Further thoughts: the amazing Fujifilm GF Tilt/Shift lenses

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Fujifilm released two new(ish) tilt shift lenses for their GFX camera series, and we tried both on an extended loan for several projects. We covered the two lenses in some detail earlier, and here, we offer you further thoughts on these two amazing lenses.

Many thanks to Fujifilm Singapore for the loan of the GFX 100 II and the two tilt shift lenses. But this is not a paid promotion, and all views expressed are my own.

Further thoughts: the Fujifilm GF 30mm and GF 110mm Tilt/Shift lenses

The Fujifilm GF 30mm F5.6 T/S lens retails at SGD 6,059 and the GF 110mm F5.6 T/S Macro retails at SGD 5,349. Both prices inclusive of GST.

The two tilt shift lenses have been on the Fujifilm GF roadmap for several years, and highly anticipated by largely two groups of photographers. Both lenses were announced in September 2023, and is available in limited quantities since. Deliveries are still rather limited. The GF 30 T/S is a lens specifically targeted at architecture and landscape photographers and the GF 110 T/S Macro is targeted at table top and product photographers. I have personal interest in both fields of photography.

The Fujifilm GF 30 T/S

The Fujinon GF30 T/S lens is an almost ideal focal length for architecture and landscape use. The 30mm equivalent focal length in full frame terms is about 24mm. The widest open aperture is f/5.6 and the lens stops down to f/32. It offers  +/- 8.5° tilts and +/- 15mm shifts. Both movements can be rotated by +/- 90°, with a locking feature.

In a tilt shift lens, this tilt and shift capability is built into the lens. Tilt is often only on one axis and shift only on one plane. Both can be rotated into any orientation.

The Fujinon GF 30 T/S mounted on the GFX 100 II.

Before the GF tilt shift lenses were released, the only lenses available for architectural and product photographers are adapted for medium format use from the designs originally intended for 135 full frame use. For example the Canon TS-E lenses (EF Mounts only) are suitable for adapted use on larger sensors as these have large image circles. Nikon also offer a 24mm PC-E lens suitable for architecture.

The Tuberculosis Control Unit (TBCU) Specialist Outpatient Clinic K at 144 Moulmein Road. GFX 50S II with GF 30 T/S.

Cut to the chase, this lens is excellent. Very sharp across the field, even when with maximum movements applied. Combined with the GFX 100 II, it is an almost ideal tool for photographing architecture and landscape.

Here is an example to show rise/fall use in a typical tall building architecture shot.

5 degrees of base tile is applied to this image. NMote the buildings in the mid-ground look like they are leaning backwards.

It is also very useful for interior photography, though for smaller spaces, perhaps a wider lens may be better. Usage is very easy and straightforward. A sturdy tripod is highly recommended when using the shift and tilt functions.

Keeping the back of the camera vertical, 5mm of shift is applied to bring the field of view to be roughly equivalent to the photograph above. Note that as the sensor is vertical and parallel to the mid-ground building. As a result, the building’s vertical lines look straight and not leaning backwards.

The lens is also good for stitching panoramic shots like this one below. The lens comes with a collar which is mounted on the tripod. A sturdy tripod is mandatory for good alignment of images. The camera sensor can be shifted from left to right, giving a maximum of 3 frames which can be combined in Photoshop into a panoramic image.

A three panel stitched image using the GF 30 T/S. I used a LCC to correct for vignetting of the lens at the extremes. The GF 30 T/S vignettes slightly at the edges of the left and right frames, but no colour shifts is visible – even though the camera used was the non-BSI GFX 50S II

A small amount of vignetting is noticeable on the two extreme shifts, but this is corrected by use of the LCC technique. I note that with the no colour artefacts are observed, even at extreme shifts. The shift, stitching and LCC techniques are covered in detail on my discussion of the Alpa 12 STC Sample Images article.

Perhaps a nitpick, but at certain rotations, with the lens set for rise/fall and tilt, the two knobs almost touch each other, and is not ergonomic to use. On the GF 110 T/S, this two knobs are set slightly further apart, and this issue does not arise. Photo made with Hasselblad X2D with XCD 45P.

Overall, the GF 30 T/S has superb imaging abilities. In use, there are some ergonomic challenges. For example, in certain orientations which places the tilt knob and the shift knobs on the same side of the camera, the two knobs are very close to each other. Also, as the tilt is only available in one plane and the shift also on one plane, some situations will require multiple rotations on the lens collar, shift plate and tilt plates to accomplish.

The GF110 T/S Macro

The GF110 T/S Macro is designed for product work. The lens provides up to 10º of tilt and ±15mm of shift. However, the Macro moniker is a bit ambitious, and I think what Fuji means is that the lens is optimised for close focus rather than the classical definition of “macro” which is 1x magnification. The highest magnification achievable with the native lens is 0.5X, but with the use of extension tubes, the lens can achieve slightly over 1X on the 44x33mm sensor.

Here, I show how it is useful in watch photography. As discussed earlier in the Hasselblad HTS 1.5 usage example, depth of field at macro distances is very shallow. In this case, the Yema Superman was photographed at f/8. As seen in the photograph above, the depth of field does not allow the entire dial to be in focus.

Without tilt, the lens is focused on the bottom of the bezel at the 30. The depth of field at f/8 for macro is so narrow that only the tip of the bezel and the bracelet which lie on the same plane is in sharp focus. The rest of the watch is progressively out of focus the further away one gets from the focus plane.

But with the use of tilt, about 10° is applied here, the entire dial can be brought into focus.

Lens tilt is applied to the image to ensure the entire watch is in focus, from the 30 mark on the bezel to the top triangle. With tilt applied, the Schiempflug principle ensures that the plane of focus is tilted such that the entire dial is sharp. This photograph was taken barely 25s before the one above using the same camera and strobe settings.

The same ergonomic concerns for the GF 30 T/S applies to the GF 110 T/S, except that when both control knobs are on the same side of the camera, they are not as close and does not interfere with operations. A curious ergonomic quirk is that though the GF 30 T/S is supplied with a rotating lens collar, the GF 110 T/S is not come with one. This is not ideal. The entire assembly becomes front heavy, and require caution in setting up the tripod to ensure that the camera and lens does not tip over accidentally. I would have much preferred a rotatable lens collar as this will keep the center of gravity of the assembly roughly in the middle and avoid tip overs.

Image quality is excellent and beyond reproach. Even when used with the 18mm or 45mm extension tubes, the image remained sharp and crisp, capturing minute details very well. Contrast is excellent.

Concluding thoughts

Both lenses have different use cases. The GF 30 T/S is an excellent tool for architecture, landscape and some interior photography. And the GF 110 T/S is a good tool for use on table top and product photography. Both lenses are rather heavy though. The 30mm lens weighs in at about 1,340g and the 110mm lens comes in at 1,255g. Build quality of both lenses are excellent. And though there is some play in the zero detent positions, this is very small (50 to 100 microns according to Digllyod), but I find that even stopped down slightly to f/8, this is not noticeable.

I also recommend that you explore two excellent and detailed review on both these lenses written by Keith Cooper over at Northlight Images. He has detailed reviews of both the GF 30 T/S and the GF 110 T/S Macro lenses.

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