eric kim bangkok street photography fujifilm gfx color-7138
Dear friend,

I want to give you some of my personal thoughts on the new Fujifilm GFX 50s (digital medium-format) and the Fujinon 63mm f/2.8 lens.

The camera fucking rocks

First of all, the camera is pretty fucking awesome. The autofocus is slow and inaccurate (I’d give autofocus a 4/10), and the buffering (processing time after taking a photo) is quite slow (I’d also give that a 4/10).

However the thing I am blown away by is the colors and textures out of the camera– particularly the color JPEG images. I shot everything on ‘Classic Chrome’ JPEG + RAW setting (compressed) — and preferred the look of the JPEG images (with additional contrast and grain added).

I shot the entire camera on the streets of Bangkok (Chinatown) in ‘P’ (program) mode, with automatic aperture and shutter speed, at ISO 1600. This would ensure I would have less blur in my photos, and sharper images.

1. Color and texture

I’ve recently watched Dr. Strange, and there is a scene of Stan Lee reading a book called ‘The Doors of Perception’ by Aldous Huxley. The book pretty much sums up Huxley’s use of the psychedelic drug ‘mescaline.’

Huxley learns after taking mescaline — that he no longer cares about time, space, or this idea of ‘being.’ Rather, he becomes fascinated with colors and textures.

For some reason that left a strong impact on me.

 

Walking here on the streets of Bangkok for the Monogram Asia 8×8 Street Photography Event — I took a stroll around Chinatown. I was blown away with all the colors and textures here. It was like I was high on mescaline or LSD. I suddenly saw the world in vivid, HD, juicy, vibrant, and textured colors.

I enjoyed walking the streets with the GFX — it felt solid in my hand. I liked the weight distribution, and shot everything on the LCD screen (it has an electronic viewfinder, but I took it off, I prefer the LCD with the flexibility of holding the camera at super low angles or super high angles with the tilting LCD screen).

I also liked how slow the camera was in terms of autofocus and processing. It forced me to be more mindful before each shot I made– kind of like shooting medium-format on a film Hasselblad.

With the colors and textures — I am fucking blown away. The truth is 99% of my images are going to be seen on a small 5” smartphone screen. But for me, I love the colors — they make me feel more human. Looking at the textures bring me joy in my heart. I’m sure nobody cares for the photos, but I like them.

2. Street portraits

I am passionate about shooting street portraits of people — and oh my God, the detail in these portraits with medium-format digital blew me away. To me, I can see more of their soul in the photos– through the vivid detail of their skin details, the light, and their eyes.

I also had to take my time making these portraits– chatting up these folks in the streets of Bangkok (super friendly). I also found that Bangkok is probably my second new favorite place in the world to shoot street photography (Tokyo being #1, because I love to capture the Dark Skies over Tokyo — and the depressive mood in Tokyo).

So if you’ve never been to Bangkok — I highly highly recommend it (it was my first time here this trip).

3. Should I buy it?

If you’re a rich hobbyist with tons of cash to burn, and at least $100,000 in the bank — yeah go ahead and buy it.

Generally, I am skeptical of first generation anything. Don’t get suckered by new technology — the first version generally has lots of problems. Even the new MacBook Pro (2017) has battery issues, and people have a hard time adjusting to the new port system. #donglelife is apparently a bit annoying.

 

The Fujifilm GFX 50S is $6500 USD and the Fujinon 63mm f/2.8 Lens is $1500 USD.

The only people who should ‘realistically’ buy this camera are wedding, commercial, portrait, or fashion/editorial/lifestyle photographers. But if you don’t plan on making $8,000 by buying this setup, you are probably going to burn 8 racks.

Not only that, but think about how further $8,000 can take for your business by investing in something else. Or just using that money to travel, buy photo books (see my photo book reviews / 75+ recommended photo books), or just having cash in the bank to pay the rent without stress.

If you really are interested in medium-format digital, I’d recommend the Pentax 645Z and Pentax 55mm f/2.8 Lens instead — it has gone through a few iterations and evolutions, which means it is a lot more solid and stable. And I think the 645Z is probably one of the coolest-looking cameras out there.

But if you’re not sure whether to buy a new camera or not– remember: IF YOUR PHOTOS AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH, YOUR CAMERA ISN’T EXPENSIVE ENOUGH.

As with Bangkok — love it here. My first time, and the people are incredibly friendly, the food is great, and the Monogram Asia crew is doing cool stuff in South-East Asia. Highly recommend traveling here for street photography.

Will keep you in the loop with everything else.

Always,
Eric

Learn more: Street Photography 101 // STREET NOTES // ERIC KIM WORKSHOPS