Fujifilm has released a firmware update for its GFX100 camera that enables the medium format digital camera to capture images with a crazy amount of detail by combining 16 RAW images into a single, 400-megapixel shot.
Same sensor, more pixels — The idea is pretty simple: more pixels allow for more detail. The technology, called Pixel Shift Multi-Shot, works by using the camera's image stabilization system to slightly move the 100-megapixel image sensor in 0.5-pixel increments and record RGB details over the capture of 16 images, therefore taking in more information than a single shot could.
The images are then fed into software called Pixel Shift Combiner which layers them to produce a single 400-megapixel file. That's going to result in chonker file sizes, but Fujifilm says that the images "faithfully reproduce nearly every detail" and "achieve optimal image quality."
Look at the image below when it's cropped 100 percent. On the left you have the crop from a 400-megapixel file, and on the right is the crop from a 100-megapixel variant.
Phone makers have implemented similar technology to improve the quality of smartphone photography without increasing the sensor size to add more pixels. Google's Pixel smartphones, for instance, create several shots and layer them on top of one another. The more frames they have to work with, the more information that can be pulled out about details too small for a single pixel to capture, or help create images with a wider dynamic range than is possible with a single shot.
Impractical for most —There's a trade-off with this feature between detail and file size. The original 100-megapixel file comes in at 51.5 megabytes. The 400-megapixel still? An incredible 204.9 megabytes. Take only a few dozen photos and your SD card might be down for the count. It's also not going to work for anything that isn't holding still.
This level of detail is unnecessary for many of today's more pedestrian uses, such as sharing vacation photos on Instagram. And Photoshop often runs into performance issues when dealing with large files. Understandably, Fujifilm says that it expects Pixel Shift Multi-Shot will be most useful in archival or cultural preservation work where photographers want to document intricate details so they don't get lost to history.
Pixel Shift Multi-Shot is an optional feature, so it won't change your experience using the camera so long as you leave it off. But if you're a working pro doing studio work, your Fujifilm medium format workhorse just got even better... and all you have to do is install a software update.