The FUJIFILM GF20-35mm f/4 R WR Medium Format Lens

Disclaimer: I was provided this lens by FUJIFILM USA. I am not an official ambassador for Fujifilm, but I have worked closely with them since 2019 when I created photographs for the launch of the GFX 100. In late 2020 I also helped create images for the launch of the GFX 100S as well. Hence, I am tight with the amazing Fujifilm family, but they did not ask me to write this review and these are my thoughts. The GFX system has been my main camera system since early 2019. 

Earlier this summer I received a package from Fujifilm containing the then top-secret GF20-35mm f/4 R WR lens. I took it with me on several assignments and personal projects including to Florida when I was out at Kennedy Space Center to cover the Artemis 1 launch. This wide angle lens wasn’t the right lens to cover the launch with but I was able to take it out and shoot on the water, in the water (using an Aquatech water housing) and by the water as seen in the images featured in this review. 

Right off the bat here, I have to say what everyone who has used the Fujifilm GFX system already knows—there are no duds in the GFX system. All of the lenses are spectacular. Sure there are a few standout lenses like the GF110 and the GF250, as well as the newer GF80 mm f/1.7. All of the zooms are remarkable as well—and I take those on just about every assignment. The GF20-35mm lens is yet another stellar zoom lens that expands the range of the GFX system to a 16mm equivalent in 35mm. It is a wicked sharp lens at all focal lengths. In fact it is so sharp that it might have just replaced my GF23mm lens, which used to be my go to landscape lens. The 20mm end of this zoom broadens out that angle of view to a more preferable super wide-angle perspective — and I greatly appreciate that for landscape photography. As can be seen above and on the next page, that 20mm focal length offers a gorgeous frame and it is currently one of the widest lenses available for any digital medium format system. 

One of the first things you notice when you pick up the GF20-35 is how light it is. The lens itself is not massive but it is large enough that you might expect it to weigh a lot more than it does. At only 725 grams (1.59 pounds) it is incredibly light. That is a huge bonus as a lot of us are going to be hiking long distances with this lens. The lens is well balanced and because it is so light it really sits well on any of the GFX cameras, especially the GFX 100S. Aside from the weight, it is also an internally focusing lens, meaning it does not extend when you zoom or focus the lens. The front also does not rotate so your graduated neutral density filters stay just as you placed them on the front of the lens. Fujifilm definitely thought through a lot of these issues that landscape photographers wanted when they designed this lens. 

While the f/4 aperture might seem slow to some photographers, especially those not used to the medium format world, it is actually quite impressive given that wide angle medium format lenses from other manufacturers can be f/4.5 up to f/4.8. I am not sure how they pulled that off without making the lens massive but it is great to have a relatively (for the format) fast wide angle zoom. That aperture provides relatively shallow depth of field—similar to an f/2.8 or f/3.2 full-frame equivalent 16mm lens. 

One of the coolest set of images I have created so far with this lens are a series of motion blur images of the Atlantic Ocean. I was inspired seeing what some of the surf photographers have done with longer lenses and set out to Paradise Beach in Melbourne, Florida. I set up my Gitzo tripod and took the time to level it accurately. Then I set about taking hundreds of whip-pan blurs. Basically, I whipped the camera horizontally from left to right and then back right to left and used a slow shutter speed to create the motion blur as seen here. It took a fair bit of experimentation to figure out the best shutter speed and the motion itself. I am sure it looked pretty hilarious to those walking by watching me whip the camera around. The reason I took so many images is that you have to pan the camera just so to maintain the horizon as a sharp line—and also get the right wave pattern that creates the streaks in the foreground. This surely didn’t test out the sharpness of this lens, but it goes to show that the wide angle perspective really comes in handy for making unique images. The image shown below ticked all of the boxes for me in terms of the wave shapes and the perfect whip-pan. 

The GF20-35 also creates a medium format f/4 to f/5.6 holy trinity as well. The GF20-35, the GF45-100, and the GF 100-200 are all workhorse lenses. In the past, I have pretty much taken at a minimum the GF32-64, the GF80 and the GF100-200 with me on assignments. Now that the 20-35 is on the scene I will have to adjust which lenses I take with me on assignments given the needs of that gig. There is something really special about the look and feel of the images created with the GF80mm f/1.7 and I take it on pretty much every assignment no matter what. I think the GF20-35 is going to fit into that category as well since it quite unique. It feels very much like a modern version of the legendary f-mount Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens that I used for a few decades, but it is lighter, smaller and much sharper than that lens ever was and of course it is for a camera with a slightly different aspect ratio. 

With an 82mm filter thread the front element is larger than normal but not that much more so. It seems most of the modern mirrorless lenses have larger filter threads and this one is no different. 82mm is a size many photographers have filters in and use step-down rings to accommodate smaller filter threads. Certainly in the GFX system this is the case, but also among many of the 35mm full-frame format camera lenses as well. 

I am not sure there is that much more to say, the GF20-35 is everything you would want from a wide-angle zoom. Sure there is some very slight distortion at the wider end of the zoom range, but that is very easily corrected in post-processing. I haven’t noticed much if any chromatic aberration. And as usual the lens is weather resistant, which I put to the test in the rain out in Florida—it passed with flying colors. The price of this lens is not inexpensive at $2,399.00 USD, but in the medium format world, that is pretty darn reasonable. If you are in need of a wide angle medium format zoom for the GFX system, this is the one. You won’t be disappointed. My thanks to Fujifilm USA for sending this lens my way and for all of their support these past four years—it has been one of the biggest honors of my career to be a part of their team. They have knocked it out of the park yet again with this zoom. For more information on the GF20-35 please visit the Fujifilm website

This review first appeared in my Fall 2022 Newsletter and is republished here so that more folks can find it. If you would like to subscribe to the Newsletter send me an email.

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Fall 2022 Newsletter

The Fall 2022 issue of the Michael Clark Photography Newsletter is now available for download. If you’d like to sign up for the Newsletter just drop me an email and I’ll add you to the mailing list.

This issue of the Newsletter includes an editorial entitled To the Moon and Beyond, a review of the FUJIFILM GF20-35mm f/4 lens, an article detailing recent assignments with the Arizona Ridge Riders, who are professional bull riders, an editorial entitled On Exploration, and much more.

The Michael Clark Photography Newsletter goes out to over 8,000 photo editors, photographers and photo enthusiasts around the world. You can download the Fall 2022 issue on my website at:

If you’d like to check out back issues of the newsletter they are available on my website here.

Please note that the newsletter is best viewed in the latest Adobe Acrobat reader which is available for free at

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2022 Fine Art print Sale

To get the ball rolling for the fall holiday season, I am happy to announce a 15% off sale on all of my fine art prints until December 31st, 2022. How this works is very simple, just take 15% off my standard fine art print pricing, which can be found here, and contact me to order the print. This sale includes both paper prints and metal prints. Also, note that my print pricing includes free shipping (in the continental USA) as well as free print mounting on DiBond (for paper prints). All metal prints come ready to hand on the wall.

All of my images are available as Fine Art Prints. You can see which of my images are in the Limited Edition category on my website. Any images that are not shown on the Limited Edition page are considered Open Edition prints. Available print sizes are listed on the pricing page. I will work with you to make sure the final print is the best it can possibly be and will look great mounted on your wall. All paper prints are made on the finest baryta photographic papers.

Below are a few sample prints that I have made in the last few months to give you an idea of just how stunning these turn out when framed up.

Also, the metal prints I am offering, printed by Blazing Editions, are absolutely stunning as well and are also on sale. Just as with the paper prints, all of my metal prints come mounted (as they are printed directly on the metal) and additionally they come with a backing or frame so that they be hung on the wall straight out of the box. Below are a few examples of the metal prints on offer.

Please contact me with any questions or if you would like to look at a wider range of images than are featured on my website.

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Communication Arts 2022 Photo Annual

I am very excited to announce that the Astronaut on Planet White Sands images shown above have been chosen for inclusion in the 2022 Communication Arts Photography Annual, which will be published in the July/August 2022 issue of Communication Arts (CA). The CA Photography Annual is one of the most exclusive photography competitions in the world. The Communication Arts Photography Annual competition has been held for the last 63 years making this one of the oldest photography competitions in the World. From the Communications Arts press release, “Of the 2,241 entries to the 63rd Photography Annual, only 117 were accepted, making the Photography Annual the most exclusive major photography competition in the world.” My congratulations to all of my peers who were also included in the Photo Annual this year as well. Overall, the quality of the work on display was quite impressive and very inspirational. I can’t wait to get the print version of the magazine and spend a little more time perusing all of the great images.

For those not familiar with Communication Arts, here is a description from the press release of the magazine, which is more like a high-end book than a magazine: “Communication Arts is a professional journal for designers, art directors, design firms, corporate design departments, agencies, illustrators, photographers and everyone involved in visual communications. Through its editorials, feature articles and the annual competitions it sponsors, CA provides new ideas and information, while promoting the highest professional standards for the field. With a paid circulation of 25,000, CA has a rich tradition of representing the aspirations of a continually-growing and quality-conscious field of visual communications. Now in its 63rd year, CA continues to showcase the current best—whether it’s from industry veterans or tomorrow’s stars—in design, advertising, photography, illustration, interactive and typography. Everything is reproduced with printing technology and attention to detail unmatched by any trade publication anywhere.”

For me personally, getting the email that another set of my images made it into the Photo Annual, this being my fourth time to be included in the CA Photo Annual over the last decade, is a confirmation of how we knocked it out of the park on this assignment for New Mexico Tourism. Along with the notice, I also received an email that I could announce that my image was included in the Annual, even though the July/August issue is just starting to ship out right now. Having seen a PDF of the July/August issue I have seen that Communication Arts also included one of the Astronaut images on the opening page of the Photo Annual section as well–as shown below.

The images included in this set were all created for New Mexico Tourism and specifically for the City of Alamogordo and the New Mexico Museum of Space History. For the full story on this assignment, and to see a larger set of images, check out my Fall 2021 Newsletter and this web gallery on my website. My thanks to New Mexico Tourism and Bill Stengel–who brought me in for this assignment–for giving me the opportunity. Big props also go to Mike Shinabery, who was in the astronaut suit, and the New Mexico Tourism team for bringing this assignment to life and for all the hard work to help create these images. Also, my sincere thanks to Communication Arts and the jurors who chose the winning images: Mike Davis, Jennifer Dorn – Variety, Luis Paulo Gatti, Natalia Jiménez – Washington Post, Marcia Minter – Indigo Arts Alliance, Nikki Ormerod – Undivided Creative, Adrienne Pao – Academy of Art University School of Photography, David Roennfeldt – 3 Deep Design, Marcus Smith, and Steve Wallington – The Photography Movement.

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Spring 2022 Newsletter

The Spring 2022 issue of the Michael Clark Photography Newsletter is now available for download. If you’d like to sign up for the Newsletter just drop me an email and I’ll add you to the mailing list.

This issue of the Newsletter includes an editorial entitled Three Years In, a review of the Aquatech EDGE Pro water housing for the FUJIFILM GFX100S, an article detailing recent assignments with Aaron Fitzgerald of The Flying Bulls, an editorial entitled The End of an Era, and much more.

The Michael Clark Photography Newsletter goes out to over 8,000 photo editors, photographers and photo enthusiasts around the world. You can download the Spring 2022 issue on my website at:

If you’d like to check out back issues of the newsletter they are available on my website here.

Please note that the newsletter is best viewed in the latest Adobe Acrobat reader which is available for free at

If you are a subscriber and you have not already received the Newsletter, which was email out a few days ago please send me an email with your current email address and/or check your spam folder.

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For the Love of Motion Blur

Early on in my career as an adventure photographer, I had a fondness for motion blur imagery. Using slow shutter speeds to show the motion was just part of telling the story and conveying the speed of the athletes I was photographing. I remember my first big commercial assignment with Adobe for the launch of Lightroom (way back in 2006), I went out with Ryon Reed, one of the mountain bikers we were set to work with the next day, and the evening before our shoot we created hundreds of motion blur images just to get something different. It probably looked pretty comical to see me and my assistant chasing after Ryon on his mountain bike but the results were hard to deny (as shown below). Ever since, I have looked for opportunities to incorporate motion blur into my images to enhance the feel and really convey an artistic intent—that intent being some magic mojo that comes out when you add motion blur to an image and it works.

Recently, I have also applied this motion blur technique to photographing landscapes. Below you can see a stand of golden aspens from a spot on the Alamos Vista Trail above Santa Fe, New Mexico. I have long thought blurry tree images were kind of cliché to say the least. In many cases the images just don’t work, but as I have found, if you find the right forest with trees spaced just so and the line of trees all somewhat similar then it can work–and be a very effective and powerful image.

As can be seen below, I have created a wide variety of motion blur images of many different adventure sports, not just mountain biking. Surfing and whitewater kayaking are natural fits for motion blur images though they are also very risky shots as you are likely to come away with hundreds if not thousands of crap images before one just works. You might also entirely miss a key action sequence that could have been ridiculously amazing, but that is part of the fun. Committing the to the idea of a motion blur image is risky, but when it pays off it often results in a much stronger image than a static action shot.

With landscape photography in particular it is exciting to have part of the frame blurred (as in the beach scene below) and part of the frame static (i.e. sharp). This is often done with waterfalls and waves, but in the beach scene below, I wanted to add some mystery to the scene and saw that my tripod was sinking in the sand during long exposures, thus adding a very slight motion blur. I decided to kick the tripod a few times during long exposures and got this image, which has a ghostly array of colors and “smoke” for lack of a better term that really helped propel the image out of the normal.

Motion blur can also be quite effective for portraiture—but as with sports many frames have to be created to get one that works. In the studio image below, I had the subject move while lit by continuous lighting and then froze his motion on one side with a fast flash duration–i.e. a very fast burst of light. This technique creates a mesmerizing image as if a spirit passed through the frame when the shutter was open. It also creates some very interesting lines like some thing out of a sketchbook, which make the viewer take a second look to figure out what is going on.

Taking motion blur to the next level, creating motion blur and then using strobes (or flash) to freeze the motion (but also show how fast they are moving) is a particularly exciting. This technique seems to come and go in popularity but I love it when an art director or a photo editor is willing see this type of work—and allows for the risky nature of creating these types of images. Shown below are some motion blur images of downhill skateboarding created for the FUJIFILM GFX 100S campaign where I was given full creative license to come up with something different and unique.

As for that wall of aspens, I have since gone back to this exact spot as it works better than any other forest I have ever tried, and have created images at different times of the year and with different light as shown below. This winter image may not be quite as magical as the image above created in the fall with gold leaves on the aspens, but it does have some wild shadows on the snow below. I incorporated the sun as well and used it to highlight the wild shadows that appear to be shaking the ground under the trees. The snowy ground also looks as if a wave is breaking through the trees and washing over the ground.

If you haven’t played with motion blur in your images I highly recommend trying it out. These types of images are just fun to try out since the final result will be slightly different every time.

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Top 10 Favorite Cameras of All Time

As I have made the full transition to mirrorless cameras in the last year–having sold off my Nikon D850 and pretty much all of my DSLR lenses a year ago–I started thinking about the cameras that I have used and those that have been critical to my success over the years. And seeing that there has been a major gap in blog posts recently I thought this might be a fun one to post.

This is in chronological order–both when I had them and worked with them–and when they were on the market. Since I started out in photography (as a teenager) way back in the mid 1980s half of these cameras are from the film era and the rest are from the digital age. Amazingly, you will notice some gaps at the beginning of the digital age since I found most digital cameras from that first decade lacking quite a bit compared to their film counterparts. It took a while for the industry (and for us photographers) to get everything figured out.

Of course, I have not used or owned all the cameras ever made. So, obviously this list is biased to those cameras I used and owned. There have been a lot of great cameras on the market in the last forty years, but these are the ones that I chose to use and purchase after extensive research–and the ones that really helped me take the craft to a higher level. In that vein, I am including images created with each of these cameras as well as commentary on why they made it onto the list.

Of note, there are some very popular cameras that I have owned and used that did not make it onto this list such as the Nikon D300, D700, D2x, D3, and the D5 as well as the much older Nikon N90, N90s, and the F5. It is is not that those bodies were bad, they just didn’t resonate with me as much as those listed here. As you can see by the list above, I have mostly worked with Nikon 35mm film cameras and Nikon DSLRs with a few medium format cameras sprinkled in. It is only recently that I started working with the incredible FUJIFILM GFX cameras–which I have to say have the best image quality of any camera I have ever worked with (film or digital).

So, without further ado, let’s jump in.

Nikon FM2 / Nikon FE2

I started out as a 13-year old with an Olympic OM-1 that my father lent me to try out photography but the first camera I purchased with my own money was the Nikon FE2 and later an FM2. I also used a Nikon FM that my father had for a while as well before I got the FE2. That FM was what clued me into the Nikon system–and the Aperture Priority option on the FE2 seemed like a great idea after using that fully manual Nikon FM for a while.

The FE2, along with a few lenses I acquired in my teens, was what I started my career with back in 1995. I quickly purchased a Nikon N90s in 1996 to gain access to the new autofocus technology, but the FE2 went on a ton of mountaineering trips in extremely cold conditions–like -40 Fahrenheit temperatures on Aconcagua as shown above. On this morning the winds were gusting over 80 miles per hour and the temps were wicked cold, well below -40 F with the windchill. The FE2 did incredibly well in those crazy cold temperatures.

After those mountaineering trips, at some point I worked with the FM2 as well for a while. And then before autofocus came along I also acquired the Nikon F3HP (discussed below). The FM2 was a workhorse all-mechanical camera that only required a battery to power the exposure meter–everything else was mechanical so there was very little to go wrong. Regardless of the legendary status of the Nikon FM2, I always preferred the FE2 and the F3HP.

Nikon F3HP

To this day, the Nikon F3HP is still one of the top two or three favorite cameras I have ever owned. If I had to use it again now, I am sure it would feel ancient and slow, but the ergonomics were some of the best ever on any camera. I gave away my F3 to a needy photographer in Russia–and I am glad I did as he needed it badly and put it to good use at a time when I wasn’t using it. One of these days I will pick up a used one just to have–and maybe even run a few rolls of film through it every now and again. Above are two images of the F3 HP, one without the motor drive attached (left) and another with it attached (right).

The Nikon MD-4 motor drive for the F3HP was large but it allowed for up to 6 frames per second shooting, which at the time was blazing fast. Remember, there were only 36 images on a roll of film so at 6 fps that lasted only six seconds before you had to change film. The motor drive, as did most motor drives in those days, even further improved the ergonomics of the camera. As a manual focus camera, it was certainly slower to use than modern day fully-automated cameras but at the time it felt like a speed machine. The only automation on the camera was Aperture priority exposure (like the FE2). Even though I only worked with the F3 HP for a year or two, I loved it nonetheless.

Mamiya 7II

The Mamiya 7II is a 6×7 medium format film camera. It was an attempt by Mamiya to create a rangefinder version of their venerable RZ67, which was a humongous studio camera used by just about all portrait photographers in the 80s and into the early 90s. The 7II was super light for medium format–especially given its large 6×7 film size. There were only four or five lenses ever made for the system–all primes–but they were some of the sharpest lenses I have ever used.

Sadly, I never owned the 7II. I borrowed it for one of my big assignments early on in my career from my close friend and mentor Marc Romanelli. He was kind enough to loan it to me for a few weeks and I took it to Mallorca, Spain for an assignment with Men’s Journal documenting the then brand new sport known as Psicobloc (a.k.a. Deep Water Soloing). This was before any other photographers that I know ever went there to document the sport. The photo editor at Men’s Journal indicated that she somewhat despised 35mm film images so I took the 6×7 camera along to placate her tastes. You can see the opening spread from that article (from way back in 2004) below.

The Mamiya 7II was relatively easy to work with. It was massively simplified compared to larger, more cumbersome medium format film cameras of the time. It was super easy to load film into it–much easier than with a Hasselblad (as shown below). The rangefinder autofocus was the tricky bit with this camera. Those that are used to Leica rangefinder cameras might find it easy to use, but in low light (i.e. any situation without direct sun) it was very difficult to get accurate focus–especially if the subject was moving. This was partly due to the 6×7 film size, which offered up super shallow depth of field. Regardless, the image quality this camera created was some of the best I had ever seen and I feel they have only recently been surpassed by modern medium format digital cameras.

Hasselblad 503CW

The Hasselblad 503CW was the first medium format film camera that I purchased–and it is to this day perhaps the one that I regret selling the most. In a meeting with Rob Haggart early on in my career, who at the time was the Photo Editor at Outside magazine, he told me that we adventure photographers “couldn’t light our way out of a paper bag.” And he was right. Back in the film days, at least for myself, using artificial lighting was scary. His advice was to get a medium format camera and some lighting gear and start learning how to craft a decent portrait so I purchased this Hasselblad setup and some strobes and got to work.

When I bought the Hasselblad, I wasn’t really excited by the square format but I grew to love it in time. If pressed, I might even say square is my favorite aspect ratio. It definitely makes you compose the image differently than any other format. As can be seen at the top of this section, I also purchased a winder grip and an angled viewfinder for the 503CW. That made the camera heavier but much more ergonomic. I stinking loved this camera, but since I got it in 2004 and with the coming digital transition just starting to happen I didn’t love scanning film. As I moved over to digital fully in 2006, I just didn’t pick up this camera as often and eventually sold it to fund another expensive pro-level digital camera body.

The 503CW was slow to use, slow to focus, and loading film was painful. With only 12 shots per roll, you ended up loading and unloading film often. I had a second film back so I could have two loaded at the same time but even then it felt like you were constantly loading film. It was a rare shoot where I went through a dozen rolls of film–especially since I almost always had a 35mm film camera or a DSLR with me for the assignment. Regardless, this goes down as one of my all time favorite film cameras–up there with the Nikon F3HP.

Nikon D4

The Nikon D4 was a workhorse professional camera. This was my main camera body for anything action oriented for more than seven years. I purchased the D4 and the Nikon D800 at the same time and sold off both of my D700 bodies shortly after getting this pair. The D800 was revolutionary but not really a top-end action camera. Hence, purchasing both the D4 and the D800.

Looking through my image catalog some of my best and most well-known images were created with this camera. The D4 was a more refined version of the Nikon D3, which changed the camera industry due to its stellar low-light performance. Any of the larger Nikon pro bodies were all tanks that could pretty much deal with anything. The D4 went deep into the heart of the Amazon and braved temperatures as high as 118 F (48 C) and also went on quite a few frigid assignments where the temps fell well below 0 F (-18 C). The camera never seemed phased by any conditions–rain, snow, sleet or temperature extremes.

Even though it was only a 16 MP camera, at the time it was blazing fast for that resolution. It also did exceptionally well in low-light and had super-fast autofocus. The D4 was such a great camera that I never upgraded to the Nikon D5–even though the D5 was an incredible camera as well.

Towards the end of its life in my camera bag, the lowly 16 MP seemed lacking, especially compared to the Nikon D810 and D850 discussed below. Even so, in my office and home I have quite a few 20×30 and larger fine art prints from this camera plastered on my walls–and they look incredible.

Nikon D810

The Nikon D810–as well as the previous version the D800–were a huge improvement in image quality for DSLRs. The D800 series cameras in general for a full decade were my main cameras and the D810 in particular was the camera I worked with on some of my most iconic and well-known assignments. Some of the best images I have ever created were captured with the D810 (as shown below). The D810 was a much refined version of the D800 with the same incredible image quality.

The only reason I ditched the D810 was that Nikon further refined it with the D850 listed below. The D810 had its flaws but at the time nothing in the 35mm space could touch it in terms of image quality. And it rivaled or matched some of the lower resolution medium format cameras as well.

Nikon D850

The Nikon D850 will likely go down as the best DSLR ever created. There are a whole host of folks who have expressed that same sentiment so this isn’t just me saying that. The D850 was a further refined D810, and with the same autofocus as the Nikon D5, it was so good and so ahead of its time that it was always difficult to get and Nikon couldn’t make enough of them for years. In fact, the D850 was so good that Nikon really had a hard time beating it when they launched their mirrorless cameras in 2018. I would say that they have only recently matched or exceeded the D850 when they launched the pro-orientated Nikon Z 9.

At 46 megapixels, the D850 also pushed the top-end Nikkor lenses pretty hard as well. The camera out resolved most of the F-mount lenses and pointed to the fact that for better image quality the need for superior lenses was paramount. I had a pair of D850 camera bodies and they could pretty much do it all. Sports, portraiture, landscapes, etc. You name it, the D850 was up to the challenge. The only thing it didn’t have was a super fast frame rate but with the battery grip it could get up to 9 frames per second which wasn’t bad at all. That was certainly fast enough for the adventure sports I was documenting.

One of my first photo shoots with the D850 was at Peahi, also known as JAWS, on the north shore of Maui. I shot nearly 9,000 images in one day as the waves were giant. Some of my best ever surfing images are from that one day. The D850’s autofocus blew me away as well. It was able to track the relatively small surfers on these giant waves even when they dropped into the massive tubes and bowls and even when ocean spray popped up between myself and the surfer. The D850 was and still is hands down the best DSLR I ever worked with.

Hasselblad H5D 50c WiFi

In an effort to create high-end portraits, back in 2014 I started looking at medium format digital cameras. For most photographers at that time, purchasing a medium format digital camera was lunacy. The expense was ridiculous to be sure as they cost anywhere from $30,000 to upwards of $50,000 just for the camera body. Previously, I had worked with an early Phase One camera and absolutely hated it. I tried out Phase One first as they had a new system, but I wasn’t blown away enough to spend $60,000 for a camera and two lenses. Shortly after that Hasselblad sent me a camera for a week to try out and at the same time they had a massive sale on the H5D 50c WiFI which cut the price by 40%. The Hasselblad was a much more usable camera and I found the image quality was equal or in some scenarios bested the Phase One XF IQ350 that I tried out. I took the plunge and spent more on this Hasselblad than any car I have ever owned. And it paid off as you will see below and in the next few cameras.

Above is a photo of the Hasselblad H5D 50c WiFi camera system with the Hasselblad 24mm, 100mm, 150mm and 50-110mm lenses. The H5D autofocus was slow. It was glacially slow, but it was extremely accurate. The camera was massive and weighed a ton. I pretty much needed to have it on a tripod at all times save for when I was using its top shutter speed of 1/800th second. It forced you to slow down, which was part of why I liked it. It was essentially a much more refined version of the 503CW I had a decade earlier.

I have to say, the color straight out of the camera was absolutely astounding. I have never seen more accurate and pleasing color from any camera before or since (including my Fujifilm cameras). Hasselblad has the best color I have seen from any digital camera hands down. The Fujifilm GFX cameras are a close second (among the cameras I have tried).

I created a wide variety of excellent images with the Hasselblad. It was a pain to lug a full digital Hasselblad kit and a 35mm Nikon DSLR kit around the world but I did it for four or five years. When everything started heading towards mirrorless cameras, pretty much every manufacturer sent me cameras to try out. Sony, Olympus, and Fujifilm all tried to woo me to their systems. I resisted for the most part as none of them were as mature or as far along as the Nikon or Canon DSLRs were at the time I tried out those other systems. But I will say that the Fujifilm GFX system caught my eye and I was very impressed by the small size and insane image quality it offered–and I had heard rumors of an even better monster medium format camera that was going to change that genre forever. So I stayed in touch with them and…


Through an incredible twist of fate, I was one of a handful of lucky professional photographers that created images for the launch of the FUJIFILM GFX 100. The prototype camera was hand delivered to me by Justin Stailey from Fujifilm USA who flew down to Santa Fe and spent five days going through it and working through some bugs to make sure it would work for the upcoming ten day assignment photographing rock climbing and downhill mountain biking (as seen in the images below). Before and during the assignment, Justin was in touch with the Fujifilm engineers in Japan on a daily basis to tweak the camera firmware so it would work better for the images we were capturing. We updated the firmware almost everyday of the assignment and the autofocus continued to improve every day.

I knew about the GFX 100 five months in advance of the launch. Reading the specs, I knew it was going to be good. And it would have autofocus that would actually be able to work for some of my adventure sports photography–which was not the case with any other medium format camera ever before. The image quality is unbelievable. Once you see the image quality from this 102 MP sensor you cannot unsee it is how I put it to my peers. So, be forewarned, it will spoil you for any other camera system. And it is not just the incredible sensor that creates this image quality. It is also the phenomenal lenses Fujifilm has crafted for the GFX system. I have not worked with any other lenses–on any system–that are as sharp as the GFX lenses. And I am not just saying that because I have worked quite a bit with Fujifilm these past three years, I am saying that given all of my experience as a professional photographer over the last 27 years. My Nikkor lenses, even the new Z lenses–which are excellent–aren’t as good as the GFX lenses.

What also separates the GFX 100 (and the GFX 100S below) from all other medium format cameras is that it has sensor stabilization built-in as well, which allows this camera to be used in a much wider variety of situations than any other camera with this resolution or those that are even higher resolution. The Phase One IQ 150 (a 150 MP camera) has I am sure amazing image quality but without stabilization it is very limited in how you can work with it. The stabilization in the GFX 100 (and 100S) allows for reliably tack sharp handheld shots down to 1/20th second with a good portion of the GFX lenses. That is utterly astounding–especially having used the Hasselblad H5D 50c WiFi listed above where I could not get a sharp handheld image below 1/500th second with that camera–and it was only 50 MP (i.e. half the resolution). Needless to say, once I worked with the GFX 100 I sold my Hasselblad as it was just redundant.


As with the GFX 100 launch, I was privileged to create images for the GFX 100S launch as well. With the same image quality as the GFX 100 but in a smaller, lighter package, the GFX 100S has become my go to camera when I want 102 MP medium format quality and need to go light and fast. The 100S has ever so slightly better image stabilization than the GFX 100 but all in all it is pretty much a smaller, lighter body and also $4,000 cheaper. With this camera, Fujifilm has brought incredible medium format image quality to the masses–or at least the well healed masses.

For the launch we created images of downhill skateboarding in in Malibu, California. The image below was used in Fujifilm’s advertising all over the world. I have since taken the GFX 100S on pretty much all of my assignments since I got it early last year. Notably, I used it for a New Mexico Tourism assignment with a spacesuit, which turned out spectacularly well.

With both the GFX 100 and 100S in my bag, as well as a large collection of GFX lenses, this kit is my go to camera of choice–and it is my most recent favorite camera. For those assignments with crazy fast action that require faster frame rates I take my Nikon Z 9 and Nikkor Z kit. But for the foreseeable future, and that may be the next five years or more, the GFX 100 and 100S will more than adequately serve my needs in terms of image quality for still photography.

Honorable Mentions

Of course, there are a few other cameras that I love, and have owned that didn’t quite make this list. Those include the FUJIFILM X-Pro 3, the Olympus OM-1 (the camera I started on way back when) and possibly the new Nikon Z 9. I haven’t had the Z 9 for long enough to add it to this list. The FUJIFILM X-Pro 3 is definitely a stellar camera as well but was just edged out of the top ten.

If you made it this far, congrats. Let me know what some of your favorite cameras have been in the comments. I have never worked with Leica, Canon or Pentax cameras. They have all made some legendary cameras to be sure. But as with any list like this it is completely biased according to my own experiences–and a lot of fun to consider.

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