This is the first post in a series covering tests of the Fujifilm View Camera Adapter G. The adapter enables mounting a Fujifilm GFX 100s medium format digital camera onto a 4×5 Large Format Camera. As available documentation is limited, I am conducting these tests to understand how to use the adapter.
I bought the adapter to enable a digital alternative, though not necessarily a complete replacement, for film. While many like film, I find the process a distraction and not always a good use of my time. In addition, there is the economics of film. I estimate, at this time, that I will recover the purchase price of the adapter after composing just 40 photographs.
Before getting into a formal testing procedure, I simply played around with the adapter to get a sense of it: attaching it to the View Camera; the process of taking shots with the adapter and uncovering any quirks with the product that might make it unusable. As I was playing around with it I started to develop a list of questions, including:
- How much of the 4×5 plane can be covered?
- Is there a difference in the “look” (e.g., is there any lens distortion; image compression, difference in DoF)?
- How much is the zooming effect?
- What is the impact on post-production? How well does the merging process work in post production? How big are the files? How much computing and storage technology is required? How does this all compare with scanned 4×5 images?
Literature on the adapter suggested it would attach to any 4×5 camera. Fuji’s own description states “The adapter is mounted in the film camera loading position of the view camera which adopts the film format of the 4×5 size”1. The B&H description was a little more nuanced, adding a caveat towards the end:
The View Camera Adapter G from FUJIFILM comprises a G-type lens mount on a universal-type plate, allowing select G-mount medium-format mirrorless cameras to be used as a digital back on a 4 x 5″ view camera body. The digital camera body can be mounted on the standard universal-type back of a view camera to enable using its perspective control movements and large-format lenses. The large image circle of large-format lenses and variable optical axis functions can be used to perform tilt shooting photography, effective for product shooting and architectural photography. When in use, the camera can be triggered by either a lens-based shutter or the in-body focal plane shutter for more precise exposure control.
NOTE: There may be instances in which the adapter cannot be mounted depending on the shape of the view camera.FUJIFILM View Camera Adapter G 16551312 B&H Photo Video
So, while encouraged, I was prepared that the fit might not be so straightforward, which turned out to be the case. For my 4×5 Tachihara Field Camera, it was necessary to unscrew and remove the glass holder and slide the adapter in its place.
Yet, even though the adapter fit snuggly, it would not hold in place under the weight of the camera. My fix was to secure the adapter using rubber bands.
I next looked at which shutter to use: the shutter of the lens on the Tachihara, or the GFX’s shutter. The latter is procedurally much simpler, as it allows me to leverage the GFX’s native light metering and avoids the complications with using the Tachihara lens. I suspect that there lies deep down a philosophical question of whether not using the Tachihara lens shutter means you’re not using the field camera at all, but given the simplicity offered by using the digital back I quickly moved on and avoided going down that rabbit hole.
Once the adapter was attached, and I had decided on using the GFX’s shutter, I started taking pictures. As the sensor of the GFX is smaller than 4×5, multiple shots — a grid of shots — would need to be taken to cover the entire area, so that led to some basic questions:
- how big a grid is required?
- what should be the orientation of the GFX (the adapter can support both portrait and landscape)?
Initially I used a 2×2 grid, with a portrait orientation of the camera. A tripod was used for all shots; it is not possible to do otherwise. In these tests, it became apparent that following a consistent and repeatable process for setting the grid was important. Therefore, I start in the bottom left corner (leftmost position of adapter, bottom position of lens board) of the grid for the first hot. Then I moved the lens board up (without shifting the adapter) to take the next shot. Then I shifted the adapter to the right-most position (without shifting the lens board) and take the 3rd shot, and finally, I dropped the lens board to the bottom to take the final shot.
When looking at the resulting images in Lightroom, the Photo Merge function (cylindrical) all images were perfectly aligned without the distortions that often come with images shot hand-held. The first time I saw it I was quite impressed. Maybe I’m easily impressed. The only option one might consider is the “fill to edges”.
Tachihara 4×5 field camera with Nikkor-W 150mm f/5.6 lens
- Film dimensions are 101.6mm x 127mm
- Image circle is 177.4mm
- Lens board can shift vertically 20mm in either direction (40mm total)
Fujifilm GFX 100s
- Sensor size is approximately 43.9mm x 32.9mm
Fujifilm View Camera Adapter G
- acts like an extension tube adding approximately 61.7mm2 between film plane and digital backplane3
- Can shift horizontally 2cm in either direction (4cm total)
Fujifilm GFX 100s with 40-100 mm f/4.0 lens
- 50mm approximates area covered by 4×5
Leica M10-R with 35 mm f/2.0 lens
- 35mm approximates area covered by 4×5
- VIEW CAMERA ADAPTER G | Accessories | FUJIFILM Digital Camera X Series & GFX – USA ↩︎
- This is calculated as Flange Distance + extension by adapter = 26.7 + (43-8) = 61.7mm ↩︎
- Note: I use the term “digitalback” to mean the combined GFX and adapter. ↩︎