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  • Writer's pictureSteve Gemmell

GF 50mm lens on the GFX 50R

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

It was touch and go as to whether we would be able to make our trip this January. I had been ill for some time and was only just recovering before our visit to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. So we were grateful that I was finally OK for us to get away from the British winter weather to enjoy some much appreciated sunshine. During our visit the wind was fairly strong at the start with a fair amount of intermittent rain. We were told by the locals that it was very unusual to have this type of weather in January. However it did make for some dramatic skies for photography with my GFX50R camera and newly acquired GF50mm lens.

Man on morning stormy beach Punta Cana
GFX 50R with 50mm 1/25th at F6.4 ISO 2000
Windy day by the sea in Punta Cana
GFX 50R with 50mm 1/250th at F5.6 ISO 50

I found the GF50mm F3.5 a very useful lens for travel compared to my usual GF32-64mm F4. The obvious advantage is the drop in weight, but I also found that the focussing speed was slightly better.

Generally, it is a nice compact lens to carry around and sits well on the GFX50R. We were aiming for a relaxing vacation so spent all of our visit in the resort itself. This limited my opportunities for photography but I did make an effort and managed to haul myself out of bed early on several mornings to capture the scenes on the beach. Most days the early morning clouds, strong breezes and tidal waves made for some moody images. It occurred to me that the tumbling waves might make for some interesting slow shutter experiments. So I gave it a try. This was my first attempt at long shutter speeds combined occasionally with ND filters to get the desired exposure. The three images in the slider below were all taken at a 5 seconds F11 exposure, plus the addition of an ND filter, with ISO set at 50 .

I have included six images which were taken later in the daytime in good weather conditions. One of them is the only portrait that I took on this trip. Rafael was a security guard on the beach and like all Dominican’s he was very friendly. I asked him if I could take his portrait. He thought that I was a tourist asking him to take a photo of me, with my camera. However, once I explained, he was perfectly happy to let me photograph him. I am interested in this lens as a general travel portrait lens. It is fairly wide (40mm approx on a full frame 35mm). However I feel this could be useful for the more casual portraits showing some of the environment where the subject is situated.

Rafael security guard on beach in Punta Cana
GFX 50R with 50mm 1/250th at F3.5 ISO 100

Traditionally on 35mm cameras the ”ideal” portrait lens was always recommended to be around 80mm. I loved the X system 56mm F1.2 lens That I used to have. The X system is APC format so the 56mm was the equivalent to an 84mm F1.8 in 35mm terms. So for the GFX I would need the GF110mm F2 lens. I have used that lens before here, but couldn’t justify the cost right now. Environmental portraiture is popular today but like everything else in photography, nothing is new. Fifty years ago, back in the 1970’s the late Jorge Lewinski was a proponent of this style. I attended his training course on the Isle of Wight and wrote an article which was published in Amateur Photographer magazine.

Abstract photo of ripples in a blue swimming pool
GFX 50R with 50mm 1/320th at F9 ISO 50
Man and woman at seas edge as waves break around them
GFX 50R with 50mm 1/250th at F9 ISO 50
Two men on sea shore brave the lively sea and approaching waves
GFX 50R with 50mm 1/250th at F9 ISO 100
Resort in Punta Cana
GFX 50R with 50mm 1/320th at F8 ISO125

In the next image I was waiting for the three girls to appear between the posts of the lookout tower to make a good composition. Unfortunately the third girl on the right is partially submerged. Think it still works though.

GFX 50R with 50mm 1/125th at F8 ISO 1250

Some more experiments with a slower shutter speed as the sun rises above the horizon. I had to shorten the shutter speed as the sun rose. it is interesting to see the different effect at 1 second, then 1/30th which also allowed the figures at the extreme right in the second image to remain in focus. in the first image I have cropped them out because they were blurred.

GFX 50R with 50mm 1 second at F26 ISO 50
sunrise Punta Cana beach
GFX 50R with 50mm 1/30th at F5.6 ISO 50

Ten minutes later and the warmth of the sun has changed the tones in the images completely.

sillyouetted man on beach Punta Cana
GFX 50R with 50mm 1/60th at F11 ISO 100
sillyouetted figures on beach Punta Cana
GFX 50R with 50mm 1/60th at F11 ISO 100

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