The Fujifilm GFX100 II has only just been announced, but that hasn't stopped creatives from exploring how this new tool can help them with their projects.
Timur Civan, a long-time NFS contributor, recently did just that when prepping for an upcoming film. In an attempt to discover what format, resolution, and lens package would best fit his upcoming project, Civan uncovered how powerful the Fujifilm GFX100 II can actually be in production.
The Hitchcock Experiment, as Civan called it, took eight different lenses to find what combination of sensor formats and glass could give him a 47-degree field of view.
Here's what he found.
The Hitchcock Experiment
Most lens tests point to a camera and lens combination at a testing chart or model. Civan needed a bit more. He needed to see the glass he was testing in action. And what better way to see that than to make a film?
"What I didn’t want to do was a dull lens test," Civan said. "I wanted a scene, not a lens chart. So I came up with a concept paying some homage to “The Conversation,” Francis Ford Coppola’s classic.
My writer friend Joseph Piscopo penned a script that accomplished what I needed technically and with great entertainment value."
The film takes place over several days and follows the same action. This allowed Civan to shoot the same sequence with different lenses and compare sensor formats. Let's give it a watch before we explore what it all means.
There are nine parts in total. Eight different lenses and one control. Here is the entire set that Civan and his team used for the test.
- PENTAX 645 75mm F2.8 | GF Format – Medium Format
- FUJINON GF 80mmF1.7 R WR | Autofocus | GF Format – Medium Format
- ZEISS SUPREME PRIME 65mmT1.5 | Premista Format – Full Frame Format
- SIGMA CINE 65mmT1.5 FF | Premista Format – Full Frame Format
- FUJINON PREMISTA 28-100mmT2.9 | Premista Format – Full Frame Format
- COOKE S4/i 50mm T2.0 | 35mm Format – Super35 Format
- ZEISS SUPER SPEED MKII50mmT1.3 | 35mm Format – Super35 Format
- BAUSCH & LOMB SUPER BALTAR 50mmT2.3 | 35mm Format – Super35 Format
- FUJINON PREMISTA 28-100mmT2.9 | Super35 Format
"My goal is to see which of these lenses, in their native formats, S35, FF, and Medium Format, captures the mood of the scene the best," Civan said. "This is the most subjective test I can think of, and that's the point. There is no winner. They are all amazing lenses. I use them all regularly. The goal is not to see what lens is “best” technically… The goal is to see which lens/format is “right” for the storytelling."
1st AC Ryan Patrick O’hara prepping a Fujinon Premista zoom.
What made the short film such a unique test for all these lenses and the GFX100 II, is how many different lighting situations occurred. There was a mix of natural light, tungsten, LED lighting, and a few fresnel lamps.
Throughout this entire shoot, the GFX was an incredible tool for Civan. Remember, this is a medium-format photo camera. Yet, in the hands of this cinematographer, it acted more like a cinema camera.
"It is always fun to try out new cameras," Civan said. "In this case, I was VERY VERY impressed. The GFX100II is stellar. Not just how it looked but how it worked. It felt like I was using a proper cine camera."
It wasn't just the mix of easy-to-use control, build quality, and battery life but how the image held up throughout the shoot.
Stedicam Operator Jason Leeds, SOC balancing his Stedicam Sled.
"Now, the part I love: the image. I recorded in Flog2, FUJIFILM’s new log gamma," Civan said. "The GFX100 II has excellent dynamic range and color. I didn’t put it on an XYLA chart, but it felt close to the Alexa Mini in overall dynamic range. The Mini had a stop or so more highlight latitude (while) the GFX100 II was much cleaner in the shadows than the Alexa."
While scientific tests might be a bit more accurate and prove these claims one way or another, scientific tests aren't really visible when you're watching a movie.
"I would comfortably shoot it as high as 3200 ISO," Civan continued. "As you saw, in a real-world filmmaking scenario, the GFX100 II held its own against the gold standard in the industry, the Alexa Mini. I would even be bold enough to say I preferred the color science in the GFX100 II."
Now that is a hot take.
Still from the short.
While Civan could have shot the entire short using BRAW or ProRes RAW via an external recorder, ProRes was more than enough for this shoot. Frankly, it's more than enough for most projects.
"The ProRes footage is very easy to cut," Civan explained. "While the GFX100II can do 12bit 4K RAW over HDMI to a recorder, I opted to shoot ProRes as I felt that's what most users will shoot. It graded and edited like butter on a M1 Mac. Even the 8K footage."
What We Learned
For Civan, this short film was all about finding the right lens to achieve his desired 47-degree field of view.
So, what did he learn?
We don't know. He won't tell us, but that's kind of the point, right? It's all subjective. Civan learned what he needed. It's up to us to figure out what this test means for our needs.
If you want to learn all the nerdy details about Civan's experiment, check out The Hitchcock Experimentin full on his blog.
For me, I discovered what I suspected all along. The Fujifilm GFX100 II is a cinema camera stuck inside a medium-format photography body. While it might not be the perfect form factor for all production needs, it's definitely a powerful tool for making movies.
Most of all, it's a step closer to a dedicated medium format cinema camera from Fujifilm that we can all afford.
- Do Videographers Actually Care About 8K Video? ›
- 4K Medium Format Video Is Here: Meet the Fujifilm GFX 100 ›
- Is the Fujifilm GFX100 II a Cinema Camera? ›