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GFX 50S or IQ250 w/ back - decision help...


New member
I've shot the D850 and all the top-shelf Sony products for year. I'm a working artist and I do predominately portraits. I also balance that work with a "day job" so funds are unlimited and I'm not a commercial shooter based in LA or somewhere, where rates are a bit more lucrative...

I've been curious of the DMF products since the GFX's inception. At that time, P1 products were super out of reach. I've wanted to explore DMF mainly because I can afford to now and I'm very much interested in a different process with shooting, better color production (skintones).

Today I could grab a GFX and the 63 for maybe $3500, which feels like a bargain. I could, however, also get a IQ250 back and maybe the 645 body or -- for thousands more -- the XF. The 55 non-blue ring I very much have in sight.

Anyway, besides the EVF versus OVF, why would anyone opt for the P1 in this case? I understand there are LS lenses, but excluding that criterion. I think I already know the GFX is the safer investment, but, if I'm being a bit vain, I'm always looked at the P1 with fascination. Thank you for reading

Greg Haag

Well-known member
I think if a lot of your portrait work is hand held I would lean toward the GFX 50S. I have never shot with the IQ250, only the IQ3 100 and the IQ4 150 and if I shot portraits particularly handheld neither of those would have been my camera of choice.


Well-known member
I agree witg Greg, if you're used to the D850 and the Sony bodies with eye AF you'd hate life if you were to shoot portraits with a 250 and a DF. The IQ of the files would take some pain away, but still the workflow between the two is night and day. That being said the work with the P1 can be very rewarding provided you adapt your workflow to make the most of it.


Active member
I doubt you will see any difference between the portraits you shoot with your 850 and a GFX 50s or a 250 back. The sensor in the 850 is fantastic and the size difference in sensors is too small to make a palpable difference in your images. Save your money and get the GFX100S to see any sort of a real quality difference.


Well-known member
If you wanted a DSLR and an optical finder, I would go for a Pentax 645Z over a Phase One.

But I would question why you want to switch from the Nikon D850 to MFD. That is a huge investment for a slight difference in quality.


New member
If you shoot in a studio and have strobes, you may want to consider some of the older Phase One CCD backs. They are cheaper, have a larger sensor size than the IQ250, and the tonal gradation is amazing. I shoot a P25 and it really sings when well lit. That era back has come down in price and is found in Hasselblad H, V, Mamiya and Contax mounts, all of which may be cheaper than a new Phase One system. As almost everyone mentioned though the shooting experience is different. It would be much slower than a GFX or Nikon.


Active member
I might be in the minority here, but my vote would be for the IQ250 + XF if you can swing it. The resulting image quality between it and the GFX is probably a wash, although dollar for dollar the GFX lenses are probably a better buy; Mamiya/Phase One have some gems to be sure, however the best of the best are quite pricey. Personally I much prefer an SLR and the shooting experience for things like portraits and studio work. A big plus in favour of the XF over any other camera system is the built in Profoto integration and focus stacking tools.

While the GFX certainly gives DMF results, it has an identical shooting experience to smaller format mirrorless from Fuji, Sony, and the like, for better or worse... if you prefer that shooting experience then the GFX is probably for you. But if you like an optical viewfinder, clutter-free controls, and LS lenses, then XF/645 or one of the aforementioned alternatives from Contax, Hasselblad, etc may be the ticket.


Active member
As a few have pointed out above, I think this call really lies in how you like to work and what type of camera you like to work with, more so than the quality of the files each will produce. Is there potentially some secret sauce in the IQ2 50MP/Capture One combination that will have some tangible difference? Maybe, but it would be marginal in the grand scheme of things.

Many nuances that could only really be concluded on a personal level (lenses/OVF vs EVF/single point focus vs multi-point/smaller form factor vs traditional build etc) and that's before you see what tools are in each that could be useful for you.

Ultimately it would be best to try them both out and see what you think. Where are you based? Do you have a local reseller of both/either options who could take you through the differences and let you evaluate from there?


when you compare that phase to gfx50 and high end FF you probably won't see a big difference unless you print big....I believe there is more to files then just resolution and the phase might pull ahead a little on color and tone but I am not sure.....out of all of these the phase will be a real change in workflow, slow...slow...not much fun....not sure what you would need to tether....big and slow....
I personally don't consider the GFX a big step up from high end FF, gain that has less to do with resolution but with color and tones, lots of people like it, to me the GFX files look a little better then Sony.....
I would consider the hasselblad 1XD, it is still a lot faster then phase, about in the same ball park as GFX but IMO has better files....lenses get expensive, the 45P is the only inexpensive one but it sings.....


Active member
Portrait work? You'll never see the difference between small format and medium format, except maybe with exceptionally large prints, where tonality would be noticably smoother. Obviously, workflow and camera handling is better with small format and especially outside of controlled, studio conditions. The only noticable exception are for glossy surfaces, like eyeballs, glass, and some jewelry where the MF would produce more dimensionality and realism due to tonal transitions.

Now if you were shooting product or repro where smooth, accurate colors and gradients, or ultra-fine details were needed, then you'd definitely notice a difference, even with small(er) prints. Even then, you'd have to be working with the top technique, as simple camera micro-vibrations or barely flucuating strobe color would negate the quality gains of MF. High end strobes, heavy camera stands, and exacting light placement would be required to get the most noticable gains.

If you were shooting eyelashes, fabrics, or metal accessories, (and/or doing the prints >= poster size) then MF would make sense. Otherwise, save the money and invest it elsewhere.


Staff member
Portrait photography is where medium format really shines. After working with so many photographers over the years we can spot an image taken with full frame vs. medium format right away. In fact, some photographers send us one or two images (out of many) taken with full frame or APS-C and we catch them right away while viewing on a big screen (I am not talking about pixel-peeping). In terms of your choice, both are excellent with clear differences in image quality and handling. Optical vs. EVF is a personal preference - I meet photographers on both sides of this argument all the time. I personally prefer a good quality EVF but many of my friends love their OVF and they would never touch EVF HA HA. There is no question that the GFX-line is easier to shoot with while Phase One has the edge in image quality, especially if paired with top glass. Of course, now with everyone going after the GFX100S, there are many GFX50s on the market priced very aggressively (I personally like rendering of the older sensor but this is a totally different story).


Well-known member
+1 for save your money and use what you have., but if you really want to make the move, I'd rent or demo first and see if it really does what you're looking for.

For portraiture, I'd go with the GFX over the IQ250 since you get a lot more AF points (and face detect, maybe eye detect AF too?), there's also more latitude with adapting lenses. The GFX also natively has the 80 1.7 and 110 f2, which would be useful for portraits. To get something like that with the IQ250 you'd be trying to adapt an older contax 80 f2 or a Hasselblad 110 f2 and will end up spending a lot more $$ and still be without AF.

If you do go the GFX route, I'd wait until later this year or next and go for the GFX100S, or wait for prices on used GFX50R/S to drop...once people start receiving their GFX100S's there's bound to be more ppl selling their 50R/S, and prices should drop.

If you're just looking for a different process and have $$ to burn, I'd look into film or a Leica Monochrom instead of 33x44mm 50mp medium format. I picked up a M10M and find I pick it up more than my Z6 or X1D....does more for me creatively too. YMMV.
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