Hands-On with the Fujifilm GFX 100S II: Medium Format for the Masses

The first Fujifilm GFX 100S had my favorite form factor of any GFX camera due to its take-anywhere size. I loved the smaller body design of the latest GFX 100 II, and of course all the improvements to autofocus and film simulation modes as well as an emphasis on faster shooting and video. But it was only a matter of time before the latest improvements transferred over to the GFX 100S line and the wait is now over.

Close-up view of a black GFX 100S camera with textured surface, focusing on the model label, against a blurred yellow background.
The GFX 100S II has a similar body to its predecessor but the new rubber armor is striking.

The brand new Fujifilm GFX 100S II is on its way and I got a quick peek at a pre-production model to test out the changes. My immediate thought was how familiar the new GFX 100S II feels to the older one; the bodies are almost identical. Thankfully, there were some substantial improvements on the inside.

A man with a beard closely examining the viewfinder of a large DSLR camera mounted on a tripod, set against a background of a sunny, rocky riverbank.
I prefer the smaller and lighter form-factor of the GFX 100S II for landscape and travel photography.

Same Great Body, But What’s Under the Hood?

I don’t mind the lack of changes to the chassis of the GFX 100S II. It was always a nice-handling camera and the one change to the rubber outer housing matches the aesthetic of the GFX 100 II. I like the way the new rubber texture feels and all the controls are easy to manipulate.

Black and white image of a serene river flowing through a rocky landscape with pine trees and mountains in the background under a clear sky.
A good tripod and some filters make for an ideal travel companion to the GFX 100S II.

The body is reasonably well sealed against the weather and has twin UHS-II SD card slots. There is also a mic jack, headphone jack, and USB charging port. If you want to hook up flashes the old-fashioned way, a PC sync port is present too.

The control scheme is basically unchanged from the older GFX 100S. The displays are improved, however.

The control dials are easy to use and the camera has enough customization to please most users. I still wish the AF joystick was a little easier to navigate menus with but that’s more a matter of practice than faulty design. The top LCD panel is still present to show camera settings, histogram, or a digital representation of shutter and aperture dials. I still constantly notice the always-on top panel and assume I left the camera on, which drives me crazy, but that’s again a personal thing and not a knock against Fujifilm’s choice.

A vibrant natural landscape featuring tall evergreen trees under a clear blue sky with a few wispy clouds, set against a backdrop of gentle hills.
We know what the Fujifilm 100-megapixel sensor can do, and as usual, the image quality is about as good as it gets.

At the heart of the camera we have what Fujifilm claims is a new 100-megapixel design, but what I imagine is a similar sensor to what we’ve seen before with some design tweaks. Fujifilm has told us that image quality and read-out speed will be essentially identical to what we have seen in the GFX 100 II, for example. 16-bit files are still present when shooting single frames at a time and the 14-bit files will have plenty of information to work with if you need continuous bursts. We want to test out whether the bit rate drops to 12-bits at the fastest shooting rates when we have a final production camera.

A black and white portrait of a serious-looking bearded man standing next to a textured rock, with bokeh light visible in the background.
Portrait photographers will appreciate the latest AF algorithms. The eye detection worked flawlessly, even with a 500mm lens.

The Really Important Changes

There are some substantial upgrades that I’m very excited to see starting with the new displays. The rear LCD is a respectable 2.36-million dot back panel with full articulation but the real boost is the new 5.76-million dot EVF which I find far more useful for evaluating the detail of my 100-megapixel images.

A vibrant close-up of a small, clear stream flowing over smooth rocks, surrounded by bright green moss and patches of grass. The sunlight creates shimmering patterns on the water.
There is so much detail present in the 100-megapixel sensor and the new 8-stop IBIS allowed me to capture that handheld.

There is also a nice upgrade to the built-in IBIS stabilization system which is rated for an effective 8 stops of control. The shooting rate has also been brought up to 7 frames per second which brings it very close to the capabilities of the GFX 100 II. The buffer won’t compete with the GFX 100 II, however, due largely to the lack of a fast CFexpress interface and this is an area we will test in our full review.

A man with gray hair using a Fujifilm camera to take photos outdoors, focusing intently on his subject. He's wearing a beige backpack and is surrounded by rocks and a riverbed.
I feel that most photographers will find the GFX 100S II to be all that they need in a medium-format camera.

Because we have a similar sensor we also get similar autofocusing performance to the GFX 100 II. Fujifilm has come a long way in improving its face and eye detect AF and the GFX 100S II is accurate and tracks objects across the frame reliably. Taking portraits with a 500mm lens should be a difficult challenge but the GFX100S II hit the eye properly every time.

A man with a beard and short hair, wearing a maroon shirt, looks intently at the camera. He stands near a rock with a blurred silver background.
Color is always nice out off the Fujifilm JPEGs and the GFX 100S II has the latest suite of film simulation modes.

Movie Mode Takes a Back Seat to Photography

Fujifilm is pushing its GFX cameras to be versatile tools not only for photography but for videography as well. The GFX 100 II proved itself to be a hybrid medium-format camera of sorts but the GFX 100S II holds back a little bit in the video department. The main limitation is going to be a cap of 4K at 30 frames per second. If you want anamorphic support or 8K modes you’ll have to look at the GFX 100 II as they’re not present here.

A person holding a digital camera with a flip screen displaying a histogram and various settings, viewed from above. The background shows a paved surface.
The GFX 100S II sees the return of the top LCD with histograms and digital command dials.

You can record 10-bit 4:2:2 video in either H.264 or H.265 modes and the GFX100S II does have waveforms to assist with proper video exposure. Additionally, you can record ProRes to an attached SSD or send RAW video to an external recorder. As such, the GFX 100S II can certainly be pressed into service for the occasional video project but the emphasis is definitively photography-based.

Probably The Best Medium Format Camera for Most People

You can look at the GFX 100S II as a simple upgrade from the GFX 100S with better autofocus, better IBIS, and improved displays, but I think the new changes are substantial enough that the GFX 100S II becomes a more compelling product against the more expensive GFX 100 II. Unless you need the better video capabilities or the fastest possible burst rates, the GFX 100S II gives the same image quality, and stability, and still shoots quickly enough for most people. It’s also lighter and more compact with a form factor that I prefer when traveling around.

The GFX 100S II is going to make more practical sense as a medium-format camera to far more people than any other option out there.