Fuji GFX 50S | A Working Day With A New Camera System images

Fuji GFX 50S | A Working Day With A New Camera System

Paul Stewart, Night Picture Editor at the Daily Express and documentary photojournalist,  has worked in the imaging industry for over 45 years, both as a photographer and an editor. As soon as the first GFX’s arrived in our rental department, we were keen to see what working professional photographers really thought of the camera, and Paul was only too happy to oblige..

I was really interested to hear early rumours of the GFX 50S, as the idea of a mirrorless medium format camera was an exciting new development.  Having swapped my full frame DSLR kit for the Fuji X Series and specifically the wonderful X-Pro2s, I knew that FujiFilm’s evolution of digital photography was well up there with their previous take on the medium and always considered FujiFilm to be people who develop their sensors with an eye to their great history as a film manufacturer.  In fact, only Kodak, to my mind, produced high end pro digital kit with a similar quality of colour and detailed reproduction.  Having seen the GFX 50S at Fixation’s FujiFilm Open Day I was delighted when they asked me to try the camera out.

When I was the editor of HotShoe International and indeed when I reviewed equipment for the British Journal of Photography, I had a strict policy of not doing or commissioning a review unless an actual photographer went out and shot a real job with the equipment (after all if you can’t earn a living with it, it’s not a lot of good to a pro).

The first thing I noticed about the GFX was the ergonomics which are superb.  In comparison to my Phase One Mamiya 645AFD, it’s lighter (when used without the battery grip) and handles far more like a high end DSLR, making location use far easier, though it’s happy to sit rock solid on a tripod in the studio.  The next thing I noticed was that the firmware, menus and ergonomics all take a big lead from the X Series cameras that I am already used to, which meant that integrating myself into the camera system was a doddle.


This is a really well thought out camera.  The tri-axis tilt screen on the back means that you can shoot from almost any angle and still see what you are framing, making a “Hail Mary” more a matter of framing than prayer.

Likewise, the tilting view finder, which I originally thought was not going to be that interesting, turned out to be a godsend when shooting in bright light when wanting to shoot from a lower angle.

So what job did I decide to use it on?   I was asked to be the host photographer for a Royal Visit by the Duke of Gloucester, who, of all things, was meeting three Virginia Indian Chiefs of the Powhatan People, all of whom were of the descendant tribes of Pocahontas and who were celebrating the 400th Anniversary of her leaving Brentford, where she lived, to return to America.

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Sadly, she only got as far as Gravesend, where she died.  The ceremonials were being held in Syon House, so I arrived a bit early to check out the light, which, although soft, was very low outside the venue.  Inside, especially in the private green drawing room, it was abysmal but plunging on, I shot this job jpeg only to see just how good the dynamic range of this camera was.  I expected it to be good.  It was, in fact, exceptional.  I shot some portraits of the various Chiefs and dignitaries with extreme highlights and shadow within them and the detail recovery was beyond that I expected.

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The camera behaved faultlessly throughout the shoot.  I never had to go onto the second battery that I had as a back up and was incredibly pleased with the results.  Everything you see, including the grip and grin type PR shot of the Chiefs with Lord Watson of Richmond, were shot in a low level of available light.  In fact the very first shot I shot with the camera in anger was the one of the marble statue in Syon’s Great Hall.

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Looking at this just on the back of the screen made me realise just what a great camera this is.  Although, like all medium format cameras it is expensive, when compared to Phase 1s and other makes, it’s well priced.  The only down side to the camera that I have seen so far, is that FujiFilm went back to a Bayer Pattern rather than adopting their fabulous X-Trans sensor design as used in the X Series, which I find to be the best sensor I have ever used.  It would have been nice to see a larger format version of this.  However, in terms of colour rendition etc I find it hard to fault the GFX 50S.

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I don’t feel that the Mamiya would have allowed me to do the location shooting that the Fuji allowed and the only downside is that I now have to try and sell my Mamiya 645 AFD/Phase One System so I can get a GFX!

You can see more of Paul’s work here

To get your hands on the Fuji GFX 50S, pop into our showroom for a demo, or contact our rental department and try one for yourself.

Jeff Mitchell captures the moment

Scottish news picture guru Jeff Mitchell captures the moment – again

The best landscape photographers will sit in a field for days just waiting for the right light. The best news photographers are blessed with similar patience – but they also need to be lucky.

Scotland-based photographer Jeff Mitchell has just picked up three more honours for his creaking mantlepiece at the annual UK Picture Editors’ Guild Awards.

The 47-year-old Getty Images photographer is a multi-award-winning professional whose work takes him across the globe in a relentless quest to ‘capture the moment’ for an insatiable news media.


Jeff’s compelling close-up photograph of an exhausted migrant father comforting a crying infant as he tries to get through a police line to his family in Croatia, won him the title ‘News Photographer of the Year’ sponsored by Fixation, and, following his win in the Photo Essay of the Year category with an additional series of unforgettable photos, judges awarded him the Shutterstock Press Photographer of the Year honour.

“I am lucky to have what I think is the best job in the world and it is a great honour to be recognised by my peers in this way’ he said. There is no question that 2016 was a very good year for news pictures – but you still have to be in the right place at the right time to capture them. My mantra is: Be there first, leave last and never give up.

I remember the great news photographer Ken Lennox once saying: “This is your time. Make your time the best time’ – that’s what I try to do each time I go out with a camera.”

He added: “The picture of the father and the little girl happened after many hours of waiting. The police were holding the migrants back and they were all exhausted and thirsty. I picked my moment – and sometimes you just know instinctively that you’ve got the shot.”

The UK Picture Editors’ Guild Awards judges agreed:

Said Chairman of the panel Ian Day: “What a brilliant set of images from one of the biggest news years ever.”

Fiona Shields (The Guardian) added: “The news category is one of the most difficult to judge as there are so many memorable pictures. They really prove the skill of the professional in telling the story, connecting with the viewer and in making sense of an often unpredictable or chaotic news situation in a single frame.”

Fixation General Manager Michele Channer said: “Fixation has been serving professional photographers, and particularly press photographers for almost thirty years and we shall continue to do so. The News category is our customer heartland so we are delighted to be able to support our customers and the Guild.”


[gdlr_quote align=”center” ]‘There has never been a greater need for news images and the harder I work the luckier I seem to get’ – multi-award-winning news photographer Jeff Mitchell


She added: “Over 600 professional press photographers entered these awards in eleven categories, and over 3,000 pictures were judged by ten of the country’s leading experts in press photography. Over one hundred of the entries were submitted in the News Photographer of the Year grouping.”

Winner Jeff, who also picked up a total of £2,000 in cash, praised the Guild Awards organisation. “The Guild is the true benchmark in this discipline – and at Getty the team is used to working with Fixation who sponsored the news category. Whenever we have any issue with a piece of kit we just stick it in the post or drop it off at Fixation HQ.  They understand the urgent nature of our work and they always get the job done quickly for us.”

Crash Course | Introduction To Sound Recording image

Crash Course | Introduction To Sound Recording

It’s very easy to focus on the visual side of video production, but sound recording plays a huge role in the quality of the finished piece.

We sat down with our Rental Manager, Rob Gardner, and asked his advice on the basics of location sound recording.

Can you give us an idea of the basic kit needed to record professional quality sound on location?

In essence all you need is a means of gathering the sound with the highest fidelity – a microphone – and a means of capturing that sound, a recording device. The tools and techniques vary but at core it is that simple.

D5600_mic-compressorMost video-capable DSLRs have built-in microphones. Some, like the Nikon D5600 pictured here, have stereo microphones.

Can’t I just use the built-in microphone on a DSLR?

Certainly in-built camera mics fit those criteria, but anyone who has used them will know that they produce poor results. The first problem they create is one of distance. In recording studios you see the singer inches away from the microphone. On set you’ll sometimes see boom swingers heroically hanging microphones in from over 10 meters away to capture sound as well as possible. Sound recordists go to great lengths hiding microphones in costumes and even wigs in order to get as close to the source as they can. The in-camera mic is often just too far away to be useable.
The next consideration is that the in-camera mics are just too small and too low quality to gather satisfactory sound quality. A top end microphone can cost thousands of pounds and the reason for this is the materials used, the research that went into their design and the expertise in their construction, the mics in cameras just can’t compete.

zoom-h4n-rentalRecorders such as the Zoom H4n are perfect for location recording and offer a choice of microphone inputs alongside built-in XY mics.

My DSLR has an external microphone socket. Can I plug one in and record the sound directly to camera, or should I use an external recorder?

It will largely depend on your shooting conditions. An external recorder gives you more control over the recording but it is then an extra bit of kit to monitor and operate. If you are moving around this might prove problematic. In an ideal world you would have a dedicated sound recordist to take care of all of this, a lone operator may have to think about simplifying their approach.

d810-with-mic-compressorOn-camera microphones such as the Nikon ME-1 offer a better recording experience than built-in mics.

If I record the sound on an external recorder, what is the best way to sync it back to the footage?

Traditionally the clapper board at the top or end of a take was used to give a frame accurate sync point. A less professional but equally accurate technique is to have someone actually clap at the top of the take to give a sync point.
A more modern approach is to use embedded timecode generated by externally synced generators – again, this would normally fall under the auspices of a sound recordist.

Should I use auto or manual record levels?

If you are on your own you’ll almost definitely have to use the auto levels. Monitoring the image will be taking up too much of your focus. If you have an external recorder and someone to work it then manually ‘riding’ the levels is a more versatile approach.

How does a limiter work and what does it do?

Limiters are there to stop the analogue signal from overloading, thus corrupting the digital recording. They can also be used to set a lower limit to the sound recorded to avoid too much bass.

I’ve read about Directional and Omni-directional mics. Can you tell us the difference?

The names of these mics pretty well cover it. Omni-directional Mics are indiscriminate and pick up sound from all directions. Directional mics are designed to have a narrow ‘beam’ or corridor of sensitivity outside of which significantly less is picked up. For the majority of applications relating to AV recording, Directional mics would be the more appropriate tool.

rode-mic-compressorDirectional mics such as the Rode NTG-2 are perfect for location recording and can be mounted on a DSLR hotshoe (with a suspension mount) or on a boom with a wind-jammer if necessary.

Fixation’s rental department carries a wide range of microphones and recording equipment. For advice on your needs, speak to one of our advisors on 020 7582 3294 or email rental@www.fixationuk.com

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