording is restricted to Full HD with both cameras. That may be off-putting to high-end videographers in a world of 4K, but for stills photographers who may want to just grab the occasional video clip it’s less problematic.

Fujifilm GFX 50S vs 50R: Differences

Most of the differences between the two models come down to handling – there is no right answer as to which you prefer, which is why it’s worth getting your hands on both models if you can before making a decision.

Size and weight
Both cameras are not exactly what we’d call “small”. If you’re so far used to shooting with Fujifilm’s X series of cameras, it may come as a bit of a shock to make the transition to GFX. However, for the extra bulk and weight you get a mammoth sensor, which is important to remember – and it’s important to remember that the body size is still comparable to many full-frame DSLRs. However, if you’re keen to keep size down, the 50R is much more compact, lighter and discreet (relatively), especially if you use it with one of the smaller GFX prime lenses. On the downside, having a smaller body means the grip is less pronounced – that can make it feel a little unbalanced when working with one of the larger GFX zoom lenses.

Viewfinder
With the GFX 50S, the viewfinder is not built in to the body, but rather can be attached via the hotshoe. There’s also an option for a tilting viewfinder which can be useful when shooting from top-down angles. Meanwhile, the GFX 50R’s viewfinder is built in to the body itself – which is another factor which helps keep the size down. Both have the same resolution, but magnification of the GFX 50R’s is slightly lower – in isolation you’re unlikely to notice too much of a difference though.

Screen and Top-Plate LCD
Both the cameras have 3.2-inch touch-sensitive, 2,360k-dot screens. They’re great for composing from all manner of different angles – but while the GFX 50R’s can tilt up and down, the 50S also has the functionality to tilt to the side for help when portrait shooting. As an additional bonus, the GFX 50R has a top-plate LCD which displays a number of key settings and can be useful for quickly judging your settings without having to refer to the main screen.

Handling and button layout
We’ve already mentioned the difference in the camera grips, but there are also some differences in button placement that can have an effect on how you use the camera. For example, while both models have a joystick which you can use to set the AF point or move around menus, only the GFX 50S has a four-way navigational pad. There’a also no ISO dial on the GFX 50R, but you do get an exposure compensation dial in its place. Overall it’s worth having a play with both if you can to see which button layout you prefer – there is no right or wrong answer as it all comes down to personal preference. Another point worth making is that there is a battery grip available for the GFX 50S which boosts battery life and adds portrait-format controls – no such grip is available for the 50R.

Price
Here’s where things get really interesting. At the time of writing this post, the difference in price between the two is about £1,000 – the GFX 50S costs around £4,999 (body only), while the 50R can be picked up for £3,999 (again, body only). Prices vary if buying as part of a kit with a lens. The 50S has dropped in price by around £1000 since its launch, so we can expect the 50R to also follow the same pattern and create an even more pronounced price difference. Still, the 50R makes for the more affordable option while promising the same image quality as its sibling.

Fujifilm GFX 50S vs 50R: Which one should I get?

As with so many things, the answer to this really does come down to personal preference. Some will prefer the larger and bulkier GFX 50S thanks and find it a more comfortable shooting experience – especially when used in conjunction with zoom lenses. The GFX 50R meanwhile is small enough to be more suited even to subjects like travel and documentary – giving you medium format goodness in a body which is not ridiculously large.

Whichever one you choose, image quality is stunning.

With fantastically detailed images and gorgeous shallow depth of field effects, you’ll probably find it hard to go back to smaller sensors once you’ve become accustomed to medium format.

If you decide to take the plunge – let us know how you get on.